When my first Ramadan came around, I had only been Muslim for seven months. I lived with my mom, but had not gotten to the point of telling her that I had converted, so my first Ramadan was an undercover Ramadan.
Because I had a full-time job, I was able to fast while away from home and tell my bosses what I was doing and why. I would spend my usual lunch hour in a quiet back room praying and listening to religious lectures, and trying not to think about how thirsty I was!
What was really difficult was the pre-dawn meal (sahur), because there was no rational explanation that I could give to my mom for getting up at four in the morning to cook breakfast, except that I was fasting.
I resorted to buying gallons of water, bread, peanut butter, and oatmeal cookies, and hiding them under my bed in a big plastic storage bin.
I would wake up to my alarm, reach under the bed, eat and drink all that I could, and then creep as quietly as I could down to the bathroom to make my ablutions to pray, trying not to wake my mom up the whole time. A couple of times I woke her up, but I was able to convince her that I was only having trouble sleeping.
In the evenings I would almost always go to the mosque to break the fast with other sisters and friends of mine. Often I would stay to pray the special Ramadan prayers (Tarawih Prayer), and it was so wonderful to be able to share that with friends and a supportive community.
It got a little difficult on the weekends because my mom would notice I wasn’t having any lunch and that I didn’t want to go out with her for breakfast. A couple of times we had family celebrations that I couldn’t get out of and on those days I was forced to break my fast early.
God knows my heart and is Merciful. I would go many days to spend time with a Pakistani family I had grown close to, and it was so nice to have them supporting me and welcoming me as if I were their own daughter.
During the last ten days of Ramadan, my mom went in to have a routine surgery and I was to drive her there and bring her home. I couldn’t wait any longer to tell her that I was Muslim, I was so afraid that something would happen in the surgery and she would leave this world without knowing something that important. I couldn’t bear the thought of this and as we were driving to the hospital I began to tell her.
But before I could even get the words out she said to me, “Don’t tell me, you are Muslim, aren’t you?” I was completely shocked. She told me that she had already guessed that something like that had happened, and that while she didn’t like it, she did respect my decision and that she would always love me.
Since that day my mom has been a rock in my life. She has supported all of my decisions and been there for me through everything.
The last ten days were so much easier for me. I was able to get up and make a real breakfast in the morning. Sometimes my mom and I would go out together after sunset to eat dinner, and on the Eid holiday, my mom even wished me a happy celebration.
It took me a few more years to tell the rest of my family, but that was ok, in the end the most important person to me knew everything about me: my mom.
By Molly Ann Elian