When we worked together at my last job, my former co-worker Drew had always expressed an inquisitive and open mind towards my practice of Islam — asking questions about particular rituals or Islam’s stances on varying topics.
I’d always appreciate his curiosity and questions — it showed a genuine intent to understand the Muslim perspective instead of preserving any biases that broader society had. While I made Hajj last year, he among others in the office had even stepped up to cover my work while I was out.
I came to appreciate Drew’s openness and curiosity towards my religion so much so that during tragedies that shook the confidence of Muslims (e.g. the San Bernardino shooting), Drew proved himself to be a shoulder to lean on when I’d feel growingly self-conscious of my faith in the workplace. I’d feel so insecure in the work place as ‘the quiet Muslim guy who just got back from Saudi Arabia,’ and feared that co-workers would try to draw parallels between myself and the shooter, but I knew I could count on Drew to listen to me vent, and offer words of solace and solidarity.
After hearing about the #ShareRamadan initiative, this Ramadan I invited Drew to give fasting a try, and he broke his fast with my wife and I at our house that evening. We enjoyed conversations about our Islamic faith and Christian faith, similarities and differences alike. He got to try our home’s traditional Ramadan food and drink, like Rooh-Afza, cholay, and fruit chaat for the first time, and got to enjoy Natasha’s delicious Ramadan cooking.
It was a refreshing experience to host Drew for iftar, and can’t wait to invite him again next year.
Emad Kazi is based in San Francisco, CA USA and works as a Marketing professional. He currently serves as Head of Marketing for Noor Kids — a Harvard University-supported startup that offers a monthly subscription service to Islamic children’s books.