Ramadan is a time for being honest, so here it goes. All of us who are fasting (and those who are not) in the developed world hold the privilege of knowing our basic needs are met. We never have to question where our next meal is coming from or whether or not our children will die of a curable sickness. Even so, I think privilege is a word that people generally shy away from and something that they find uncomfortable admitting they have.
Growing up I was always taught to recognize my privilege and to be grateful to Allah for what I have been undeservedly given. Even with this, I will admit that I am not perfect and have not fasted for a few days this year. Recently I have been getting severe migraines, and as one can imagine they are only worsened with the dehydration that accompanies abstaining from water all day. Because of this I had chosen not to fast so that I could drink and take my prescription migraine medication. Everything about this scenario illuminates my privilege. Water and medication are things that millions of people do not have access to. My options in that situation were to be tired and in pain until the guaranteed iftar meal that night, or to drink water and medicate myself. The only option for many others who are sick and thirsty is death.
This also makes me think about the stresses that we all face each day whether they be family, money, school, work or personal relationships — and how insignificant they are in comparison to our relationship with God. Ramadan is supposed to remind us that there are many people around the world who would be thankful if they could have what we call “problems.” It just goes to show how deeply pervasive privilege is; even though I am aware of it, I still take advantage of it. But this is the month of forgiveness, from Allah and from each other. With that let us all remember what is truly important in this life and the next and always keep our sights on using the privilege we enjoy to positively affect the people who are not as fortunate as we are.
— Kristine Stolberg— Ramadan: Recognizing Privilege