This is a late #Haramadan submission. I know, I know, bad admin. More coming.
We’re both looking at the menus and he asks, “What do you want for an appetizer?” I look over the menu and reply, “Um, how about the bruschetta?” He leans in and points to an item on the menu that I always overlook, don’t even bother reading the name of – ‘Charcuterie platter’. I freeze for a second. What goes through my mind might surprise many people. I wonder ‘Is the meat from a pig?’
We’re at another restaurant. I’m craving steak. I read over the Main Dishes, making sure to read the description and ingredients of each one of those succulent masterpieces. I read ‘Pork Tenderloin’. I skip reading its description.
Why do I do this? Why, as an ex-Muslim, am I okay with alcohol and eating non-halal meat, but not bacon? Or pork? Or ham? Or pepperoni pizza?
I’ve been an ex-Muslim for a few years. Letting go of this fear of eating pig is one of the last, and hardest hurdles for me to overcome. I started out with the little things. At restaurants, I stopped telling servers to hold off on the bacon bits in my Caesar salad. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t think about it. I thought about it every time I took a bite of that salad. I didn’t feel bad. I didn’t feel like I was doing anything wrong, or forbidden. I just, thought about it.
It’s so heavily ingrained in each and every Muslim’s mind, that even after years of telling yourself, after years of getting away from it, you still can’t truly escape it. So many false statements ring in my mind when I think about eating bacon “It’s haram. Kaafirs eat pork. A pig is dirty, it’s been cursed by Allah.”
I remember a vacation to France with my family when I was 6 or 7 years old. We were at a lunch buffer, and there was a French family sitting on the table next to us. The mother had lots of freckles on her arms, but me being a simpleton from Pakistan (where people hardly have the kind of freckles Caucasians tend to have), I asked my mother what was on that woman’s arm. My mother looked over at her for a second and replied, “It’s what happens when you eat pork.”
I took these pictures this Haramadan to help myself get over this irrational fear I’ve been carrying with me my whole life. And I share them with others who might be going through similar things as me. Those who constantly wonder, even as ex-Muslims, “What am I doing?” What we are doing is living life, and enjoying everything it has to offer us. Without guilt. Without shame.