When Ramy premiered on Hulu in the spring of 2019, it marked a groundbreaking moment for many Muslim Americans. Sure, there had been depictions of Muslims onscreen before, but it was often hard to identify with these largely secular and whitewashed versions of Islam. For me, Ramy provided a character whose experiences with Islam mirrored my own — and that’s never been more clear than in Ramy‘s hilarious, all-too-relatable Ramadan episode.
Aptly titled, “Do The Ramadan,” the episode depicts the titular character, a 20-something-year-old living in New Jersey, struggling to observe all the aspects of Ramadan. Although Ramy earnestly attempts to abide by Ramadan rules, he faces several internal and external obstacles that derail him over and over. Unlike many of the other TV episodes that recognize non-Christian holidays, Ramy’s Ramadan episode doesn’t center around educating outsiders; instead, it hilariously points out the little idiosyncrasies of Ramadan that those who observe it can relate to. But most importantly, the episode examines Ramy’s efforts to merge his religion with his American identity, and shows that even though Ramy doesn’t always practice his religion to a tee, Ramadan is clearly a very special month for him, just like it is for so many.
Here are the most relatable moments from “Do The Ramadan”:
1. The Awkward Moment When The Adhan Goes Off On Your Phone
The episode opens up on a hilariously awkward note when Ramy’s phone blasts the adhan (aka the Arabic call to prayer) while he’s hooking up with a girl.
“Wait, what was on your phone?” she asks.
“Uh, it’s just like a prayer notification,” Ramy sheepishly replies.
Because Muslims adhere to praying five times a day and are especially encouraged to complete all prayers during Ramadan, many rely on apps that send out notification reminders for each prayer time. But despite being helpful, the reminder can also be super uncomfortable if you forget to put your phone on silent mode and the adhan goes off while you’re in class, presenting at a meeting, or, in Ramy’s case, in the middle of making out.
2. The Struggles Of Watching Others Eat When You’re Hungry
Ramy can’t help but stare down customers who are munching on food while he’s at work in his uncle’s jewelry store. And when he sees his own uncle eating, he calls him out: “You’re eating too?!”
Anyone who’s fasted before knows the struggle of assuring friends and colleagues that it’s OK to eat and drink in front of you… while also hearing your stomach growl for the 100th time. But Ramadan is a time for discipline and strength. Muslims continue to attend school and work while fasting; athletes even train sans water. Even though it’s difficult to constantly be surrounded by food, that’s sort of the point. Ramadan is supposed to be hard, since it’s a month of pushing yourself in hopes of spiritual and personal growth.
3. Arguing Over When Ramadan Really Starts
While at work, Ramy and his Uncle Naseem have a debate over when Ramadan actually begins. Naseem is positive it starts the next day, hence the sandwich in his hand.
“Ramadan is tomorrow,” he tells Ramy. “A real Muslim would know this.”
Every year, Muslims have a similar conversation with friends and relatives while trying to convince each other of the right start date. The reason for all the confusion and uncertainty is that the Islamic months follow the lunar calendar. Ramadan begins when the first crescent of the new moon appears, leaving it open to interpretation depending on the region or cleric one follows.
And four weeks later, Muslims go through the same headache as they use the moon to figure out when exactly Ramadan ends.
4. Being Constantly Surrounded By Friends & Family
Throughout the episode, Ramy and his friends frequent their local mosque, which is jam-packed with several members of the community. As Ramy’s friend Mo says, “Ramadan, baby. It’s like Coachella for Muslims.”
Despite being a religious affair, Ramadan is also a time of celebration for Muslims, so more often than not, the gatherings that take place throughout the month feel like parties.
Along with attending the mosque daily to pray tarawih, it’s also customary to break your fast with others. Muslims are constantly getting invites from friends and relatives to come and have iftar together, when everyone gets to share a delicious meal.
5. Dealing With Crowded Mosque Parking Lots
Toward the end of the episode, Ramy meets an older woman at the mosque because her car is blocked in. Since she can’t move her car, Ramy ends up walking her and her young son home and things get… complicated.
This meet-cute is actually a common occurrence for those who attend the mosque regularly during Ramadan. Because there are so many events and gatherings at the mosque during Ramadan, the parking lot typically overflows with vehicles, many which happen to be illegally parked.
6. 4 A.M. Diner Visits
Ramy visits Mo’s diner to have his morning meal before beginning his fast, known as suhoor. While there, he’s met by a cheerful Mo, who’s ecstatic about Ramadan bringing in more Muslim customers who fill up his small diner.
And he’s right. Diners get a ton of business from Muslims during Ramadan. One of the most fun aspects of the month is going to diners — traditionally IHOP and Denny’s because they’re usually the only places open at this hour — with friends and family before sunrise to have suhoor.
Because Muslims go through a long stretch without eating or drinking, they often go all out on suhoor, hoping to fill themselves up with enough food and water to sustain them for the day. And what better way to do so than feasting on a stack of chocolate chip pancakes with a tall glass of OJ?
7. Not Waking Up In Time For Suhoor
But getting up at 4 a.m. is no easy task.
On the second day of fasting, Ramy gets up late and realizes he missed suhoor. He angrily asks him mom why she didn’t wake him up:
“I tried,” she says, “But you said you were very tired.”
“You believed me? I’m going to be hungry all day now.”
Been there, hated that. Despite setting up several alarms, it’s normal to unintentionally skip a few suhoors throughout the month, especially when you’re sound asleep in your cozy bed.
If you do happen to miss suhoor, however, you can still perform the fast. Like Ramy, you’ll just be extra hangry that day.
8. Pulling Out Your Traditional Clothes From Storage
At the beginning of the episode, Ramy excitedly pulls out a traditional outfit he got from Egypt for the first day of Ramadan. But it’s a little old and a little too short on him, as his sister Dena makes sure to tell him.
Nothing beats the response from one of Ramy’s friends, who says, “It looks like a Muslim miniskirt for a man.”
All jokes aside, Ramadan is a reflective and introspective month, during which one usually feels closer to their religion and their culture. It’s normal for Muslims to want to pull out their traditional outfits that they don’t normally get a chance to wear throughout the rest of the year.
9. Attempting To Read The Quran
… and feeling embarrassed when you admit you can only read it in English.
When Ramy sits in his bed and attempts to read the Quran, presumably for the first time in a while, many can relate as Muslims try to read as much of the Quran as possible throughout the month. What’s even more relatable is watching the main character struggle with his Arabic as he’s only able to make out the word “Allah.”
Later on, he talks to a girl his friend sets him up with. Their conversation goes well until the subject comes up:
“You do read Arabic, right?” she asks.
When Ramy admits he only reads the Quran in English, she shuts him down real quick.
Muslims who’ve also struggled with their Arabic know Ramy’s pain all too well. Although it is permissible to read the Quran in English, some believe the translations lose the original meaning, creating a stigma within the Muslim community for those who never learned the language.
10. Being Called A “Ramadan Muslim”
Throughout the entire episode, Ramy gets pushback from his friends and family who are surprised to see him take such an interest in his faith. From his uncle and parents to his sister and best friends, everyone ridicules Ramy’s earnestness in embracing Ramadan.
Mo tells him, “You really gonna be one of those Ramadan Muslims? You can’t be jerking off one day then all of a sudden turn into Malcom X.”
Unfortunately, it’s a pretty common thing within the Muslim community to label people as “Ramadan Muslims,” or someone who only engages with their faith once a year. On the surface, a lot of this discourse is wrapped up in jokes. In reality, however, it stems from a place of judgment and represents a toxic part of the community as no one should be shamed for wanting to embrace their religion.
11. Taking Time For Self-Reflection
A main theme throughout the episode is Ramy’s quest to be at peace with himself. He fasts, prays, and refrains from activities like sex and smoking all in hopes of finding some kind of enlightenment. “This Ramadan for me is really about figuring out what I want,” he says.
It’s a sentiment many Muslims can relate to. Ramadan is a month dedicated to focusing on and nurturing one’s relationship with God, and, in turn, it’s also a month meant for self-reflection.
Ultimately, however, the titular character succumbs to temptation and disappoints himself. But in a way, that’s a huge part of what makes the episode so relatable. It’s a reminder that even though the “perfect Muslim” does not exist, it’s the journey — not the destination — that counts.