As most American Muslims prepare to start the holy month of Ramadan this coming Sunday, an interesting phenomenon has been noted in the Washington, D.C., area among those looking to fill up for their pre-dawn suhoor meal before they fast all during daylight hours — IHOP.
Yes. As the Washington Post explains, like Chinese restaurants have long been an unofficial go-to for Jews, Muslims and other non-Christians faced with closed businesses on Christmas, IHOP, at least in the D.C. area, has become an unofficial go-to for Muslims who don’t wish to prepare their own pre-dawn meal during Ramadan.
IHOP works because in most areas around the country the restaurants stay open 24 hours, allowing families wanting to eat about 3 or 4 in the morning before the sun comes up someplace to go.
“Personally, I have a hard time getting up to even go downstairs to my kitchen to eat a meal at 3 a.m.,” Rabiah Ahmed, a public relations professional, told the Post.
But, she acknowledges, for teens looking forward to hanging out with friends or women making the meal a “girls night out” opportunity, “Going out for suhoor has become quite a social thing.”
And for one woman, IHOP is all good, but she is hoping to give observant Muslims more pre-dawn food options.
Katherine Ashworth Brandt, a white, Christian woman, has launched the Dine After Dark initiative to encourage businesses to extend their hours for Ramadan in areas with significant Muslim populations like those in D.C. and northern Virginia.
Brandt, who isn’t Muslim herself, said she always took for granted how businesses and institutions would accommodate the Christian holidays she grew up celebrating. She sees Dine After Dark as “paying [her] privilege forward.”
“All of us need to be more considerate of other people’s traditions and holidays and know that these are important no matter what religion you subscribe to,” she said. “It’s an important time to be with friends and family and reflect on your values.”
Indeed. And why not? It is hardly a new thing to accommodate people of different faiths in this country.
As the Post points out, the common occurrence of restaurants putting fish to their menus on Fridays comes from a business decision to cater to observant Catholics celebrating Lent.
Ramadan Mubarak (Happy Ramadan) to all those observing the fast.