Ramadan is a month of fasting, increasing spirituality, and reflecting on one’s privileges. Through the month, Muslims have a responsibility to fast from worldly pleasures, and instead focus mind and body on the spiritual. Through Ramadan, however, it is necessary to understand how Muslims can commodify religion, and become influenced by the nature of overconsumption in the West.
Overconsumption is the idea of individuals not just consuming food at high levels, but individuals giving into the reigns of capitalism more frequently and unjustifiably. Rather than shopping locally, many Muslim businesses launch special Ramadan collections – but unfortunately, these collections of clothes, objects, decor, are created in low-income countries at low-prices, to which these businesses charge astronomical amounts (although there are some Muslim companies who follow ethical practices, the majority do not). And to add to this, it’s not just Muslim countries releasing Ramadan collections – large corporate companies such as Nike and Adidas have released clothing for Muslims, capitalizing on this new market, while the majority of their clothing is made in low-income countries with horrific conditions. Fast fashion as a whole is implicated in heightening the intensity of climate change. According to the UN, the fashion industry is responsible for 8-10% of global emissions. If you want a Ramadan wardrobe, try to shop sustainably, prioritizing companies that use ethical labor practices.
Over 22% of the world’s cotton is grown in occupied East Turkestan in China, which indicates that a portion of any person’s wardrobe is made using cotton that has been grown by forcible labor. And to add, only 2% of all garment workers earn a fair wage. This should never be accepted by Muslims.
Fast fashion and capitalism are not strangers to these businesses, rather, they work hand-in-hand. Muslim-majority countries around the world are known to see a spike in consumption during Ramadan. Although Ramadan is meant to be a time of fasting from worldly elements, such as consumptions, many Muslim-owned businesses have cracked the code to allow more consumers and consumption.
Through this, we aren’t blaming individuals who buy from Muslim businesses, but rather, we are asking for mindful consumption. Large clothing hauls, ostentatious iftars, flashiness are elements that we are meant to abstain from during Ramadan. Furthermore, as the threat of climate change looms over humanity, we as Muslims have a right to care for our Earth, and for our brothers and sisters who are forced to work in terrible conditions with little to no pay to provide the clothing on your back. We should not be supporting large corporations that overwhelmingly and disproportionately omit greenhouse gases.
Spiritual enlightenment is not just praying into the night, but it is about caring for your fellow humans, fighting for social change and social justice, praying for the eradication of horrific systems of capitalism, imperialism, and racism.