For former Kentucky Wildcat Hamidou Diallo, “the month of Ramadan has always been about family. Family and community.”
In a self-authored article (which you can find here) posted on the Player’s Tribune, Diallo opened up about his Muslim faith and practicing Ramadan during a global pandemic.
Diallo, a second-year member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, is sequestered in Oklahoma City with his younger brother, Alpha, and one of his cousins for the quarantine. The rest of his relatives are in New York. Under normal circumstances, Ramadan is a time of coming together for Diallo and his family:
We’d all get together to pray and share our faith, and then we’d break our fast together. At that point, it’d be my siblings and cousins and friends all running around and playing games while the older folks told stories about what things were like when they were kids.
It brought our family closer together.
And that’s such a huge part of Ramadan … it brings folks together. We’re all dealing with the struggles of fasting, but we’re putting that aside because of our faith, and our trust in Allah. So, for me, Ramadan has always been about incredibly strong faith intertwined with togetherness.
Even without family immediately close, members of the Muslim faith could still connect with one another…until the mosques closed and rigid social distancing took hold. The separation from his religious community has been difficult for Diallo:
The whole community facet of Ramadan has been tough to come by, too. Mosques are closed, everyone is sheltering in place, and things are just a lot more solitary. It’s much harder to connect with others of the same faith.
Another aspect of Ramadan that’s completely changed: the food. “The best West African food imaginable” had always been there waiting for him at the end of the day, at the end of the fast, when the sun went down. For Ramadan 2020, the cooks are in New York and the West African food scene in Oklahoma City just can’t compare. During his nightly FaceTime calls with his family, Hamidou makes a point to ask what they are eating. It’s his first question–every time. And he’s very jealous.
The food isn’t quite as good and traditional togetherness of the time of year has been fractured, but Diallo remains as faithful as he’s ever been; more so than when he was just one of those kids running around and playing games:
As I got older, though, I realized that my faith is central to who I am, and that I wanted to be more serious, more dedicated to my religion. And I couldn’t be happier.
I’m very proud to say that I have become a better Muslim in recent years — more dedicated, more connected. And it’s been the best few years of my life, to be honest.
I absolutely love being a Muslim. I love everything about it.