A Muslim's guide to surviving the general election during Ramadan

Watch who you give samosas to - and try not to argue with your Ukip-voting uncle.

Muslims attend Friday prayers during the second day of Ramadan, in the courtyard of a housing estate next to a mosque in east London, 19 June, 2015Reuters

Here's the thing: Ramadan is tough. Everyone knows that. In the summer heat, you go without food and water for 20 hours a day, and you're forced to abstain from swearing, smoking and pretty much any other vice you might have.

That's tough but doable in any other given year. But it's not any other year. It's 2017 – the year where everything's in chaos and no one really knows what's going to happen. So, of course, what better time than now for a general election?

This is going to be hard on everybody, but without being able to calm yourself with sweets, cigarettes or coffee, it's probably important we come up with a way of surviving this thing in the most halal way possible. Here's a list of things that will probably (almost definitely) happen, and, hopefully, some ways you can manage them.

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You'll be accused of Islamifying the vote

Key bit of advice: be very careful who you give samosas to. You might think that delivering some fresh iftar to your local campaigning group is a good way of spreading the love and keeping your team focused on winning the seat, but who knows what sort of mole might be in that group?

Do you really want to be the person who puts a parliamentary candidate at risk of being accused of being a secret Muslim? I can see it now: A picture of Jeremy Corbyn eating Turkish pastries, under the Daily Mail headline: "BAKLAVA BRITAIN: CORBYN PLANNING TO SELL OUT UK TO ERDOGAN".

Or worse still, an editorial column from Simon Heffer, accusing the Labour leader of eating "foreign halal meat" rather than a British pork pie. Trust me, it's not worth it. Even the worst samosas (potato ones) aren't worth that.

Dawah bros will tell you voting is haram

There are a few things guaranteed in every election. First, someone will accidentally invoke Hitler on live television. Second, politicians will take photos in as many high-vis jackets as possible. And third, as any Muslim voter will tell you, there'll always be some guy hanging out at the mosque telling you voting is haram.

This man will likely have been the local drug dealer just last week who, in true character, will grow a full beard and adopt full religious garms during Ramadan. He'll hand out flyers inside the mosque, calling the British democratic system 'shirk' and suggesting that anyone who goes to vote will have committed a cardinal sin. Moments after, he'll complain that the council have ticketed his car again, and under his breath mutter, "I wish someone would get rid of all the unnecessary double yellow lines".

Get ready for some uncomfortable family dinners

Here's the reason why Theresa May has ruined Ramadan – she's basically consigned every Muslim household in the UK into a state of perpetual bickering, intensified by hunger and thirst.

During a normal Ramadan, the family meal is the place to break bread and let loose. But dinners during election season will be fuelled by heated political argument. Labour vs Tory, Brexit vs Remain, Thatcherism vs Socialism. Politics is toxic enough as it is. Now multiply that by 100, add in plates full of spicy lamb curry and stinky fasting breath, and you can probably guess what happens next.

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You'll be told not to talk about politics

Ramadan is a time when you're supposed to give yourself up to God. Nothing else matters – you're supposed to spend your free time reading religious scripture, praying, doing charity and so on. But this year, it's pretty much guaranteed that will all be consumed by politics. And because of that, your mosque, your friends, your family will all be extra careful not to talk about politics, or anything that could lead to it.

Sounds fine, right? Wrong. Because as you know, any conversation could lead to politics. The way you sit when you watch TV, the type of groceries you buy. Even things like the football will become wrapped up in layers of politics, because as we all know anyone who supports Chelsea is a Tory, end of.

And because of this, your everyday conversations will fizzle to nothing. At best, you'll talk about the weather, but what's more likely to happen is that you'll do silent, unassuming nods at people. And knowing your luck, even that will be interpreted as some sign that you're secretly voting Ukip.

Speaking of which...

You'll meet at least one uncle or auntie who is definitely voting Ukip. You'll end up alone with them in the mosque, and out of politeness you'll be forced to listen to how Ukip are just misunderstood, that they definitely aren't racist, and besides "Brexit means there'll be more chance for Muslims to come to Britain". At this point you won't argue. You'll just sit there and stare with a blank expression.

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That's all you really have now. Apathy. And nothing else.


Hussein Kesvani is a freelance journalist and a co-presenter of the No Country for Brown Men podcast. He tweets at: @HKesvani


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