Young Muslim Americans in the Bay Area found themselves having to reconcile their Muslim and American Identities and culture this past weekend, with the overlap of the opening day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan and the opening of the higly anticipated "The Dark Knight Rises."
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, when Muslims fast from dawn to sunset from any kind of food or drink. It is a time of introspection and increased spirituality through prayer and remembrance of God and a time to break bad habits.
Many Muslims refrain from listening to music and watching TV and movies while fasting. But, should the exception be made for the Batman finale?
This was the case for Bay Area Muslim activist and blogger Irfan Rydhan, who is a self-proclaimed movie geek, and grew up with the Batman comics and movies. He went with friends to watch the 2:10 a.m. screening of the film at the IMAX theater in Dublin before the sun came up on Saturday morning.
"This particular Batman movie was the last in the trilogy, its the end of the story, and we wanted to make sure we saw it," Rydhan said. "We can still practice our religion by participating in the ritual of going to the (additional prayers held at night during Ramadan) taraweeh and then watching the movie when we are not fasting."
Rydhan calls it part of being an American Muslim in the 21st century with 24-hour news and media cycles from which it is practically impossible to disengage.
"We have our culture of being American and we are trying to practice our religion at the same time," he said. "We don't see any problems between the two."
Imam Tahir Anwar the religious leader at the South Bay Association Mosque in San Jose, acknowledges that many people -- especially elders in the community -- will have a hard time understanding why some of the youth cannot wait to watch the movie.
"In all honesty, I probably agree with them, but if someone won't be able to get it (the movie) out of their head until they watch it, then they should do it," Anwar said. "It will leave them the rest of the month to focus" on getting into the spirit of Ramadan.
That is the view of Muslim American Society Youth committee member Amina Abid who organized an event, so young members of the community can go watch the "Dark Knight" followed by a talk at the MAS office in Santa Clara and opening the fast with food from a local hotspot.
Rydhan heard his share of comments that going to watch the movie during Ramadan was "un-Islamic" and that he "shouldn't be going to see the movie."
However, for many people the movie is a big deal, and they are going to watch the movie because they have been waiting for it for years, Anwar said. Anwar plans on waiting himself, but saw no problem with youth heading to theaters this past weekend.
Abid reasoned that people were going to go watch the movie anyway, so it would be better to pair entertainment with a spiritual talk.
"People should not be afraid to ask questions, they should come and participate and learn about their American Muslim neighbors, coworkers and friends," Rydhan said. "I think they will find that we are not as different from them as they think we are."
Anwar added that the month of Ramadan is a time of prayer and giving, and in the face of an environment filled with Islamophobia and hatred towards Muslims as a time to bring "peace to our hearts, and justice and love to the people around us."