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How Ramadan Helped Me Bond with My Sharks Colleagues

A Story From Teal For Change

by Mohamed Fofana / sjsharks.com

A member of our inaugural Teal For Change Council, Mohamed Fofana shares an inside look into what it's been like to share his celebration of Ramadan with the rest of Team Teal as part of our Teal For Change Blog:

This is my fifth season going through the month of Ramadan here with the San Jose Sharks and it's been a different experience every year.

Ramadan is a special month for many practicing Muslims. It is considered one of the holiest Islamic months and also one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

During the month of Ramadan, many practicing Muslims fast from sun up to sundown, which means abstaining from food and water; yes, even water throughout the entire day. Fasting is considered to be an act of worship that enables Muslims to feel closer to God and strengthen their spiritual health and self-discipline.

Many of my teammates had no idea what Ramadan was prior to meeting me, so imagine the shock and confusion on their faces in my first year during the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals, when we were being catered excellent food for dinner and I couldn't eat because it wasn't sundown yet. It was a learning moment for them - both in getting to know me and my faith, which brought us closer together.

 

By the end of that month, many of them knew what Ramadan was and my daily prayer schedule, not to mention they were constantly checking on me to make sure I was doing well and giving support where they could, which I greatly appreciated.

Each day is different for me when I'm fasting. Some days, I have energy, and some days I don't. Being in a role where my job is to constantly talk to people, the act of speaking can be draining so I often have to manufacture energy where there's none and find a way to push through. I rely on my faith to get me through those tough moments and on my teammates as well.

Seeing how my teammates have rallied around me during every month of Ramadan has been nothing short of amazing and speaks to the culture of inclusivity here at Team Teal.

I'm so grateful for the welcoming atmosphere. There were times in my sports career where I was fearful of practicing my faith openly because of the negative things that are often written or said on the news about Islam and I didn't want people to think those things about me.

However, I've learned to be steadfast in my faith and my beliefs. I won't let ignorance stop me from practicing my faith and expressing myself for who I really am.

Every day, I choose to stay true to myself and my faith and I am thankful to be at an organization that accepts me just as I am.

This year, I am spending the month of Ramadan with my family in Memphis, Tennesee, and it's been wonderful to break fast every evening with home-cooked meals from my mom.

I look forward to us celebrating Eid, which marks the conclusion of Ramadan, with my family also.

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