Muslim holidays find welcome from mainstream retailers with new Ramadan goods

by | Mar 14, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — When Natasha Khan Kazi was a student at the University of Pittsburgh in the early aughts, Eid al-Fitr — a major Muslim holiday that marks the end of a monthlong fasting during Ramadan — fell just before Christmas break. So while many of her classmates went through finals week anticipating the warmth of holiday gatherings a few days later, Khan Kazi spent her Eid in a crowded classroom bent over her exams.“There were so many moments growing up where I wasn’t seen or acknowledged, or all the joy I felt for my celebration was quieted,” she told Religion News Service recently.
So when Khan Kazi saw earlier this month that Target, the big-box store and online retailer, had included her recently published children’s book, “Moon’s Ramadan,” in its first Ramadan and Eid holiday collection, “I was speechless,” she said. “It was being seen, and being acknowledged, it was showing that our celebration mattered.”
“Moon’s Ramadan” by Natasha Khan Kazi. Courtesy image
Target isn’t the only national outlet to put Ramadan on its radar this year. From Party City to West Elm, Eid and other minority religious holidays are starting to gain traction in mainstream spaces.
For years, companies including Starbucks and Tyson Foods have been promoting religious inclusion among their employees, hosting religious literacy trainings or hiring interfaith chaplains. But increasingly they are seeing a market in the Muslim community.
 “There was a strategic move of these corporations to tap into the buying power of the (Muslim) community that they’ve been kind of ignoring for a while,” said Liz Bucar, religious ethicist at Northeastern University in Boston and author of “Stealing My Religion: Not Just Any Cultural Appropriation.”
Natasha Khan Kazi, author of “Moon’s Ramadan.” Photo by Farshid Kazi
Bucar first noticed the trend of Muslim-friendly products around 2017. That year, a Pew Research Center survey found that U.S. adults had warmer feelings toward Muslims compared with 2014, though 50% of the 2017 respondents still said Islam is not part of mainstream society. But a key piece, she added, is the emergence of creative Muslim entrepreneurs such as Khan Kazi.
Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and now living in Southern California, Khan Kazi began thinking about writing “Moon’s Ramadan” in 2019 after she visited her son’s preschool classroom and found few resources for young readers to encounter Ramadan. Her book — which she illustrated herself in deep blues and purples — follows the moon as it views Ramadan celebrations in New Ze …

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