Ramadan is a monthlong period when Muslims around the world fast from sunrise to sunset and really focus on deepening their connection with God. It is a time marked by introspection, closeness and, for Muslim women, a sharing of sisterhood and community.
This is what the photographer Nadia Correia wanted to capture in her project, The Unheard Voices of Ramadan. Though Nadia is not religious herself, she has always had an interest in and curiosity about spirituality, especially Islam, and has researched the world and experiences of Muslim women. "During my research I felt there was little space given to women to share their experiences and points of view around Ramadan."
Nadia partnered with Redefining Concepts, an online platform run by two of the participants, Aminah and Sadia, which champions young creatives and brings this community together, giving everyone the chance to have a creative role on each project they make.
The resulting images celebrate Muslim women and reflect the introspection and togetherness that Ramadan represents. Each woman is pictured with the objects they carry during this holy period – from the water bottle that Sawda always keeps close by to the prayer mat Sadia was given by her grandmother on her first Ramadan.
While ignorance and Islamophobia shape how Muslim women are seen by the outside world, patriarchy within Muslim communities can also have an effect. Shaming about being unable to fast during periods or pregnancy, for example, can be used to belittle women, as though they are failing to follow the rules. But as Sawda points out: "There’s nothing wrong with being a woman. I love to remind those around me who doubt that. You’re not lesser than because you miss some fasts."
These beautiful portraits show the variety of faces that make up the Muslim community, while the women's experiences show how they are at the forefront of Ramadan. The solidarity and sisterhood they share is integral to the experience. As Aminah told Refinery29: "Ramadan is a time where there is a stronger bond of sisterhood than there is in any other time of the year."