From Starbucks to Target, Ramadan Goes Mainstream

As the Muslim world observes Ramadan, started on March 22nd, many companies in the US are beginning to recognize the importance of expanding their markets to cater to Muslims. Recently, Target announced its first-ever Ramadan and Eid collection, featuring products designed for Muslims.

Some of the items included in this collection is an illustrated children’s book titled “Moon’s Ramadan,” written by US-based Bangladeshi author Natasha Khan Kazi. Despite being celebrated in many countries, she recalled how Ramadan is mainly invisible in the US.

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,” Kazi told Religion News Service (RNS).

When Kazi discovered that her book was among the items Target featured for its first Ramadan and Eid collection, she told RNS she was speechless, and it showed that Ramadan is being seen and recognized in the US.

While Target launched a unique collection for Ramadan and Eid for the first time, it wouldn’t be the first time they published an illustrated children’s book about Ramadan. Aya Khalil, the author of the children’s book, The Night Before Eid, which was also sold on Target’s shelves, had similar experiences with Kazi, where she recalled how Ramadan was often overlooked in the small towns of Ohio and North Dakota, where she grew up.

It’s a huge deal that major stores are finally including us. It’s just nice that for kids now just growing up, it will be a normal thing. … It wasn’t a norm for us,” Khalil said, adding that she didn’t initially believe her book would hit Target shelves until she saw it personally.

Target isn’t the only major retailer in the US to include Muslim-friendly products on their shelves. Retailers such as Party City and West Elm have also released items for Muslims, such as party items for celebrating Eid and decor for Ramadan.

Many companies are starting to recognize a market in the Muslim community. Firms like Tyson Foods and Starbucks have hosted religious literacy training and hired interfaith chaplains to promote religious diversity and inclusion.

Liz Bucar, a religious ethicist at the Northeastern University in Boston and author of “Stealing My Religion: Not Just Any Cultural Appropriation,” first noticed an increasing trend of companies marketing Muslim-friendly products in 2017.

In that same year, a survey from the Pew Research Center found that Americans had more positive views toward Muslims compared to 2014. While many Americans still felt that Islam was not a mainstream part of American society, the emergence of Muslim authors and entrepreneurs such as Natasha Khan Kazi and Aya Khalil helped the Muslim community gain traction in American society.

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,” Bucar said.

While Khalil appreciates the growing interest of corporations in Ramadan and Eid, she also recalled a time when MAC Cosmetics made an advertisement teaching women how to apply makeup for Suhoor, the pre-dawn meal before fasting (sawm).

It’s like at 4 o’clock in the morning when we wake up to eat breakfast,” Khalil said. “Who dresses up for Suhoor when everybody is in their pajamas?

Nevertheless, both Khan Kazi and Khalil are excited to see the results of companies’ increasing interest in tapping into the Muslim community.

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