The Muslim creators vlogging through Ramadan
Five years in, Vlogmadan is more crucial than ever.
Of all the vlogging challenges that YouTubers like to participate in—Vlogmas, VEDA (Vlog Every Day in April), Vlogtober—Vlogmadan may be the most groundbreaking. In 2017, when LA-based creator Shahd Batal began vlogging the month of Ramadan at the suggestion of her management, she kicked off a growing tradition for Muslim YouTubers.
This year, Ramadan—the month-long Muslim tradition marked by fasting from dawn until sunset, breaking fast with community (called iftar), and prayer—started April 12, and will conclude May 12 with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr.
“Watching [creators like Batal] and seeing the influence they had on me really motivated me to jump-start my own career on Youtube,” Munira Yusuf, a 28-year-old creator from Toronto, tells me over email. “So that I could not only be a part of this change but hopefully inspire others like me as well.”
This year is Yusuf’s first time attempting Vlogmadan, but she’s been a viewer of Vlogmadan videos for some time.
“I believe everyone experiences Ramadan in a unique way," she says. "Every individual has something new and different to offer.”
YouTuber Ingrid Nilsen created Vlogmas—vlogging every day in the December lead up to Christmas—in 2011 for similar reasons.
"I think it really brings out a sense of nostalgia, especially as you get older and you start forming your own traditions, and being able to see other people live out their lives [you get] inspiration from them," she told me in an interview for Refinery29 in 2017. "Especially around holiday season, which can be such a happy time but can also be a really difficult time for people, different individuals from families from all walks of life show the way that they experience the holidays—the positive, the negative, the happy wonderful moments. I think it really gives people a sense of comfort, and I think it’s a beautiful thing."
The pandemic made Vlogmadan all the more valuable. Last year, the traditional large gatherings were put on hold, and while they're now gradually returning, the virtual celebration is still an effective tool for recreating the feeling of pre-pandemic Ramadan.
“Covid has impacted many peoples' way of living and Ramadan among many other things is not the same as it used to be,” Yusuf says. “One of the most important aspects of Ramadan is the sense of togetherness. Vlogmadan essentially incorporates the essence of community, virtually.”
For other creators, it’s an opportunity to flex their skills. Ahal Ismail, a 22-year-old from Nairobi, Kenya, began her YouTube channel in September of 2020. She sees Vlogmadan as a tool to help her “establish consistency” on her channel and a challenge to “really entertain” her audience.
But Vlogmadan isn’t about any one creator or video. Searching the term on YouTube yields vlogs from people sharing their traditions, fasting tips, and Eid fashion from California to Toronto and London to Nairobi.
“My favourite part about Vlogmadan has to be, hands down, the sense of community and closeness we have the pleasure of sharing with one another,” Yusuf says. “As well as learning different recipes, activities, or ways we can improve ourselves and get the most out of this blessed month.” —Kate Lindsay
What It’s Like to Have an Eating Disorder During Ramadan, by Adeline Hocine in Teen Vogue