Ramadan: Fasting, Praying, and Reflection

Nadia Fadlu-Deen, Staff Writer

   As the crescent moon slowly begins to show itself, and the ninth month of the Islamic calendar rolls around, Ramadan nears its start. Ramadan is celebrated all over the world as a time to sit back and humble yourself through the experience of fasting and understanding what the less fortunate have to go through. Muslims worldwide take part in not eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset daily for the entire month.

   Though some believe fasting to be an obligation, many Muslims show their faith by practicing one of the five pillars of Islam, sawm, according to a website about food. Under certain conditions, some people do not have to fast, such as those who are physically and mentally unable to, pregnant women, and travelers. Sawm starts at sunrise and  those participating refrain from eating or drinking for the whole day. Even chewing gum can break your fast. At sundown, after a long day of fasting, families typically gather and prepare a meal called iftar. Starting the nightly meal with dates and water is tradition. Making up for all the meals missed isn’t hard when iftar is usually packed with all types of high-fiber foods, fruits, vegetables, and desserts (eatright.org).

   Ramadan is much more than simply fasting; it is a journey of patience and thankfulness, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. The whole month symbolizes the time the Quran was revealed. Many Muslims take the time of Ramadan to get closer to God and reflect on everything happening in their lives. The practice of self-restraint and control all while continuing to go on with everyday activities is the reality for many Muslims. The whole month helps cleanse the soul as trips to the mosque and praying happen more often. This is a time of year when everything slows down, and for a moment, people are offered some clarity within themselves (britanica.com).

   After the month of fasting, the long-awaited celebration arrives. Houses are filled with family and friends as everyone gathers to open presents and eat in each other’s company. Eid-al-Fitr, otherwise known as the “Festival of Breaking the Fast,” is the celebration signifying the end of Ramadan. Giving back to local communities, providing charity for the less fortunate, and gift-giving all over the course of three days help commemorate one’s devotion and dedication during Ramadan (history.com).

   “The month of Ramadan is a time for family and a chance to get closer to God,” said Freshman Zaharaa Fadel. Muslim students participating in Ramadan have a variety of experiences and traditions. They sit out at lunch being asked questions about why they aren’t eating, have to play sports without drinking water, and feel the general struggle of going to school without any energy.

   “I feel like I get closer to God. It’s kind of like a cleansing,” said Freshman Janelle Tisnado Abdas-Salaam. Fasting for many young adults is a revitalizing experience that helps shape healthy habits of control over oneself and their actions. Tisnado Abdas-Salaam explained, “My family and I get closer during Ramadan. We go to each other’s houses, sing songs, and enjoy dinners together.”

   The holy month of Ramadan reinforces the need to be thankful and patient. As time goes on, the appreciation for the little things in life and insightfulness regarding the experience of the less fortunate grows. Starting from the revelation of the Holy Quran to the modern-day celebration of faith, this is a special time of year worth recognizing.