Ramadan: Fasting for a purpose

Nawal Adil shows what their five time daily prayer looks like. During the prayer participants face Northeast towards Allah.

Abigail Wagner

Nawal Adil shows what their five time daily prayer looks like. During the prayer participants face Northeast towards Allah.

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Every year, Muslims from all over, participate in a fast in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar known as Ramadan. It lasts for a month and is part of the Five Pillars of Islam. Ramadan cleanses the soul and focuses the thoughts of the participants on their deity Allah, the Quran their religious text, and charity. This year it starts on May 16th and lasts until June 15th; those who celebrate Ramadan in Patterson Mill will be fasting during the HSA, finals, and other class assessments.
Ramadan is when Muslims don’t eat or drink anything during daylight hours. Ramadan starts when Saudi Arabia sees a crescent moon; dates are predicted, but Ramadan is announced to start usually the day of the crescent. Before sunrise and after sunset, the fast is started or broken with a prayer followed by a large well-prepared feast full of nutritious food. The first thing eaten after the prayer are dates because the Prophet Muhammad ate them after his prayers. Popular dishes are harira, jallab, briout, samosas, spring rolls, fruit chaat, and baghir. Many of these dishes are packed with flavor and include kosher meat and food that gives the calories needed for fasting for more than twelve hours. When the food is prepared correctly and doesn’t include many fats, Ramadan cleanses the body and rids it of any toxins.

During the fast, no food or drink, including water, is consumed. During May and June, temperatures can get up to 90ºF and it becomes dangerous to not have any water during the day. Eating late at night and going to bed afterwards is also not good for the body. People in Alaska who partake in Ramadan have 20 hours of daylight and fast the whole time. This gives them four hours to eat breakfast and dinner and all of their calories and drink all they can. However, Muslims all over participate to honor their religion and become better people. It is believed that Muhammad received revelations for the Quran during the month of Ramadan. Not gossiping and abstaining from impurities, such as cursing, are expected behaviors for those partaking. Children do not have to fast until they have reached puberty, but many practice before they reach it. Those who are pregnant, sick, injured, or have other medical conditions are exempt from fasting, but still participate in some traditions, such as parties.

Nawal Adil
Egg and parhata is a popular dish during Ramadan. Despite Saudi Arabia struggling to see the moon, Bel air announced that Ramadan would start for them on May 16th.

Eid ul Fitr is a festival that includes dressing in cultural dresses and celebrating the completion of Ramadan. At the party, many read and recite verses from the Quran and ask for forgiveness of their sins from Allah. Henna, a form of body art from ancient India, is done throughout Ramadan and during Eid ul Fitr. After praying, those who are finished go to individual houses and socialize and share their beliefs. This creates a strong Muslim community and promotes unity for this unique culture. On weekends, they go to mosques to worship Allah and pray. They get all dressed up and when they are finished they go to each other’s houses and celebrate even more.
In Egypt, the time goes back an hour during Ramadan to make the day seem to go by faster. In America, Muslims have to go to work, school, sports, and other activities while fasting. They do this because they love the purpose of this holiday. Nawal Adil is a freshman at Patterson Mill who has partaken in Ramadan for seven years. She waits every year for the delicious food and meaningful traditions that take place during this sacred time. During lunch she sits and waits patiently while her friends eat. She chooses to fast and go to all her engagements because she knows it is the right thing to do and she learns so much from it every year. She finds it “surreal that [less fortunate] people suffer starvation every day” and is humbled at having a house and money for food.

Nawal Adil
The food going from left to right is potato pakoras, samosas, and onion pakoras. The mother of the household prepares this food while she is fasting and cannot taste the food to make sure it is well seasoned.

Ramadan also focuses on the five pillars of Islam which are sawm, hajj, zakat, salat, and shalada. Sawm is the fasting that takes place, hajj is pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime, zakat is giving to the poor, salat is the prayer they perform five times daily, and shalada is the declaration of believing in one God. These pillars are the frameworks of Ramadan and are activities that give purpose to Muslims. Nawal went to Mecca in November of 2017 and she felt “so close to Allah” and can’t wait to return. She also shared how she “loves the feeling Ramadan gives” and she looks forward to purifying herself even if the fasting can be a challenge.
Coming to school and trying to focus on studies and classes can be hard when there is the constant distraction of being hungry. Nawal wishes that schools would respect them and this tradition by allowing the participants to miss school and work at home. She also said that half days would be nice especially since, as she says, “We get off holidays for Jewish, Christians, etc. So why can’t Ramadan be just as important?” It would be hard to plan school around Ramadan since the dates change every year and are never constant. However, schools should give the choice to the fasters to stay home and complete their work. This would allow them to nap when needed, go to mosques to worship, and not worry about lunches at school.
Ramadan is a beloved experience for many who choose to participate in it. The traditions that take place during Ramadan such as prayers, celebrations, and worship make the Muslim community better people. Purposely fasting for a long time shows dedication and true love for this holiday with its purpose of helping others, being kind, and purifying the body and soul.

 

 

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Ramadan: Fasting for a purpose