Cover image by Tess Buckley
Ramadan is a sacred month for over 1.5 billion Muslims around the world. Many Muslims believe that God revealed the first verses of the Quran, Islam’s sacred text, during this month to Mohammed on a night called Laylat al-Qadr, “The Night of Power.” Observing Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, the obligations all Muslims must follow.
During Ramadan, which began on April 1st this year, observers fast during the day, generally eating a meal before sunrise and after sunset. Fasting is obligatory, but there are special exceptions for people who are sick or unable to fast.
Ramadan serves several spiritual and social purposes. Junior Zaina Hamzawi said that fasting “teaches patience…and provides perspective on how the less fortunate live everyday,” encouraging compassion to help the needy.
Senior Marjona Abdullayeva said that Ramadan “is a month of reflection, where we get rid of bad habits and set new goals for the year.” In addition to fasting, observers typically also abstain from smoking, vaping, engaging in sexual activity, and similar activities during the holy month.
The rituals of the month also bring people together. Hamzawi says her family “gets together and has gatherings with people [they] haven’t seen in a long time.”
Safaei said that iftar, the meal after sunset, is “the busiest time in [their] house, most often because [they] always have guests over.”
Abdullayeva mentioned that whenever she finds out someone else is fasting, she “instantly just [feels] closer to them, because just knowing someone knows what that feels like and what it means just instantly creates a different type of bond.” Some students also use Ramadan as an opportunity to share their cultures with others. Abdullayeva said that, during Ramadan, she “invites friends over who aren’t Muslim to see what it’s like.”
Although M-A does not have a large Muslim community, there are still simple ways to support those who do observe Ramadan. Abdullayeva commented that “just being aware, not eating and drinking directly in front of [observers] really goes a long way.”
Hamzawi noted that it is especially helpful when “teachers are just mindful” since she usually has “less energy than usual.” Simply being aware of Ramadan and those around you who celebrate can help create a better environment for observers.