Fasting ends for celebrants of Ramadan

by Emily Babcock

After nearly 30 days of fasting from dawn to dusk to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Azhar Usman can now enjoy a nice daytime brunch.
But the second-year law student is not happy the month is over.
A big misconception of Ramadan, which begins each year at the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar, is that Muslims consider it torture, Usman said.
However, he said other traditions celebrated during the holy month make it enjoyable.
“The Muslim attitude is that Ramadan is a very special time,” he said.
He added that this year was even more special than last.
“I was able to connect with a lot more Muslims around the Twin Cities as well as Muslim students,” Usman said.
Abstaining from eating, drinking, smoking and sex are all part of the fast, which is one of the most important aspects of Ramadan.
University students, staff and faculty members honoring the traditions of Ramadan also attend Muslim Student Association events and prayers in addition to gatherings at an area mosque, a Muslim place of worship.
Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Koran, the sacred book of Islam, during the month, either individually or through mosque recitations.
The celebration of Ramadan marks the revealing of the Koran to the Muslim Prophet Muhammad by his messenger.
Jalil Tlemcani, a senior in the Institute of Technology and Muslim Student Association secretary, said the entire month means much more than the fast, which typically begins for a Muslim after reaching puberty.
“It is a spiritual exercise, to further Muslims to be stronger throughout the year,” Tlemcani said.
Mary Arlandson, a graduate student in public health, said the month is a time of personal reflection as well as community reflection.
One way Muslims become active in the community is through charity, she said. During Ramadan, Arlandson participated in a food distribution that gave her an opportunity to meet new people. She said it reminded her that everyone is connected.
“I realized what I need to pay attention to in my life,” she said. “The goal is to maintain that focus throughout the rest of the year.”
For Arlandson, a typical evening in the month of Ramadan consisted of breaking the fast at sunset, a prayer before the traditional larger meal, attending the mosque for the last of the day’s five prayers and finally studying the Koran.
Today also marks the beginning of a three-day holiday called Eid ul-fitr, which means “breaking the fast.” Families and friends traditionally gather for large feasts and to exchange gifts.