Holy month like a ‘spiritual J-term’

Muslims on campus would like to invite everyone to share food and experiences.

Last week adjourned with the beginning of a holy month for several million U.S. Muslims and a billion other Muslims all over the globe. During Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar year, Muslims fast from their appetites from dawn to sunset. Ramadan, however, is not only about skipping breakfast and lunch; it is a shared feeling of hunger with the poor and just as importantly a teaching of discipline of the soul and a call for unity and peace.

Ramadan to a Muslim is like a spiritual J-term for a student here at the University, where he or she enrolls in an intensive course to evaluate his or her life and reset his or her goals. Ramadan offers a comprehensive program for our spiritual overhaul.

The prophet Muhammad teaches us to get closer to one another as a global community and understand that there are hardships in life that many others face which we should be intact with. After fasting, no one looks at a hungry person the same again. This also helps us reflect on the injustice around the world. We unite at iftar time (the time when we break our fast) and enjoy the beauty of bonding as brothers and sisters, regardless of race or color.

It is also a time to get closer to the person we – at least on good days – envision ourselves to be: less proud, less attached to the external manifestations of the Self, more compassionate, more loving, more forgiving and more in touch with our common human predicament. Let us hope that these meanings are reflected in the bloody world of today, especially in Iraq and in the Gaza strip.

Muslims on campus are really excited that Ramadan is here. Muslims have embraced Ramadan after eagerly waiting for it for the past year. They have celebrated this month by generously offering others food, exchanging smiles and enjoying the warmth of the community.

In a time when several assumptions exist about Islam and its adherents, the Muslims on campus would like to invite everyone to share food and a Ramadan experience by joining us at sunset at any day in the next lunar month. A schedule of the iftars is published on Al-Madinah Cultural Center and Muslim Student Association Web sites. There will be a fast-a-thon Nov. 3 to give non-Muslims an opportunity to join the fast for a good cause.

Hassan Ghomrawi is a doctoral candidate at the University and a member of Al-Madinah Cultural Center. Please send coments to [email protected]