Fasting, prayer mark start of Muslim holy month

by Matthew Gruchow

University Muslim students celebrated Ramadan – a monthlong Islamic holiday – Monday at Coffman Union. The holiday began Friday, starting a period of fasting and prayer.

Every weekday at sunset, Muslims and others can participate and celebrate Iftaar, the meal that breaks the daily fasting.

The event is an essential practice of Islam, said Mahdy Amine, a third-year law student and president of the Muslim Student Association.

Muslims cannot eat, drink, smoke or have sex between dawn and sunset during the period, Amine said.

Muslims immerse themselves in prayer during Ramadan in hopes of improving themselves and as a way to promote restraint and self-reflection, Amine said.

“It is a spiritual re-energizer for the following year,” he said. “It helps the Muslim reprioritize and get closer to the purpose of life.”

Usman Anwer, the Pakistani Student Organization president, said Ramadan is a special time for self-improvement. Ramadan also symbolizes when the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed, Anwer said.

“It’s a special time for me. It’s a time when you stay away from all the bad things and try to improve yourself,” Anwer said. “It’s almost an excuse for people to improve themselves.”

Students from all the Muslim student groups at the University will participate, he said. Non-Muslims can participate in the prayers, fasting and other events throughout Ramadan, he said.

Amine said opening the celebration to students and others can educate people about the essence of Islam.

“We want to portray the essence of Islam being a holistic approach to life, including spirituality,” Amine said. “Islam is a religion that has a very positive outlook, including peace and including spirituality.”