U Muslims mark start of Ramadan

by Emma Carew

An estimated 1 billion people worldwide suffer from hunger.

During Ramadan, a month of fasting from sunup to sundown each day, Muslim people feel that hunger and think of those around the world who feel it every day, pre-med sophomore Amina Mohamed said.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Muslim Student Association President Musab Husaini said.

It is the month that the Quran, the Muslim holy book, was revealed to the Muslims and ordered that they fast the entire month from dawn until dusk, he said.

During the fast from sunup to sundown, Muslims are prohibited from eating, drinking and having intimate relations, Husaini said.

Al-Madinah Cultural Center, in conjunction with the many Muslim cultural groups around campus, will host meals called Iftars at sundown every Monday through Thursday at Grace University Lutheran Church throughout the month of Ramadan.

At sundown, Muslims break the fast with Iftars and prayers, Husaini said. The evening prayers are often extended and during the past 10 days continue through most of the night, he said.

Husaini, who leads the prayers at Al-Madinah, said during Ramadan, Muslim congregations try to recite the entire Quran.

When Muslims break their fast at the Iftars, they think of others around the world that do not get to break their own fasts, said finance marketing junior Abdulaziz Al-Salim.

It makes people think of the things they do have, and also the things which they do not, such as starvation, he said.

“For me, Ramadan is a time when I can reestablish my relationship with God,” said biomedical engineering junior Harris Khan.

Khan said the month of Ramadan serves as a time to “recharge the battery” and build up dedication to the religion.

Fasting purifies the soul and makes people see the importance and beauty of Islam, he said.

Al-Salim said fasting is one of the only things no one can see a person do.

“You know you’re doing it, and God knows, but others can’t see you doing it,” he said.

Ramadan is also a time for non-Muslim students to learn about the Islamic faith, Al-Madinah Cultural Center Vice President Khalid Yousif said.

Al-Madinah is holding a Fast-A-Thon on Oct. 19 and for every non-Muslim student who pledges to fast that day, local businesses will donate money to the American Refugee Committee to benefit Darfur.

Yousif said people are encouraged to break their fast not only with family but as a community.

In some parts of Egypt, he said, you can go out to tents during Ramadan, and people of all religions and social statuses gather to break their fasts together.

During the first few days of Ramadan, Muslims often greet each other by saying, “Ramadan karim,” which means have a blessed Ramadan, Yousif said.

Al-Salim said many Muslims experience tranquility during Ramadan, a feeling called Sakina.

It’s kind of like the joyful feeling that fills a room when families exchange gifts at Christmas, he said.

Ramadan culminates in a three-day celebration called Eid alfatir. It is one of the largest celebrations in the Muslim religion, Yousif said.

There is a large prayer session on the first day of the new month following Ramadan, he said.

Afterward, people visit family and friends and often give gifts to children to help them celebrate, Yousif said. Large family and community meals are also common.

Al-Madinah Cultural Center will host Eid Rageous as a closing event to Ramadan, he said.

“When it’s Ramadan, everyone comes together and unites in prayer and everything else,” Mohamed said. “They don’t have to think – it’s automatic. They just come together.”