Muslim students explain what Ramadan is to them

Talon Delaney

Each year Muslims observe Ramadan, a month-long ritual of purification through fasting – but when the fasting starts changes year to year. This year Ramadan will span from May 26 to June 25, but that isn’t always the case.

Abdul Mohammed, sophomore in public relations, explained Ramadan follows the Arabic lunar calendar. This is why Ramadan isn’t observed on the same date in the Gregorian calendar (the calendar the U.S. uses) each year. However, it is always a 30-day-long tradition. This year Ramadan begins at the end of May.

“It’s kind of harder in the summer because I’m more active and the sun is up longer,” Mohammed said.

Even so, Mohammed still feels Ramadan allows him to explore and understand his faith, and get closer to Allah. Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, making it a vital part of the faith. Muslims are commanded to fast from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan, unless they are ill or otherwise incapable.

To Mohammed, it’s a time to look inward, and appreciate what Allah has given him.

“It’s a month to be grateful… and a time to really value the religion,” Mohammed said. “It’s a very peaceful month, I find myself not stressing as much. It’s really relaxing to be in the mosque around my friends.”

For Syed Muhammad, senior in mechanical engineering, Ramadan brings him closer to Allah and his ancestors who fasted before him. He’s carrying out the traditions of his lineage. Muhammad is from Malaysia, a Muslim majority country.

“We fight our temptations for Allah,” Syed said. He said fasting helps Muslims fortify their taqwa, an Islamic concept of consciousness of one’s self and actions regarding Allah.

Fasting for Ramadan doesn’t just involve food. Muslims are commanded to abstain from all vices while the sun is up: No sex, no smoking and no drinking.

“It’s like regiments for athletes,” Muhammad said.

Ramadan is also about being humble, and a reminder that millions of people everyday go without food. Muhammad and Mohammed believe fasting helps them respect the struggles of impoverished people.

“A concept of fasting is to feel what the poor feel,” Muhammad said.

“We also pray often and give a lot to charity during Ramadan,” Mohammed said.

Ramadan also brings Muslims closer to their family and community. 

“In Malaysia, Ramadan is very family-oriented,” Muhammad said. “But when I was at school it became more community-oriented. I’d go to the mosque and meet Muslims from Pakistan, Uganda, Iran and many other places.”

Muslims who are capable of fasting are held accountable for their actions. If one is to eat or otherwise break their fast, they can make up for it by fasting after Ramadan has ended. 

“Fasting can be hard, but it’s very rewarding,” Mohammed said.

While fasting is taken very seriously, Muhammad said he would not shame someone for breaking their fast.

“We are not to disgrace each other,” Muhammad said. “But I might ask them ‘Are you well?’ and invite them to eat dinner with my family,” he added with a smile.