Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, marking when the Koran was sent down to the Prophet Muhammad. Fasting is obligatory for Muslims from sunrise to dusk during this month.
Shahid Mohiuddin, president of the Muslim Student Association, said he looks forward to the month. “Fasting is not just staying away from food and drink. It’s also staying away from ill conduct like lying. It’s pretty much striving to attain the noblest character in the example of the Prophet Muhammad.”
Everyday, during Ramadan, Temple’s Muslim students gather at the Village on the second floor of the Student Activities center to break their fast. They set up a prayer rug and at sunset pass a bowl of brown dates. A prayer leader recites a melodic Islamic prayer called “The Opening” and then another verse from the Koran. They then pray and prostrate themselves before god.
“When you fast, you make this conscious decision to stay away from the things you need or the things you think you need,” Mohiuddin said.
Khalid Blankinship, who teaches religion at Temple, says fasting teaches self-discipline. He added, “It teaches oneself how the poor and hungry feel.”
Waqas Memon, of the Muslim Student Association, said the observance, “teaches us self control and self restraint.”
Dhuha Saber, a member of the Muslim Student Association, said restraining from food and drink makes you a stronger person. “If you can do that, you can do almost anything.”
Mohiuddin said Ramadan helps one strengthen his connection with God and see through things in life that are petty and small.
“It clears away all the noise so you’re much more focused on life, ” Mohiuddin said. “You see things the way they truly are.”
Mohiuddin said the fasting is preparing Muslims for the nights since they are more significant. The Angel Gabriel visited the Prophet Muhammad every night in Ramadan, more so than in any other month.
Ramadan is one of the most important months for Muslims. The Prophet Muhammad said in a sermon on the advent of Ramadan, “The days of this month are the best among the days, and the nights are the best among the nights, and the hours during Ramadan are the best among the hours.”
Muhammad meditated on a mountaintop when Gabriel appeared before him and told him to recite. Muhammad hesitated. When Gabriel repeated his command, Muhammad obeyed. The revelations began.
“[Muhammad] felt a being come, and it overwhelmed him. He felt he was being stifled,” said Blankinship.
Blankinship said Muhammad did not know it was a true revelation. “He was convinced when his wife took him to her cousin, who knew something of the monotheistic religions.”
Muslims are encouraged to read a thirtieth of the Koran each night during Ramadan. All good deeds done during the observance are multiplied 700 times in the eyes of God.
“That’s the mercy of God. That’s why Ramadan is a golden opportunity,” said Mohiuddin.
Ramadan is not only about fasting and prayer but is also a celebratory time.
“Even though people are fasting, it’s festive because people get together to break their fast,” said Blankinship.
Dhuha Saber echoed that sentiment. “It strengthens the family and it strengthens the community, because we come together to break our fast. We come together to pray.”
Matthew Stringer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org