Every year, Muslims from all around the world come together in harmony to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan. Put simply, Ramadan is a holy month of fasting, prayer, and introspection for Muslims that practice the religion of Islam. The month is celebrated as the same month in which Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) received the initial revelations of the Quran, which is the Islamic holy book.
What Exactly is Ramadan?
The traditional perspective of Ramadan is centered around the fasting aspect of it. Each day during Ramadan, Muslims will wake up and eat before sunrise and then abstain from their traditional meals until sunset. In addition to avoiding eating and drinking, Muslims are also expected to avoid any bad behavior and impure thoughts that could break their fast. At the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which is one of the renowned major holidays of Islam.
Every night, specifically after the sunset prayer (Ishaa), Muslims have the option to participate in Taraweeh prayers, which tend to last around an hour in total. By participating in these prayers, Muslims can fully immerse themselves in the holy prayers and the blessed pervading mood of Ramadan as a whole.
This year, Ramadan falls on April 12 and will end on May 12, making it span a period of exactly one month. Each year, Ramadan tends to get earlier, and a fun fact about the cycle is that it passes through all seasons over a period of 35 years. This makes fasts shorter in the winter as compared to the summer where they are longer.
Ramadan From the Student Perspective
With Green Hope fostering a diverse student body, Ramadan is celebrated by a commendable number of students at the school. Multiple students from various different locations have already expressed their goals and plans for the month:
Ramadan During a Global Pandemic
With the pandemic making last year and this year’s Ramadan fairly different than normal, some students expect the holy month to be different while others are actually appreciative of the extra time that the virtual learning environment will give them to better themselves.
“COVID will not really impact the days of fasting because they are going to be spent at home. In fact, virtual learning due to COVID makes this Ramadan more flexible and relaxing. However, I do think that COVID would impact the Eid celebrations because of limited interaction. It is not certain if the traditional Eid namaz would be held at the mosque as well,” stated Ryam Ibrar, a senior at Green Hope.
Another former Green Hope student expressed their perspective of the changes that will most likely be observed this month in which they stated, “The mosques will have a cap on Taraweeh participants, so obviously it will impact that key aspect of Ramadan. Another aspect that will also be impacted is the lack of Iftar gatherings. I miss these two valuable experiences, especially since they bring a strong sense of unity in such a holy month.”
Even with the restrictions that may be imposed in order to keep everyone protected during Ramadan, high school track athletes are also facing an additional challenge of managing the season while participating in the holy month, as it will entirely take place during the school year. Despite the numerous beneficial effects of fasting, it can be difficult for athletes to optimize their performance while running on low energy and lack of proper hydration, thus making them vulnerable to falling behind, especially given the warmer weather this season.
Ammar Malik, a current junior in high school in California, expressed his concern for this strife, stating, “COVID pushed back my track season, and this is a pretty important season for me, so I can’t really fast as it would be very detrimental to my performance.” However, even though he may abstain from fasting for the sake of performing well during the season, he is still optimistic that this month will be beneficial and valuable. “The vibes are immaculate. It honestly just has a whole different feeling, and even though I won’t be fasting, it will still be fun,” he said.
What Else Does Ramadan Entail?
Aside from simply abstaining from certain behaviors and avoiding eating and drinking during the day, there are a number of aspects of Ramadan that some Muslims feel are important for everyone to know.
“I want them to know about the concept of Taqwah. Many non-Muslims and even some Muslims fail to understand an essential purpose of Ramadan, and that is to increase Taqwah (God-consciousness). Many believe that we fast to feel the hunger that poor feel, or to enhance our patience, when in reality we are actually increasing Taqwah more than anything else,” stated a former Green Hope Student. “Think of it like this, if you are fasting, you could always secretly break your fast while no one is watching, then join your family at Iftar and pretend like you fasted the whole day. Well, what is stopping you from doing that? It is Taqwah. You are conscious of the fact that Allah is continuously watching you, so you filter your actions to satisfy his demands,” they added.
In other words, Ramadan is not only about empathizing with those who are less fortunate and building patience. Although those are key factors of the holy month, one of the main goals is to achieve a greater relationship with God through staying committed and disciplined.
In addition, it is also important to take this time during Ramadan to build stronger relationships with the people around you. “It’s not just about not eating, but it’s also a time of brother/sisterhood, giving back, bettering our character, and more,” stated Huda Kose.
One last note for non-Muslims is that there are ways for them to express their care and awareness for the Muslim community: “A mere “happy Ramadan” or “Ramadan Kareem/Mubarak” from non-muslims goes a long way in making us feel included and cared for!”
Overall, Ramadan is a period of worship, self-improvement, and much more. Everyone has different goals for Ramadan, and it is truly a period of time for Muslims to better themselves, build stronger relationships with people and God, and develop a deeper appreciation for everything that they have in this world. For all of the non-Muslims reading this, there is no harm in touching on the aspects of Ramadan yourself; you can try to challenge yourself by fasting alongside your Muslim friends or by simply taking the time to reflect on everything you are grateful for, so try to immerse yourself in the culture!