Posted on behalf of International Student Support as part of the International Perspectives Archive series
Ramadan: The month of Peace, by Habib Abdullahi
Ramadan is the month of peace, spirituality, sharing and helping those in need. One of the main facets of this month is fasting, which involves refraining from eating, drinking and sex from dawn to dusk on a daily basis for 29-30 consecutive days. The best things to do during Ramadan include Quran recitation, giving to the poor, visiting the sick, praying Tarawih and attending lectures in the mosque.
For those who are not fasting, you may wonder how to best conduct yourself around friends who are fasting during Ramadan. Here are six tips:
- Feel free to eat your meal: The fact that your friend or workmate is not eating until sunset does not mean you have to stay hungry too. Since we as Muslims are the ones adjusting our eating habits – we still want you to enjoy your meal.
- Don’t mind the yawning: Most people wake up before dawn to have their pre-fast meal. This means waking up as early as 3 am and then fasting for the next 18 hours. So don’t take it personally if your fasting friends yawn in the middle of your story – they’re probably a little sleepy!
- Avoid comparisons: Some Muslims don’t fast for various reasons. Still, it can be offensive or insensitive to ask non-fasting Muslims why they’re not fasting.
- Be culturally sensitive: Since Ramadan is the time to increase one’s spirituality, people feel an increased desire to practice their religion. So don’t be offended if your Muslim friends don’t have as much time for you – they are only focusing on their activities for the holy month.
- Greetings are treasured: “Ramadan Kareem” is a common greeting among Muslims, especially during the early days of Ramadan. Telling your Muslim friend “Ramadan Kareem” goes a long way.
- Avoid loud music: Out of consideration of your Muslim friends, try not to play music in their presence.
Eid Celebrations and the New Moon, by Sonia Urmee
I was seven years old the first time I saw the new moon, signalling the end of a month long fast, peek through the bare branches of a mango tree. Cheers from the forty or so villagers gathered together rang through the air. Firecrackers lit up the sky and the younger women brought out the henna to decorate each other’s hands. In the city though, it’s always been difficult to even spot the new moon – and even when you do, it only lasts for a few minutes!
Fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. Parents slowly try to get their children into the habit of fasting. Depending on the climate, the hours of fasting from dawn until dusk range from 8 to 17 hours. Personally, the most difficult thing about fasting is not the food deprivation, but the thirst.
The celebrations of Eid-ul-Fitr greet fasting Muslims with a new moon. The next morning, special prayers are held in congregation. For the next three days, people wear new clothes, visit friends and family and exchange gifts. To ensure that everyone can celebrate, an amount of money equivalent to the cost of 3 kilograms of barley or dates is donated to the poor before Eid.
Even though I grew up in various countries, Eid is always a special time in my life, no matter where I am. I look forward to it from the beginning of Ramadan. I think of what I’m going to wear and what my mother and I will cook. It’s a great time to catch up with family and friends with whom we don’t often have a chance to meet. It was the best time of the year when I was seven and it’s still the best time of the year now.