Students observe Ramadan

By Sadiya Ahmed

The holy month of Ramadan, which Muslims are currently observing, is considered one of the most sacred times by followers of the religion. There are many reasons for its importance, one being the revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad.

Ramadan is the only Islamic month that is mentioned in the Quran. It occurs in the ninth Islamic month of the lunar calendar. Muslims follow the lunar calendar rather than the Gregorian as the Quran states that it is the preferred measure of time.

Fasting during the month of Ramadan is a distinguishing practice for Muslims. Muslims fast every day for 30 days from dawn until sunset. Those who are observing the fast must abstain from eating and drinking.

Though fasting in Ramadan is a demanding spiritual discipline, followers believe it aids in strengthening one’s faith. It is symbolic of the plight that poverty-stricken people face.

“Ramadan is about making sacrifices. . It is a time to be thankful to God for His endless bounties and blessings,” said Touqeer Ahmed, Muslim Students Association president and senior in LAS.

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    Ramadan is considered a month where family and friends congregate together at the mosque for supplication, breaking the fast and simply to greet one another. Many spend nights in prayer, known as “Taraweeh,” in order to gain blessings from God.

    “I feel that Ramadan should be understood as a gift to all,” Fauzia Rahman, graduate student, said. “Not only do Muslims benefit from these blessings but all who are in contact with the community benefit as well.”

    The Central Illinois Mosque and Islamic Center, 106 S. Lincoln Ave., is a place Muslim students visit during Ramadan. Iftars or breaking-the-fast feasts are served by community members every evening.

    The mosque also provides an opportunity for Muslim students to acquaint themselves with community members.

    “There is an opportunity to engage in discussions and share food with people of different backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses,” Rahman said. “This is one of the benefits of being given the opportunity to take part in Ramadan away from a home setting.”

    Some students on campus have been participating in activities at the mosque during the month of Ramadan for many years.

    “I’ve spent my last three Ramadans here in Urbana-Champaign, and all praise is due to God because those have been the best Ramadans of my life,” Ahmed said.

    Ramadan encourages people to spend time with their families, especially when the time for breaking fast arrives. However, on campus, Muslim students create their own families by bonding with those they meet at the mosque.

    “When you’re on campus you don’t have your parents to take care of you, feed you or encourage you to pray.

    Your friends and community become your family,” said Amina Butt, junior in LAS and vice president of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, also known as CAIR.

    Charity is also a main characteristic of Ramadan and conveys the idea of selflessness. It can be fulfilled in many ways, including providing people with assistance or treating them with kindness and respect.

    “Fasting is not just depriving oneself of food or drink, but there is a component of selflessness involved,” Rahman said.

    At the end of Ramadan, a festival known as Eid-al-Fitr is celebrated by all Muslim communities around the world. Congregational prayers are held in mosques and Islamic centers.

    After experiencing this month of purity, Muslims congratulate each other and send their blessings.

    The mosque welcomes people from the community, especially during the iftar dinners. This time provides an opportunity for people to learn more about the Islamic tradition and Muslim culture.