Celebrated by Muslims around the world, Ramadan officially began at sunrise on April 2 this year, and students from Colombia’s Muslim community spoke to the Chronicle about their family traditions and what the holy month means. for them.
Ramadan, observed each year for one month based on the lunar calendar, begins 11 days earlier each year and marks the month when the Prophet Muhammad received the first revelations from the Quran, the holy book of Muslims.
To Muslims, Ramadan teaches self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice and empathy for those less fortunate, encouraging acts of generosity and obligatory charity. Along with this, fasting helps instill compassion for food insecure people. All the arguments in favor of fasting stem from one main objective: to strengthen one’s connection with God and Islam.
Summer Radwan, secretary of the Muslim Student Association of Colombia and junior communications student, describes Ramadan as a month for Muslims to reflect on their own spirituality, as well as a time to connect with other Muslims in the community.
“We all gather at a local mosque and pray Taraweeh, where we pray additional prayers rather than the obligatory ones,” Radwan said. “It’s a time for us to connect with God together.”
Radwan said connecting with the community during Ramadan makes the fasting period easier because everyone does it together, so there is mutual support from everyone in the community.
Radwan prepares for Ramadan by trying to stay consistent with his daily prayers, as well as fasting a few days before to get used to it. During Ramadan, her family eats iftar together every night, a meal that marks the daily breaking of the fast. Radwan’s family also prays the last prayer of the day together, making these times with his family more special.
Kashf Fatima, vice president of MSA and young marketing student, born and raised Muslim, now practices Islam in an effort to expand her knowledge and strive to find her spirituality.
“Ramadan is a month when you dedicate yourself to God,” Fatima said. “If you wanted to have a time to reconnect spiritually, Ramadan is the perfect time to do so.”
Fatima said many factors of Ramadan are beneficial, such as reading the Quran, praying the five daily prayers, strengthening and understanding your relationship with God, and recognizing those who may be less fortunate than you.
During Ramadan, there will be MSA-hosted events that students can look forward to, such as iftar dinners, pre-Eid henna stalls, and an Eid picnic with MSAs from other colleges. and Universities of Chicago.
Sophomore film and television student Sumana Syed is a Shia Muslim who was raised with a strong connection to Islam. Syed said Ramadan is a month of fasting which represents Muslims being thankful to God, and this time is used to do good deeds, read the Quran and learn more about Islam in general.
Although only three people in his family fast, the others not fasting for medical or age reasons, Syed’s family gathers for Ramadan to have iftar. Family traditions in Syed’s family include helping his family and community prepare for iftar, whether at their home, masjid or mosque.
Syed said Ramadan gave her time to focus on religion and get closer to God, because sometimes she felt like she didn’t prioritize religion as much. Ramadan gives him time to go to the masjid, as well as attend lectures and series that help him learn more about Islam.
Beyond his own reasons for fasting, Syed believes everyone can get something out of fasting, even if they’re not Muslim.
“I would welcome anyone who is not Muslim to try fasting for a day. We do it because we want to thank God, but it’s good for your health,” Syed said. “I would urge anyone to try fasting for a few days and see how it benefits them.”