Why Ramadan Is Important To Me
On May 6th, 2019, Muslims all over the world started fasting for the month of Ramadan. Your first question may be, “Okay…, and they couldn’t start on May 1st because…?”. I get it! But something you may not know is that Muslims follow the lunar calendar, and the start of Ramadan is marked by the sighting of the new moon! That just happened to fall on May 6th instead of May 1st. Sorry!
I feel like everyone knows that Muslims fast during this month, but do you know why? Hopefully this blog will answer that question for you, and also explain why Ramadan is my favorite month!
Ramadan is about abstaining from food and drink from first light until sunset. We wake up before our morning prayer, Fajr, at about 3:30am, to eat and drink. Once we pray Fajr, that is when our fast begins. Our fourth prayer of the day, Maghrib, at 8:40pm, is when we break our fast! So here in Victoria, Muslims are fasting for about 17 hours a day!
What’s the purpose? The month of Ramadan is what Allah (swt) has gifted Muslims to recognize how privileged we are. To be grateful for all that we have, and to understand better the suffering that millions all around the world feel everyday, as many don’t have access to food and clean water. It’s a month where we humble ourselves and we thank Allah (swt) for all that we have. Some use this as a time to lose weight or to start eating and living healthier!
Ramadan is about giving back. You will see a lot of Muslims this time a year making an even bigger push to donate or volunteer in their community. As I become more aware of what I have, I become aware of the surplus of things I have in my home. Do I need 10 backpacks? No. But there is a shortage for the community that uses Our Place Society. I don’t need to keep the random shirts that I have in my closet that I never wear or collect 5 blankets knowing I only use one of them. It’s a great time for me to realize that these materials can be put to such better use. So I donate it! Food! Money! Time! If you want examples of what the UVic Muslim Students Association is doing, you can check out our website!
Ramadan is not just about fasting from food. We fast with our eyes, ears, minds and mouths. It’s about being careful and aware of the company you keep. About the music you listen to or the words you hear. It’s about what you let consume your mind. Are you reading the bibliography of Malcolm X (a Muslim by the way) or are you watching Game of Thrones? It’s also about the words that you speak. The way that you treat people. Obviously every day, everyone should work to put their best foot forward and be kind to those around them, but Allah (swt) dedicates an entire month to this process in the hopes that we will continue this growth after the month of Ramadan.
Ramadan is about working on being a better person. Ramadan is like Christmas to me! Some people say that Eid al-Fitr, the Islamic celebration after Ramadan, is like Christmas, but for me, it’s the month itself. I’m not from an Islamic majority country. When I was younger, there was a few Muslims who lived in my community, but for the majority of my life in the Bahamas, it was just my mom, my dad, my two brothers and me who made up the Islamic population. There wasn’t a sense of community. But here? I love it. I love seeing a friend on campus and knowing that they are fasting like I am. I love going to the Masjid al-Iman and seeing all of the Muslims that reside in Victoria. This month always has the largest turn out as people make a larger effort to get off work early or any time they’re free to be there. I love how I feel when I fast. To me, a huge part of what makes us human is being able to empathize with others, and to act on those emotions to help when we can. And it scares me that become of the world we are living in, we are becoming numb to the pain and suffering of those around us. “If it’s not happening to us it’s easy to ignore.” Ramadan forces us to look and to feel. And I love that I can feel my heart grow in this month. Alhamdulillah!
Ramadan is about coming together as a community. My favorite part is the dinners. It’s the food and the evenings when we all gather as a community and break our fasts together and we share in that meal. And I want to share that feeling with you all! So if you’re interested in participating, come to our MSA Iftar potlucks on Thursday evenings! You do have to register to attend, but it’s on campus, and it’s worth attending.