A large portion of Ramadan, an Islamic holiday that lasts the length of a lunar cycle, is happening during Spring Term this year. Ramadan is the holiest time of year in Islam, and started on Monday. Some Muslim students are balancing fasting during daylight hours with their end-of-term school work.
Sophomore Tehreem Anwar and junior Shayan Nadeem explained that during Ramadan, the devil is restrained. With the devil restrained, any bad deeds that are done cannot be blamed on him; they are the person’s own ill will.
During Ramadan, Muslims fast from everything impure. Director of Spiritual Life Monica Corsaro said this includes food, water, cigarettes, alcohol and sexual acts.
“Fasting is a lifestyle,” Nadeem said. “It’s not just food and drink. It’s, like, the way you talk, the way you walk, the way you carry yourself, the way you are without these.”
During Ramadan this year, fasting will begin around 4:00 in the morning and end around 8:00 at night, once the sun sets. Because the holiday is on the lunar calendar, it moves back about 10 days every year. Next year, all of Ramadan will be during Spring Term. Nadeem said Ramadan is set on the lunar calendar so it can be experienced in all seasons.
“The reason for it being on the lunar calendar is so it comes back 10 days each year. Once in your lifetime, you’re going to have it in the winter, the spring and the fall as well,” Nadeem said.
During Ramadan, Muslim students will wake up around three in the morning for breakfast. Nadeem and Anwar both said they would have a hard time adjusting to waking up so early, eating and going back to bed before classes.
After breakfast, the students will continue with their days like normal, minus any food or drink they would normally have. Anwar expects Ramadan to be hard for her this year because she has a busy schedule. Nadeem, on the other hand, finds it easier to fast when he’s busy.
“If you have nothing to do, you’re sitting there thinking, ‘Oh, hmm, when I break my fast, I’m going to eat this, I’m going to eat that, I hope my mom makes this and that,’” Nadeem said.
For both Nadeem and Anwar, fasting becomes harder with night classes and night shifts at work, a problem neither encountered last year. Anwar has some meetings she must attend during the times that fasts are supposed to be broken in the evening.
“There are meetings that I can’t afford to miss,” Anwar said. “I’m getting paid to attend those meetings basically so finding the balance between ‘Okay, so I’ll have to open my fast during the meeting then I’ll have to find some sort of an excuse to pray.’”
Nadeem also has a night class that takes place during the time in the evening when fasts are broken, called Iftar. Nadeem has made plans to leave class to celebrate Iftar and return after he has broken his fast.
“I’m Muslim first; a student after,” Nadeem said.
Corsaro, Nadeem and Anwar are grateful to Bon Appétit for agreeing to cater Ramadan meals and allowing students to use meal swipes for these meals. In the past, this was not the case.
Nadeem was the president of the Islamic Club last year. He helped work to ensure Muslim students had meals during Ramadan and that these meals were open to the Knox community. Bon Apptit took recipes from Muslim students and made them exactly as the recipe said.
Knox students are welcome to join Iftar meals. The meals are covered with one meal swipe and take place in the Lincoln Room around eight, after the sun sets.
Nadeem took great pride in the fact that the food was better than regular cafeteria food. He said that the fact that the food had spices and flavor brought other students in to celebrate with the Muslim students.
“When word went around campus, people didn’t go to dinner. People came to the Muslims for food,” Nadeem said. “That food brought people together. Food made a community.”
Along with all Ramadan meals being open to the Knox community, Corsaro, Nadeem and Anwar said two meals would be open to the Galesburg community. One of these open meals will be a fast-a-thon.
The Knox and Galesburg communities will be invited to join Muslim students in fasting for Ramadan for a day. A briefing about the fast-a-thon will be held on May 10 at 7:30 p.m. in the Lincoln Room and the Fast-a-Thon itself will be held on May 11. At the end of the Fast-a-Thon, anyone who participated is invited to that evening’s Iftar to break their fast and share their experiences.