Ramadan Signifies Time for Sacrifice, Reflection for Muslim Students


Senior Aaliyah Orloff and her three other friends dressed to the nines for Eid. “It’s customary to dress really nicely on Eid. We planned to get a picture since we all dressed up,” Aaliyah said. After spending time at the mosque, they all went out to eat to celebrate the end of Ramadan.

Sydney Gastman, Lifestyle Editor

Full of spiritual growth, late night meals, and time spent with family, Ramadan is a joyous month for many Muslims. However, all of this fun comes with a sacrifice: fasting. And according to Muslim students, it doesn’t go by fast.

Ramadan is a holy month that follows the lunar calendar, so it moves back about ten days every year. One of the five pillars of Islam is fasting during the holy month, so Muslims who observe Ramadan abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to sunset. This year, Ramadan occurred during the summer.

“I look forward to Ramadan every year. I think of it as cleansing religiously because throughout the year, I’m busy with school and activities, and I don’t take much time to really think about religion,” senior Leen Abochale said.

During Ramadan, Leen makes an effort to sit down and think about what’s going on in her life. She uses it as a time to pray and reflect, thinking about God’s messages and purposes. To Leen, Ramadan is all about making sacrifices, despite what is going on in her life at the time.

“I always fast when I work. I don’t let Ramadan separate me from the real world,” Leen said. “The hardest part for me has been having to fast during the summer because I sometimes miss out on some activities because I’m either too tired, or I can’t really do anything.”

Even though Ramadan causes Leen to miss out on some things, she is dedicated to observing the holy month.

“My parents always say that if I’m not feeling well, I don’t have to fast, but I’m notoriously known in my family as the girl who fasts or the girl who likes to fast,” Leen said. “I started fasting the whole Ramadan at 10. Before that, I only did it because my mom and dad did it, and I didn’t really understand.”

Muslims who observe Ramadan fast when the sun is out; they only eat before and after sunrise. Some Muslims wake up in the wee hours of the morning before sunrise to have a meal to start the day, but Leen practices by eating one meal per day after the sun goes down.

“I usually have watermelon because that fills my stomach up, and I have lentil soup, which is traditional, and some dates and rice,” Leen said.

Being limited to only one meal per day makes it all the more special. Junior Ramy Yousef spends many of his nights with the larger Muslim community.

“The community is really close by to me, and we there go to pray every night for an hour,” Ramy said. “Then whenever we break our fast, we either eat dinner with our family or go to the mosque and eat as a community.”

Ramy started fasting when he was nine-years-old. Although his parents told him that he should start fasting, Ramy fasts for his own reason: God.

“[Fasting] removes your sins and makes God happy,” Ramadan said.

The day after Ramadan ends, Muslims celebrate with a holiday called Eid, which means feast.

Not all Muslims fast during Ramadan; some observe the holy month by simply spending time with family and eating traditional food and drink. Sophomore Urooj Baig, who moved to Little Rock from Saudi Arabia four years ago, does not fast during the entire month of Ramadan.

“When I lived in Saudi Arabia, I fasted when my parents did there,” Urooj said. “Here, during Ramadan we drink a special juice that’s like syrup, and sometimes we meet up with my uncle and his family.”

Although Urooj doesn’t fast right now, she plans to try to fast next year and into her adulthood.

“Our Imam [prayer leader of the mosque] says you don’t need to fast all at once. You can do it gradually, like by starting to drink three cups of water a day, then move on to two cups and day and so on,” Urooj said.

Whether students choose to fast or not, Ramadan is a very special time of the year. It is a time of cleansing, reflecting, and honoring God.