Ramadan comes to end, observers reflect on fasting this year


Jumana Alsaadoon

A digital design of a family breaking their fast with many traditional food, one of them being dates.

Jumana Alsaadoon, Online Managing Editor

One month out of every year, practicing Muslims fast from food and water, dawn to dusk. This normally lasts 12 to 18 hours, depending where they are located. Twice a day, before dawn and after sunset, Muslims eat in preparation for the fasting. With this set schedule, some have to work around work, school and family while fasting.

Arabic teacher Youssef Hala is observing Ramadan, and she points out her favorite part of Ramadan this year, was the Taraweeh prayer or salat in Arabic, which is a prayer done during the night time. 

Hala has a special place in her home set for that prayer. 

“I have a specific place in my home. It’s downstairs, it’s just for my salat. I always stay [there] with myself for maybe one hour, it’s about 50 or 60 minutes but I stay longer. It’s very spiritual for me,” Hala said. “Another part of Ramadan that I loved, [is] wake[ing] up early, I wake up at four and then very fast I eat my Suhoor. If it’s my regular day, some days are busy, I can’t wake up until 4:30, but my regular time [is] at four am.” There is one thing Hala finds to be vital to her dawn meal which is called suhoor in Arabic. 

“My tea is very important, it is a very important part of my suhoor,” Hala said.  

Hala is from Egypt and most of her family is there, despite being oceans apart she still remembers to make sure she makes time to call her family in her routine. 

“After that I start my night prayer which is another part I like of Ramadan, and then I call my family in Egypt to make sure that everyone is okay,” Hala said.  

While fasting all day might be harder for some, Hala is used to fasting every year. 

“My energy is the same because I used to fast other than Ramadan every month. I try to fast three days every month or more or less it depends,” Hala said. “I am used to fasting so this is my regular life.” 

Hala is surrounded by Muslim students who observe Ramadan in her Arabic classes. For that reason she tries to incorporate Ramadan information in her curriculum with an assignment that instructs students to research Ramadan in Arab countries. Muslim students in her third block are also allowed to stay in her class during the lunch period. 

“Nothing changes with my students, they are the same. They are used to fasting every Ramadan so this is not something new that they do. I invite them to my classroom during lunch so they don’t just share the view of the cafeteria with [all] the food,” Hala said. 

Ramadan is a religious holiday so prayer is a crucial part of the holiday. There are specific prayer times and school hours at times which hinder the ability for students to pray. Hala gives her students a place in her classroom to pray every Friday. 

“The idea is wonderful, [it’s] to have a Friday prayer in my class,” Hala said. 

She uses the prayer time to also bring some education to the students about what the prayer means to Muslims. 

“They [also] learn more about the Friday prayer. They learn the first steps of that prayer,” Hala said. 

While some like Hala find fasting to be easy some students find difficulties in keeping up with the fasting. Freshman Amir Saeed is a part of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) which is an extracurricular that demands physicality throughout the day. Due to fasting, Saeed finds his energy to be low, but he continues to train despite that. 

“I’m starting to get used to it. I [have to] focus on eating well and eating a lot of carbs to save some energy,” Saeed said. “I don’t have as much energy as I usually do. I’m really hungry and thirsty.”  

Saeed’s schedule looks different in Ramadan because of JROTC and other physical activities. 

“I usually wake up around four [a.m.] and I eat, I get ready for school then I come here at six and workout in the weight room, After that I do my homework in the JROTC room,” Saeed said. 

After school he continues to pursue other sports. 

“I have school and then at the end of the day I have track,” Saeed said. 

Freshman Jana Hayajneh is also a Muslim observing Ramadan. Hayajneh is currently a soccer player and training while fasting. She finds common difficulties in not drinking or eating while training. 

“I did it last year and I’m kind of used to it but it does get hard. When it gets really hot, we have to run a lot so you get really thirsty,” Hayajneh said. “It makes me wake up earlier because in the morning before sunrise, we get to wake up and eat, and then we go back to sleep.” 

Freshman Ayan Azim like all fasting Muslims have to work around the early waking up time. 

“I wake up around five and eat and then go to school. I come back from school to do some work and then I wake up around seven [p.m.],” Azim said. 

Fasting for years before, made fasting this year seem easy for Azim. 

“It’s been pretty easy this year. I’m kind of used to it now, I’ve been doing this for a while,” Azim said. 

Freshman Sara Hussein expresses hardships with the first meal of the day and also getting to school in the morning. 

“We have to wake up at midnight before sunrise. It gets tiring because we have school the next day…and we can’t drink water, but it’s still pretty good,” Hussein said.

Despite the physical demands that Saeed goes through without any water or food, he still finds happiness in celebrating the month. 

“It feels good at the end of the day when you know you fasted for a good cause and when the sun sets, we get to eat a really big feast,” Saeed said. 

Hayajneh also shares the excitement for the iftar, which is the sunset meal observers eat after a day of fasting. 

“When we break our fast, we have a big feast, and after that, we sit around and we usually watch a show and we hang decorations like lights,” Hayajneh said. 

Saeed reflected on some common traditions he experiences every Ramadan. 

“It’s important that you make sure you do a couple [of]  extra prayers. You are supposed to pray five times a day, but during Ramadan, you do extra prayers,” Saeed said. “It’s not mandatory, but a lot of people like to donate during Ramadan.” 

Hussein is looking forward to another Islamic celebratory holiday after Ramadan. 

“We have Eid after Ramadan, we just all celebrate with family and friends,” Hussein said. 

Eid al-Fitr which is translated to the celebration of the breaking of fasting. It’s a three day holiday in celebration of the end of Ramadan. It’s also a period of charity, social gatherings and gift giving. Muslim countries are anticipating the holiday to be on Friday.