Fasting made easy: Panthers share how they survive Ramadan

By Cristina E. Garcia / Production Manager

‘Tis the season to be jolly, but don’t strike the harp or join the chorus just yet because we’re not talking about Christmas in July — it’s Ramadan!

Ramadan is a month of fasting observed by Muslims around the world. In fact, it is when Prophet Muhammad first received revelations of the Quran, therefore the month is considered the most sacred time of the year by Muslims.

Since the holiday is based on the lunar calendar, it shifts every year. According to the Islamic Society of North America, the first day of Ramadan this year was Saturday, June 28. In other places, the fast started June 29 or June 30.

Adnan Samma, a senior majoring in economics and international relations, said that debates surrounding when to start Ramadan have dated back a long time.

“How do you tell if it’s Ramadan? It’s based on the new moon. Ramadan doesn’t begin if the new moon has not been seen. If it’s sighted June 27, then [fasting] begins the following day,” said Samma.

Once Ramadan begins, able healthy Muslims abstain from food, water, smoking and sexual intercourse from sunrise to sunset.

“Know it’s not just fasting of the stomach, but also of the mouth,” said Samma, “no swearing or acting rash.”

Although it may sound hard, it’s not supposed to be impossible for followers to perform. According to ISNA, fasting is obligatory for adult Muslims “except those who are ill, traveling, pregnant, diabetic or going through menstrual bleeding.” Muslims who are able to fast, but have to miss a few days during Ramadan for the previous reasons, are able to make up the days anytime before the following year’s Ramadan.

Muhammad Nasimul Ghani, a sophomore in economics and international relations, said fasting during the summer is easiest because he doesn’t have classes.

“At least Miami has rain and sometimes a nice breeze; in Dubai, a small breeze is like a slap in the face because it’s more like a heatwave,” said Nasimul Ghani.

There are a few things Muslims and non-Muslims joining the fast can do to help them cope with the demands of the month. According to Nasimul Ghani, the biggest thing is to practice patience and remind yourself of the reasons behind the fast.

“When you remind yourself why you’re fasting, it makes your body understand you’re doing something that’s worth it,” he said.

The month of fasting is a time for spiritual reflection and increased worship, according to ISNA. During the fast, Muslims turn away from worldly activities and focus on God. In addition to cleansing the body and the spirit from impurities, the fast helps people empathize with those less fortunate, those that regularly do not have something to eat or drink.

“When you’re with people, friends and family that are fasting as well, it’s easier. It makes you think about it less,” said Nasimul Ghani. “You’re not constantly reminded about it.”

Samma, an international student from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said celebrating Ramadan on-campus is a little different from home.

“Back home I’m with family and Mom wakes me up. Here, I have to cook stuff on my own and celebrate it independently,” said Samma. “Back home it’s more joyous to go to the mosque. Here, you don’t know many people.”

For a successful Ramadan, Samma recommends to wake up early and eat breakfast, not just sleep past sunrise; to talk less so one’s mouth doesn’t become dry; and to avoid foods that are really oily or spicy because that could lead to stomach problems which would make your fast more difficult.

Veronica Canas, an alumna of the University, experienced something similar to Samma when she went to India on a study abroad program and found herself there during Ramadan.

“Fasting was difficult because I wasn’t at home and I wasn’t in control of when I was eating,” she said, “but they were very accommodating— they even bought me dates.”

Canas said something that helped her fast was a good breakfast.

In answer to the need for community and good food, the Muslim Students Association and FIU Pakistani Student Association are getting together to host the “Annual One Dish Iftar,” where fasting students can get together to pray and break the fast.

The event is in the style of a potluck and those attending are encouraged to bring one dish.

According to the MSA at FIU’s Facebook event page, it’s an opportunity “to learn the virtues of Ramadan and break our fast together as brothers and sisters.”


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