Islam’s Ramadan begins next week

By Jermaine Pigee

DeKALB | Starting next week, NIU Muslim students will take part in the holiest month of the Islamic year: Ramadan.

Fast from sunrise to sunset

One of the ways Muslims recognize Ramadan is by fasting.

“We have to fast from food, drink, including water, smoking and relations with one’s spouse,” said Kareem Kandil, president of the Muslim Student Association.

Muslims practice the fasting tradition as a lesson.

“You can feel the hunger poor people feel,” said junior clinical lab science major Talia Yousuf. “It teaches you not to waste your food.”

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic Lunar calendar and the holiest of the four holy months. Muslims believe God began revealing the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad during Ramadan. This is how Ramadan began.

“We can’t eat anything from sunrise to sunset, not even smoke or chew gum,” Yousuf said. “From sunset to sunrise, we can eat whatever we want.”

Even though fasting is required for all Muslims, people not able to fast do not have to do so.

“The first condition to fast is that the believer must be healthy, an adult and of sound mind and judgment,” said Muslim student advisor Atique Ahmed. “Sick persons, traveling persons and persons nursing babies are not required to fast until he or she returns to normal life.”

End of Ramadan celebrations

When the first crescent of the next new moon has been sighted by a reliable source, the month of Ramadan is declared over. The end of Ramadan is marked by a three-day period known as Eid ul-Fitr.

“Eid ul-Fitr is how we celebrate,” Yousuf said. “We wear new clothes and we eat. People get gifts for each other and we visit family and friends.”

For fasting NIU students, the month of Ramadan does not change their everyday routine.

“Life is normal as usual,” Ahmed said. “Classes, work, tests, everything is usual for fasting persons.”

The Muslim Student Association will hold events around campus to celebrate Ramadan.

“We are going to have a fast-a-thon,” Yousuf said. “We invite non-Muslims to fast.”

As part of the fast-a-thon, the MSA will be able to collect donations. The money collected will go to a local charity. The MSA plans to set up outreach tables — or Dahwah tables — to help students learn about the holy month.

For more information about Ramadan activities going on at NIU, contact Kareem Kandil at (815) 742-9885 or visit the Muslim Student Association at 721 Normal Road.

Jermaine Pigee is a diversity beat reporter for the Northern Star.