Column: The life of a Muslim teen during RamadanRamadan: a time of patience, learning and religious piety. Ramadan: a time of mood swings, sleepiness and really craving that double cheeseburger.
By: Sarah Alabsi, Duluth Budgeteer News
Ramadan: a time of patience, learning and religious piety. Ramadan: a time of mood swings, sleepiness and really craving that double cheeseburger.
In all seriousness, Ramadan is the ninth, and holiest, month in the Islamic lunar calendar. While Ramadan can happen different times on different years, it started this year on July 8 and ended on Aug. 7.
Muslims worldwide abstain from food, drink and certain physical needs during the daytime. The fasting includes no food, drink, gum or candy of any sort. Violence, backbiting and gossip are also things that Muslims particularly attempt to abstain from during the holy month.
Ramadan is a month of self-evaluation and improvement. It is a time when relationships can be amended and actions can be forgiven.
As a young child, Ramadan was something I dreaded. No food or candy for hours? What a nightmare.
But by the time I was about 9, fasting during Ramadan was something I couldn’t wait to start doing. It made me feel like a grownup, like I was being the best Muslim I could be. I would beg my mother to let me fast at least half the day — just to test it out.
The original “cool” factor eventually faded away, but the closeness to myself and my religion remained.
Now at 17, with a job and a social life, I sometimes catch myself feeling like Ramadan is a chore. I quickly snap myself out of it, though. I realize that it’s an opportunity. An opportunity for me to be closer to my faith, to understand what those who are not as privileged must go through.
This cliché religious talk may not have any true meaning to someone who has not experienced Ramadan, so let me talk you through a typical day.
It starts at around 2:30 a.m. for a breakfast-like meal called suhur. What you eat at this meal is what you have to keep yourself going until sunset. This year, Ramadan took place in the middle of summer, so we’re looking at approximately 18 hours of fasting. Better get started chowing down.
Wrong. It’s 3:00 in the morning and the most I can manage to swallow is a piece of toast, half an egg and maybe some orange juice.
Next thing you know, it’s time for the first of five daily prayers — Fajr. Once you pray Fajr, you’re done eating until you break your fast at sunset. After this short prayer, I would go back to sleep.
Due to the change in sleep schedule, I usually wake up at 6 a.m. I exert as little energy as possible in the attempt to delay the pangs of hunger for as long as I can.
Before long, it’s time to go to work. This brings the challenge of resisting the urge to drink a glass of water or chewing on a snack as I usually do on the job. The hardest part seemed to be breaking away from my normal eating habits.
After work, I go home and attempt to sleep. I rarely do. Since I get off at 4 p.m. and Iftar, the meal eaten at sundown, is at around 9, I have a while to go before I can eat. The hunger pains usually hit me around 5 p.m.
The most difficult time of the day, and I’m sure many Muslims would agree, comes at the one-hour mark — an hour until Iftar, that is. You’re just so close, yet so far.
When Iftar does finally come around, my family gets together at the table, says a quick prayer and breaks the fast with an appetizer of some sort. Dates are customary, although my sisters and I are not big fans. We usually go for egg rolls instead.
After the appetizers, we go off to pray Maghrib, then return to the table to eat our meal.
The last special activity of a Ramadan day is Tarawih, late-night prayers. Muslims come together after Iftar for prayers every night in the hopes of finishing the Qura’an by the end of the month.
One of Islam’s biggest holidays is Eid-al-Fitr, which is the Feast of Breaking the Fast. This occurs at the end of the holy month and includes gift-giving, meals with the community and relaxation. My family usually gets together for a day of fun ending with a big dinner with the Muslim community.
Some of my fondest childhood memories are from Eid-al-Fitr. In a way, I always considered it as my Christmas.
No matter how frustrating a summer Ramadan can be to a teenager while fasting, it is a time I look forward to. It is a month I look back on with great reverence.
In a world with so much violence and hurt every day, Ramadan is a time when peace and unity can win over.
Alabsi is a summer intern at the Budgeteer through the Pohlad Family Foundation. She will be a senior at East High School this fall.