By: Tahyia Alvi
As the ninth month of the Muslim calender has begun, the holy month of Ramadan has also started for more than two billion Muslims across the globe.
Ramadan is a time for reflection on past actions and restraint from ill acts that corrupt the soul. This includes curbing any negative or intrusive thoughts or actions, such as swearing, jealousy, complaining and anger, which could harm others.
Individuals who are ill, pregnant, nursing, menstruating, young or eledery do not participate in the act of fasting. More broadly, the time of fasting starts at dusk and ends at dawn and so, abstinence from food and drinks (including water) begins in this period of time.
“For me, it is a chance to be grateful for the blessings of bountiful food that nourishes my body. It also makes me more empathetic towards those people around the world who are less fortunate in regards to food and clean water,” Faryal Sheikh, an IU South Bend alumni and a member of the Muslim Student Association, said.
Giving to charity is one of the key practices in Ramadan, since it is all about compassion and sacrifice. The religion stipulates that Muslims must donate 2.5 percent of their wealth once a year to help the poor and needy, also known as “Zakat” (meaning “to cleanse”). These funds are used to assist Muslims worldwide, as well as those Muslim communities in the United States that require it.
The Islamic Society of Michiana (ISM) hosts special food drives for everyone during Ramadan, which are prepared by Muslim families in the South Bend community. Even though the act of fasting is similar worldwide, Muslims all over the world have their own ways of preparing cultural foods and value personal family traditions.
Marking the end of Ramadan is a big three-day celebration called “Eid al-Fitr,” or the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast, with festivities which are enjoyed among family and friends.