Observing Ramadan at Seattle U

Posted by Corinne Pann on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 at 3:58 PM PDT

By Amina Ibrahim and Anab Nur

Ramadan marks the ninth month of the lunar calendar in Islam. For Muslims around the world, the holy month is spent fasting, refraining from food and drink, from sunrise to sunset.  In Seattle, this means we fast from 4 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. People who participate in the fast wake up before 4 a.m. to eat suhoor (a pre-dawn meal) and then offer a morning prayer. In addition to their normal daily activities, Muslims spend the month of Ramadan increasing their prayers, reciting the Quran, and giving to charity. During this holy month, Muslims reflect on how to better perform Islamic values in their daily lives, such as patience, solidarity, and peace. Each night, as the sun sets, we break our fast with a date and a glass of water surrounded by family, friends, and community members. The end of Ramadan is marked by a religious holiday called Eid-Al Fitr.

Celebrating Ramadan at a university and in a country where many people have never met a Muslim presents an array of challenges. Many people are unaware of Ramadan. Many Muslims I know recall being met with wide eyed shock as they are asked, “Not even water!” after telling a non-Muslim they are observing Ramadan.  Yes, we do not eat or drink anything, not even water. Observing Ramadan while in college sometimes means taking an exam at 2 p.m. when we haven’t consumed anything for over eight hours. It means not always being in community for iftar (the breaking of the fast) as intended, because we are studying for finals.

But, Ramadan at Seattle U has also meant being able to break fast with other Muslim students and Campus Ministry staff members at 9 p.m. It has allowed for Muslim students to pause and spend time reflecting on the purpose of education, social justice, and community. We find ways to connect with other Muslims on campus during this month; we decide on which days we want to break fast together, share tips on how to get through long days full of classes and work, offer up spaces to one another to take quick midday naps, and frequently come together to pray in congregation.

It is difficult to practice a spiritual fast in a community that does not also pause and reflect with you. However, it also offers a unique experience for Muslims in college. We get to find ways to intentionally integrate some of the most beautiful aspects of our faith into our daily lives in hopes that these practices will continue and grow beyond this month. We are constantly looking for ways to reach out to the community around us to share iftar meals, to tell them about our practices, or to extend our patience and solidarity to them when necessary.

 This Ramadan we strongly urge you if you are not Muslim to reach across to your Muslim neighbor. Attend an interfaith iftar at a local mosque and pause and reflect during this holy month.