While most students will have the chance to enjoy three meals a day, this month, Muslim students all over campus have begun to participate in Ramadan, an observance spanning the entire month.
Muslims all over the world are asked to abstain from food and drink for extended periods of the day and remain prayerful.
Muslim student Emil Muhammad, 21, faithfully celebrates the observance despite its taxing requirements
“It means a lot,” said Muhammad, a native of Queens, NY, majoring in biological and agricultural systems engineering. “Ramadan means intense heat. Through heat comes purification, which is symbolic of this month. It’s time to get my mind right.”
Each year, Ramadan begins ten days earlier than in the previous year, which in turn, keeps the event rotating. Ramadan falls on the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, which is slightly different from the standard.
Months alternate between 29 to 30 days and as a result the calendar has a shorter year that spans 354 days.
The name itself came from a time before the Muslim calendar when the event usually fell on summer months. Ramadan can fall in any of the four seasons and depending on which season, it can be quite a challenge to fast.
This year’s Ramadan began September 1.
Muhammad says the key to successfully enjoying Ramadan is restraint and prayer.
“It definitely takes discipline,” Muhammad said. “It can be hard to abstain from food or certain physical desires. It’s the first time since I’ve been fasting that sunset has been at 8:30 pm so it’s been a test. I think the real test is your spiritual discipline. You have to watch what you say and watch what you think. Abstaining from food or drink is the least of my worries.”
Muhammad said that his morning prayer is the most important and that he generally takes an hour to read the Qu’ran, the central religious text of Islam.
He said that by breaking each part into sections, it is easier to read it through the course of a month.
Luqman McNeil, a senior Architecture student said following the religion was a bit of a challenge in his younger days but has since adjusted.
“It’s not really that hard for me anymore,” said McNeil, 21, a Jacksonville native. “The historical significance makes it special. It has deep spiritual meaning. It’s a month of calmness. For me it means a lot.”