Ramadan: A month of fasting and reflection

Aleen Kanan praying during Ramadan. Photo by Tala Alsharif / Jambar Contributor

By Tala Alsharif
Jambar Contributor

Ramadan is a holy season celebrated during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which Muslims observe every year. This year, Ramadan began March 11 and is expected to end April 9.

Kefah Salam, a member of the Islamic Society of Greater Youngstown — called Masjid Al-Kheir in Arabic — said during Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset.

“[Fasting] is to withhold from eating and drinking … from Fajr [prayer] before sunrise, until Maghreb [prayer], which is at sunset,” Salam said.

According to National Geographic, Ramadan’s start date is determined by the moon sighting committee of Saudi Arabia after spotting the new crescent moon. Ramadan starts the day following the crescent moon. isha

Salam said while Muslims refrain from eating and drinking during Ramadan, the month also helps Muslims fast from bad deeds and habits.

“The Arabic term for fasting means to hold back,” Salam said. “Fasting in Ramadan [also] means holding back from desires … and doing anything bad.”

Ramadan is significant in Islam, as it is believed the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad during Ramadan on a night called Laylat al-Qadr, the night of power. Laylat al-Qadr is believed to fall within the last 10 days of Ramadan, and prayer and worship are placed in higher virtue.

“[Laylat al-Qadr] is equivalent to 83 years,” Salam said. “One night is better than our whole life, basically.”

In addition to fasting, Muslims observe Ramadan through prayer, reflection and becoming closer to their faith.

Yara Habo is the president of Youngstown State University’s Muslim Student Association. Habo said she spends Ramadan getting closer to God, spending time with family and appreciating simple things.

“You don’t realize how many times during the day you eat things or drink things that you don’t need, or you don’t spend the time with your family that you should be spending,” Habo said.
In addition to Fajr and Maghreb, there is an additional prayer during Ramadan called Taraweeh, for which many Muslims visit their mosque to pray. While Maghreb is prayed at sunset, Isha is the last prayer of the day.

YSU accommodates Muslims who want to pray on campus — not just during Ramadan, but all year round — as Muslims pray five times a day. Students who want to learn more about accommodations can contact the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Habo said she usually prays Taraweeh and balances her time between praying and school work.

“I’m just making sure I’m waking up at earlier times, closer to Fajr, and using my day wisely,” Habo said.

Aleen Kanan, sisters coordinator of MSA, said she enjoys praying Taraweeh at her local mosque throughout Ramadan. Kanan reads a chapter of the Quran every day and eats Suhoor — the meal before Fajr prayer.

“I also like to donate money to poor people,” Kanan said. “I like to gather with my friends and … make food for them.”

Habo said MSA hosts several activities and events on campus during Islamic Awareness Week, which begins March 18.

“We do things like Try On a Hijab Day,” Habo said. “People walking by can come sit and we put a hijab on them and we tell them the meaning of hijab.”

Hijab, meaning cover or barrier in Arabic, is the practice of wearing modest clothing observed by Muslim men and women. Some Muslim women wear a garment that covers their hair to practice modesty.

MSA will also host an annual dinner called Fast-A-Thon Iftar on April 3.

Leave a Reply