The month of April brings spring showers, warmer weather, and a break from school. Students look forward to the end of the year, juniors scramble to prep to redo SATs, and AP students prepare for their exams. However, for the religion of Islam, the month of April is much more. Ramadan is a religious holiday recognized throughout April in which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset everyday. While for others, this may seem like a negative experience, Muslims celebrate Ramadan. Additionally, this may seem like a drastic change to one’s life, but many of our fellow students at LHS celebrate Ramadan throughout the month of April with little notice from their peers.
Firstly, why do Muslims partake and enjoy/celebrate Ramadan? LHS senior Mahum Shah finds it important because of the five pillars of her religion. “Islam has five pillars that b all Muslims must fulfill in their life. One of these pillars is fasting, which is done during the month of Ramadan. Since the five pillars are a basis of the religion, Ramadan is important to me and other Muslims.” Additionally, she finds gratitude for what she has in the experience. “Ramadan is also a good time to reflect on what it is like for people who aren’t able to eat or even drink every day, and how we may take it for granted sometimes.” Duha Mansoor, a junior at our school, agrees, adding on what Ramadan does for her personally. “It’s important for me to recognize Ramadan to become closer to God and to celebrate life,” she says. “This month is all about charity and prayers.”
While many people that are not Muslim know about the fasting that Muslims must practice during this month, there are other little-known facts about Ramadan that are important to the celebrations of the holiday. “Ramadan is also considered as the holy month among all Islamic months because during this month their good actions bring reward ten times greater than any other time in the year and this month is blessed by God and during this month devils have been chained in hell,” freshman Pakiza Batool explains. “ It was during that month that the Qur'an-the holy book of Islam- was first revealed to the Prophet Mohammad (Pbuh) by God.”
Additionally, Islam becomes a more recognized religion during Ramadan and those who practice it at LHS appreciate that. “I definitely think it’s a positive thing that my culture and religion are recognized more during the year. Since there aren’t many Muslims at LHS, it can be hard to relate to others or even talk to others about Ramadan,” says Shah. “But, when Ramadan comes around, I find that people seem more interested-which helps me feel more comfortable with talking about it in general.” She does, however, feel that there are a few things people should know: “We can’t eat or drink from sunrise to sunset (and yes, not even water)! If you are sick or have a special condition in which you cannot fast, then you do not have to fast. Also, don’t feel bad about eating in front of us (at least in front of me)-I don’t want to make you feel like you have to hide your food-if anything, it makes fasting that much more rewarding.”
“It has a very positive impact on life,” Batool adds. “It refreshes you physically, mentally and spiritually. And as science has researched in recent years that the human body needs to stay hungry for at least thirty days for good health, so it shows that fasting is also important for good health to stay refreshed.”
This year, however, an obstacle has been thrown at Muslims just before the most important month of their year: quarantine. The Coronavirus has caused panic throughout the world, and many Americans have forgotten to think about the way Ramadan is going to be affected.
Mansoor believes it’s going to have a very negative impact on her experience this year. “During the day, I keep myself distracted and do not think about eating or drinking. At night, I go to my mosque and eat/pray there with all of my friends. Quarantining keeps me bored all day, so I normally eat to fulfill my boredom. The mosque will most likely be closed for the remainder of ramadan, since there are large groups of people from both MA and RI,” she explains. “I am not worried about it, but more disappointed. I wanted this Ramadan to be special, and due to quarantine, it most likely will not be how I expected. However, it is still the holiest month of Islam, and I will be sure to keep the same traditions as I do every year.”
Wasseem Bahra, a junior at LHS, is also disappointed, but is trying his best to look at the bright side of things. “The Coronavirus will affect Ramadan for me, mainly, by reducing the possibility of family gatherings. During Ramadan, families usually gather together to break their fasts,” he says. “With the Coronavirus and the national plea to quarantine ourselves, however, such customary gathering seems all the more less likely. Which is unfortunate, of course, but I prefer to see that inconvenience as a way to get closer with my loved ones.”
He also hopes to overcome this obstacle and come out stronger on the other side: “At the end of the day, this whole coronavirus, is a test of the will, a test to see whether we can live in ‘solitude’, and that's only a matter of answering the question: Can I?” Additionally, both Mansoor and Bahra plan to contact friends and family through video chat and/ or facetime to continue their traditions and keep themselves busy.
The Coronavirus is affecting all of us and we are all struggling. However, throughout the month of April, please make an effort to take a few minutes out of your day and ask your Muslim friends how they are doing. This is the most important time of the year for them, and they are being forced to quarantine themselves throughout it. Understand what they may be going through, and be an encouragement! It may seem small, but it also might make a big difference to them.