Sunday, 31 July 2011

A Student Diary: What is Ramadan?

Here is a piece I wrote for UVI Voice (University of the Virgin Islands student newspaper) back in 2008 when I was a sophomore.

A Student Diary:  What is Ramadan?
By Sana W. Hamed

The month of Ramadan began on Sept. 1, this year. This is the month Muslims all over the world fast from sunrise to sunset. This means that Muslims do not eat or drink from the moment the sun comes up until the sun comes down.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is a lunar calendar. During this month, Muslims gain an increased awareness of worship and they also strengthen family and community ties.
            Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. It helps Muslims practice self-control and help increase devotion to Allah (God). It also serves to remind Muslims of the sufferings of the poor, and this month is also used to get rid of bad habits. If a Muslim fasts all 30 days with good intentions, he or she will be forgiven for all previous sins.
            Many people may think that we are hurting ourselves by fasting and they see it as a burden, but it’s nothing like that at all. I can honestly say I always look forward to Ramadan and I hate to see it end. You can actually see family ties getting stronger; you feel more like a family since everyone sits down and eats together. We also do more things together.
           We really don’t think about food. Yes, sometimes we get irritable but we still are full of kindness on an empty stomach. We feel at peace. We become more thankful of what we have and the sufferings we don’t have. The feelings you feel when you fast are sometimes indescribable but it’s the best feeling in the world.  

Ramadan Diary        

4:00 a.m. - My alarm wakes me up, and as hard as it to get out of my bed, I ignore the snooze button and get up.
I walk into my brother room and I wake him so he can get something to eat and drink. I make my way to my sister’s room, eyes squinting from the light.
 My sisters get up and head to the kitchen while I head to my parents door. I knock to wake them up.
My sisters are already heading to their room by the time I come back, and my brother drinks some water and looks in the fridge.
 Finding nothing appealing he heads back to his room. I drink some water and eat a couple of dates, turn off the kitchen lights and head straight to my bed.

6:30 a.m. - Once again my alarm goes off; it’s time to go work. I pick out my clothes and then shower.
After my shower, I pray my Fajr prayer (morning prayer), and after that I finish getting ready. I head out for a long day.

12:00 p.m. - It’s lunch time and everyone around me is eating. I smell some chicken, rice and beans; I see bottles of water. BUT I don’t fall for temptation!

4:00 p.m. - I’m running a little late for my class.

4:10 p.m. - Ten minutes late for class, but there is no way am I going to run or in any way rush to class. It’s hot outside, and I’m walking up the stairs at UVI carrying textbooks, wearing heels and fasting. I’d rather take my time.

4:17 p.m. - I finally reach my classroom. I sit down and get a massive headache. I try taking notes and concentrating as much as possible. I’m clearly relieved as I walk out the classroom door.

6:15 p.m. – I've just arrived home and I’m helping my mother get the food ready. The dining table is set. The food is being put out on the table. I can smell the mixed aromas of baked chicken, white rice, a yogurt soup, salad, and a cake my sister’s made.  

I turn on the radio to Isle 95 for the daily Ramadan program. It has yet to begin.

6:25 p.m. - The radio program begins.

6: 34 p.m. - It’s time to break our fast! First with some water.

7:15 p.m. - The table is cleared, my turn to wash dishes and clean the kitchen.

7:45 p.m. - I head to my room to lie down for a little. My youngest sister, Mariam, comes and talks to me, telling me random stories. I start helping her get ready for bed. Then I start looking at what I have due for the next day.

1:00 a.m. - I’m done with most of my work (of course I was distracted many times until I got most of it done) and I get ready to sleep. I check to make sure my alarm is set. And then I’m out, as soon as my head touches the pillow…

UVI Voice Volume 4, No. 1 September 2008

Ramadan Kareem!

The month of Ramadan is upon us and as we prepare for the first day let us remember those who are not with us today. Let us remember the countries in turmoil. Let us remember our brothers and sisters who may not even have any water or food to break their fast. Let us remember how fortunate we are.

Most of us begin Ramadan on a spiritual high. Inshallah we maintain a spirtitual high throughout Ramadan and the rest of our lives. They say it takes about a month to make a new habit stick so let us use the month of Ramadan to better ourselves.

Ramadan kareem!!!