By Alexis Park, Staff Writer
May is the month of spring: flowers blooming, birds chirping, greens flourishing. This May, Muslims celebrate the end to Ramadan, a month-long religious holiday. Muslims believe the angel Gabriel revealed the Quran to the prophet Muhammad on the month of Ramadan, so people celebrate this holiday through acts of charity, worship, and fasting.
The act of fasting (Sawm) is one of the five pillars of Islam, and brings Muslims closer to Allah by cleansing their souls of impure elements and empathizing with those in the world who may be poor and hungry. Fasting is undertaken from early morning to sunset each day between two meals: a predawn meal (known as suhoor) and a meal after sunset (known as iftar). Traditional Ramadan food and snacks include samosas, Fattoush, wontons, and much more, and during the preparation of these dishes, communities and families are given time to bond with each other.
However, Nabiha Charolia ‘24 also believes that the most important part of Ramadan is the worshiping, praying, and people learning more about themselves. Muslims engage in continuous acts of self-reflection and prayer during the month, and through the worship, Muslims tend to disconnect with everyday activities and find solace in the religion. Charolia says mainstream media tends to ignore the larger picture of Ramadan: charity, self reflection, religious self-improvement, and community connections. “The media and the world is so set on one negative view of Muslims,” she said. “But they never see peace in our prayers, the way we cook for others and distribute, our activism, our voices, and the coming together of all of us.”
The month of Ramadan ends with a large festival, starting the day following the end of Ramadan and continuing for one to three days, depending on the country. Named Eid al-Fitr, Muslims say special prayers, exchange gifts, share meals with friends and family, and pay respect to Allah for providing strength and endurance during the month-long fasting rituals. Food and culture are abundant during the festivities, and Muslims also engage in traditions such as henna art. “Because of the pandemic, many mosques have not been able to have open iftars,” Ganiyat Daranijo ‘24 said. “So, I’ve been enjoying cooking with my family, and have had a couple of virtual iftars with friends as well.”
Image by Alexis Park