Everything you need to know about Ramadan 2022
April 1, 2022, marked the first day of Ramadan this year, the Muslim holy month. You may have noticed the decorations around Conant and overheard your Muslim friends talking about Ramadan, so what is it?
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and is considered the holiest month. The Islamic calendar is determined by moon phases and is a different length than the Gregorian calendar, which is what is normally followed. Therefore, Ramadan starts about ten to eleven days earlier every year and lasts about 30 days. When the month ends, there is a three-day celebration called Eid-al-Fitr.
During Ramadan, the biggest aspect of the month is the daily fasting, where Muslims don’t eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset. Yes, that does include water! Fasting is required once an individual reaches puberty and is physically able to. People that are pregnant or extremely ill are exempt. Women also get to skip fasting when they are menstruating.
Muslims break their fast at the iftar meal, always beginning with a date or water. These are often lively social events, where people get to gather with family and friends to celebrate the breaking of their fast. It is especially festive in Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and Asia.
However, fasting isn’t the only thing that happens during the month. There are special nightly prayers Muslims participate in, which often require staying up late at the mosque. Many Muslims use the month as an opportunity to strengthen their spirituality and break bad habits. This can include keeping up with daily prayers and increasing overall worship. Many also take the opportunity to become an overall better person, avoiding things like swearing or backbiting (gossip), which are considered sins in Islam.
While Ramadan is a festive event, it is challenging. Living in a Western country, life continues as usual for Muslims who have to go to work and school while fasting. As it grows closer to sunset, people become more tired and hungry. This is the first time in many years that Ramadan is during the school year, bringing additional struggles. Be considerate of your peers, who may have to cut back on social and extracurricular activities or may not be able to fully participate in a sport. It is also important for teachers to understand that students are especially busy right now, with balancing religious obligations and irregular sleep schedules where they stay up late to pray and get up early to start their fast. This year, the Eid-al-Fitr holiday lands the week of AP exams, forcing students to balance studying with celebrations. To put it in perspective, imagine having to study for finals on Christmas or any other large religious holiday.
Personally, I look forward to Ramadan every year because it makes me feel more aligned. It feels like a cleansing of my soul that helps me feel more balanced spiritually, physically, and mentally. While it can be draining to fast in a place that does not accommodate Ramadan, it is an enjoyable experience with the support of family, friends, and the members of the Muslim Students Association here at Conant.
Now that you know what Ramadan is, make sure to be mindful of the Muslims in your life and be an ally to them at this time. Be sure to wish them a “Ramadan Mubarak”!