Ramadan Mubarak, Lewis!


Katie Chiotti

Sophomores Saad Ali (contributing author) Hamza Manj proudly pose in front of the Arabic Club’s Ramadan-themed showcase in the foreign language wing.

Saad Ali, Staff Writer

As Muslims already know, Ramadan is here! Ramadan, which this year began on March 23 and ends on April 20, is a holiday Muslims celebrate by fasting from sunrise to sunset for thirty days. When fasting, you cannot eat food or drink any water.

Fasting is important to Islam as one of the 5 pillars of Islam. The five pillars of Islam are the practices Muslims consider to be obligatory. Although most people think Ramdan is only about fasting, they are wrong. Ramadan actually incorporates most of the five pillars of Islam like fasting and Salat [prayer], but there’s more, too. It’s also a month of intense prayer and a peaceful month where you break your fast with family and friends.

Junior Muizz Chughtai, and sophomores Hamza Manj and Asma Tibta are Lewis students who each observe Ramadan. They are looking forward to Ramadan for different reasons.

Tibta’s favorite Ramadan tradition is waking up at night and praying. “I’m so excited for Ramadan this year because last Ramadan I felt like I didn’t use the blessings to its fullest but this year will change!” Tibta said.

Manj especially enjoys the socialization that comes with Ramadan: gathering with his family to eat delicious foods. “I am very excited for Ramadan since it is my favorite month of the year. I love the environment of religious activities that are present in this month as it has a positive effect on my mental health and Deen [the religion or the belief of Muslims],” Manj said.

Every year, the date for Ramadan may vary and is determined by the cycles of the moon. But since the visibility of the moon is different in different parts of the world, this month doesn’t officially start until our religious leaders declare that they have seen a crescent moon. 

Ramadan activities interrupt sleep and make it very difficult for students to focus on studying or completing homework. Lack of sleep while fasting may result in fatigue, making it difficult for students to pay attention and complete work. During this month, teachers should be careful with the amount of work they assign because most of our weekdays and weekends are already occupied with events like Taraweeh, which is a long night prayer and reading the Quran [Holy Book of Muslims]. 

All three of these students’ schedules are affected during Ramadan. 

Tibta explained how observing Ramadan could be a barrier to her school studies. “School will definitely be the biggest obstacle during Ramadan because I still have to get up and learn with about 4 hours of sleep, ” Tibta said.

Manj acknowledges that Ramadan leads to a backlog of homework and a sleep deficit for him.

“My schedule would be busy and I most likely won’t be able to finish most assignments given to me. Ramadan would also cause me to lose a lot of sleep, so I would be exhausted in the morning of school days. During Ramadan, I would normally go to sleep around 1am due to the Taraweeh prayers [long prayers] at night. Then I have to wake up before sunrise for a light Suhoor meal [meal eaten before dawn] , which is usually around 4-5 AM. Then I would go back to sleep and wake up at 6 AM. As apparent, my sleep time would greatly reduce,” Manj said

FCPS should show its support for our community by making us feel included at school during the month of Ramadan. This might mean giving us mental breaks as we have low blood sugar levels during the whole day. Manj, Tibta, and Chughtai  think that the schools should make minor changes so fasting may be easier for Muslim students.

Manj would like to see more balance between home and school obligations. “It would be very helpful if schools would decrease the amount of assignments we have to do in school and also at home. This would be very helpful since our schedule in this month is busy from doing religious activities. Another way of helping us during Ramadan is to enact brain breaks and physical exercises to combat the exhaustion and stress,” Manj said.

Tibta would like to see a routine acknowledgement of the month as a way to commemorate its importance to the Muslim community. “[I would like to see staff and administration] probably being more kind during Ramadan and giving alerts and saying pleasant phrases like “Good morning! This is the __ day of Ramadan” on the morning announcements,” Tibta said.

Chughtai is satisfied with the recognition Ramadan receives from FCPS but has a suggestion for prayer. “I honestly think most things they have done are good for the Muslim community, but the only thing is they should give us more time to pray because in this month it’s very important to not miss any prayers,” Chughtai said.

Individual families’ traditions concerning Ramadan show more similarities than differences. Observant Muslims eat Iftar, which is the name for the meal that is eaten after sunset, with friends or with family.  Manj, Tibta, and their respective families gather for Iftar and go to the Masjid [or Mosque] to pray.

Manj describes their prayer schedule. “After Maghrib [sunset prayer] prayer, we pray Isha prayer [night prayer] and long continuous prayers called Taraweeh. The Taraweeh prayers typically last until 12am,” Manj said. 

Although observing Ramadan might set you apart from your classmates, you should always focus on your own journey and not criticism or questioning from others. Tibta and Manj don’t feel any different from the rest of the  Lewis community during this season because they both have different ways they deal with it.

Tibta says that it’s not her observance of Ramadan but her wearing of a hijab [scarf that covers head] that sets her apart at school. “That definitely makes me feel more different, ” Tibta said.

Manj sees Ramadan fasting as his membership in a larger Lewis community. “Fasting does not make me any different from my Muslim peers, in fact it makes me more similar to my peers,” Manj said.

Ramadan is a very important holiday in the Muslim community. The rituals of the holiday make it a time to focus on religion and cut off the bad relationships to be at peace. It is also a time to focus on religious efficacy, get closer with family as a whole, and it is a month of blessings and a month where you can get closer to Allah [God]. Wishing you a great and blessed Ramadan, Ramadan Mubarak!