Yesterday Muslims around the world celebrated Eid Al-Fitr, a holiday that follows Ramadan, the month of fasting. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It is the month during which the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Mohamed by Allah (God). During the month Muslims fast or abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, and sexual intercourse along with others things from dawn till dusk or during daylight. As challenging as it may sound, the physical aspect is the least challenging of the fast. Rather, Ramadan is more about spirituality as Muslims are encouraged to practice discipline and self-restraint thereby purifying their thoughts and actions. For example, they must refrain from gossip, backbiting, or use of profanity which are traits discouraged in Islam hence Ramadan works as an intensive practice period that helps rid individuals from such negative behaviors. In return fasting develops an individual’s power of will.

Most importantly, Ramadan is an intensive period of worship in which Muslims devote more of their time to prayers and recitation of Quran in a way to reflect on the greatness of Allah, seek forgiveness and observe the blessings bestowed upon them including the gift of food and water that we most often take for granted. Lack of these two and other luxurious indulgences during Ramadan has another benefit as it makes the rich equal to the poor. In another word, it helps people sympathize with the less fortunate from a place of experience. Hence you find that during Ramadan people are more charitable. However, increased charity is also due to the belief that the reward of charity during Ramadan is seventy times greater than any other time during the year.

As a student, this Ramadan was exceptionally challenging once classes began on the seventeenth day of the fast. The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle and so each year Ramadan shifts back eleven days. Therefore, this year Ramadan happened to fall amid the long hot days of summer. With the new load of classes along with the regular campus commute to and from class, the library and parking lots; it was extremely difficult to stay hydrated. Hunger was never an issue to me but it was tempting and unbearable at times watching other students enjoy their cold drinks during class. After night fall and the breaking of the fast my energy was often depleted and it became a challenge to complete assigned homework.

However, these challenges are what made the experience of fasting more rewarding and beneficial. Aside from the spiritual benefits I found the hardship I endured as minor compared to the thousands of starving Somali refugees in Dadaab which is currently the largest refugee camp in the world. Enduring a day without food and water brings me closer to understanding their suffering. Through the practice of observing the fast I began to understand that without greed we can all survive consuming the least of necessities and only then would resources be equally available to all and shameful global disasters like the one in Somalia and others around the world would be eliminated.

At last, I say to you “Eid Mubarak.” These are common words Muslims exchange during Eid wishing one another a blessed holiday. Try and use it if you see one of your Muslim