It was around April 13th when the holiest month in the Islamic world began this year.
Ramadan is a quintessential holiday, one with enormous religious and cultural significance in the consciousness of many. For thirty days, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, usually 11-16 hours, beginning with a modest meal called suhur at 5:00 a.m. and morning prayers afterward. Once the day is over, a light snack is eaten to break the fast, known as iftar. This is followed by dinner, which can be eaten with friends, then a night prayer at the mosque, and Taraweeh, a prayer special to Ramadan. At 11:45 p.m., the families return home, though the time varies depending on the length of the day.
Throughout Ramadan, an emphasis is placed upon community and charity, with dinners and fundraisers at mosques being common. But how does all of this affect the personal lives of members of the SPA community?
“For my family and I, I think it means a lot to be able to connect as a family. You eat together, wake up together, pray together. A lot of stuff that doesn’t happen the majority of the year happens during these days,” junior Mukeil Rizvi said.
However, Ramadan is also an opportunity for self-growth as well. “For me, Ramadan is about a lot of reflection,” 9th grader Wafa Naqvi said. “I try to work on myself, and I think, if I’m the same person on the last day of Ramadan as I was on the first, I haven’t successfully done what I needed to do in those 30 days. I really try to learn more about Islam and become a better Muslim and a better version of myself. For my family and me, it’s also about spending time with others and celebrating, so we usually spend a lot of time with friends and our community.”
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the holiday, especially for Naqvi. “Like I said before, we really value being able to open our fasts with other people and spending time with our friends and people in our community. Unfortunately, because of Covid, we haven’t really been able to do that. It definitely isn’t the same at this time. This is our second Ramadan during the pandemic, and I overall miss the unity and connection that I would feel while celebrating with others.”