Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Breaking the Fast at Ramadan

A pink and blue sunset spreads over the rooftops of a working class New Bedford neighborhood at sunset. The cry Allahu Akabar, God is great, rises from speakers beside a desktop computer, the opening line of adhān, the Islamic call to prayer.

When Shakeela Najjar and her family hear that call, they observe the evening Maghrib prayer together, and break their daylong fast in celebration of Ramadan, a Muslim holiday observed this year from August 19 until September 21.

From sunup until sundown, Najjar (CAS12) refrains from eating and drinking. Most people find it shocking when I tell them I dont even drink water during the fast, she says. Because Ramadan follows the Islamic lunar calendar, the holiday rotates through the seasons, beginning 11 days earlier this year than last. Fasting is harder, says Najjar, because the days are longer, and that means more time without food.

But hunger pangs are not the holidays deeper challenge. Im not just giving up food to feel hungry; Im giving it up for a reason, says Najjar. Im making myself remember God more often. Having discipline to do that is the real struggle.

Najjar is joining other Muslim students at Boston University celebrating Ramadan at school now that the new semester has begun. For the observance, the Islamic Society of Boston University (ISBU) has organized group dinners and prayers on campus.

ISBU breaks fast (iftaar) and offers the evening Maghrib prayer through September 9 at the School of Theology, Room 325, and from September 10 to 18 at 1019 Commonwealth Ave. Sessions begin at 7:20 p.m. Halal dinners are available afterward at the West Campus dining hall. Students without meal plans can buy meal tickets at 7:40 p.m. at the front entrance. Prayers and halal dinners are offered Sunday through Thursday.

Ramadan refocuses us spiritually, says Najjar. It brings Muslims together to worship God, and gives our lives purpose.

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