Illustration by staff illustrator Sakura Siegel.
Ramadan is a spiritual, self reflecting time for Muslims all across the globe. During this time, people of all ages come together to pray, break fast, give back to their communities and read the Qur’an.
Ramadan is considered one of the holiest months of the year for Muslims. In Ramadan, Muslims fast from food and drink from pre-dawn to sunset hours as a way of drawing closer to their faith, seeking forgiveness and practicing self-control. It is a time where Muslims heightened their focus on devotion and dedicate more time reading the Qur’an and performing special prayers.
People who are pregnant, nursing, ill, or elderly are exempt from fasting. People who are on their menstrual cycle or on medication may also have exceptions.
Depending on the time of year and geographic location, Ramadan fast can last anywhere between 12 – 18 hours. In the New Jersey area, fasting can last about 14 hours.
When it comes to celebrating Ramadan and what it means to partake, the meaning behind it can be specific depending on the person. For Hudson County resident, Gineen Abuali, she likes to spend Ramadan dedicating more time with her family and setting goals for the following year.
“Ramadan is a time for spirituality, giving back, and saying thanks,” Abuali told Slice of Culture.
Samantha Arshad, a Belizean Muslim convert, shared that she uses the time to reflect on improvement.
“I love Ramadan because it is the month that the Qur’an was revealed, it reminds me to renew my intentions to be a better person, and I love the fact we’re doing it all as a community,” she said. “We are all making the intention to be better as individuals and to each other.”
Her five year old son also told Slice of Culture that he loves Ramadan because “you get to fast, celebrate and feel how poor people felt, spend time with your family and friends and all come together.”
For Sammy Othman, from Monroe, New Jersey, Ramadan is a time of “gratitude, peace and contentment.”
“As Muslims, you are supposed to fast everyday and increase your acts of worship, sometimes these things are not easy and you really have to push yourself, but it also gives you an opportunity to do some honest introspection and reflection on your essence as a human being and you gain so much from doing that,” he stated.