Learning about Ramadan

Andrew ClarkStaff Writer

This past Tuesday night there was a Ramadan Panel in the Center for Inclusive Excellence at 6:30 p.m. This panel was a combined effort from the Muslim Student Association and the Peer Assistants to educate fellow Gusties on what Ramadan is, the importance of Ramadan, as well as a panel discussion of personal experiences from Muslim Gusties. This event was to educate other Gustavus students about some of the traditions and hardships of Ramadan. At the end of the panel discussion, participants as well as attendees were invited to break the fast and enjoy a variety of Ramadan-friendly foods. This panel included a variety of different people including students and professors. This provided an array of different experiences and views on certain topics and issues. 

Now you might be asking, what exactly is Ramadan? Ramadan is a holy month that is recognized in the Muslim religious tradition. The start and end of Ramadan relate to the Muslim calendar and the way that the moon is seen from the Earth. A common misconception is that Ramadan is fixed by the Lunar calendar, but it depends more on how you can see the moon from where you are. Ramadan starts and ends on crescent moons. This year, Ramadan started on Wednesday, March 22, and is expected to end on Thursday, April 20. 

Ramadan is a holy month and is a time for fasting, taking more time for God, and is also a time for spiritual healing. During Ramadan, there is a required fast from dawn to dusk, which includes both food and drink. Muslims take this time to focus on their relationship with God and abstain from any sinful ways. It is also described as a time to find consistency and balance. 

The end of Ramadan is known as Eid al Fitr. This is when the crescent moon can again be observed in the night sky. This is celebrated by a series of going to a local mosque and partaking in morning prayer services. There are commonly a variety of gifts given to children. 

Practicing Ramadan on campus here at Gustavus can be very difficult at times. “Fasting here is so much harder than at home,” said one of the panelists during the event. Fasting is especially difficult because Muslims are not allowed to eat until after sundown and have to eat before dawn. Because the cafeteria closes so early, and does not open up until later, it can be very difficult to find a way to eat during this month.

This year, the cafeteria has been making an effort to support our Muslim students through Ramadan. The cafeteria has been providing pizzas that have halal meat, the ability to order full pizzas for a later time, as well as providing Gustieware that allows students to get food that can be eaten at a later time. This has made fasting easier for Muslim students, but it is still no easy feat. “Being a student-athlete and being unable to eat or drink water during practice [is hard],” commented one of the panelists. 

Some of the other hardships that were specifically mentioned and discussed were related to not having a specific place on campus to worship. “Multifaith center being closed is difficult,” commented one of the panelists. There were also talks about how there are no Mosques in the vicinity of Gustavus and St. Peter. Panelists also discussed how it was difficult to go through Ramadan without their family and community from back home. “Not being able to be back home and enjoy my family was hard,” noted one of the panelists.

Ramadan is also a time for community and being in community with others. Some of the panelists talked about how it was great to be able to have more time to connect with their fellow Gusties. The community aspect of Gustavus was talked about a lot when asked about what is motivating the panelists to continue in their faith. “Great way to remind you of your culture and your faith,” commented Junior Fatih Shigidy. “You gotta remind yourself of what you’re doing it for and why you’re doing it,” commented another panelist.

Several of the panelists also talked about the pride of associating themselves with other Muslims and with Muslim organizations. Being a Muslim at Gustavus is not an easy thing to manage at times due to the obstacles that Muslims on campus have to overcome, but it is a thing to be proud of. “I’m proud of my identity and I think practicing my faith as open as I can is a big part of that,” Junior Hassan Almusawy said.

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