Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Students Reflect, Celebrate During Month-long Religious Fast

For their seasonal holiday, Christians celebrate for a day. Jews celebrate theirs for a week. And Muslims, they celebrate theirs for a whole month.

On Nov. 16, Muslims across the nation began celebrating the happiest time of the year: Ramadan.

Ramadan is a month of fasting. That means from dawn until sunset, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and conjugal relations.

Many non-Muslims’ reaction to this is, “You mean you can’t have any food all day? Don’t you pass out?”

Well, despite the common American image that if a person goes without food for three hours he or she will begin to wither away, the fact is the human body really doesn’t need to eat that much.

But even if the average person moves beyond this initial myth, they still beg the question: Can fasting for a whole month really be a cause for celebration?

Imagine this – for a month, abstaining from all forms of physical pleasure during the daytime to please their Lord. Although in our materialist society, we often equate happiness and celebration with overeating and excessive gift buying, Islam seeks to emphasize the spiritual dimension of life. And so, instead of numbing our senses with sensory overload, the month of Ramadan gives Muslims a time to reflect.

For those who have never fasted before, fasting is a spiritually awakening and enhancing experience. Through fasting, people realize the extent which their mind really does control their body. They realize that their appetites need not control them, and the process of fasting itself gives the person the ability to discipline his or her wants.

Far from the image of a starving person lying on the ground from lack of energy, with a stomach wrenching from hunger, a fasting person actually thinks about food much less. When I first started fasting, naturally I thought about food all of the time the first couple of times. But then, I thought about food less and less when I realized that food is great, but it doesn’t really give you happiness. Fasting helps to enforce a greater awareness of God in a person and builds a sense of thankfulness.

However, fasting does not include just the physical aspect. uslims are also commanded to give up excessive and insulting talk. The whole point of fasting is not to give you an empty stomach, but rather to teach restraint and consciousness of God.

Ramadan is a blessed month in which God blesses good deeds exponentially, so Muslims are encouraged to use this month to strive for good deeds and also form good habits. The Prophet uhammad explained that if anyone observes the fast correctly and with good intention, then all of the person’s past sins will be forgiven. Ramadan then, is a month of renewal, a chance for uslims to purify themselves and their past deeds.

However, Ramadan is not just an individual celebration. One of the greatest aspects of Ramadan is how it brings the Muslim community together. At Georgetown, Muslims who never show up for any other Muslim Student Association event come every day for the sunset prayer and come to the dinners that are held Monday through Thursday.

The feeling of Ramadan for Muslims is like no other experience. And despite the fact that fasting sounds unpleasant, even Muslims who don’t consider themselves religious find themselves excited when the month of Ramadan comes rolling around.

May you all have a Ramadan Mubarak (a blessed Ramadan).

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