Understanding Islam through a Ramadan experience

Asaka Shimizu
Staff Writer

What do you imagine if you hear about Ramadan? Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim year. In the Islamic calendar, they use the calendar based on the cycles of the moon.

During Ramadan, Muslims must fast, (no drinks and no food), restrict from having pleasures, and pray in order to get closer to God, which is Allah, from sunrise to sunset. Furthermore, they must refrain from smoking, consuming medications, having sexual activities, gossiping, fighting and lying. It is considered as the most sacred month of the year in Islamic culture. This is also the time for families or friends to stay and celebrate together.

There are five pillars in Islam and fasting during Ramadan is the fourth pillar of Islam. Based on these pillars, Muslims practice their religion. There are five Pillars of Islam:

1) Shahada: Faith in the Islam religion
2) Salat: Pray five times every day, facing the direction of Mecca
3) Zakat: Give support to the needy
4) Sawm: Fast during Ramadan
5) Haji: Visit Mecca at least once during one’s life

One of my friends, who is from Saudi Arabia, told me that Ramadan is not only about food or drink, but also it is for us to feel for people who suffer from hunger. By fasting for a certain time, we are able to be aware of poor people who cannot eat and drink as easily as we do. This fact made me to want to try Ramadan, even though I am not Muslim.

I have had different thoughts toward the Muslim religion and Ramadan before I heard this. I started fasting with my friends on May 17th. Before I started fasting, I was very nervous and I didn’t know whether or not I could resist the temptation to eat or drink.

On the first day, we started to eat around midnight and around 3 a.m. so that we will not be hungry during daytime. I just stayed home and spent time like normal days. I thought I was going to feel hunger or thirst, however, it was not as hard as I expected. But I am sure that I would have been thirsty if I had had to work or do sports during the daytime.

Since that day, when the sun was gone, we broke fasting and we started eating and drinking. We were allowed to eat and drink, (even to smoke), from that time until around 3:30 a.m. The specific time changes every single day due to the sunset and sunrise.

As I mentioned before, the people in my neighborhood stay and celebrate together, such as my friend who has been cooking and celebrating with his friends together, he sometimes shares his food with me.

Additionally, I also heard that during Ramadan, Mosque provides free food for anyone who needs it and suffers from hunger.

It has been more than 2 weeks since I started fasting, but I think it is not that hard. And I am sure that I am going to be able to continue this until May 15th. I believe that it is a good opportunity to experience a new thing even though you are not involved in the religion.

2 thoughts on “Understanding Islam through a Ramadan experience

  • Daniel Sebold

    I lived for three years in Saudi Arabia and two years in Oman teaching in the technical colleges and have spent Ramadan with varying degrees of strictness in such diverse Muslim countries as Indonesia, Malaysia, Jordan, Syria, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. I loved living in southern Saudi Arabia’s Jazan Province where the predominantly Yemen minority folk were much more colorful and much more humble than the more materialistic urban folk. I love Ramadan because I have always been a more nocturnal person, and the cultures of the desert tend to come alive at night when it is cool. The crescent moon has become visceral to the religion and is depicted in almost every form of Ramadan art in the same way, say, the Christmas tree is to Christianity (both symbols are not indiginous to either religions. The crescent moon originated in the non Arab Ottoman Empire and later spread to the original birthplace of Islam). The words “Ramadan kareem” are commonly seen on Ramadan cards. meaning “Noble Ramadan.” I find it amusing that Arab Muslims have played with this word in English to produce those delicious Ramadan cream cookies they eat after sunset. I do have some Ramadan Art albums on my Facebook page, but you can easily download the same art from the internet. There are also fine collections of Islamic art in the better museums in the USA including the Minneapolis Institute Of Arts. the Slacker Museum in Washington, the LA Country Museum and the New York Met has the best collection

  • Rayan Sharif

    Nice topic, good information, and great job Asaka!


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