Today, about seven million Muslim Americans start fasting for an entire month. Muslims throughout the world abstain from eating, drinking and sexual activity from dawn to sunset. But more importantly, Ramadan is the time for self-reflection and self-purification.
It’s a time for each of us to contemplate and see where we stand in this world and what difference we’re making. The objective of fasting is to attain consciousness with God, the Quran, the Muslim Holy book, indicates. But you may ask how this is possible.
For me, Ramadan is significant because it causes me to change my routine and put a little more focus on religion, as opposed to worldly things.
Usually, I get up before sunrise at about 5 a.m. to eat and drink my coffee. Then I pray the first of five prayers for the day, which are called the Fajr. I have to last the entire day without food or water while continuing prayer. And at the end of day, after sunset, you break the fast and start praying again.
Imagine you live in the San Fernando Valley, where the temperature can easily increase to triple digits, and you happen to attend CSUN. Now imagine skipping food and drinks, including coffee, for a whole day until the sunset. Hungry yet? I don’t blame you. Now imagine continuing that for 30 days. You may say it’s impossible and I agree with you. But I have done it, although everyone calls me “stickman.”
What is the number one thing going through my mind during the day? “When is the sun going to set?” This is maybe followed by asking myself, “Why am I doing this?”
I try to think about people in the world who can’t eat for days, not because they’re fasting, but because they don’t have anything to eat at all, and they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
About 850 million people in the world are undernourished, which equates to one in every six human beings, and 5.6 million children under the age of five die from hunger-related illnesses each year.
Yet our world produces enough food to feed twice the global population. What kind of world are we living in? It’s important to point out who the biggest consumer in the world is, and that would be us living here in the United States.
We are one of the world’s most insatiably consuming societies, taking in 35 percent of the world’s resources for only 4 percent of the world’s population. How is that possible? I don’t know, but I’m sure most it has to do with us wasting our resources.
The experience of fasting is much more rewarding if you share it with a larger community. A unique bond develops when students, professors, families and communities deny themselves food and drink during daylight hours and devote as much time as possible to self-reflection and community service. We as Muslims are also encouraged to perform charitable acts during the holy month of Ramadan by remembering those people who are less fortunate.
I challenge students to join their peers from all over campus for a one-day Fast-A-Thon on Oct. 3. Basically, you pledge that you’ll fast the whole day. The Muslim Student Association (MSA) will feed you delicious free dinner and at the same time you’ll be helping raise money for the Valley Food Bank.
If you’re interested in participating in this event with your peers, please contact the Muslim Student Association at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their Web site at www.msacsun.com.
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