‘Tis the Ramadan Season
Muslims in the greater Austin community began the holy month of Ramadan on Monday, June 6. They joined billions of other Muslims worldwide to observe a month of spirituality and devotion.
For the next thirty days, they will fast from dawn to dusk. In addition to abstaining from eating and drinking throughout the day, they concentrate their efforts on becoming the best versions of themselves. Setting personal goals while recognizing a shared duty to humanity, they humbly celebrate the month in which the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
Division vs. Unity
Muslims-Americans are a diverse population, filled with doctors and engineers, teachers and writers, lawyers and analysts. They hail from countries all over the world- Pakistan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Syria, Jordan, and Nigeria, just to name a few. Immigrants hold on to their roots by practicing their faith. Fasting is one of the five major pillars of Islam.
Given the Islamophobic rhetoric and racial incidents that have taken place this year, some Muslim-Americans may feel unwelcome. Ramadan provides a spur of hope that circumstances can change for the better. Those participating in the holy month turn away from bad habits in favor of positive attributes. Greed is replaced with gratitude, divisions fall to unity, and positivity rules the air.
Early in the morning, Muslims wake up for suhoor, the predawn meal. Times vary from location to location around the world. Those in Austin can wake up as early as 4:00 a.m. to start preparing breakfast. Others, like myself, get out of bed around 4:30 a.m. once breakfast is ready. Finding the strength to open my eyes at such an early hour is hard at first, but it gets easier.
Throughout the day, Muslims pray, read the Quran, and try to abstain from negative or unproductive actions. They sit down for iftar to break their fast at sunset, traditionally with a tasty khajoor or date. This year, the typical duration of the fast in Austin is about fifteen hours. After finishing their meals, Muslims go to their local mosques or may choose to stay at home for taraweeh or extra prayers.
In Ramadan, Muslims remember to appreciate what they have and generously assist those who are less fortunate. Charity is a major theme, inspiring Muslims to be kind and gracious to all. Families invite each other for dinner and strive to give back to the needy. This theme lasts throughout the year, encouraging immigrants to engage with their communities and make a difference.
Ramadan is a special month. Muslims are encouraged to open their hearts and improve spiritual connections and relationships with others. Though I may have to sacrifice Starbucks for a while, I look forward to these next few weeks and aim to become a greater person for myself and for the world.
Submitted by Zoya Zia, Intern, World Affairs Council of Austin