Amin Aznizan (Malaysia, AC07-09)
It is that time of the year again, where you can see Muslims eyeing the lunch at Atlantic College while trying to stay away from the luring smell of the dining hall (trust me, during Ramadhan, even that is tempting). Some non-Muslims are even brave enough to challenge themselves with this test of hunger. But do people really know what Ramadhan is all about, other than just another form of weight-loss, detoxification program?
The 9th month of the Islamic Calendar, Ramadhan is considered to be one of the holiest months, because it is believed that it was sometime during this month that the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, by the angel Jibrail, or Gabriel.
During Ramadhan, Muslims all over the world fast from fajr (dawn) to Maghrib (sunrise). In Malaysia, this would mean from about 5.30am to 6.45pm, give and take 10 minutes, anytime during the year. But in the UK, this would mean longer hours during summer, and shorter hours during winter. I guess that explains the grief for Ramadhan this year (although you can hardly call this one a summer).
Fasting is more than just refraining from consumption of food and drinks. It is about cleansing the soul as well as body, it is about reflecting on our deeds of yesteryear, it is about understanding the plight of the less fortunate, closeness to God, self-discipline, self-restraint, and, basically, about becoming a better person. In analogy, it is an annual training program that refreshes us for carrying out our duties to Allah, the Creator. Fasting helps us to become conscious of god, knowing He is always watching over us.
This third of the “5 Pillars of Islam” is also a means for Muslims all around the world to foster their ties with families and friends. Those fasting get up for sahur (or breakfast before dawn) and do their ifta (breaking the fast) together as a family. At night, all throughout Ramadhan, Tarawih prayers are offered, generally, in congregations.
On the 1st of Syawal, the first day of the month after Ramadhan, Muslims celebrate Eid ul-Fitri to celebrate their “victory” of having completed the one-month fast. This is the day of forgiveness, thanksgiving, and happiness. A special prayer in congregation is offered in the morning to thank Allah for his blessings and mercy.
In AC, fasting is more than just about uniting Muslims – it is about uniting everyone from different religions. A practice in solidarity. Ramadhan is an experience in itself, but in AC, it has become an experience of a different level.
-United World College Student Magazine-