Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Students embrace Ramadan with inclusivity, spirituality

Students pray together during Ramadan on prayer mats outside of Kent Hall’s kitchen on March 26.

 

By Philo Yunrui Wang

Kent Hall’s first-floor kitchen has become a bustling hub of activity as students gather to cook food and pray to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan, lasting until April 12. For many students, like Shahed Islam, this communal experience is a new and cherished aspect of their college journey.

“This is something I never experienced until college. I only did this with my family before. The fact that there was a space for all of us to gather communally every single night was really important as we set about doing the spiritual journey for 30 days. We feel the sweetness of spending Ramadan among Muslim friends rather than doing it alone,” Islam said.

Ramadan holds significant spiritual importance for Muslims, serving as a time of introspection and observance of one’s mental and emotional processes.

From sunrise to sundown throughout the month, Muslims engage in fasting, or abstaining from food and drink. This practice serves as a reminder of human frailty and dependence on God for sustenance while also fostering compassion and empathy for those in need.

“While I’m accustomed to the feelings experienced during Ramadan, particularly when occupied with tasks, there’s little opportunity to dwell on feelings of hunger. However, I recognize the challenges some Muslim students face balancing academic commitments and extracurricular activities during Ramadan,” Islam said.

Recognizing the difficulties faced by Muslim students during Ramadan, SUNY Plattsburgh has taken proactive measures to raise awareness and provide support, spearheaded by the Muslim Student Association.

“There are other students who will do fasting with us even though they are not Muslim to accompany us or as a means to engage with Ramadan. The MSA and the university have been instrumental in providing the necessary resources and support,” Islam said.

Ramadan is celebrated worldwide, taking place on the ninth month of the Muslim calendar and ending with the crescent moon. It can mean different things to everyone, Islam explains,““Ramadan, for me, is about cleansing all the inevitable mistakes made throughout the year. We are human, we make mistakes because that’s how the world is. But fasting teaches me to confront myself, confront the world and earnestly seek forgiveness.”

Laraib Asim, an actively participating student in the Ramadan celebration, emphasized the broader significance of Ramadan, highlighting its role in developing time management, patience and spiritual connections.

“The fasting is to redistribute food to those who truly lack it, and each day’s iftar makes us respect and cherish food even more. It’s a time to appreciate dining with friends and the moments of gratitude,” Asim said.

Expressing gratitude for the resources provided by the university to facilitate daily iftar meals, the fast-breaking evening meals, during Ramadan, Jana Bar, the vice president of MSA, expressed hope for additional support regarding halal food options on campus.

“I think the school helps us a lot with resources to be able to make iftar every day. I hope the school assists us in the future by not only helping MSA but to helping Muslims with their diet, as we are only allowed to eat halal food. There are not many options on campus for halal food except Halal Shack. I’m very grateful for it, but eating it a lot gets tiring,” Bar said.

As the university community continues to celebrate Ramadan, the spirit of unity and support among students remains palpable. All are welcome to share food, prayer and help foster an environment of inclusivity and understanding.

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