Ramadan strengthens Muslim community


Illustration by Scott Gonzales

Hafsa Rahman and Sara Rahman

“Not even water?” 

This is a question Muslims are frequently asked during the Islamic month of Ramadan. Ramadan is a spiritual month that will affect the lives of many Muslims at South, because of fasting and other spiritual activities lasting 30 days junior Sara Khan, Muslim Student Association (MSA) president, said.  

Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam – which guide Muslims fast as to abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset, David Berkson, Social Studies Teacher and MSA sponsor, explained. Fasting allows Muslims to be more grateful in all aspects of their life and build their resilience to overcome challenges, he said. 

“I understand Ramadan as not only a way of showing your faith but also a way of strengthening it,” Berkson explained. 

MSA will also be hosting an Eid festivity at the end of the month celebrating Ramadan and allowing South’s Muslim and non-Muslim communities to spend time together and celebrate their accomplishments during Ramadan, Berkson explained. 

“As we get closer to Eid, [we will be] having some celebratory moments, hopefully a potluck,” Berkson said. “We’re also trying to integrate some fundraising or outreach during this time.”

To celebrate this important month for Muslim students at South, MSA has taken numerous steps to integrate religious activities into students’ daily lives, Berkson explained. One of the most notable was the Friday prayer, a religious prayer to allow students to congregate and participate in worship together, he said. 

Sophomore Taha Akbar will be leading this prayer, along with giving a sermon at the end, where he will speak about aspects of Islam important to Muslims.

“Every Friday [during the month of April] at the beginning of 3C lunch, we are going to go pray, and then I will give a speech,” Akbar explained. “I plan on speaking about topics in Islam, [such as] how to strengthen faith and self-consciousness.” 

Observing Ramadan can look different for everyone. For Freshman Asma Ghomrawi, Ramadan is a time to reconnect with family and friends. 

“[My family and I] observe Ramadan by coming together,” Ghomrawi said. “[A tradition we] do for Ramadan is seeing our family and friends as much as possible at the mosque.

To create a closer-knit community for Muslim students at South, MSA will be meeting more frequently to have a welcoming space to share their personal experiences during Ramadan, Berkson explained.

“We are meeting more often, and we are going to unpack and talk about our experiences [in Ramadan] and hopefully be able to see the benefits in the challenge [of fasting],” Berkson said. 

Berkson commends the MSA students who are participating in the fasting process and expressed his admiration for their endeavors through the month of Ramadan. 

“Anytime I see somebody challenging themselves in a very personal way, I see that as very inspiring,” Berkson said. “[Ramadan] is one of those things where even if the idea of the faith doesn’t apply to you or your belief system, the purpose behind it can resonate.”

Khan spends her Ramadan reconnecting with her faith. She challenges herself to help her community members while spending time with those who matter to her.

“[During Ramadan] I go to the mosque every day,” Khan explained. “I try to do charity work at mosque [to] give back to my community during such an important month and hang out with my Muslim friends so we can share [our] similar [Ramadan] experiences.”