How Students Experience Ramadan in School

This year, Ramadan started on March 23rd, 2023. For those who do not know, Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims in which Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from sunrise until sunset. This practice helps strengthen our deen (faith), which means no food and no liquids; and yes, even water, which seems to be a common question for most Muslim Students fasting throughout the school day and into the night. 

Since it starts on the 23rd of March, it overlaps with the starting of spring sports in MHSl which began on March 20th. So, you can imagine for most student athletes that fasting and abiding by the guidelines of Ramadan is a challenge. Not only are they challenging their physical strength, but in times like these, mental and spiritual wellness always plays a strong role in character and whether one is strong enough or not.

Being a Muslim student athlete myself, I know that religious guilt definitely hits you hard during times like these, because there are always constant reminders of strengthening your faith, from home, to the media, and school as well. Especially when being on a field or court, feeling like you’re prioritizing these “activities” over your religion makes it much harder. 

Sophomore Zineb Raqi who is fasting and plays two sports said, “I think that playing sports with fasting is kind of easy, except for when I get thirsty, but it helps waste time though.” This is understandable because most can relate to the feeling that time does slow down when you’re constantly watching each second pass, so it’s nice to have something to do while time passes.

Managing school can be hard as well. Having to sit through an 85-minute class trying to mask the grumbles of your stomach is not the only hardship Muslim students at MHS have been facing. Freshman Omar Mihi said, “When I get home I'm really exhausted, so I'll sleep until it’s time to eat and then sleep till 5 am and stay up from there.” When asked about classwork, he said, “ I feel really fatigued in school and I don’t have lots of focus or energy to do all my work.”

Just because it is Ramadan does not mean the world stops for us Muslims, meaning that going to school all while on an empty stomach makes it a lot harder than it was. In fact, whenever I speak to either of my parents who grew up in Muslim practicing countries, they tell me that in the middle of the day during Ramadan, they would be sent home to rest/pray and be able to come back to school for an hour or two more with minimal work which they felt was manageable.

Growing up in America as a Muslim can be hard enough with the stereotypes about our religion, to feeling guilt about being a good enough Muslim because you're surrounded by so many distractions. And in this month of Ramadan, students of MHS are really feeling the effects of strengthening their faith. Sophomore Jad Batbat says that although it might be hard to fast around his friends and practice his religion better, he feels as though that he found out that he can  can control his “desires and temptations throughout the day, and a lot of worldly things that were messing” with him.

Just like Batbat, many Muslims during this time also re-evaluate our lives and the choices we make day to day, whether it be if we decided to delay a prayer, listen to music on our way to school, or even the remarks that come out of our mouths. 

Since this is a month of purification for us, most, like myself, see it as a blessing in disguise. I say this because it might come with some hardships like fasting, but it shows us where our time goes. I can at least say for myself that the money I spend on food in a week normally has been going towards donation to a local mosque. And, the time I once spent doing useless things would be put towards memorizing the Quran or making better habits of myself.

Raqi also said, “I feel like I have been able to talk to my family and friends more about religion and I've learned things that I hadn’t known.”  

When breaking your fast comes around, most are surrounded by a big table of food in front of them with their loved ones, and it reminds us that we are blessed to quench our hunger with food, because they are less fortunate out there, whose reality is just our sunrise to sundown. 

This is also a big part of Ramadan, because as Muslims, we are taught to be grateful and always thank god for the littlest things and fasting really helps show that, because a couple bites in and you realize how over dramatic and ungrateful you were when you were talking about your hunger.

And when we fall into the greed of our worldly “needs” or “desires,” it’s important that we stop and say “Alhamdulillah,” an Arabic phrase that translates to “all praise to god.”

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