Ramadan is a celebration where people of Islamic faith refrain from eating and drinking during daylight hours as a fast, according to Assistant Professor of Practice of Philosophy and Religion James Willis. It is also a time for introspection, Willis said, and it is one of the core tenants of the religion.
According to an article written by Afghanaid, a British humanitarian organization, Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and starts and ends with the new moon. The ending, according to the article, is celebrated with Eid-al-Fitr, or the festival of the breaking of the fast.
“It’s a time for introspection; it’s a time for enhanced spirituality in getting to know God, of spending time with one’s community and thinking about one’s place in the world,” Willis said.
Junior psychology major and President of the Muslim Student Association Aamina Dillard said is a time to avoid temptation, not just food and drink. She said that the holiday is used to strengthen their connection with God.
“It is a time of spiritual cleansing, spiritual growth. To strengthen our connection with God,” Dillard said.
An article written from Muslim Aid explains the rules of the whole month of Ramadan as such: there should be no swearing, lying, fighting and arguing or sexual activity. For eating and drinking, the article said not even water is allowed to be consumed during the daylight hours.
“Ramadan is observed in order to fulfill the fourth pillar of Islam, Sawm. This means it is not permissible for Muslims to eat or drink during daylight hours throughout the Holy month,” the article said.
Willis said that many people who are not Muslim see this as a time of sacrifice, but for Muslims it is a time of celebration. This is when they reexamine and recommit to God, Willis said—they reecommit to their communities. Ramadan is a time of difficulty and celebration, and is a metaphor for life, a period of celebration and difficulty all wrapped together. Willis said that it is easier to have Ramadan in the winter months because the days are shorter rather than during the summer when the days are longer.
“It’s a time when they set aside a particular time for reading the Quran and for spending time with their family members,” Willis said. “And particularly in the evenings after dark, when they break fast, it’s a time of great celebration. It’s a time when they are with their families, with their friends and with their community.”
There is a good community of Muslim students on campus and they are a fairly tight knit group, Willis said. Willis said it is important for UIndy students to have an appreciation for the various religious holidays and for the Muslim students engaging in Ramadan. It is important to remember that this is a celebratory time for Muslims, he said.
“I think it’s important for the UIndy community to sort of rally around this special time of year to celebrate the Islamic community, whether you’re a member of it or not,” Willis said.