Muslim students around the Bay Area begin observing Ramadan


Associated Students of Skyline College

A post by the ASSC commemorating Ramadan

Last Thursday, Muslim students across the Bay Area and worldwide began observing the Islamic month of Ramadan at sundown.

For Muslims, it is a time to reflect on their faith, community, and practice restraint.

“As a native of the Bay Area, I attended public schools my entire life. So I have lots of experience practicing Ramadan at school, the good and the bad. I noticed that the lack of knowledge of my classmates and the school staff had impacted my own perception of the celebration,” said Aqsa Nawaz, a sophomore and co-founder of the Muslim Student Association at Berkeley City College.

“While there was minimal recognition of the holy month of Ramadan in my school district I believe that all other religions and faiths are celebrated on a much more national level in the USA, which claims to practice freedom of religion. To combat this, I along with other board members have been educating the Berkeley City College community with fun, engaging activities,” Nawaz added.

“As part of my efforts to reach out to BCC’s administration, I helped advocate for a separate meditation room that is accessible to anyone who wishes to pray on campus during Ramadan and outside of Ramadan as well. In doing so, I am aiming to help normalize Islamic practices in my community and teach the public about Islam in general”.

Perhaps the most well-known practice during Ramadan is fasting which is one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith, along with professing faith (shahada), completing the five daily prayers (salat), donating to the poor (zakat), and pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj).

Fasting begins just before sunrise (during the Fajr prayer) and ends at sunset (Maghrib), which can leave students tired and hungry during the early days of the month.

“Before sunrise, we have really up to two meals. I recommend eating very nutritious and hydrating foods. I also really recommend staying off the caffeine and sodas and sugary drinks and drinking water you need to stay hydrated,” said Barakah Dugan, a student at Skyline College.

“Personally, for me, it sometimes gets hard to concentrate because I’m really hungry but also over time because the body gets used to fasting and the routine like in the dietary routine gets easier… Another way I’m preparing is by trying to find different methods of studying because  I find that you know certain methods of studying. I feel as though I won’t be as effective during this time,” Dugan added, and she stressed taking breaks.

Muslims believe Ramadan to be the month that the Quran was revealed, Ozair of Mission Colleges‘ Muslim Student Association in Santa Clara explains.

Worldwide, Muslims use this month to read the Qu’ran and reflect (Masjid Pogung Dalangan)

“We strive to build a stronger connection to the Quran so we can embody its values and essence. We also work to constantly be conscious of Allah (God) in whatever we do so that our actions will be ones that are pleasing to him. The goal of Ramadan is to sharpen every blade of ours: physical, mental, and spiritual, so that we can come out of the month as individuals who excel in all aspects of living.“

“The month of Ramadan for me is like an intense training camp where we develop the mind, body, and spirit… Fasting is a disciplinary exercise that enables us to be in control of our desires and impulses, enabling us to build a strong foundation of self-awareness and self-control. It also makes us become appreciative of the blessings we take for granted, blessings which most of the world struggles to come by. We are encouraged to display our gratitude through acts of charity and selflessness,” Ozair added.

“For any period of fasting, it is important to prioritize balanced nutrition outside of the fasting window,” Heather Gerrish, a registered dietician and nutrition professor at Skyline College said.

“This might include implementing a balanced meal or meal and snack comprised of fruits, vegetables, fiber-containing carbohydrates, and protein source prior to the start of a fast and after the end of the fasting window. Adding a healthy fat also can support satiety and help you feel full when added to a balanced meal or incorporated into a snack.”

Ramadan is expected to last until around April 20 or around when a new crescent moon is sighted and when Eid al-Fitr is celebrated.