Welcome back! Ramadan and Eid Mubarak to all those that celebrate. It’s been a little while, almost 30 days, to be exact, but here we are: Blog 4. Did you catch my Day in the Life a few weeks back? If not, you can find it on the Mantra and Co. Instagram account. There’s so much to say when it comes to being a college student living on campus during Ramadan, and I wanted y’all to see it happen instead of virtually trying to relate to how hard it’s been through a screen. That reel didn’t even cover the half of it.
I don’t know about you guys, but this has been the craziest Ramadan yet, and I’ve been through some wild ones, to say the least. I wanted to wait until the end of Ramadan to write this blog so I could fully share my experience. Plus, I knew Eid was going to be interesting, too, and I wanted to include that here as well.
Before I begin, I think it would be beneficial to some for me to explain what Ramadan and Eid are, and what it means to me (honestly, I thought these things were general facts, like Christmas, but after a short and confusing conversation with my hairdresser, I realized I was wrong).
The Holy month of Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. It represents in which the first parts of the Quran were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, abstaining themselves from both food and water. Yes, and water. On top of our daily five prayers, there is an additional, optional prayer performed by Sunni Muslims, called Taraweeh that takes place after Isha (the evening prayer). We do this because it’s Sunnah, which means that it’s what the Prophet did, and in Islam, we try to follow along in as close steps to the Prophet as we can. Eid, in Arabic, means “feast, festival, holiday” and it’s a worldwide event celebrated by all Muslims. Two Eids happen in an Islamic year, and the one at the end of Ramadan is called Eid-ul-Fitr, and it symbolizes the end of the fasting month.
This is going to sound basic, but to me, Ramadan just means being with my family. It’s waking up for Sehri/Suhoor (the meal before we begin our fasts, takes place right before Fajr, which is the prayer that lets us know it’s time to stop eating and drinking) together, eating Iftar (dinner) together and praying Maghrib together (the prayer at sunset, which lets us know when we can open our fasts). I was so used to this schedule, to this routine, that I was completely taken aback when Ramadan came around and I was still in my college dorm.
Waking up at 5 in the morning and trying not to get my roommate up with me was difficult. Making my oatmeal with the communal microwave was sad, but eating alone on my bed was sadder. I had to compose myself for the first few days, because all I wanted was to do this with my parents like old times. This is my first year in college, so yeah, I have three more years of this ahead of me, but I just didn’t expect the loneliness to hit so hard. I love my parents, but the whole year I haven’t missed them as much as I did during Ramadan.
But the thing is, I know I’m not the only one that went through that. There were hundreds of Muslims on my college campus probably going through the same thing, and thousands of Muslims in the world that definitely were. I’m one of the lucky ones. I still live in-state and am a 30 minute drive away from home, which is why I feel bad for complaining about how sad it was. There are so many Muslims that can’t make that commute everyday back to their parents, and I know it was hard for them, too. The point I’m trying to make here is that feeling alone is completely normal, but just know that no matter where you are, there’s always going to be a support group behind you, ready to catch you when you fall. The purpose of the month of Ramadan is to bring you closer to Allah and your faith, and if anything, I hope that brought you some sort of comfort more than anything else.
But yeah, Ramadan has been tough. Staying awake (and paying attention) in my classes; getting work and studying done during the day; keeping yourself up after opening your fast. It was all more difficult than I would’ve expected. To be honest, I thought I’d be able to match the energy of the working people around me and get my stuff done, but I honestly didn’t have it in me. This whole month, I completely half-assed all my work. The only thing I figured out was my nap schedule. My friends described me as an absolute menace (especially when my parents forgot to wake me up for Sehri) – did I do it to them on purpose… maybe. But hey, it was Ramadan, I had my excuse.
The one thing that I didn’t expect, however, was how closely-knit and including the Muslim Student Association at my school was. It was interesting to see. For example, they offered Iftar every day. They held Taraweeh prayers every night. It was beautiful. It took me by surprise and I wished I had the nerve to include myself in this more. Fingers crossed for next year.
I went home every weekend, and that consisted of lots of sleeping in ‘till early noon and lots of staying up ‘till sunrise. We attended Taraweeh as a family, stayed for the Ramadan lectures, and spent the late nights with friends. This was our routine. My sleep schedule is still messed up, to be honest. The only hit my school week took was the extreme laziness and waking up at 5 in the morning; everything else pretty much stayed the same.
Before I knew it, Eid came. It was like I blinked and there it was. Ramadan had never felt faster in my life. Funnily enough, Eid was also my birthday. It all came so quick, I didn’t even realize. Yes, I forgot my own birthday (it’s okay, everyone did).
Our Eid mornings always look the same; waking up too late, rushing to get ready, making it late to Eid prayer, breakfast with the whole family at my house (with Nihari, of course), and then parties after parties until we literally dropped from exhaustion. The midday-Eid nap and after-Eid sleep are the best sleeps you can ever imagine.
I’m extremely lucky to be in the position to be around my family for the month of Ramadan, but I know that a lot of people can’t relate to me on this. I hope you could find the beauty in the month, though, and allowed yourself to leave Ramadan a better version of yourself than when you began the month. At the end of the day, that’s why we choose to partake in the Holy month in the first place. Whether this change comes mentally or otherwise, I hope you found inner peace this past 30 days and took the time to reflect. I learned a lot of patience this past month. I learned how to keep up with the long days, how to keep my composure amid the hunger, and how it’s okay to ask for help. I learned that it’s okay to take breaks, to take a breather and to just live life as it is. But most importantly, I learned how to forgive. And that’s a characteristic that I think is hugely important for everyone to learn.
One can never truly live life to the fullest if they’re dwelling on the past and allowing things out of their control to get in their way. Forgiveness is the hardest thing to learn and to implement in daily life; I know it is. But I promise you, it’s worth the try.
If you’re ever feeling alone, whether it’s next Ramadan or just ever in life, please remember that you’re never actually alone. Allah is always beside you. The whole Muslim community is always beside you. The point of this blog is to be relatable, and to serve as a reminder that there’s always a place to come back to whenever times get tough. This is our safe space. This blog is for you.
Now, I know that not everyone can resonate with participating in Ramadan, however I do hope that you can resonate with the idea of dedicating yourself to something entirely. Ramadan is also about strengthening your community, fostering your inner peace, and connecting with something greater than yourself. So, whether or not you participate, I hope you can take some of these things with you.
All my love,