Muslim community fasts for religious understanding for month of Ramadan
MSU Alumnae Farhiya Haji-Abdi, left, and Asmaa Abdel-Azim, right, smile and talk while eating at the The Islamic Society of Greater Lansing, of 920 S. Harrison Road on Sunday, July 29, 2012. The pair were at the mosque for Iftar, or breaking of the fast, during the month of Ramadan that night. Samantha Radecki/The State News
After dealing with personal struggles, Pang Lo discovered love and faith in the religion of Islam. And now in her observance of Ramadan, she has found the ability to thrive in it.
Lo, who converted to Islam this past spring, attended Sunday’s Iftar — the meal eaten after sundown that breaks Ramadan’s daily fast — at The Islamic Society of Greater Lansing, 920 S. Harrison Road.
Although more than a week has gone by since the Islamic month of Ramadan started on July 20, and for many, the toughest part of fasting is over and the celebration of life and each other is beginning, said international relations junior and Muslim Student Association member Kanza Khan.
“I believe God has blessed us with his bounty, and for one month, we can dedicate ourselves to God,” said Lo, a social work senior whose Muslim name is Pang Fatema Lo.
Ramadan is the month Muslims believe the Koran was revealed, and is celebrated each year based on the lunar calendar, Mohammad Khalil, assistant professor of religious studies, said. During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset to become more aware of God.
Lo said although there are benefits to the month of Ramadan, it is by no means easy.
“It’s really hard. Your body goes into shock; I got sick,” Lo said. “Your body’s fasting and getting used to it.”
Because of the toll fasting can take on the human body, the Koran includes exceptions to the Ramadan fast, Khan said. She said these include travel, pregnancy, illness or menstruation, and the time should be made up later.
“Everybody is trying to do their best,” Okemos resident Nadia El-Hussieny said. “Even if you’re thirsty throughout the day, you find yourself saying, ‘I can do it, I can do it.’”
Because fewer people in the area are fasting, Ramadan can be especially difficult for those not living in a predominantly Islamic country, Khalil said.
Khan said fasting is difficult during classes or work, but the community feels traveling to different Iftars and the chance to recharge and purify the body is worth it.
“It’s a combination of Thanksgiving, Lent and a little bit of Christmas.” Khan said.
Although Lo only recently started to practice Islam and had to overcome the initial hardships of fasting, it has not kept her from loving the spiritual journey that is Ramadan, describing it as friendship, dedication, discipline and empathy.
“Ramadan means everything to me.”