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Muslim students begin celebration of holiest holiday

November 27, 2000

MSU Muslim students will begin their holiest month today.

Ramadan, a Muslim holiday observed through prayer and fasting - abstaining from food and drink - during the daylight hours, begins today.

Umbrin Ateequi, a member of MSU’s Muslim Student Association, said the holiday is a time for personal improvement.

“Ramadan is a time to reflect and be thankful for things we take for granted,” she said. “When things like food and drink are taken away, you tend to value them more.”

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar and is the month in which Muslims believe the prophet Muhammad received the teachings of the Quran.

During the holy month, Muslims begin fasting at sunrise and break their fasts after the sun sets. Those who are pregnant, nursing, ill or for whom fasting would compromise their health are excused from fasting.

But abstaining from food is about more than just being hungry, Ateequi said.

Shylon Smith, also a member of the Muslim Student Association, said fasting is an important part of Ramadan. She said fasting helps Muslims focus on their relationship to God.

“Most Muslims fast in order to remember God and his mercy,” said Smith, an anthropology graduate student. “If you go without food and water during the day, it reminds you of how poor people must feel, because they are not always able to eat and drink when they want to.

“It helps you to be more merciful and compassionate and generous to others.”

Raniah Samhan points out that while fasting is an important aspect of Ramadan, the holiday is about more.

After the daily fast is broken each night, small meals are eaten with family and friends. After dinner, special prayers are said in mosques and portions of the Quran are recited.

“It’s not just about abstaining from food and drink,” the child development senior said. “You’re also supposed to improve yourself in religion and in your relationships with other people.”

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