OU Muslim students fast, find spiritual peace in the summer months

As the heat settles in, a customary sense of freedom tends to follow. The summer months indicate a lot for Oakland University students. For most, it means a welcome sense of autonomy with little to no obligations. But for OU Muslims, it signals the coming of Ramadan.

“Ramadan is one of the holiest months in the Islamic calendar,” said former Muslim Student Association (MSA) Treasurer Nabiha Siddiqui, a junior. “Basically, you are supposed to take time to refocus your energy to better yourself as a person.”

The Islamic calendar follows the lunar cycle. This is why, every year, the months of the Islamic calendar appear to be moving back about a week and a half in regards to the solar calendar. Ten years prior, Ramadan would have found its way into the short days of winter.

Ramadan is not referred to as a holy month in name only; it indicates the start of a different form of worship known as fasting.

“Fasting is not only a physical cleanse but also a spiritual cleanse. You not only fast from food and drink but from harmful behaviors,” said Siddiqui. “[It] changes how you act because you are constantly aware of your dry mouth and empty stomach and that serves as a reminder to be [a] better person. You are aware that you are being watched by Allah (God).”

Taseen Syed, a sophomore, likes to refer to fasting as “spiritual momentum” given for the rest of the year.

“In Ramadan, we find ourselves striving to do more acts of worship, thus any physical deed, such as increased prayer, fasting, and giving Zakat (charity) will increase our spirituality, because the intention is to get closer to Allah. This is essentially what Ramadan is about,” said Syed.

One might think that fasting during the long summer months would make it more difficult. However, both Siddiqui and Syed disagree completely with this assertion.

“The only thing about fasting in the summer is that there are longer hours you have to fast. I rather enjoy it because it helps me build endurance and get relatively stronger,” said Syed.

However, his approach for classes does take a toll on him.  

“Taking classes is a bit more difficult, because I don’t feel like focusing on my class work while trying to find spiritual peace,” said Syed. This is why I take the month off from work. Other than lack of sleep, fasting isn’t too hard.”

Sleep isn’t the only thing that becomes difficult during the month.

“It only becomes hard when you sit around doing nothing, because all you’re focusing on is hunger, which isn’t the point of fasting in the first place. Keep yourself busy and you should be fine.”

Ramadan is not physical pain without spiritual gain. The holy month ends with a celebration called Eid.

“Eid is different, because it’s not only a family holiday, but a community holiday. It’s a time where we get with the community and celebrate as a whole,” Syed said.

Eid is celebrated once the sighting of a full moon is found, as dictated by a lunar calendar.

Syed and Siddiqui aren’t the only Muslims to be found on the OU campus. Muslims make up 1.2 percent of the people in Michigan alone, according to the 2000 United States Census. All things considered equal, that would make OU’s population of Muslims to be around 200. That makes a lot of fasting OU students.

As OU students continue “fasting” from school and homework, Muslims at OU will continue to fast until the end of July. With that, Muslims all around OU will be experiencing a “spiritual rebirth” as Syed calledit.

“Islam is a religion that focuses on the relationship between spirituality and physicality. You can’t strive to increase one aspect without expecting to increase the other.”