Muslim students focus on Ramadan’s meaning through prayer, sacrifice

Katy Brown

Christmas and birthdays wouldn’t be the same without massive amounts of food.

Ramadan wouldn’t be the same with it, though fasting isn’t entirely what the Muslim holiday is about.

Maram Manjouna, president of Kent State’s Muslim Student Association, said people mostly focus on fasting when there is a much deeper meaning behind the holiday, which ends Sept. 19.

The deeper meaning: “Cleansing your soul, understanding your purpose, and strengthening your relationship with God,” said Mohammad Najafi, sophomore biological chemistry major.

“(Ramadan) is 30 days of basically controlling yourself, practicing your self-restraint,” Manjouna said. “You’re living through the day of someone in poverty; you’re experiencing what they go through.”

Shahd Haidar, junior integrated life sciences major, said the self-control becomes rewarding after fasting when items, such as water and food, are so readily available.

“Food and water (are) pretty much our basic needs,” said Faisal Ridha, treasurer of Kent State’s Muslim Student Association. “And to give that up for a period of time . in turn translates into controlling yourself and (staying) away from sinning in general.”

For Muslims participating, the holiday also serves as a cleansing. Mohamed Ridha, freshman integrated life sciences major, said Ramadan is a way to rid a person of bad habits and negative influences in order to become closer to the religion.

Reading the Quran and praying five times a day facilitates that closeness.

“You try to be the perfect Muslim,” said Hassan Aboumerhi, freshman integrated life sciences major. “I’ve been praying five times a day since I was 12, but you’re extra sure not to miss any prayers during Ramadan.”

Manjouna said the process of karma, or the actions, whether negative or positive, made by those participating will come back to them in return.

“During Ramadan, they say that every good deed is multiplied, so you try to spend as much time in worship,” said Yacine Djemil, senior business major.

Djemil said Muslims increase their participation in worship during Ramadan by reciting in “a (nightly) supplemental prayer called Taraweeh that you pray at the Mosque.”

“The idea of (Taraweeh) is to be able to finish the Quran through the month,” Aboumerhi said, “because there’s 30 days in Ramadan, typically, and there’s 30 . chapters of the Quran.”

The power of prayer becomes reality for Muslims with Laylat Al-Qadr, or the Night of Power. Within the last 10 days of Ramadan on a particular night, a force becomes present granting answers to the prayers of those participating.

Once the holy month has come and past, in the end it “is something if you fail to put yourself on the straight path during the year,” Najafi said, “(Ramadan) is like reconstructing the path and putting yourself on the path once again.”

Contact news correspondent Katy Brown at [email protected].