Fasting for Ramadan conflicts with roommates, exams

April Samuelson

Senior international relations major Alaa Alachkar, junior hospitality management major Hanifah Abdul-Majid, and senior psychology major Anika Syed eat at Chipotle. As part of Ramadan, adult Muslims must wait until after dusk to eat. KATIE ROUPE | DAILY

Credit: Jason Hall

For freshman Sehrish Khan, having a roommate during Ramadan has taken some getting used to.

One morning during her sunrise prayer, her roommate almost knocked her over.

“I was doing my Fajr and my roommate got up early to go to the bathroom,” Khan, an integrated life sciences major, said. “She didn’t see me when I was praying and she almost bumped into me. She was like, ‘Sehrish, where are you?’ and of course I couldn’t answer because I was praying, so she almost knocked me over. It wasn’t even that dark in the room but she was half asleep.”

Kent State students and Muslims all over the world are fasting for Ramadan, a holy month of purification.

“People who generally do fast start fast at dawn and fast until sunset,” Mohamed Ismail, director of the Islamic Society of Akron and Kent said. “They don’t eat, drink or smoke.”

For Muslims, the day starts before dawn, when they have breakfast and then the first prayer of the day. Khan has adjusted to not being with her family for this first meal.

“A big difference I’ve noticed is that my breakfast is not as good,” Khan said. “My mom used to make my breakfast at home. Here I eat cereal or granola bars and I eat by myself, instead of with my whole family with me at home. “

Khan changed the way she eats her breakfast, usually around 5:30 a.m. so she won’t disturb her roommate.

Hanifah Abdul-Majid, junior hospitality management major, is going through her first Ramadan with a roommate and they are both still adjusting to each other’s schedules.

“I never had a roommate before, so this is new to me,” Abdul-Majid said. “And she gets mad because I get up at 4 o’clock in the morning and turn on the lights. We’re pretty cool. We’re learning to get along. I’m learning to sleep with the lights on (because her roommate studies), and she’s learning to not wake up when I get up.”

Khan is still getting used to studying for exams while fasting.

“I had a bio exam on Monday, and that wasn’t cool because the whole weekend I wasn’t studying because I don’t like studying when I’m fasting,” Khan said. “I just sort of sit around and do nothing. That’s something I have to get used to, studying when I’m hungry. Usually I study when I’m eating.”

For Abdul-Majid, fasting makes her study more.

“It makes it easier because you have all this time because you’re not eating and you’re not socializing with your friends,” Abdul-Majid said. “It makes you more focused on Islam, but it makes you more focused on your studies too, because you do what you’ve got to do.”

Freshman business major Yacine Djemil said fasting is better in college than in high school.

“My friends from high school are big jokers,” Djemil said. “They’ll get Chipotle and eat it all obnoxiously in front of me. They’ve been doing that since I’ve known them. College is so big that no one really notices if your eating or not, instead of like in high school.”

Khan said it’s different because she’s not around her friends constantly because of conflicting schedules.

Djemil commutes from Brecksville. He said one of the harder adjustments is he often has to wait to break fast.

“It’s harder in the sense that I’m usually driving home when I’m supposed to eat,” Djemil said. “I usually miss the time I’m supposed to break my fast by a half hour or 45 minutes. I break my fast on campus but I go home to actually eat.”

Khan has a class that lets out after the time that she is allowed to break fast. She said so far it hasn’t been a problem.

“Yesterday I had class till 7:10,” Khan said. “It’s scheduled till 8, but yesterday she let us out early. She even brought cookies, which was lucky because I forgot to bring anything.”

The last meal of the day is called an Iftar. If they are not in class or driving, the students have a prayer, and then meet together to eat.

“Iftar just means getting together and breaking the fast,” Abdul-Majid said. “We can get together and eat anything. It’s good to be around people and it’s good if you’re feeding people. You want to break fast in the presence of someone else.”

Contact religion reporter April Samuelson at [email protected].