Ramadan brings time of reflection, higher grades for Muslim students

April Samuelson

Jamal Husseini said people are generally surprised when he fasts.

“I think for me, whether it’s been a benefit or a curse, I’m so pale, people don’t believe I’m Muslim,” said Husseini, junior exercise physiology major. “A lot of people don’t expect it. They wonder why I don’t go to lunch with them.”

This weekend is the start of Ramadan, a month-long period of fasting and prayer observed by Muslims around the world. Muslims are expected to refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, gossip, sex, from sunrise to sunset this month.

“It’s a type of purification for the person in the mind, body, and soul,” senior psychology major Shimaa Shendy said. “Body by fasting. Mind by not cussing and avoiding the opposite sex, even though you shouldn’t be doing any of that anyway unless you’re married. Soul because it brings you closer to God.”

The fast is broken at sunset by a large meal called an Iftar. During this month, Muslims also read the whole Quran.

Mohamed Ismail, the executive director of the Islamic Society of Akron and Kent, said non-Muslim students can make Ramadan easier for Muslim students by avoiding gossip since Muslim students cannot participate.

“Gossiping on things that are of no concern, especially about other people, doesn’t bring any good for anything,” Ismail said. “These are things called vain talk and it should be avoided as much as possible.”

Ismail also emphasized the importance of facilitating prayer space for a Muslim student and making other small adjustments.

“As a mark of respect, I wouldn’t eat or smoke around some one fasting,” Ismail said. “Another thing that would be good, especially for girls, is to dress more conservatively.”

Husseini said Ramadan offers certain unexpected benefits as a student.

“In years past, since I’m not eating, I’m studying,” Husseini said. “My grades spike for a good month.”

Ramadan is also beneficial in other practical ways.

“It’s a chance to start over and break any habits, like swearing,” freshman business major Yacine Djemil said.

Contact religion reporter April Samuelson at [email protected].