By Zaki Abbasi
SAN JOSE, CALIF. — Muslims this year are fasting from dawn to dusk every single day, during the holy month of Ramadan. This is the first year that Muslims are coming back to congregate for prayer in Mosques during Ramadan because Covid restrictions have significantly decreased.
Islam is believed in across the globe but is also widely misunderstood. The media widely blames the peaceful religion for political conflicts between Muslim countries that have predominantly (not all) Muslim populations. This tarnishes the real character of the people. Most people know Islam as a popular monotheistic religion in Asian countries, but not much is known other than that.
Islam is not only a monotheistic religion (believing in one God) but also an Abrahamic religion. This means that Muslims (Muslims not “Mozlimz”), followers of Islam, believe in the same one God as Jews and Christians. Muslims call God by the Arabic name: Allah (Uhllah not “Aaala”).
Muslims, like myself, believe that Islam was brought down in Arabia to the Holy Prophet Muhammad PHUH (Peace be upon him). A misconception that some have, is that Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is somehow related to Allah, but this is quite the opposite. Islam does indeed stress the significance of understanding the importance of the Prophet (PBUH). But a core belief of Islam is to never associate anyone with Allah, and to understand that he wasn’t born, nor does he have children or a spouse.
Another misconception that many have, is that when Muslims fast they can drink water. This is actually false. Fasting is a major part of being Muslim (it is one of the five things a Muslim needs to do to be a Muslim). When Muslims fast, they eat a small breakfast before sunrise, this breakfast is called Sehri, and then fast from food as well as water, for a duration of sunrise to sunset.
Additionally, fasting for Muslims is not only abstaining from consuming food and water but is a fast from all necessities. Listening to music, or wasting time instead of focusing on work, is highly frowned upon. At sunset, Muslims break their fast at the A’thaan or the call for prayer. The meal after a fast is called Iftaar.
The general population doesn’t understand how important of a time Ramadan is for Muslims. For Muslims like me, and many others at SCHS, it is a time for worship and dedication to Islam. Even those who don’t consider themselves very religious or dedicated during the rest of the year take this month of Ramadan seriously. It starts to make sense when you understand that Muslims believe that Ramadan is a time for lots of blessings. That is why even many Muslim sports players fast while playing tiring games and only stop for a bite until continuing to play.
I personally think it’s important to give Muslims (both youths, as well as adults) a little understanding. For me, this month was a great time, because I was in constant worship, and working in a community towards a goal to be more spiritual. I loved this Ramadan because it was Ramadan after 2 years that I could feel the community come together for worship and dedication to Islam. But I was also heavily stressed because of not only being deprived of food and water, but also staying up late at night doing acts of worship, or being at the masjid praying. Having lots of schoolwork on my mind did not alleviate the stress.
If teachers and superiors at work could give just a little more understanding, as I said before, then I think all Muslims, both youths in school, and adults at work would really appreciate it. If we can give Christians a week off during Passover, or Hindu’s a day off for Diwali, then I’m sure Muslims are well deserved to get a little exemption from work for just one month of the year. Such as acts like excusing those who are fasting from running, or letting Muslim students turn in their work late, would help so much.
Before I close, I wanted to let anyone and everyone reading this know, that while Muslims here are fighting for more exemption from work, so that they can fast and worship, they are those who are fighting for their lives. Many Muslims, especially those in war-torn Muslim countries, are left helpless during this month. In some places like Palestine, Muslims are being targeted specifically during the month of Ramadan. Mosques are being bombed and attacked while fasting Muslims are powerless. Just some awareness about this situation and some curiosity about the truth would help those who need help in Muslim countries during these hard times.