By Nomatter Ndebele and Pheladi Sethusa
For Muslims all over the world Ramadan is a time of sacrifice and reflection.
What is Ramadan?
Anwar Jhetam from the Muslim Students Association said Ramadan marks the ninth month in the Islamic calendar.
This is the month in which it is believed the holy Qu’ran was revealed, said Jhetam.
“It is a month of fasting and increased worship to develop a closer relationship with God. Ramadan is a month of reflection and self development,” he said.
During this month Muslims fast from dawn to dusk and abstain from “food, drink and sex with one’s spouse”, said Jhetam. The fast is broken after dusk at which point people are allowed to indulge in the above.
Students and fasting
While the rest of the students go about their day, munching this and that, Muslim students have to wake up before sunrise to have breakfast and fast throughout the day until about 5.30pm.
Romy Dasoo, 1st year Engineering, said she is finding fasting while attending university very difficult.
She has class from 8am to 5pm. “I end up breaking fast later, due to traffic,” she said.
Third year physiology student, Imraan Ballim, said: “Apart from the weird gastric sounds, it’s quite cool.”
Ballim believes the month of Ramadan is a very spiritual experience. “You engage more with religion and what it means,” said Ballim.
He also believes the introspection aspect of the fast makes it worthwhile. [pullquote align=”right”]”It becomes easier with time as you aren’t distracted by having to eat or drink”[/pullquote]
Dasoo wishes she was more spiritual because the month would mean more to her and added that she admires students who are very spiritual.
Many students are quite aware of the difficulty of having to concentrate on an empty stomach.
Ballim agreed the first few days are difficult but said it becomes easier with time as you aren’t distracted by having to eat or drink.
Many Muslim students also get together to pray in the afternoon.
Ballim said this is a “nice experience because everyone gets together” and shares in the religion. Breaking fast is another good experience, as people gather with their families to feast on food they have been wilfully avoiding all day.
Special concessions are made for pregnant women, children, the sick and people who will be travelling at the time.
“They are permitted to abstain from the fast and can fast at a later date,” said Jhetam.
“At the heart of the fast is drawing closer to God during this special time,” he added, saying that students should use this time to develop character traits and habits that they will carry with them long after this religious period is over.