Based upon crescent moon sightings and astronomical calculations, the Holy Month of Ramadan will most likely begin the evening of April 12th. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is when all Muslims of able body and mind perform a month-long fast (the Islamic calendar is lunar, and a month is by default 29 days but could extend to 30 depending on weather circumstances).
Some people often read the above and instantly conclude this is what Muslims do. They fast in a month. Full stop. A narrow perspective of Ramadan renders it a mere exercise of fasting.
Although fasting is a vital aspect physically, it is one of many actions assisting a Muslim in one thing: developing a greater consciousness of God. Ramadan has many descriptions illustrating how a Muslim may obtain the objective mentioned above.
Ramadan is also (1) the month of patience, (2) the month of generosity, (3) the month of sacrifice, (4) the month of prayer and supplication, (5) the month of deep Qur’an learning, (6) the month of expressing gratitude, and (7) the month of “God-reconnection.”
Ramadan – The Month of Patience
Patience in Islamic thought refers to a strong effort of controlling emotions and desires consisting of actions ranging from mandatory acts to refraining from forbidden ones. For Muslim students, faculty, staff, and the general community, Ramadan is our friend and teacher.
It teaches us to be patient when we abstain from eating, drinking, and being intimate with our significant others from the beginning of dawn to sunset, about 14 hours this year.
It does not end there. At sunset, we have to show patience when ending our fast and eat judiciously. When it is time for evening prayer, we exhibit patience while praying our mandatory and optional night prayers lasting for an hour or more.
Throughout the day, Muslims at Chapman and beyond will still have to deal with life rigors in ways different from before. The virtual world is now the place many of us reside, and it has reshaped our view of American society and the world. We see people experiencing negative emotions such as anxiety and depression, increased wealth gap, pain, death, and potentially irresponsible behavior in not taking proper health precautions. We see continuous oppression nationally, like what has occurred to our Muslim brothers and sisters of various ethnicities and our brothers and sisters of humanity, and internationally, like the genocide of the Uigur (pronounced “we-goor”) Muslims; a genocide equivalent to the Holocaust. It has been challenging for many of us, but when Ramadan arrives, it reminds Muslims that life is a test requiring patience to endure. That may seem simple for some, but it is that assumed simplicity that keeps a Muslim grounded.
On the other hand, there are positive situations requiring patience, such as demonstrating good character. At Chapman, some faculty have an excellent opportunity to work with Muslim students and vice-versa throughout the month. It is done by reviewing Chapman’s policy on religious accommodation and having a mature conversation with students about Ramadan.
Start by saying, “Happy Ramadan” or “Good luck with Ramadan.” Also, it is a chance for Muslim faculty and students to look beyond the lack of food and drink (the “belly desires”) and dig deeper into one’s “soul well” and finish the semester strong.
If you have questions regarding Ramadan accommodations for students, staff, or faculty at Chapman University, please do not hesitate to contact me at the Fish Interfaith Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blessed Ramadan to the Muslim community at Chapman University!