Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is an Arabic word. According to many Muslim scholars of the Arabic language and Qur’anic exegesis, it is derived from a verb meaning “severe heat.” When fasting, people experience a severe sense of internal heat from thirst, a burning sensation. Metaphorically, according to Islamic theology, a burning of sins occurs when a person fasts.

Linguistically, the Arabic word for fasting means “abstention,” a conscious action not to do something. Thus, the doer is making an effort of self-denial. It suggests holding back from doing something that one would like to do. In Islamic terminology, “fasting” refers to abstaining from eating, drinking, sexual activity, and all actions leading to it from dawn until sunset. Note that each abstained action relates to basic desires most people have.

The Holy Qur’an (2:183), the holy book Muslims believe to be God’s words, informs the reader that fasting has occurred throughout the history of humanity. For example, Prophet Abraham, Moses, Jesus (peace be upon them), their followers, and many others fasted. Thus, it was a known action, including in the Arabian peninsula, where Islam started. The reader will not find whether previous people fasted like Muslims, but the reader will find each fast had the same objective, developing a greater sense of God-consciousness.

Some consider fasting a challenging endeavor. It may be for some, but it is not impossible. Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, peace be upon him, encouraged his followers to eat a pre-dawn meal as close to dawn as possible because of its many blessings and hasten to break the fast at sunset, a sign that one is on the pathway of good. Fasting is a means of developing more remarkable perseverance. It aids in teaching Muslims the importance of discipline, responsibility, and accountability. Thus, it is not a mere exercise in abstention from certain things. It is an exercise and opportunity for human growth with the hope the individual and community will show tremendous gratitude for such an opportunity, an objective of fasting during Ramadan.

Muslims believe God revealed the Holy Qur’an during Ramadan, starting a 23-year change in the Arabian peninsula and beyond. After breaking fast, praying the obligatory sunset prayer, eating a meal, and praying the obligatory night prayer, Muslims offer additional prayers, reciting the Qur’an and reflecting on its meanings and messages. We notice another profound objective of Ramadan-spiritual, intellectual, physical, and social transformation. Coincidentally, the pillars of Chapman are spiritual, intellectual, physical, and social—food for thought (no pun intended). Change is supposed to be challenging. It is, however, a welcomed experience for those who reflect and act.

Muslims worldwide will begin Ramadan on the evening of Wednesday, March 22nd. After praying the evening mandatory prayer, many will pray a highly recommended prayer, “Tarawih,” which means “Soul Relaxation.” It is a spiritual, meditative communal prayer that takes place nightly during Ramadan. Muslims pray for many reasons, including to take their minds away from life’s grind and into an oasis of calm and reflection through connection to God, a spiritual endeavor filled with happiness and a renewed spirit of hope.

After the above prayers, Muslims will take little rest, prepare a pre-dawn meal, and start fasting at dawn on Thursday, March 23rd. The process will continue for 29 or 30 days (in addition to praying the obligatory dawn, noon, and late afternoon prayers).

At Chapman, there will be a “Welcome Ramadan” at the Attallah Piazza. Furthermore, the Fish Interfaith Center, the Office of Residence Life, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Sodexo developed a food ordering process for our beloved Muslim students with meal plans. All interested students may register or contact Maiya White at maiywhite@chapman.edu or Celina Davis at cedavis@chapman.edu. Faculty, staff, and students with no meal plan may acquire a 5-day one and contact Shaykh Jibreel Speight at jspeight@chapman.edu.

On Tuesday, March 28th, at 7:10 PM in the Fish Interfaith Center, the Chapman Muslim Student Association will have the first of four Ramadan community Iftar meals; the other dates are Tuesday, April 4th, at 7:15 PM, followed by Monday, April 10th, and Monday, April 17th, at around 7:20 and 7:25, respectively. On Monday, April 24th, as a celebration of the end of Ramadan, there will be an “Eid” event. If you read this blog, you are welcome to come. Please fill out the form here.

Please offer kind words to the Chapman Muslim community by saying, “Ramadan Mubarak (i.e., Blessed Ramadan),” or other beautiful words of kindness.