In the Name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Bestower of Mercy

We have entered a new year of Ramadan!

What a feeling!

Let me, the Chapman community, talk with you about a few things regarding Ramadan.

There are several devotional actions of worship a Muslim performs, and the most pronounced are praying additional prayers during the night and fasting during the day. The former has a unique name derived from an Arabic verb meaning ” to rest.” For Muslims, additional evening prayer has some physical activity, such as standing for a specific time, listening to the Holy Quran, the Muslim Holy Book, reflecting on its meanings, bowing, prostrating, and sitting. Some may consider the amount of time we pray to be tiring. How does the prayer relate to the original verbal meaning?!

The answer is not in the actions but in the objective. The additional evening prayer is like an oasis, a time to recalibrate the soul and mind to a higher purpose. The Qur’an’s recitation brings a soothing feeling to the Muslims’ psyche. Thus, the rest is not in the physical action but in the effort to reconnect with the Muslim Scripture, reminding the Muslim that the focus is not the physical but the metaphysical, enabling the soul to attain a higher level. Herein lies the rest.

After prayer, the Muslim will go to their residence or dorm room, hopefully, get some rest, arise before dawn, eat some food, pray the dawn prayer when it occurs, and begin their fast, an abstention from food, drink, and, if married, intimacy with their spouse. Throughout my time working at Chapman, I often hear colleagues’ comment that not eating and drinking “must be hard,” “I couldn’t do that,” “Wow! That sounds difficult,” or “I bet you experience a lot of hardship.”

Here’s the reality.

If Muslims approach abstaining from the above as a chore, then, yes, it will be all of the physical feelings and hardships one assumes. However, they would be missing the whole point of abstention. It is not an exercise of depravity but an opportunity to internalize and actualize the importance of discipline, including spiritual discipline. Spiritual discipline in Islamic thought can lead to a greater connection to God (Arabic name “Allah,” meaning “The God), who, in Islamic theology, is the Eternal Creator and Sustainer of all. Spiritual discipline takes on many forms, including, but not limited to, perseverance, hope, deep reflection, and consciousness of action.

As a community of a billion people, we are witnessing many trials and tribulations throughout the world: gross death in Palestine and Sudan, Uyghur Muslims in northern China under extreme hardship, Indian Muslims dealing with harsh conditions, those in incarceration accepting Islam experiencing bad treatment by wardens in the United States. Governments of Muslim nation-states are more concerned with their national agenda, even at the expense of neglecting their Muslim brothers and sisters.

The challenges, however, do not stop Muslims from praying, fasting, and using their righteous deeds as a means to get closer to the Eternal Creator while finding ways to be ambassadors of Islam.

To the Muslim community at Chapman, I encourage you to remember that studying, teaching, and, if you are a staff member, doing administration work are acts of devotional worship if you intend it to be so.

To the greater Chapman community, I hope you understand Ramadan’s significance better. It is a pillar of Islam and an opportunity for your Muslim colleague to grow as a person.

You can show your support by simply telling them verbally or by text to have a blessed Ramadan, “Ramadan Mubarak,” or “Ramadan Kareem,” which means, “Have an excellent Ramadan!”

Lastly, in our continuous pursuit to offer religious inclusivity and apply Chapman’s spiritual pillar, the Fish Interfaith Center will have four sunset dinners (“Iftar” in Arabic). If you are interested in coming, RSVP. You can find a QR code on one of the many flyers around campus or online. In addition, there is a daily meal program for students, faculty, and staff, enabling them to order an Iftar meal and a pre-dawn meal (“Suhoor” in Arabic). At Argyros Forum and the basement of Henly Hall (THANK YOU, Jamie Gutierrez, Celina Davis, Maiya White, and Breil Bonaguro), there are sitting places to eat meals together. The Cross-Cultural Center is available, also.