Opinion: The Deeper Meaning Behind Ramadan


Ramadan decorations that I put up in my home in order to celebrate the beginning of Ramadan. These decorations are a sign of happiness and excitement to show the new beginning of another blessed Ramadan.

As my eyes wander around the dinner table, my mouth almost pours with the satisfactory taste of being able to eat these delicious dishes. Pakoras, samosas, rolls, and the cold Rooh Afza on the table just made my stomach growl even louder. Suddenly, a loud noise rings and the room goes silent. As the Maghrib adhan rings, silence is then spread throughout the room. Placing our hands together to give God our wishes of what we want in the near future, tiny water droplets start to form in my eyes. With thoughts of glory that if these wishes came true how our daily lives would change.

As I spread my hands on my face, my mother placed a date in my hand and I began to break my fast, with the sweet date tonight.

Pakoras, rolls, and samosas are three classic dishes presented in the iftar table. These homemade dishes just bring so much flavor to the table and in my opinion, these dishes are irresistible.

Islam is the religion where the Muslim community have their faith in one God, Allah SWT. This religion has 5 pillars of Islam which are, Sawm (fasting), Hajj (pilgrimage), Zakat (giving), Salah (prayer), and Shahada (faith). The holy month of Ramadan is a time where Muslims take a step back from their busy lives, and spend this time becoming closer to God.

“So Ramadan means getting closer to God, Allah SWT, and we fast from sunup to sundown, meaning we can’t eat or drink during the daylight hours,” Muslim Student Association President Ali Siddiqi said. “This month allows us to get closer to God and increase our faith by performing the 5 daily prayers and reading the Quran.”

To give you an idea of what Ramadan is like, Muslims from all over the world collaboratively fast for a whole month, 30 days. Muslims perform charitable and good deeds that count as Sawab’s, Muslim rewards for the good deeds performed. English and ENL teacher Ms. Khan discussed her personal observations on the students who fast during the month of Ramadan.

“It’s hard because you’re fasting during class and you have to be attentive, you still have to understand the lesson, and you still have to focus,” Ms. Khan said. “It’s really hard to do if you did not wake up to eat in suhoor in the morning, and if you did not get that much sleep the night before.”

Sophomore Kathrine Yusupov gives her perspective on the Muslim students who celebrate the month of Ramadan.

“I think they are very strong willed,” Yusupov said. “They must also be very busy, and I feel like it’s hard enough not eating for like one day but then having to do it for a whole month, I feel like it takes a lot of will power and a lot of restraint. I feel like kids can get influenced to give up, but the fact that they’re still going for so long really shows who they are and their character.” 

Dates are eaten by Muslims in order to officially break their fasts. The date was one of the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) favorite and most desired food items, and was how the prophet broke his fast. This way we feel closer to our prophet.

Additionally, Yusupove explained how there is a holiday in her culture, similar to the month of Ramadan, in which she participates in. Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement, and is known as the holiest day of the Jewish year. Jews traditionally ask for forgiveness for their wrongdoings from God and from their fellow human beings. 

“There is a holiday called Yom Kippur, and it’s pretty much like a day where we fast,” Yusupov said. “So I think that we have to stop eating the night before, at like six, and you can only eat again after you go to the synagogue and you hear like a horn blow, and then you’d be able to eat. So it’s almost like a 24 hour thing and you’re not allowed to eat or drink anything.”

In my own words, Ramadan is a month where we ask for forgiveness and pray to Allah SWT continuously. We take a step back from our busy lives, focus on peace and observe the good in our lives. Being grateful for the little things we take for granted, and coming closer with loved ones and spending this month with infinite joy.

“It’s a time where you get closer to God, and you get to think about those who are less fortunate,” Ms. Khan said. “When you are fasting, you get to think about the things you have in life and really makes you appreciate the things you have.”

The month of Ramadan also means spending time with loved ones. Building and strengthening our relationships with others is very important, as Ms. Khan shares her personal input with this idea.

The holy book the Quran is read throughout the daily lives of Muslims. Muslims read the Quran because it teaches us to have patience, forbearance, and most of all, it gives us the realization that Allah SWT is the Almighty, the Greatest, and deserves all praise.

“New York City is just so busy and so many people don’t get to share a meal together,” Ms. Khan said. “So for me it’s just a special moment where you get to have everyone around the dinner table, and just eating and talking with one another, which you really don’t get to do that often.”

As the Muslim students of Francis Lewis experience the month of Ramadan collectively, students share their personal experiences of how Ramadan is like during the busy days of school.

“The fasting to me feels amazing in a way because it makes me be so pure and sinless,” Afghan Student Association Club President Zulegha Hayderi said. “Ramadan makes me feel very happy, and very excited especially when I am getting closer to God in a way because not only in Ramadan do I get to pray every single day, but I also try to read the Quran  as much as I can, even with school. It makes me feel that I’m a good Muslim even though I try to do as much as I can.”

New York City incorporates efforts in highlighting the month of Ramadan to upcoming generations in hope of recognizing and spreading awareness of this holy month. NYC has included vegetarian, halal, and kosher-style meals for Muslims to eat as they break their fast during iftar.

“Growing up in New York City, I feel like times have shifted,” Ms. Khan said. “I know that when I was younger, I felt when we went to Walgreens or Target you didn’t really see any Ramadan decorations. So I think that the festivities have definitely changed over the years, and now you can do these types of celebrations with kids, which is really nice.”

One way I performed a charitable deed was by donating toys to those who are in need or were not able to own a toy. There was a toy drive in Francis Lewis that was available during this time.

Additionally, to me, having our school community being able to speak about this holy month and giving this month the recognition it deserves makes Muslims feel safe and comfortable to express themselves to others in a school environment. As a student who is also part of the Muslim community, I would appreciate the time and effort for my school to be able to shed some light and spread the awareness of this month to all, so I can feel like my religion is being heard.

“On the first day of Ramadan, if any teacher could talk about Ramadan for ten minutes, I think this would make the Muslim community more recognized in a way,” Hayderi said. “I feel like it would make the Muslims better in a way because they would be more recognized in the school community.”

An article by the Muslim Hands included information on the Tarawih prayers, which are a highly recommended Sunnah to be completed on every night of this blessed month. Many individuals perform the Tarawih prayers because the Prophet Muhammad said, “‘Whoever stands for prayer (the night prayer) during Ramadan with iman (faith), hoping for rewards, then all their previous sins will be forgiven.’”

A masjid, a place of worship and prayer for Muslims, is shown.

“So the Tarawih prayers are only done in the month of Ramadan,” Ms. Khan said. “When you go to a mosque, a place of worship for Muslims, there are just so many people there for the same purpose and your life is filled with this kind of joy. I really can’t explain the feeling, but you know, it’s a sense of happiness.”

Hayderi also discussed her experience with Sunnah and the emotional impact it has on her.

“What keeps me going in this month is anything I do in this month is magnified,” Hayderi said. “Like the sunnah that I do in this month is magnified, and it makes me feel better because then I know when I even give one dollar in charity, it’s like I gave thirty thousand dollars in charity.  

“It keeps me motivated because I know that I can make a difference in this month compared to any other month.”