Today is the Muslim holy day of Eid al Fitr. This is the holiday that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is a lunar month in the Muslim calendar where every practicing Muslim fasts every day until the lunar month is complete. This involves no eating, drinking, sex, or indulgent behaviors when the sun is up. Eid al Fitr is after the last day of fasting, where Muslims enjoy time together, a special service at mosques, food, drinks, games, and presents. It is believed by Muslims that, during the month of Ramadan, Muhammad revealed some of the first verses of the holy book called the Quran by god, according to infoplease.
I was born and raised in a Muslim household, and I have been practicing the holy month of Ramadan since I was about 6 years old. Each year, I find that the fasting rigor helps me to clean my body, my mind, and my soul. It helps me put a very strict schedule on myself, reflect on my life, reflect on how less fortunate people live, and meditate spiritually. This Ramadan was the second Ramadan I have done away from my household. I have found the Muslim community in Austin to be great. The Mosque that I go to offers free dinners every weekday of Ramadan, and offers them every day in the last 10 days. The last 10 days are considered to be extremely important to fast during, so as to release all sins from your soul.
This Ramadan, I spent a lot of time with my recently acquired friends in college. I was able to make a lot more Muslim friends, and since Ramadan started right before school started, it allowed me to focus my mind on my tasks and to get a better general focus for my studies. It was tough sometimes to deal with the heat in Texas when I couldn’t drink or eat, but it was well worth it.
Close to the end of the holy month, my parents bought a small condominium where I live, and I was able to spend a lot of time with them there, and for my father from North Africa to cook me traditional Ramadan meals. I love my father’s home-cooked meals more than anything, especially when I am fasting.
This Eid, I am going to celebrate in a very mixed cultural way. I will attend my Arabic class, which I think is pertinent to me absorbing as much of my father’s heritage as possible, and then I will celebrate by cooking and having fun with my friends of all religious groups on a fun weekend in a college city. If I get out of my class in time, I will try to make it to the mosque to attend prayer, and to be traditionally joyful with other Muslims, but I also want to be an American and have some nice parties that will definitely happen in Austin.
Although my faith is mostly culturally based, I do enjoy the month of Ramadan as a whole. I enjoyed it this year, and I look forward to it next year. Each year brings different challenges, as the Month changes in the Gregorian calendar, going back 10 days each year. Next year will be more in the middle of summer than this year, but it is a challenge I am very excited about.