Heat brings challenges to Muslim students during Ramadan

Heat brings challenges to Muslim students during Ramadan

Heat brings challenges to Muslim students during Ramadan
July 28
16:01 2014

Ehsan Azad / Contributing Writer

It is hard enough to go to school during the summer months, but this semester is especially hard for hundreds of Muslim UNT students who have been fasting- no food or water all day-during the month of July.

Ramadan, the holiest month in the religion of Islam, requires Muslims to refrain from food, drink and sexual desire from sunrise to sundown. It is considered one of the most important pillars for the religion of Islam. Yet, this year, many Muslim UNT students have to deal with the increased heat and continue to try to keep their schedule as normal as possible.

“It is hard because it does get really hot and you do get thirsty,” English junior Bakhtawar Hafiz said.  “The point of Ramadan is experiencing the life of people that don’t have as much as you and being thankful of what you have.”

Combining a busy work and school schedule with religious requirements is easier said than done.

“I started to fast and I started to miss having a drink in my hand and snacking all day,” Hafiz said.

Many Muslim students get support through the UNT Muslim Student Association, a group which Hafiz is a member and former officer. The group was created as a way to connect Muslims on campus and spread knowledge about the religion.

“I have never experienced a huge Muslim population in Denton until I got to UNT,” Hafiz said.

Hafiz said that even in the summertime, while not particularly active on campus, group members use their Facebook page to help connect newcomers to the Muslim community. Also, tips are offered to any Muslim trying to fast during the summer months.

The MSA incoming president, biology junior Amina Dasin, said most advice is common sense for Muslims to get through the day during Ramadan.

“Try to be out of direct sunlight during the day to stay cool,” Dasin said.

Dasin said that another way to stay healthy during the day is to make sure to drink plenty of water during Suhoor, the morning meal before fasting begins. At least two to three cups of water before early morning should help prevent dehydration throughout the day, she said.

Dasin said Ramadan is challenging, but the month is supposed to be hard on them for a reason. The challenges are different for every person, but the end result is to be a better person.

“You are trying to leave Ramadan a stronger person than you came into it,” Dasin said.

Another help to Denton Muslims for more than 35 years is the Islamic Society of Denton, the local mosque located off I-35 on Greenlee Road. The mosque is the main praying place for most of the students at UNT, and they account for about 60 percent of the mosque’s worshippers.

“A lot of the students come and participate in the Jumu’ah (Friday) prayers and the daily prayers,” Youssef Najjer said.

Najjer, who graduated from UNT in 1991, has been involved with the mosque for the past 30 years and has seen the mosque grow from the very beginning, a lot of it through the UNT Muslim community.

“The mosque was built around 1980 and the community was mostly students,” Najjer said. “Gradually the community started flourishing and more families became residents in the area.”

The mosque attendance numbers fluctuate from 150 to 200 people, but go up to 500 during the month of Ramadan. Najjer said while Denton has become a suitable place for Muslim families to live, the students still make up a large number of their worshippers.

While Ramadan has ended, the UNT MSA is gearing up for the fall semester and will meet twice a week. Members plan to fundraise and host campus events, including increasing Islamic awareness. They also plan to do more volunteer events with the Islamic society of Denton.

Featured Image: Graphic for the Islamic holy period Ramadan. Courtesy of MCT

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