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UNT Muslims ignore the heat during Ramadan

UNT Muslims ignore the heat during Ramadan

Graphic explaining the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began July 8. MCT 2013

UNT Muslims ignore the heat during Ramadan
July 23
11:48 2013

Morgan Gentry / Contributor

The gates of hell are closed and the gates of heaven are open during the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, known as Ramadan.

During this month, July 7 to Aug. 8, more than 500 Muslim students and facility at UNT join the rest of the Muslim population in observance of the Fourth Pillar of Islam, by fasting and sending extra prayers to Allah.

Texas heat has not made it easy for participating Muslims living in the Lone Star State, but Saleha Suleman, assistant vice provost for International Affairs, manages to make it through the 14-hour-long summer days by drinking plenty of water and juice after nightfall, along with a hearty, pre-sunrise breakfast that includes yogurt, dates, fruits and special Ramadan cereal with cold milk.

“The first few days of fasting are always harder, but not drinking [throughout the day] is the challenge,” Suleman said. “It’s not the hunger, it’s the thirst.”

Starting with the new moon at the end of the previous calendar month of Sha’ bān, Ramadan’s (also meaning “the great heat”) objective is to diminish the believer’s love for the world and reduce his or her dependence on material things, according to “Islam –History, Faith and Politics”.

The act of fasting during the daylight hours, Sawm, is done to refine a person’s heart, spirit, reason and innermost senses. The emphasis of this observance is actually on spiritual enrichment, according to “Ramadan Frugality Thanksgiving”.

“Having a month of reflection in these 12 months is cleansing. It’s the one month you get to be closer to God,” aviation logistics freshman Arooj Raza said. “It’s really spiritual, and I love fasting. You get a weird energy from it that relieves the hunger you may obtain from time to time.”

Because the Islamic lunar calendar is 10 to 11 days behind the universally known calendar, the month of Ramadan can fall upon any season.

During the holiest month in Islamic religion, Muslims not only go without eating and drinking but also smoking and sexual intercourse – nothing may pass the lips until one cannot tell the difference between a white or black piece of thread.

The past two Ramadan months have fallen during the summer season. Three years ago it was autumn and five years back it was during winter.

Arts and sciences senior Anas Daboul said the first few days of fasting are the most difficult, but he hasn’t stopped because of the heat.

“Nothing changes,” Daboul said. “You have a limit you can’t go over when you eat at night because you’ve trained and disciplined yourself to do otherwise.”

According to “Islam for Dummies” and “Islam Belief and Observances,” an average day for most fasting Muslims consists of the Sahari, dawn meal, followed by the Fajir (pre-dawn prayer also known as Subh), one of the five daily prayers. Members go on about their day but may go at a slower pace because of the toll fasting can take on the body.

Come sunset, Muslims gather to participate in iftar (breaking the fast for the day) then carry on with the Magrhib prayer (fourth daily prayer). Once the sun has set, many families visit and enjoy dinner together. The evening is a time of relaxation, visiting, prayer and Qur’anic recitation.

“The good thing about Ramadan is that it teaches you tolerance, keeps you in place,” Raza said.

Non-Muslims can learn more about the culture once a meditation room that be will in UNT’s new Union, which the school has already began construction on.

“We plan to talk to the Multicultural Center for a program for a UNT community and provide them with insight on the culture,” Suleman said. “Educational cultural programming, in my opinion, it should be done with every religion. That’s how you become a more open-minded person and religiously tolerant.”

Graphic explaining the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began July 8. MCT 2013

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