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Students look forward to prayer and peace

Iqbal+Gagan%2C+right%2C+prays+with+members+of+his+mosque+before+breaking+Ramadan+fast+at+the+Islamic+Center+of+Orlando%2C+Fla.%2C+on+June+30%2C+2016.+The+Center+saw+a+dramatic+drop+in+attendance+at+these+meals+following+the+Pulse+shootings%2C+but+have+seen+people+come+back%2C+especially+after+hiring+more+security+guards+to+stand+watch.+%28Joshua+Lim%2FOrlando+Sentinel%2FTNS%29
Iqbal Gagan, right, prays with members of his mosque before breaking Ramadan fast at the Islamic Center of Orlando, Fla., on June 30, 2016. The Center saw a dramatic drop in attendance at these meals following the Pulse shootings, but have seen people come back, especially after hiring more security guards to stand watch. (Joshua Lim/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

Iqbal Gagan, right, prays with members of his mosque before breaking Ramadan fast at the Islamic Center of Orlando, Fla., on June 30, 2016. The Center saw a dramatic drop in attendance at these meals following the Pulse shootings, but have seen people come back, especially after hiring more security guards to stand watch. (Joshua Lim/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

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TNS

Iqbal Gagan, right, prays with members of his mosque before breaking Ramadan fast at the Islamic Center of Orlando, Fla., on June 30, 2016. The Center saw a dramatic drop in attendance at these meals following the Pulse shootings, but have seen people come back, especially after hiring more security guards to stand watch. (Joshua Lim/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

Caleb Beck

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A number of Muslim students at Loyola are eagerly anticipating the lunar month of Ramadan, one of the key celebrations of Islamic faith.

Practiced by over one billion Muslims, the Ramadan holiday is a sacred month of fasting, reflection and prayer. It will take place this year from May 27 until June 24.

For both the Sun’ni and Shiite sects of Islam, fasting is an obligatory practice and represents a month-long struggle towards achieving a higher spiritual state. Able-bodied Muslims forego eating during the day and only break the fast before the sun rises and after it sets.

Celebrating Ramadan is marked by increased salat (prayer) and reading from the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam.

Khadija Aziz, graphic design graduate, A’16, said fasting works on many levels to achieve a healthier existence.

“We fast, and that is a physical cleanse, in a way. I see this month as a mental cleansing experience also. I always strive to better myself as a person during this month. I do that by not only trying to kick bad habits but also by getting rid of any negativity in my life,” Aziz said.

Ilyes Benslimane, physics senior, said the cultural observance of Ramadan isn’t just about abstaining from food and drink — there’s a significant perspective shift during the month.

“As you grow older, the definition and expectation of fasting grows. As an adult Muslim, you’re expected to not be angry or gossip or even look at things that are considered forbidden. In other words, Ramadan becomes a time when you have to be as close to a perfect Muslim as possible,” Benslimane said.

Hamzah Khan, design senior, said that fasting has become more manageable the older he has become.

“I started fasting when I was ten, and my days went by really long and I was constantly hungry. It gets better after about ten days and it’s easier for me now,” Khan said.

Aziz said fostering kindred connections and focusing on one’s prayer go hand in hand during the holiday.

“Ramadan is an absolutely beautiful experience. During this month, life just seems more peaceful. You’re surrounded by your family, you all pray and break your fast together in the evenings, you get a real sense of community during this month,” Aziz said.

Khan said Ramadan for all of its challenges is rewarding,

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“I feel a sense of relief and accomplishment because we are supposed to abstain from all temptation and work on your personal relationship with God,” Khan said.

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Students look forward to prayer and peace