Muslims in New Orleans fast in the summer heat
Published: Thursday, August 22, 2013
Updated: Thursday, August 22, 2013 16:08
Zahra Abdeljaber, a sociology junior, fasted for one month for the Islamic holiday Ramadan.
Ramadan is a 30 day fasting period when Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset.
The placement of Ramadan each year depends on the Islamic Calendar as specified in the Quran. This year Ramadan began on July 8 and ended on Aug. 7 for Muslims around the world.
Muslims fast during Ramadan to better understand how the poor and hungry regularly live.
Seif Amer, a Muslim marketing student at the German University in Cairo, described Ramadan as a month of spiritual guidance and cleansing.
“While each person may define Ramadan in a different way,” Amer said. “The goal of Islam is to learn about the unfortunate and to become more patient.”
During these summer months, Muslims in New Orleans fasted in the humidity and high temperatures for 14 hours.
Samar Sarmini, a Muslim and a Loyola mathematics instructor, said she uses the month of Ramadan to get closer to God and make charity and giving a priority.
“It’s a month to get in touch with your spiritual side. You dedicate more time toward your worship, catching up with duties mainly toward God. It’s a month of catching up also with the Quran,” Sarmani said.
“You would notice that most Muslims who practice are active participants of Islam would go over the whole Quran at least one during this month.”
After sunset members of the Muslim community gather for the Iftar dinner to break their fast.
Diana Mirfiq, psychology junior, said she loved her Iftar dinners this year.
“Iftar dinner was usually a feast for a king. The table is always filled with delicious food. I never knew where to begin. Each Ramadan, I fill my plate with food and swear that I’m going to eat everything in sight, but once you take three bites you’re already full,” Mirfiq said.
Another priority during Ramadan is to celebrate the end of a successful day fasting with close family, friends and neighbors for the Iftar feast.
“I love the fact that my family sat
down and ate dinner for a month straight. It brought us closer. Usually, we are off doing our own thing, and it was great to come together during this joyous month,” Mirfiq said.
“It doesn’t have to be family members. Anybody, everybody is welcome. Whoever wants to come to Iftar would be more than welcome to come and join us. Its really getting people together,” Sarmini said.
She explained its tradition to join and provide food for the Iftar dinner.
Overall, Ramadan is a time dedicated to family and those who want to be a part of the Muslim community.
“I was happy to be able to celebrate Ramadan in New Orleans. Although it was challenging because of the heat, I felt encouraged to continue going and complete the day,” Abdeljaber said.
Janeicia Neely can be reached at email@example.com