Like millions around the world, Muslims at OCCC are observing Ramadan, the month of fasting and religious reflection in the Islamic calendar.
During the long, hot days of an Oklahoma summer, refraining from food and water from dawn to dusk is a test of religious devotion.
Amin Shariat Zadeh, Communications Lab assistant, said Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar in which Muslims pay homage to their faith.
Fasting from dawn until dusk for the entire month is a way to display patience and respect.
“From sunup to sundown, there is no eating or drinking at all,” Shariat Zadeh said.
Milad Nematzadeh, a Muslim student from Iran, said during long classes, the need for food becomes more apparent.
“If you’re in a three-hour class during Ramadan and haven’t eaten all day, it makes it a little hard,” Nematzadeh said.
“You need food in your body to help you concentrate but when you’re fasting for Ramadan it makes it a little harder for you because it stays on your mind.”
Because of the lingering desire for food, sometimes a mishap might take place, Nematzadeh said.
It is not uncommon for a Muslim to absentmindedly eat some food or take a drink throughout the day, he said.
Nematzadeh said there is added temptation while fasting among many non-Muslims.
“If some people see food or a drink lying around, they might take a bite or a sip and realize right after, ‘Oh man, what did I do?’”
To non-Muslims, the idea of Ramadan may seem strange.
OCCC student Farah Abuobead said most people don’t understand the reasoning behind Ramadan and its rituals.
Abuobead, a Muslim student originally from Jordan, said she has no qualms about fulfilling her religious duties.
“It is sometimes difficult (to fast), but I am very happy with Ramadan,” Abuobead said.
“The reason we fast is to know how the unprivileged feel and to allow us to step in their shoes for a month.”
Abuobead said there is more to Ramadan than just fasting.
“During Ramadan, Muslims donate a lot of food and money to many poorer people as well.”
The process of fasting also gives Muslims a jubilation to look forward to each night, she said.
After a long day of fasting, Muslims gather together in the evenings to enjoy a much-needed feast in celebration of Ramadan. Prayers are also conducted to give thanks for the food that is provided.
At the month’s end, usually around the 29th or 30th day of Ramadan, the holiday known as Eid ul-Fitr commences, Shariat Zadeh said.
It marks the end of Ramadan and the beginning of a special celebration to come.
Ramadan is based on the Islamic lunar calendar, which translates to a different period each year for places like the United States.
Upon the ending of Ramadan this year, Muslims will have less than a full year before it commences again. Ramadan 2011 is set to begin on Aug. 1.