Two seniors shed light on Ramadan 2023

More than 2,006,991,111 Muslims partake in Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar that marks a period of prayer, fasting and community. While many at Sequoia are unfamiliar with Ramadan, including ourselves, we were honored to speak to two Sequoia students who observe this time. 

Seniors Abdallah Diyab and Belal Ismail were both eager to share their experiences and stories.  

“I want to introduce you guys to our holy month of Ramadan. It’s a blessed month where Muslims are not allowed to eat or drink for almost 15 hours, fasting from sunrise to sundown. We only have two reasons to break our fast during this month, either if you’re traveling or if you’re sick, any other reasons wouldn’t be accepted. It’s mandatory for Muslims to start fasting once they hit seven years old. I’ve been fasting since then. During this blessed month, people do more charity and help others by providing food for those who need it. Lastly, the month of Ramadan was a month in which the first revelation of the Holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad,” Diyab said.

However, for Ismail, Ramadan is more than just a tradition. The month is a time for Muslims to reflect on and develop valued personal traits.

“The purpose of Ramadan is to have self-control, appreciation, gratitude and just being grateful for what you have while realizing that not a lot of people even have water and food every single day,” Ismail said. 

To practice discipline, people who observe Ramadan must not eat or drink anything from when the sun comes up to when the sun comes down.

“How you practice is from sunrise to sunset, you don’t drink any type of liquid or eat food,” Ismail said.

While Ramadan is only a month, students who participate in sports can find it challenging to prevail during the holy period.

“I was wrestling during Ramadan. I couldn’t eat or drink, and during the matches, I would not have any power or energy toward my opponent. So I just did my best,” Diyab said.

There are also many family traditions Muslims partake in during Ramadan.

“We always do kind of a big celebration at the end of the month. We do a lot of get-togethers with family and friends where we can come together and break our fast. It’s a lot of time just to community build, get together and see each other for the next month,” Ismail said. 

Some families use Ramadan to spend quality time with one another.

“During Ramadan, we have added a whole family every other week and big feasts at night,”  Diyab said. 

The students also shared some challenges of the larger community in regard to observing Ramadan. Many are uneducated about the varying traditions Muslims practice. 

“I’ve definitely experienced racism and discrimination. It is definitely hard having to explain every time why you aren’t eating or drinking. People being worried for me or saying, ‘That’s dumb’ or, ‘That’s a stupid holiday’. But you know, you kind of learn to face it, but also just understand that people can be really ignorant at times,” Ismail said. 

Another factor is Muslims surrounded by a mainly non-muslim community may find it difficult to partake in daily practices.

“I don’t really like to find space to break because we pray five times a day every single day,” Diyab said.

We hope this sheds some light on how important of a holiday Ramadan is to many Sequoia students so we are more respectful of its many practices going forward.