On Thursday, May 31, the Muslim Student Association of Lane Community College hosted an event at LCC’s downtown campus to discuss the practices and purpose of the Muslim celebration of Ramadan.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar calendar, which is made up of 354 days. During this month, Muslims fast from food, water, sexual relations and smoking from sunrise to sunset each day for 30 days. Ramadan celebrates the day when the Quran, the Islamic holy book, was revealed to the prophet Muhammad.
The LCC event included anecdotes and personal stories from Muslim members of the Eugene community who also sung verses from the Quran. Lyrics were projected onto a screen in both Arabic and English.
Ibrahim Hamide, the event’s guest speaker, as well as the owner of Cafe Soriah on 13th Avenue, explained that Ramadan brings people “closer to God so that they can become better human beings.” Hamide, who grew up in Bethlehem, Israel and moved to the U.S. in 1969, said that Ramadan strengthens Muslims’ self-control. This self-control, he said, is what allowed him to quit smoking cold-turkey after 30 years. Ramadan is also a month of selflessness and a sense of connectivity with others, Hamide said.
“When we fast, when our stomachs growl, we think about those whose stomachs also growl,” Hamide said, “and perhaps this will command us to help others.”
After answering questions from the audience, Hamide passed the microphone to Muslim members of the LCC student body, each of whom shared their experiences with Ramadan in their home countries.
Kaula Hafsia, from Tunisia, described the common practice of preparing sweets during the last 15 days of Ramadan. Leila Jebara shared that it is common in Kuwait to donate clothes and food to the elderly and orphans during this month. She also described the diversity of food from countries, including Lebanon and India, provided by mosques after each fast.
To Malaysian student Noor Ibrahim, Ramadan is not only about the night markets or the food after the fast, but more importantly about relationships.
“Ramadan is about being with people,” Ibrahim said, “People are always busy, but Ramadan brings you together.”