For an entire month of her summer, senior Mubinah Khaleel stayed up into the wee hours of the morning, preparing for the long day of fasting ahead. After eating a pre-dawn meal and praying, she would call it a night and wake up well past noon the next day.
Like many other Muslim students, Khaleel celebrated the month of Ramadan this way and appreciated the convenience of the holy month falling entirely in the summer. This year, Ramadan started on July 10 and ended Aug. 7. The last time Ramadan was celebrated while school was out of session was approximately 30 years ago.
“Having [Ramadan] in the summer, I get to sleep as much as I want and take it easy,” Khaleel said. “In school, time passes by really quick. But I like it more in summer because I can relax.”
Khaleel points out several benefits of celebrating Ramadan before the start of the school year. Several students spend their nights at the local mosque praying taraweeh prayers and preparing to fast the next day. Without the issue of having to go to school the next day, Khaleel feels that she can properly celebrate Ramadan.
“Usually on school nights I don’t go to Taraweeh, but during the summer I can go every night. And it’s so much easier to concentrate on Ramadan because I have more time to worship,” Khaleel said. “I feel since I’m not doing anything, it’s a good opportunity to do everything I can to get closer to Allah.”
Along with Khaleel, senior Inas Syed, president of Muslim Students’ Union, believes Ramadan is easier and much more meaningful when it falls in the summer months. But she knows that some of her Muslim classmates find that the long summer days make fasting much more difficult.
“Other people usually [prefer Ramadan in the summer]. But some people like it during the school year because they say the day goes by quicker,” Syed said.”I personally don’t think either is that bad. I feel like I still prefer summer even though the days are longer.”
Junior Nadia Raza agrees that fasting can be difficult during the summertime because of the long, hot hours. This year, fasting lasted about 16 hours in Columbia, Mo., and high temperatures made the experience even more challenging. However, Raza believes the difficulty of fasting made her realize the true meaning of Ramadan.
“Fasting is a lot longer in the summer but there are benefits,” Raza said. “Summer does play a huge role because there’s no school and more free time. In Islam … Ramadan is a time of asking forgiveness to Allah for all our bad deeds, which brings me to the idea of patience … When we’re fasting, we wait until sundown to eat. But that time is a whole lot longer during the summer. So it makes me feel a lot better that I’m fasting for good morals.”
For Raza, summer made Ramadan easier because of the lack of homework and school-related stress. The option of sleeping in late was also a leisure not available during the school year, and spending the day resting made the hours of fasting fly by for Raza.
“[It’s] different when you’re fasting during the summer. For me, personally, I liked the experience because I didn’t have to worry about getting assignments [and] homework done,” Raza said. “Whenever I do get stressed … I get hungry and I lose focus instantly. So in the summer I got to sleep more, and there’s less stress.”
After 29 days of fasting, Muslim students celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr with their families on August 9, more than a week before the start of the school year. Although some students believed summertime made it more meaningful, other students like Syed celebrated the holiday just as they would during the school year.
“I feel like it was the same as usual,” Syed said. “I spent my day house-hopping with my family during the day, and then afterwards I hung out with my friends and we went to Bonkers, which was pretty embarrassing, but we had a lot of fun.”
Though a majority of Muslim students miss a day of school to celebrate Eid during the school year, Raza agrees that Eid is best enjoyed in the summer because it can be spent with family and friends without worrying about the workload piling up from missing a day of school. For Raza, Eid is just like Thanksgiving or Christmas – a break from school is necessary for her to fully enjoy the holiday.
“During the summer I really enjoy Eid because normally … I’d miss one day of school to go to the Eid prayer at the masjid [mosque], then come back the next day,” Raza said. “Since Eid was on a weekend [in the summer], I spent my whole weekend spending time with family, getting to see some old friends and make new ones. I love being together with my family.”
By Afsah Khan