As the holy month of Ramadan comes to a close for those celebrating around the world, a Muslim family in Northern California shared their experiences and struggles during the this year’s fast.
Ramadan is a month for spiritual reflection, heightening of faith, and a time of giving for Muslims. Those practicing do not eat or drink water from sun up to sun down during this holy month.
Muslims believe that the religious text of Islam, the Quran, was revealed to mankind as guidance during this month. They believe God commanded them participate in the act of worship during those 30 days. From year to year, Ramadan happens 11 days earlier in the year than last. By the end of a person’s life, man will have experienced Ramadan during all four seasons and during the longest and shortest days of the year.
At the Syed family home in Elk Grove -- Mairaj and his wife Erum gathered in the living room with their two children son Ibrahim, 16, and daughter Maryam, 9. The Syed’s are both working professionals at the University of California Davis.
Muslims in all parts of the world have their own struggle with the fast which teaches each of them valuable lessons such as the value of food and clean water.
As a working Muslim-American family, the Syed’s say they also face their own struggles. The two professionals must attend work during Ramadan. They say often they must watch others eat and drink around them, although many of their colleagues are aware of the holy month and refrain from doing so during this time to respect their practice.
Last year, their son Ibrahim took a summer gym class during Ramadan. He said while it was difficult to exercise and watch his classmates eat and drink, he did not break his fast.
Because the parents both work, the family receives a lot of help from Mairaj’s retired parents -- Taj and Zakira Syed who are both immigrants from India, typically prepare a traditional South Asian meal for their family before they head to their Mosque to attend night prayers.
Just before the family is ready to break their fast, their daughter sets the dinner table, while her mother fries a traditional dish of tortilla wrapped in chicken with spices called Samosa, and the father cuts a cantaloupe.
“Oh God, I have fasted for you. In you I trust and with your food do I break my fast,” Mairaj recites the English translated version of the prayer to break the fast and they eat the light meal just prepared.
Shortly after, the family gathers in the living room and lays detailed prayer rugs and the father leads a five minute prayer in Arabic. The family then goes back and celebrates the breaking of the fast with a traditional dinner which is lamb curry over rice.
The Quran has a few exceptions to those who fast during Ramadan. Women who are pregnant and nursing or who are on menstruating, the sick and elderly, and children who have not yet reached puberty do not fast.