Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UNDERSTANDING RAMADAN; Fasting Feeds Spiritual Hunger

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UNDERSTANDING RAMADAN; Fasting Feeds Spiritual Hunger

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF BRUMLEY

If you work or go to school with Muslims, you may notice they're not joining you for lunch today. That's because it's Islam's holy month of Ramadan. From today through Oct. 12, observant Muslims will fast from dawn to dusk as they sacrifice food and other pleasures while focusing on the Quran, faith and family. But that's no easy task in a society where food and other distractions are ever-present. The Times-Union interviewed four local Muslims from different walks of life about how they get through this monthlong spiritual exercise.

SARAH HUSSEIN

CLAIMS ATTORNEY AT FIDELITY NATIONAL FINANCIAL

ARLINGTON RESIDENT

WHAT DO YOU VALUE MOST ABOUT RAMADAN?

For me, it's just a time of affirming your beliefs in God through self-sacrifice and through your actions, and it's a way of surrendering any material comforts for the sake of God.

WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT THE MONTH?

Probably trying to fast while at work or at school ... while everybody else is eating. ... It's hard not to eat while everybody else is eating, and everything always smells better during Ramadan.

HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR RAMADAN?

For me, the best thing to do is, if you've missed any days (of fasting during the previous Ramadan), you make them up before the next Ramadan. I would fast any days I missed the previous year.

PARVEZ AHMED

UNIVERSITY OF NORTH FLORIDA PROFESSOR AND CHAIRMAN OF THE COUNCIL ON AMERICAN- ISLAMIC RELATIONS

ARLINGTON RESIDENT

WHAT DO YOU VALUE MOST ABOUT RAMADAN?

What I value most is the ability to spiritually connect to God. It forces us to think more and feel closer to God by establishing a variety of rituals and spending a lot of time contemplating the Quran. Ramadan is the month of the Quran. We read the entire Quran during the month.

WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT THE MONTH?

Waking up earlier than usual - 5 o'clock - and eating something that early in the morning. Personally, that's very hard because I'm not a big breakfast person. But I have to eat something to sustain myself during the day. And sometimes when we have lunch meetings at work, that's very challenging.

HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR RAMADAN?

Not much, except as the month gets closer you get into a more reflective mood, which I always do. And also cutting down on TV and reflecting more on why we're here, how to be a better person and a better father.

SABEEN MANSOORI

HOME-SCHOOLING MOM, UNF STUDENT

SOUTHSIDE RESIDENT

WHAT DO YOU VALUE MOST ABOUT RAMADAN?

You feel spiritually purified because you read so much more of the Quran during Ramadan. You concentrate on your prayers, you control your tongue, control your temper - basically it's about controlling yourself. It's like struggling with yourself to be a better person. …

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