There is so much diversity at Riverside Secondary and sometimes it can be hard to keep track of everything that is going on in different peoples’ cultures around the school of just over 13 hundred students. One of these is Ramadan, a celebration when Muslims fast during the ninth month on the Islamic calendar which is based off the Lunar calendar, meaning Muslims fast during April first to May first.
For a whole month, participating Muslims fast, meaning they willingly don’t eat, drink, swear and engage in physical activities from sunrise to sunset every day. Fasting is a spiritual ceremony and refraining from certain physical activities is a form of self-discipline that allows more time for praying, good deeds and self-reflection.
Science teacher Jeremy Brown opens his class during lunch for Muslims to pray in. He believes in the importance of accepting and acknowledging all people and of all faiths. “You just need to educate yourself on important things; it’s one of the world’s biggest religions, and significant to many of our students. I’m not a Muslim myself, but I celebrate with my friends who are, and I think it’s important that we acknowledge those important holidays for people and those important celebrations,” said Brown.
Ramadan originated in the sixth century in present day Saudi Arabia and quickly became an important part of Islamic faith and spread to other Muslim countries. It is thought by historians that it first started as a means to conserve food and water and soon became part of the religion.
Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. The five pillars are the main fundamental and core practices of Islam and are obligatory for all Muslims to practice to show their devotion. The other four Pillars are prayer, charity to the poor, the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, for those who can, and creed, meaning devotion to their faith.
Muslims believe that Ramadan builds restraint, patience, and cleanses the soul by freeing it from sinful impurities. Muslims also believe that not eating during the day humbles a person and reminds them that there are people less fortunate who do not have enough food; as well as makes poorer people with less food feel more accepted in society. Praying more is encouraged during Ramadan as well as acts of charity and compassion to the poor. Some exceptions to fasting during Ramadan are pregnant women, people who are traveling, women during menstruation, people who are ill and breastfeeding women. Hadith, which most Muslims accept to be the statements and actions of the Prophet Muhammad the founder of Islam, states that these people can make up the lost days later.
Ramadan ends with many Muslims celebrating Eid al-Fitr with their friends and family; communities come together for feasts and potlucks, “celebrating life after a month of engaging in collective struggle,” as described in the NPR article by Wynne Davis.
Ramadan is a very important celebration for many of our students and it’s every persons’ responsibility to be informed and educated on what everyone is celebrating and worshiping. It is our knowledge about different cultures that is our greatest strength as a school and country and should be preserved.