Not Even Water? 


Graphic by D. Khan.

Ramadan, the most spiritual time of year, begins at sundown tonight. Graphic by D. Khan.

“Wait, you don’t eat any food all day? Not even water?”

Every practicing Muslim has heard the dreaded phrase at least once while fasting, and it’s time for it to make its return. The holy month will begin on April 2nd, so the first day of in-school fasting will be April 4th. There are countless misconceptions about Ramadan–the confusion with water is only one point of many. What really happens during the month? I reached out to the Muslim student body to refute the biggest misconceptions about the holiday.

Firstly, “not even water” is true, to an extent. Muslims eat no food and drink no water all day, but they still eat and drink during the month. Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, so this year, that’ll be around 7 am to 7 pm, only half of the actual day. Junior Sohaila Salem and freshman Fatima Hussain explained that although students don’t eat or drink from suhoor (sunrise) to iftar (sunset), they eat normally after dark. Although fasts are longer in the summer months, Ramadan is based on the lunar calendar. That means that the actual days of the month vary each year, along with the timings of the day, hence the varying hours.

There are also misconceptions about the true meaning of Ramadan–is it a religious event or a glorified diet? Students like junior Aminah Ahmed stress that fasting is just one aspect of the holiday, and it’s done not to lose weight but to gain gratitude for the food we have. Ramadan didn’t begin as an excuse to fast; it is the month in the Islamic calendar in which the Quran was first brought to the Muslim prophet, Muhammad. The Quran, or Muslim holy book, has remained cherished and unchanged even today. During Ramadan, Muslims study the Quran, pray Salat and try to better themselves as people. Yes, they don’t eat. But they also abstain from gossip, cursing, bad habits, and anything else that impacts their wellbeing. 

Nearly every MSA student has answered bizarre questions and explained strange misconceptions about Ramadan. Here’s a rundown of the most common: Yes, Muslims shower and use the bathroom during the month. No, fasting is not unhealthy; in fact, Senior Eiman Elkoumy explained that any Muslim dealing with illness or their period cannot fast under God. Yes, Muslims can swallow their saliva during a fast, but no, they cannot chew gum. And yes, Eid-al-Fitr occurs when Ramadan ends. The celebration is full of gifts, food, and lots of celebratory parties!

If you’re interested in learning more about the month of Ramadan, reach out to a Muslim friend or read up through sites like Salam Islam. There’s also a media display set up in the library featuring Muslim authors and stories–fiction or factual, poetry or prose, there’s a book there for you to try. Ramadan Mubarak!

Common Ramadan misconceptions, featuring students Daneen Khan, Sohaila Salem, Aminah Ahmed, Fatima Hussain, and Eiman Elkoumy.