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The Student Experience of Ramadan at Sandburg

Ramadan is a month on the Islamic/Hijri calendar in which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Navigating through this month in school can be rather tricky for students depending on a multitude of factors. Those factors can vary from type of classes, when they arrive at home, and when they decide to study. So how do Muslims navigate a school day during Ramadan? 

In Ramadan, many basic tasks are made difficult. Anything from getting out of bed to walking from class to class can be exasperating. Many people report being sluggish and having headaches. Some, like in the case of Faris Amer, a junior, report that simply “staying awake” can be the most difficult thing they do all day.

The combination of eating very little, sleeping very little, and going to school for long hours can affect one’s cognitive ability; many Muslims echo this sentiment, including Mustafa Misbah, a senior, who shares that he finds it difficult to “focus on tasks and assignments.”

Although many complications can’t be entirely negated, they can be remedied by adequately preparing for the fast. Preparing consists of eating a meal early in the morning with filling and nutritious foods; this meal is called Suhoor. What one eats for Suhoor can depend on where one is from.

For example, many Palestinians eat watermelon paired with haloumi cheese. Some Yemenis say that it’s not uncommon for their Suhoor to be an actual dish such as a chicken mandi.

Misbah stated, “I typically eat carbs and protein in order to be full throughout the day. I eat stuff like rice and eggs. I also eat homemade cakes with some cream on top.”

Amer stated “I always have these buzzer-beater moments where I chug a bottle of water ten seconds before I start my fast.” 

To many, prime time for studying has been taken over by Ramadan as prime time for catching after school naps, as well as after school activities as necessary. Fasting while in school can be one of the hardest things a Muslim student can face in their careers because it can disrupt their day to day flow. Therefore, said many have to find new times to get work done.

Most, like Amer, prefer getting their work done during school. “My sleep schedule is terrible. This last week I only slept 2 hours a night, but that’s because of me staying up every night for spring break. I use time in school as much as possible because I have football practice after school.”

Misbah, on the other hand, likes to get creative with the times he studies. “I like to have a cup of coffee during Suhoor and get to work until it’s time for me to head off to school.” 

Despite the struggles faced in a day of Ramadan, many students still love participating and enjoy the atmosphere which surrounds the month. For Muslims, it’s not only seen as a month of worship, but as a shared experience year after year. The underlying sentiment for these students, though unspoken, is that there is beauty coming from so little.

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