Every year, most of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims participate in the holiest Isalmic holiday of the year during the ninth month, Ramadan. Muslims follow the Islamic lunar calendar, consisting of twelve months based on moon sightings.
Ramadan is known as the month of remembrance and the celebration of angel Gabriel revealing the Qur’an (The Muslim Holy Book) to the Prophet Muhammed. Muhammed received the teachings of Allah and spread the Islamic faith after the Qur’an was revealed to him. Starting in the seventh century, Muslims grow their bond with Allah during this month by fasting, reciting the Qur’an, and doing good deeds.
For Muslims, participating in this holiday is one of the most important facets of their beliefs. This is because it is one of the five pillars of Islam. This list of five practices are obligatory for Muslims, fasting is one of the most important pillars. Participating science teacher Mr. Lockos says “It’s one of the five pillars of Islam. It’s a recognition where you fast, fasting means you’re not eating or drinking, nothing passes your lips from sunup to sundown.”
Lockos speaks to the broader relevance of Ramadan fasting, “It’s for obeying Allah. It’s for a cleansing of your physical being, spiritual being, and it gives you a great appreciation for the less fortunate.”
Lockos participates in Ramadan every year with his family. Lockos said “My wife, she’s a stickler. She makes us get up and we do what we’re supposed to do.” Lockos’s wife is the one who got her family to join her in this celebration. Lockos participates with his wife and two children. Although they are older, with their own children now, the Lockos’ children have been participating their entire lives.
When asked about the effects of fasting on him, Lockos reflected on times of participating in Ramadan when his children were young, “I feel a lot of guilt. When they were little, my kids were doing fasting. They were doing Ramadan, and I would be grumpy and crabby about it, so I felt a lot of guilt because here these little kids can do this and some grown man is having trouble doing this.”
Lockos spoke of how proud he was of his children for completing this grueling task. “Man there’s nothing they couldn’t do and I felt so proud of them.”
Before Muslim children reach puberty, fasting during Ramadan is not mandatory. Although many kids will participate before this because they see everyone around them abstaining from food and drink and they want to participate.
Whether or not children are participating, anyone who is past the understood age is required to fast. Every day, Muslims wake up well before dawn to make sure they can eat enough food to supplement them throughout the day. Knowing they won’t eat or drink for around thirteen hours as of right now in Missouri. Muslims follow a strict morning schedule to maximize their fuel for the day.
When discussing his family’s routine, Lockos said “We do our morning prayers and then you eat and drink as much as you can before 5:30, and then you pray again after that, and then you basically try and conserve as much energy as possible.” Lockos says work and school keep him and his family distracted from their hunger. Regarding free time, Lockos says “We hunker down, watch a lot of movies, do a lot of day sleeping.”
Towards the end of the long 30 days of Ramadan, lots of Muslims experience tiredness, dizziness, headaches, and sometimes even insomnia. Lockos said “You feel lighter, but you can also feel sluggish,” Lockos admits there were many years that fasting was a great challenge to him. The sacrifice Muslims have to make to grow closer to Allah is taxing on the body, but well worth it in the end.
Another Islamic holiday falls at the end of the month Ramadan. Eid al-Fitr meaning “festival of breaking fast” in Arabic is the celebration of the end of Ramadan. Starting on April 20th this year, many Muslims gather to celebrate accomplishing the month-long fast. Lockos says he and his family participate in Eid al-Fitr, “We go to a mosque, and we celebrate the end of Ramadan with everyone at the mosque.”
The original purpose of this fast is to sacrifice yourself to Allah and grow closer to the Islamic higher power. Despite reeping these benefits, Lockos speaks to the positives he notices within himself. He says “If and when you can do the full Ramadan, the full fasting, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish mentally.”