Looking back on Ramadan
Although Ramadan is over, the lessons one can learn from participating in this month shouldn't be. In order to understand what one can gain from this month, what exactly is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is considered the holiest month amongst Muslims since the holy book, the Quran, was revealed during this month. Simply put, it's a month of fasting from dawn till sunset.
Picture this: It's close to dawn and you're groggily rummaging through your kitchen to make yourself a meal. Your main concern is the contents in that meal, that will make you full, rather than the flavor. You know that once the clock hits dawn, it's over.
No more food, no more water for roughly 17 hours. From dawn till sunset, you're fasting, abstaining from sexual activity and staying away from generally sinful behavior. This is a typical routine for Muslims participating in Ramadan.
Tareq Yaqub, a physiatrist resident at the Medical College of Wisconsin, has been annually fasting for 22 years.
"It's a really cool collective communal experience," Yaqub said. "People get together, they pray together, they eat together. Honor tradition together. So it's pretty cool."
Beyond fasting, Ramadan is a time to connect. A connection with yourself, roots and religion. It allows Muslims to practice self-control and to improve their spiritual and mental self. It is also a month of giving back and gratitude. Muslims who have a financial advantage is required to give back to those in need.
"I think there is something like some sort of cleanse," Yaqub said. You're denying your body some sort of gratification so you have to search elsewhere for gratification. I think that really forces you to be quite introspective."
After the month is over, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr. This celebration translated to the "Festival of Breaking Fast" and it's a big deal. It's the Met Gala that meets Christmas. Kids get an Eidee (gifts or money) from elders and family members. Sadly, I have reached the age where I no longer get an Eidee but now have to give an Eidee. Most of the adults grasp to their cup of coffee, humble to be able to enjoy one during the day.
So now that it's over, what's next?
Muslims spend the entire month praying and building on their character and morals. But what is the point if it doesn't continue throughout the year? The goal of this month is continuous growth throughout the year: to make a conscious effort to give back to communities, focus on personal goals and generally be a good human.