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Why I fast for Ramadan

My family has been observing Ramadan for as long as I can remember. For a month’s time from dawn until dusk we refrain from food and drink. It is a time of spiritual growth and the goal is to better yourself in a permanent manner that will carry into next year’s Ramadan.

My sister and I have been fasting since we were five and six years old. My earliest memories are of our mother and father waking us up early each morning to eat the suhr with them. Evenings when we broke our fast were the highlight of our day as our mother would cook up a storm of all our favorite appetizers and dishes. We would then attend prayers in Downtown San Jose at a mosque we have been frequenting ever since my parents moved to the U.S. — it is as good as our second home.

There we perform an hour’s worth of extra worship which signifies our intent to fast the next day. And on weekends we break fast with other members of the community, arriving early to set up dates, drinks, fruits and fried goods for the other fasters. It’s the same routine we’ve followed for 15 years now.

Ramadan is a month that brings my family closer together. I admit that commuting an hour each way does take a toll on me but no matter how much school work I have, during this month especially I make sure to spend enough time with my family. Ramadan helps me prioritize my life so that instead of trying to fit prayers into my daily schedule, I try to have my other duties revolve around my worship and my family. The more demanding my schedule gets, the more aware I am that while we will continue studying for as long as we live, the present will not stay with us forever. Eventually our parents will pass on to another world and we will part our separate ways with our siblings. Do they not then demand the greatest portion of our attention?

Eid-ul-Fitr took place on Sunday Sept. 20 and there was no fasting — only feasting and fun. Our family rose early, bathed, and wore a set of beautiful clothes newly arrived from Pakistan. We made our phone calls to relatives overseas, we ate a most scrumptious breakfast, and set out to the Santa Clara fairgrounds to celebrate our holiday with about 8,000 other Muslims from the Bay. This month is a time to count the endless blessings around us and live life for what it is because more often than not, what we perceive to be our most cumbersome problems are trivial compared to what others around the world face on a daily base.