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April 22, 2024

Student view: Celebrating Ramadan as a university student

Zafira Lubis is a third-year student in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences pursuing a degree in public relations and a minor in entrepreneurship and innovation. Lubis also is a member of the Muslim Students Association and serves on the board as one of the ASMSU representatives.

As a Muslim wearing the hijab at a university that embraces the diversity of its student body, Ramadan holds a special significance for me. Each year, as the holy month approaches, I find myself anticipating both the challenges and the joys that come with observing Ramadan within an educational setting that actively supports and celebrates diversity.

Ramadan is a sacred time for Muslims globally, it honors the month in which the Holy book of Islam, the Qur’an, was revealed. During this month, Muslims fast from the first light of dawn till the sun sets. They are required to abstain from eating, drinking, and negative behaviors.

Zafira Lubis
Zafira Lubis. Courtesy photo.

Celebrating Ramadan away from my family brought many challenges, however I was able to navigate during my 3 years of living on campus. Balancing academic commitments, social activities, and spiritual reflection were all trials I faced, yet simultaneously enriched my university experience and deepened my connection to my faith.

Spending Ramadan during my freshman year at MSU was difficult, as it was the first time I’ve fasted away from my family. Living in a dorm without a kitchen to prepare morning and evening meals was particularly challenging. However, many of the dining halls catered to the needs of Muslim students and provided various Halal options for us to enjoy. I was also fortunate to have a Muslim roommate to help me feel supported during the long hours of fasting. Though not all students have Muslim friends in which they are able to share Ramadan with, this month emphasizes unity and connection within the Muslim community. It's taught me to be more appreciative of my Muslim family and friends.

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a Muslim student during Ramadan is the sense of community and solidarity that surrounds campus. Being on the E-board of the Muslim Students Association has allowed me to feel connected with other students experiencing the same trials during Ramadan. The busy dinners that MSA has organized to provide students with an enriching meal to break their fast has reminded me of the core values within our communities and our religion. During this holy month, we emphasize Islam's teachings of serving our communities to achieve rewards and a positive outlook on life.

Being a hijabi Muslim student on campus also presents its own set of challenges. Even when I am not celebrating Ramadan, I often feel isolated and different from my peers. Being the sole hijabi in my classes is a deeply personal experience. My appearance often draws attention, making me feel both seen and scrutinized. However, these moments of isolation also bring a sense of purpose; I am a representative of my faith and culture, a beacon of diversity in a sea of uniformity. Having the chance to challenge misconceptions and educate my peers about my identity enables me to have a positive mindset and assists me when fasting on campus. Being a minority has given me the opportunity to celebrate Ramadan in an environment that values and respects religious diversity.

As Ramadan coincides with the end of the school year and the approach of final exams, it reminds us all of the need for balance, empathy, and gratitude amidst our busy schedules. Through the Muslim community at MSU, we create a campus environment that is not only academically enriching but also spiritually fulfilling – a place where diversity is not just tolerated but embraced and celebrated.

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