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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

What Ramadan means to me  

A month where one of our basic needs becomes an avenue for deep gratitude 


By NADIA ANEES — nsanees@ucdavis.edu 


As a kid, I used to feel a weight on my chest every time Ramadan rolled around. But with age, I slowly gained more appreciation for the month. I started to warm up to the idea of the holy month approaching, the month when Muslims across the globe come together to fast from food or drink from sunrise to sunset for 30 days. 

With age, I learned to recognize that fasting in this month is about so much more than putting your body through physical hunger. In this month, Muslims who are able to fast abstain not just from food, but also from habits of overconsumption and overstimulation.

The most basic element of survival is food — the item always on my mind. But for 30 days, the object that is a subconscious part of my routine is something I go about most of my day without. From an outside perspective, 30 days of fasting sounds intense and borderline impossible — and admittedly it is a challenge. However, the trust that there will be food on the table when sunset rolls around brings people who are fasting great ease. 

Every family’s Iftar table looks different, but often mine would be adorned with my mom’s crispy samosas, pockets of spiced ground meat coated in layers of a thin wrapper and fried to perfection, fruit chaat, a bowl of fruits mixed with citrus and spices that burst on your tongue and kebabs, grilled patties of tender meat that melt in your mouth. 

There is a different kind of joy that happens when we sit with the ones we love and bite into the hot food that Mom (or the designated cook of the night) spends time laboring away at, all after a long day of fasting. Ironically, in just 10 minutes we can reach satisfaction and fullness after hours of fasting — showing just how fleeting some of our desires can be. 

This month helps us abstain from over-consumption and over-stimulation, something hard to practice in a fast-moving capitalist society that constantly has us looking to have more, more, more. For a month out of the year, Ramadan helps lots of Muslims recenter, focus on their core values and practice deep gratitude for the small and big things in life. 


Written by: Nadia Anees — nsanees@ucdavis.edu


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.



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