American Muslims Celebrate Ramadan

December 8, 2000

Source: St. Petersburg Times

On December 8, 2000, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Muslim students have developed tactics for surviving the day without food during Ramadan. " 'We've all learned little tricks,' said Naveed Kamal, a 16-year-old senior in a private Muslim school, the Universal Academy of Florida. 'Eating yogurt, Gatorade and Power Bars at suhur helps.' 'Gyro meat is especially long-lasting,' said 15-year-old Ossama Elsham, a fellow student. Both also attend classes at USF. Muslims worldwide, including 5.5-million in the United States, are forgoing food, liquids, smoking and sex during daylight hours for the month of Ramadan. They'll devote more time to contemplation, prayer and self-improvement. Some will make resolutions to break bad habits...'Muslims take Ramadan pretty seriously,' said Imran Ismail, 20, president of the Muslim Students Association at USF. 'Even those who don't pray five times a day will be fasting.'...Ismail hopes that in the future Ramadan will be more widely recognized and acknowledged in this country, as Christian and Jewish holidays are. In the meantime, he and other Muslim students work out conflicts that arise between their usual activities and the fast. Ismail, a pre-med student, got permission from two professors to leave late-afternoon classes in sign language and virology early so he can join other Muslims for each evening's meal. That usually begins about 5:30 p.m...By the time Ramadan ends, Muslims believe they will be stronger spiritually and better behaved toward others. Their hope, said Ismail, is that their resolve during Ramadan to avoid telling a lie, indulging in gossip or behaving greedily will carry over into the rest of the year."