By Kylee Dawson
CASSIE TOMLIN/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Sydney Roth, a religious studies and Near Eastern studies senior, arranges informational pamphlets in the Muslim Students' Association tent on the Mall yesterday afternoon. The group distributed information about Ramadan, which begins today.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 15, 2004
Muslim students will be able to observe Ramadan by attending services this weekend at the Islamic Center of Tucson, 901 E. First St.
During Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, Muslims can only eat and drink before and after sunrise.
By fasting, which includes abstaining from eating, drinking, having sex and smoking during the day, Ramadan allows Muslims to be forgiven of all their sins.
Every year, more than one billion Muslims worldwide, including eight million in the United States, celebrate Ramadan.
Ramadan lasts for 29 or 30 days, depending on the new moon. This year the holiday lasts until mid-November.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic year, and because the Islamic calendar is lunar, Ramadan falls at different times each year.
There are about 50 active members of the Muslim Student Association and about 270 on the listserv, said Yusra Tekbali, a theatre arts sophomore and MSA public relations representative.
Sarah Dehaybi, a UA pre-physiological sciences sophomore and MSA member, was raised in Kingman as a Sunni Muslim and has been fasting during Ramadan since she was seven.
"I love feeling at one with the entire Muslim community, and I also love how Muslims are expected to be very kind, generous and tolerant during the month - even more so," Dehaybi said.
"It's like a big family coming together," said Khaqan Sikander, psychology freshman.
Sikander is from Pakistan and said he was not as religious back home as he is now. He said this is because the strong Muslim community in Tucson has helped revitalize his faith.
"I'm getting into it and I'm loving it," Sikander said.
In addition to fasting, Muslims pray five times - at sunrise, noon, afternoon, sunset and evening.
Dehaybi said it is not necessary to miss class in order to pray, as long as afternoon prayers are made before sunset.
The daily fast is broken by a light meal, which typically consists of three dates and milk or water, followed by an evening prayer and a reading from the Quran.
Most Muslims break their fasts at home with family members, said Muhammad Asad, Islamic Center of Tucson administrator.
But students from out of town are welcome to break their fast at the Islamic Center.
Every night, Muslim students and community members can attend prayer services and enjoy a free meal together.
This is the first Ramadan Sikander will spend without his family in Pakistan, so he plans to observe services at the Islamic Center.
Jessica Lopez, international relations and development senior, will celebrate Ramadan for the second time in her life, having converted to Islam a little more than a year ago.
"I love the chance to please God in a way that's very important," Lopez said.
Lopez, who is from San Jose, Calif., said she was raised Catholic but converted to Sunni Islam because her personal beliefs corresponded with the tenets of Islam.