CSUN Muslim Student Association members raising their hands at a mosque.
CSUN Muslim Student Association (MSA) members at mosque during Ramadan 2023. Photo provided by CSUN MSA.

Ramadan, the ninth and most sacred month of the Islamic calendar, is approaching for more than 1 billion Muslims worldwide. This includes a range of members of the CSUN community, including families, alumni, staff, faculty and students.

The holy month is expected to begin at sundown on Sunday, March 10, and end at sunrise on April 9. Depending on when the crescent moon is first spotted, different regions observe the holiday at slightly different times.

CSUN Muslim Student Association (MSA) Event Director Sami Haq particularly enjoys the community in the Islamic culture, which he feels is heightened during Ramadan.

“I look forward to the community coming together,” Haq said. “Once sundown hits … everyone knows what time it is.”

Meaning and Observances

Muslims believe that during Ramadan, the Holy Qur’an was revealed to Muhammad. The Five Pillars of Islam — the core beliefs and practices of the religion — are derived from the Qur’an: shahada, salah, zakat, sawm and hajj (declaration of faith, prayer, charity, fasting and pilgrimage).

Fasting, sawm, is the fourth of the Islamic Pillars. Many Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, having sexual intercourse, viewing explicit content, cursing and essentially purifying themselves throughout the month of Ramadan.

Suhoor, a light pre-fasting meal eaten before sunrise each day, is not mandatory but encouraged. It is said to give Muslims the strength and energy to continue fasting.

A common misconception is that Muslims fast for the sole purpose of empathizing with the less fortunate. MSA President Aamir Mohammed, Vice President Asiyah Ardekani and Haq explained the true importance of and reason for fasting:

While it does increase those feelings of empathy, they said, it’s primarily about obeying God’s command to fast, and becoming closer to him. They also noted that practicing the fourth pillar during Ramadan is also intended to help achieve taqwa, God conciousness, as God said in the Qur’an.

Fasting during this time is an opportunity to better oneself and abstain from any distractions, Ardekani said.

“Fasting can change one’s mindset and bring someone mentally, physically and spiritually closer to God,” Haq added.

Observing the fourth pillar continues to bring the community together, an aspect of Ramadan that the three MSA leaders cherish.

“You’re not fasting by yourself, you’re fasting with almost 1.4 billion people … Muslims around the world,” Mohammed said.

Ramadan observances go beyond fasting. Salah, prayer, is practiced year-round by Muslims, but a special tradition is added during this month. Taraweeh is a non-obligatory tradition in which family comes together after the last official prayer each night to recite the Qur’an. The text is divided into 30 sections, for the 30 days of Ramadan.

Resources and Community on Campus

On campus, the University Student Union’s East Conference Center (ECC), next to the Student Recreation Center, offers a prayer space — open to people of all faiths.

Throughout Ramadan, March 10-April 9, MSA will be hosting free dinners Monday through Thursday for Muslim students in the ECC. It’s an opportunity, the student leaders said, for students in the community to come together on campus to break their daily fast.

This year, Eid al-Fitr, the conclusion of Ramadan, is expected to begin around April 9.

Most Muslims take the day off school and work to spend time with family, go to their mosque and celebrate. The MSA leaders praised CSUN faculty for their flexibility and understanding about Ramadan and the Eid holiday.

“[They] are very understanding, and we really do appreciate that. They have that compassion for Muslim students,” Haq said.

Eid al-Fitr, which translates to “festival of breaking the fast,” one of the two major holidays in the Islamic faith, concludes the month-long commemoration in the 10th month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims gather with loved ones to enjoy celebratory foods, particularly pastries.

“I’m looking forward to breaking my fast with the people that I love and cherish. I’ve made a lot of new friends through MSA — I’m very grateful and looking forward to breaking my fast with them,” Ardekani said of Eid.

The week after Eid, MSA will host celebrations — a gift exchange, potluck and a hangout for students.

“I’m proud that I have a religion that aligns with my personals beliefs and characteristics,” Ardekani said.

For more information about Ramadan and other on-campus events, follow csunmsa on Instagram.


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