Feasts and fasts

By IRENE DE VETTE  |  October 20, 2006

But people are just as aware not eating. “During Ramadan you are very conscious why you are not eating,” explains Emre Açiksöz.

For Basmah Rahman, 27, fasting “eliminates distractions in daily life.” The Ph.D. candidate at Boston University talks about re-evaluating the path she’s taking, as others might do for New Year’s resolutions.

Harun Spevack, 32, who is pursuing a PhD at Boston University, converted to Islam about eight years ago. At first, fasting was a personal challenge for him, but now it means much more. “The hunger pangs remind you of people who feel the same way. The difference is that they feel that way all day long. Ramadan is a reminder of your own blessings and a challenge to your ego,” he says.

“What I like about Ramadan is that everybody becomes equal. The rich guy or the poor one, no one eats,” says Mohammed Araghchini, an MIT grad student from Iran. 

Many students say they get used to fasting after a while, although studying and concentrating can be hard at times. Trying to ignore your growling stomach is the best thing to do.

After thirty days of fasting, Muslims eagerly await the official lunar determination of the end of Ramadan, so they can prepare to celebrate Eid-al-Fitr, a three-day feast of family activities and socializing.  

It’s easy to forget about rumbling stomachs or dry mouths, but the memory of the shared experience sticks. That is why going ‘back to normal’ for many students, such as Rameez Qudsi, is a mix of feeling “sad, relieved, and happy.”

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