How One Student Observes Ramadan on Campus


Thousands of the Indonesian muslims congregrated during Eid ul Fitr mass prayer in Istiqlal Mosque, the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, located in Central Jakarta, Indonesia. Credit: Gunawan Kartapranata via Wikipedia Creative Commons

Mazin Hussein, a 16-year-old sophomore in his first year at Williston, has had a different dining hall experience than you for the past two weeks. That’s because Mazin is fasting, every single day, in observance of Ramadan.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim year, during which strict fasting is observed from sunrise to sunset. From May 5 to June 4, practicing Muslims like Maz, as he’s called, do not eat or drink as long as the sun is up. The spiritual purpose of fasting is the surrender, the submission to a higher authority, the creator.

It is an occasion of celebration, and the end of Ramadan brings the biggest event of the year. Eid al-Fitr, which translates to “the feast to break the fast,” is a three day celebration observed by 1.6 billion Muslims around the world.

Maz as of press time, has been fasting for 18 days. He told The Willistonian about his dedication and the logistical challenges of getting to sundown without any food.

Maz wakes up at 4:00 a.m. to eat something before the sun comes up, and then goes a full 12 hours without ingesting anything. At dinner, Sage gives him a container which he fills with food; at the start of study hall, he can finally break his fast and make up for the missing calories.

“I’ve been doing Ramadan since I was twelve, which is usually the age where it becomes realistic for a kid to start participating,” Maz, from Hyde Park, Mass., said.

Because it follows the lunar cycle, the 30 days of Ramadan are not the same every year. To that end, some years it’s easier to deal with the sacrifice, he said.

“For the past couple of years, [Ramadan] has fallen during the summer, so I have more time to sleep during the day,” Maz explained. “That’s the challenge this year, I have a whole day of school that takes away a lot of energy from me. It’s definitely a little more challenging but I’m faring well.”

To help his fasting, Maz opted out of competing in track this season and instead became Dance Manager in order not to spend too much energy after 12 hours without eating or drinking.

Many religions have a period of fasting, for many different reasons in honor of many different things. Christians have Lent, and Yom Kippur calls for Jews to fast for a full day. None, however, is as strict or long as Ramadan.

Despite his cravings, Maz keeps his observance of the holiday very low profile, and many are not even aware of what he is doing.

“I had no idea he was fasting,” Emily Zambarano 21′ said. “I think it’s super impressive, and it definitely takes a lot of willpower to do what he does.”