Students Celebrate Ramadan


Hana El-Hamalawy

For Eid, the girls get dressed up to go to the mosque in long dresses called abayas.

This year, Ramadan was celebrated from Wednesday March 22nd to Thursday April 20th. During this month, Muslim people around the world devote their time to daily fasting, self reflection, and working on things for their religion, such as prayer and reading the holy book, the Quran.

Observing Ramadan means different things to people, as everyone forms their own values and gives importance to the things that mean the most to them during the month. Hana El-Hamalawy said, “It’s probably when I feel the most peaceful. It’s a time where I kind of self reflect the most. I see my different habits, it’s not about just praying and fasting, it’s what you get out of that.”

For some, January first marks a time to step into the new year’s resolutions and overall reflect on what changes could be made in the upcoming year. Ramadan can symbolize the start of a new year or new beginning, as the habits practiced during it can act as resolutions to continue for the rest of the year. The whole month is an extremely spiritual time as most find they grow in their religion then continue to maintain personal growth and become conscious of changes made acting as a reset.

“I think it makes me become more disciplined in myself and my habits. [It] makes me realize the way I act, the things I do, time management. Things like going on social media I try to limit because it’s not beneficial to my character,” El-Hamalawy said.

Alongside the aspirations to change individually during Ramadan is another aspect of the togetherness that’s found. “It’s time to self-reflect and it’s also a time where your family and friends all come together. You only get it once a year for a month. It’s crazy because you see all of these people like we all come and pray together, we all spend late nights together,” Asiyah Moiz said.

The celebration of Ramadan comes with memorable times, whether over Facetime or in person. “The advantage of staying up all night is that I also get a lot of work done. This one night I remember I had a test and a presentation, a lot of work to do. So I broke my fast then I pulled an all nighter. And over spring break we pulled all nighters virtually with my cousins,” Aleena Naveed said.

After praying, the day long fast is broken with a meal called Iftar when the family joins together and eats. The dish pictured with a moon on it is a traditional dessert that is common to make during called knafeh. (Hana El-Hamalawy)

When individuals reach the age of maturity, which is different for everyone, they are expected to start fasting. In the interim, some families have the younger kids participate in half days of fasting in addition to joining the families “Iftar” (the meal after sunset) and “Suhoor” (the meal before sunrise). At a young age, they are getting a sense of what the fasting schedule looks like and still able to attend prayer with their family at the mosque. For example, every Friday there is “Jummah,” a prayer that is supposed to be said at the Mosque. In English, “Jummah” translates to “coming together” or “congregation.” Specific to local Mosques, there are 4 different shifts between 10:30 and 2:30, each are an hour long.

All Dulles Area Muslim Society, also known as ADAMS, is one of the closest mosques to Dominion. ADAMS has multiple different branches in Ashburn and soon to be in Leesburg as well as Reston. The Sterling location has a youth cafe, basketball courts, open seating areas and a large variety of programs catered to youth. Although it is a mosque for practicing Muslims, ADAMS welcomes people of all religions.

Praying during the school day can look very different in comparison to praying at home. During the month of Ramadan, there is a designated classroom recently in room L504 during 3rd and 7th block as well as some counseling offices that act as a prayer room. As for the rest of the school year, there is a different classroom that acts as a prayer room. Expressing her wishes for Dominion, El-Hamalawy wants “a spiritual or religious room, not just [for] Muslims, just anyone that wants to pray or needs a moment can go in.”

The Sterling mosque ADAMS has a separate prayer room as well as a youth cafe and gym. (Asiyah Moiz)

While enjoyed by some as a day off just contributing to a three day weekend, this past Friday served a more significant meaning to some. Friday, April 21st, was Eid al-Fitr, which is also known as the final conclusion of Ramadan.

Different communities observe Eid festivities in a variety of ways all with a common factor of praying, and many families travel to different areas to celebrate the day. “We prayed at Verona park, 600 Muslims came to pray from the community. During the visit, I visited the Soprano House in North Caldwell,” Ismail Mohamed said. This year he was able to spend time in New Jersey with family and join their community in prayer.

As El-Hamalawy is currently a player on the Girls JV Soccer team, she shared about finding a balance between playing your sport, being a student and at the same time trying to work on your religion and how it impacts her. “I try to maintain my same schedule because I think taking on more, it kind of improves the experience. It does make it harder but in the end it’s worth it. With soccer, yes it’s really difficult but I think it kind of does motivate me more,” El-Hamalawy said.