MUSLIM HIGH-SCHOOL STUDENTS NOT SO EAGER TO REPEAT RAMADAN IN SUMMER NEXT YEAR
By Sophia Badr
Chicago, IL — What started out this past July as an all-nighter of hanging out with friends and eating late night meals at cheap 24-hour diners has been replaced by sighs of relief, jitteriness and frequent comments on “thank God it’s over” for many high school students still feeling the impact of a summer Ramadan.
“I just want things back to normal” said Khalid Qureshi, an incoming senior at Schaumburg High school in the Western suburbs of Chicago and one of thousands who experienced Ramadan in the thick of summer for the first time. “Not eating, locked up in your house while all your non-Muslim friends are at the beach isn’t my idea of a good time,” Qureshi said as he still suffers from eating withdrawal. “We all thought it would be a blast to stay up all night and eat at 3 a.m.—but after a while it got tiring.”
Reza Durrani, a junior at River Forest Academy in Sugarland, Texas started off Ramadan with the intent of praying for happiness and requesting for the forgiveness of his sins. But by the third week he claims his only true prayer was in the morning and that was for the day to be over as soon as possible. “When you’re down on your luck and you need to do something to get through the day, food is the only answer.” Durrani explained how many of his friends had changed over the course of Ramadan, many not for the better.
Leila Hashmi, a sophomore in Walnut Creek, California contemplated numerous times of “tapping out” her 8-year old brother, a reference to a hold submission in combat sports, as he would not stop eating Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream in front of her as she was lying in bed from hunger. When asked if she found peace and calmness during her day-long fast, her response was ‘absolutely not.’ “I was on the verge of putting him in the hospital. There’s a lot of pent up anger within me that if I don’t eat, I will lose it. Having nothing in my stomach for over 14 hours will do that to me.”
Police officials in various metropolitan areas had reported an unusually high number of domestic problems with Muslim teenagers who grew increasingly violent with parents who frequently couldn’t read clocks and restricted their kids from breaking fast despite going over the official time by several minutes. In some rare cases, children called 911 on grounds of negligence and demanded their parents be arrested.
Not all youth found the long grueling days of Ramadan difficult. Stoners Talha Khan and Humza Elawhi from Dallas Piermont High school felt they were on cruise control for the entire month. “I just got super hungry right before Sahoor and kept eating for the next 2 hours,” Khan asserted with a glazed look on his face. “After that I’d sleep, oh, I’d say, about 14 hours. No it wasn’t bad at all.” Said Elahwi, “it’s all about mind control. The less you think about the food, the less you know what’s going on and pretty much -wait what are we talking about again?”
Ramadan 2015 has already gotten some teenagers deeply concerned. In Boston, plans for a petition by the Muslim Youth Students of America (MYSA) that would allow kids 17 and under to fast in December instead of July was shot down emphatically by the Islamic Council of Greater Massachusetts. In Florida, several girls created a website dedicated to finding exemption clauses by Islamic scholars which would give them a ‘bye’ for Ramadan. Elsewhere, high-school students have been looking into leaving home for the entire summer as Muslims technically do not have to fast when travelling. Kim Callahan, a booking agent who specializes in national study programs at Educate Travel in Los Angeles said her phone has not stopped ringing in the past week, receiving calls from apprehensive teenagers who want nothing more than to enroll in summer courses which are at least 500 miles away from their state of residency. “I never realized American Muslim students had such a passion to learn,” she said. “However it’s a little disturbing that they are so urgent about their demands.” Coincidentally, the calls started coming the day after Eid.