Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan


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Ramadan: Fasting and Reflection

Heidi Hanson
The Islamic Center in downtown Winona serves as a mosque and activity center for the community.

On the evening of Sunday, March 10, the ninth month of the Islamic year, or Ramadan, began. Fasting, one of the five pillars of the religion of Islam, is expected of all able-bodied Muslims during the month of Ramadan and during the hours before sunset. This year, the Islamic month of Ramadan ends on or around April 9, 2024.

Ramadan is stated to be the holiest month in the religion of Islam and is a time for people of the Islamic religion to spend time engaging in spiritual activities that remind them of God or improve their understanding and empathy for other people in need.

“Ramadan gives us an opportunity to connect spiritually with God,” Sayeeda Khan, a freshman international student at Winona State University, said. “It is a time for spiritual reflection, attaining closeness to God, spending time in prayer, being aware of and feeling compassion for the ones who are needy.”

The Islamic Center of Winona, located on W third St., is a resource that many Muslim students, especially international students, take advantage of on a regular basis. Additionally, the month of Ramadan is when the Islamic Center organizes Iftar, the meal eaten to break fasting time at sunset. Although not offered at the Islamic Center, there is also Suhoor/Sehri, the meal eaten in the morning at dawn to begin fasting.

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Khan stated that she has attended the Islamic Center of Winona since the beginning of her time here in Winona.

“The ICW has been my anchor throughout adjusting to life in Winona, especially as an international student,” Khan said. “It gave me a sense of familiarity but also an opportunity to meet new people, many of whom I call my friends now.”

Ahmed El-Afandi, the founder of the Islamic Center of Winona and a trustee of the center, explained that the time after sunset is a celebratory period for Muslims to break their fast within a community. After this month ends, a celebration “akin to Christmas” occurs, where the community is able to exchange gifts and spend time with one another.

“The ICW offers that opportunity [of a community] to community members, especially those who are far away from their homelands and families,” El-Afandi said. “The community becomes a surrogate family to those individuals, especially the students.”

Additionally, the Islamic Center of Winona offers congregational prayers, educational programs and community opportunities. According to their website, parts of their mission include developing a “deeper understanding of Islam and enhancing the commitment to Islamic religious, social, ethical, and moral standards,” and “Islamic Dawah (invitation to Islam) among non-Muslims.”

Non-Muslims are encouraged to join their Muslim peers in attending monthly potlucks and other events to learn more about the religion of Islam. Khan stated that she has brought her non-Muslim friends to the ICW’s monthly potlucks, and they have “enjoyed it every time.”

The role of fasting during Ramadan is to facilitate self-control, discipline, compassion and empathy; the month of Ramadan is a time of celebration but also of charity. Fasting is required for all able-bodied Muslims with some exceptions, some of those being pregnant women, people who are ill and children.

Khan noted that for those who are not Muslim and don’t celebrate Ramadan, this is a great time to learn more about those who do.

“We see the act of fasting as a blessing,” Khan said. “Do not feel bad that your Muslim friends, students or colleagues are not eating during the daytime. Rather, take this chance to have some meaningful conversations; ask respectful questions to learn more about Ramadan.”

Khan additionally explained that it’s also important to have understanding when it comes to any Muslim peers that are celebrating Ramadan; fasting may lead to Muslim peers feeling more tired throughout the day, so it’s beneficial to schedule any meetings in the middle of the day rather than in the evening.

“Lastly, you can take part in the spirit of Ramadan for example by sharing Iftar with your Muslim friends,” Khan said. “If you come across a Muslim, don’t forget to wish them Ramadan Mubarak (Blessed Ramadan)!”

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About the Contributor
Heidi Hanson
Heidi Hanson, Features Editor

Heidi Hanson (she/her/hers) is the Features Editor for the Winonan as of fall 2022. She joined the Winonan during her first semester at WSU, back in fall of 2021. Hanson is currently a third year at Winona State University, majoring in Communication Arts and Literature Teaching with a minor in Communication Studies Teaching.

Besides writing for the Winonan, Hanson is a Resident Assistant at the East Lake Apartments and is a member of the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH). She also works as a research assistant for the Communications Department.

For fun, Hanson enjoys reading mystery novels, watching horror movies, and enjoying music from all genres. She also enjoys journaling and exploring the surrounding area of Winona.

Hanson hopes to be a middle or high school English teacher after graduation to spread her love of literature and provide a safe space for future students who go through her English Literature classroom. Before that, however, she hopes to have a fulfilled four years at WSU and grow through work and social experiences.

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