Ruqaya will be fasting during daytime
Ruqaya's Ramadan diary
by Ruqaya Izzidien
Former Durham University student Ruqaya Izzidien wrote a diary sharing her thoughts about observing Ramadan, Islam's holy month of fasting.
My name is a mouthful to most. Teachers can't spell it, peers can't pronounce it, and no-one understands its personal importance.
Ruqaya, my name, was the name of the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and I believe that this has made me much closer to my religion. The Prophet is, in fact, one of my ancestors, so if we skip a few hundred generations, I am his distant daughter. It is this that helps to keep me on track with Islam. So why is this important?
Ruqaya and friends
This October I moved from my home in sheep-riddled Wales and started at St Mary's College at the University of Durham.
October also coincides with the month of Ramadan, during which Muslims around the globe unite in a daily fast between dawn and dusk. They try and be more charitable and kind and, as always, have the intention of only pleasing Allah, God.
Ramadan marks the beginning of the revelation of the holy Qur'an to the Prophet Muhammad, and Eid-ul-Fitr is the celebration that follows at the end of this month to commemorate the confluence of the Qur'an.
This month I will report three times on the subject of Ramadan, explaining what it is like to experience the month first hand, as an "adult" (yeah right) away from home in the city of Durham.
My name is so important to me because it reminds me of my religion and heritage - things that are so easy to forget in the bustle of modern western life.
It's not that I overlook my religion, my book, or all the other factors of Islam, but it is my name, Ruqaya, which triggers the reminder of why I am fasting, why I am praying, why I refuse to be the cranky, irritable Ruqaya that I sometimes can be.
Because Ramadan is the month that makes me the best person I can be. I feel like a caterpillar freed from her cocoon and finally revealing her true self, a beautiful butterfly of Islam, of peace, and I refuse to let anyone tell me otherwise. Nobody knows the sweetness of Islam until they have tasted - it's like strawberry ice cream. Furthermore, I defy anyone that tells me that Islam is about anything but peace.
Each year I come out of my cocoon more determined than ever to spread the whisper of peace. I am rejuvenated, and to my delight, the butterfly Ruqaya blossoms much more regularly every year, and not just during Ramadan. I only hope that this year, when I'm at the University of Durham, I will be able to stay as a butterfly for a bit longer.
last updated: 01/09/2008 at 10:56