Behind Brown Eyes

Friday, October 30, 2009

As the scorching sun nestled into the ocean, the prayer call boomed out of every residential microphone, leaving the usually busy streets eerily empty. Time ticked away to the hour of iftar where Muslims ‘breakfast’, their first full meal of the day.

Kneeling amidst her family, eleven year old Najea Nassir offered her prayers and broke her fast with some dates and milk given by her mother. Excitements coupled with anxiety were clearly evident from her facial expression for this year was special to her, as it marked her very first Ramadan.

It was Day 19 of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, when Muslims all around the world refrain from food and drink during daylight hours, donate to the unfortunate and - above all – devote themselves completely in prayer. Like Najea, children as young as ten are part of these customs bestowing values that are much bigger than themselves. ‘My first few days of fasting were plain tough, she explained reminiscing her initial days of fast. With school and the unbearable heat I almost thought it was impossible, but I saw some of my friends also following the fast and even my own sister did when she was my age. I knew that with some patience and encouragement I could complete my first Ramadan’ smiled Najea, the brown eyed sixth grader proudly revealing a big toothy grin. Besides fasting Najea does her bit by collecting coins or money to donate to the needy, help cook meals for breaking the day's fast and read Qur'an with the family in the evening.

Some children fast for a part of a day, or for one day on the weekend, especially in the shorter winter months. Children enjoy the "grown-up" feeling that they receive when they are participating in the special events of the family and community. But there is more to Ramadan than fasting itself, generosity, self-restraint, spirituality, discipline and self-actualization are traits that are naturally endured ultimately making a better Muslim.


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