Events provide space for students observing Ramadan at CWU

Morgana Carroll, Staff Reporter

In a practice called Wudu, sophomore in law and justice and political science Ibtisam Siraj washes her face, hands and hair and clears her mind of distraction to honor Ramadan, a Muslim holiday of fasting that lasts from April 1-May 1. 

Every Friday in April, Siraj meets with fellow students in Black Hall 105 at the Diversity and Equity Center (DEC), faces toward the building in the center of Islam’s most imporant mosque, Kaaba, and prays for Ramadan.

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast during the day, according to Siraj. Siraj said that, while the period where one fasts is dependent on factors like location, she and other students at CWU fast between 4 a.m. to  8 p.m. 

The Ramadan prayer occurs from 12:30-1:30 p.m. every Friday of April. Siraj said while this space is set up on Fridays, Muslims pray every day of the year, not just during the month of Ramadan. 

According to Siraj, there will also be an Iftar dinner on April 29 at 8 p.m. in the Worldcat Lounge in Hebeler Hall. Siraj said that Iftar means to break fast. 

“Since we fast for 16 hours, we break our fast at 8 p.m., and most of us who are fasting are not from Ellensburg, they’re either international students or domestic students out of state,” Siraj said. “I decided that one night it would be great if we could all get together and eat, drink and pray.” 

According to Siraj, this is the first year that the DEC has hosted a space for prayer during Ramadan. Siraj said Hebeler Hall had a general worship room available in the past, but said that space is farther out of the way than the DEC. 

“This month is supposed to be more prayer, more kindness, giving out charity,” Siraj said. “So because of that, I asked the DEC if it will be possible to open Black Hall for the students.”

Siraj said that while attendance for the prayer on Fridays isn’t bad, it could be better. Some people aren’t able to make it due to conflicting schedules, according to Siraj. 

“We all have different schedules,” Siraj said. “We don’t all come together and pray together, but people drop in and out to pray.”

The Provost’s office and the International Center have been cooperating with Siraj since January to help her coordinate the Iftar dinner on April 29. 

Siraj said without the assistance of these organizations, such as the DEC providing the space and the Provost’s office providing the funding for the Iftar dinner, this wouldn’t have been able to happen. 

Siraj cited Student Senate Speaker Rachael Medalia as a source of inspiration while she has been setting up these events. Siraj said Medalia was the person that got her to open up and tell other people about plans for the event. According to Siraj, Ramadan is about more than just fasting. 

“For me, [Ramadan is] a month of self reflection,” said Siraj. “That’s where you self reflect, like okay, what have I been doing? What do I need to work towards from now on?”

Siraj listed fasting, prayer, self reflection, community, charity and reading Islam’s holy book the Quran as important aspects of Ramadan.

“The book is 114 chapters, we try to finish that a couple times in the month if we can,” Siraj said. “It’s like a competition, you motivate yourself to do it, so you don’t ideally have to finish it more than once, but for us, we push ourselves to try to do it two or three times.”