BALLWIN, MO – No eating no drinking no indulging of any kind. It’s what thousands of Muslims all around the country including in St. Louis are doing during Ramadan, the holiest month observed in the religion of Islam. Fox 2/News 11 spoke with many of them, asking how they are balancing their faith and spirituality with everyday life.
“Honestly it’s more of when you are feeling that hunger and you realize that there are so many people out there who don’t know when their next meal is,” said Nauman Wadalawala with the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis, “it gives you a sense of saying, ‘Yes, I should be giving more.’”
The month-long observance falls at a different time each year because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar. It’s a celebratory time for Muslims who sacrifice their appetites in hopes of becoming closer to a higher power.
“The more difficult part is to be aware that you are fasting,” Wadalawala said, “and control other parts of you, for example not getting angry when someone cuts you off on the highway.”
The heightened spiritual awareness has been bringing several Muslim communities of St. Louis together for years at the mosque in Ballwin off of Weidman Road.
“We all go to work, go back home and then just kind of live our own lives, but this, kind of forces people to really get to know one another,” he said.
Fasting from before sunrise to sunset while balancing everyday life is no easy feat.
St. Louis City cab driver Bashir Whliye admits the daily grind and long hours can be grueling.
“Now with UBER in town we don’t have business, so we have to work extra hours to make a living while we are fasting so that’s a challenge,” he explained.
But Whliye added that no challenge is too big when his faith and a spiritual mindset give him the stamina he needs to push through this trying month.
“It’s not about losing weight, it’s about your faith and your connection with God,” Whliye said, “when you are fasting you are thinking of people who are less fortunate.”
Several area schools are accommodating students for Ramadan. A spokesperson with St. Louis Public Schools said that in Long Middle School several classes did lessons on fasting while allowing between 20 to 30 students time for reflection, fasting, and prayer. In addition, the ESOL team has created a professional development session called “Cultures in SLPS,” which is geared to serve and educate staff, including teachers and teacher’s assistants.
The Parkway School District told faculty that because annual tests fell during Ramadan they should keep a close watch on students who might be feeling tired and somewhat not themselves during this period.