Muslims fast during Ramadan to be blessed

By LAUREL WILSON The Daily Newslwilson@bgdailynews.com

51e95f1acda24.image 51e95f1b5532c.image 51e95f1bd5545.image Ramadan RamadanFor Sulejman Hasanovic and other Muslims in Bowling Green, this month is about getting closer to God through fasting and prayer.

“From your struggle, (God) gives you more, but you have to struggle,” Hasanovic said. “If you give up for the sake of God, He say ‘I’m going to give you much more.’ ”

During the holy month of Ramadan, which began July 8 and ends Aug. 7, Muslims must fast from sunrise to sundown as a way to live for God and cleanse themselves of sin or bad habits, said Imam Walid Mohmeed Osman who recently moved here to work at the Islamic Center of Bowling Green on Morgantown Road.

Fasting means Muslims can’t eat or drink during the day – not even water.

“When he’s fasting, he’s fasting from everything,” Osman said. “He cannot put anything in his mouth.”

Those who are sick and young children are exempt from fasting until they reach age 10 or 12. Ramadan is a chance for families to become closer because they gather and break their fast together each night, sometimes at the mosque with other families.

“The people, they just like the holiday,” Osman said. “Families sit down and eat together. Like Thanksgiving, something like that.”

It’s a tradition to eat a date as the first piece of food to break fast each night, because that was a common food during the time of Prophet Muhammad, Hasanovic said. Dates also help hydrate the body and are high in calories, so they satisfy the body quickly.

Though Muslims break their fast around 8 p.m. each night during Ramadan, that doesn’t mean gorging on food.

“It’s not that you’re fasting and then you fill up,” Hasanovic said. “You eat less. The point is to feel the hunger.”

He said it gets hard at times not taking a lunch break like his co-workers and avoiding the break room at work so he won’t be tempted by food, but God gives him the self-control to maintain his fast.

“Once you say ‘I’m going to do it,’ God makes it really easy because you’re sincere,” he said.

At the end of Ramadan, Muslims can ask God for something they want or need and celebrate by relaxing and eating well, and children sometimes receive gifts such as new clothes, Osman said.

Hanka Hotilovac of Bowling Green said she definitely feels one with God and other Muslims during Ramadan.

“I feel closer to God,” she said. “The people get united. You become a family in this mosque. It’s something special, really.”

For her, fasting is no problem once she gets used to it, though thirst sometimes affects her, especially when it’s hot outside.

“It’s all in your head pretty much,” Hotilovac said. “You’re more focused on what you say, what you do and your behavior.”

Osman doesn’t have the chance to eat much even after dark during Ramadan because he’s leading prayer at the mosque.

“I lose a lot of weight,” he said. “But it’s OK, I love my job.”

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