A Journal for Ramadan

A journal entry on the beauty of Ramadan...                                                                            6\6\15Dear Journal
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My name is Fatima Toure. I'm West African, Guinean to be exact. But I was born and raised in Harlem, NY.
The Beginning
The starting date was June 6, 2015 and the last day was July 5, 2016. Making Eid the next day. Ramadan isn't always in June and July, it actually rotates. It's always the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, the year the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammed. With Islam, everything is lunar-based. So we go by the physical sighting of the moon. That's how it's done in the Quran by the Prophet Muhammed.
Ramadan is one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith, meaning in order for you to be a Muslim, Ramadan is one of the five things you must participate in. The purpose of Ramadan in my opinion, is to take you away from all the superficial things of the world and to get you closer to Allah. It's allows you to self-reflect and learn more about Islam. You refrain from so much stuff that you usually do, you end up really cherishing the little things. You're also suppose to forgive, be generous, be kind and modest during the month. Ramadan teaches you to be empathetic, strengthens your self-control and self-discipline.
Once you hit puberty you are required to fast, but children around the world fast as young as 6. People are required to give Zakat (religious tax) basically, giving to the less fortunate off of the strength of Islam. It could be anything from a meal to a house. 
Major praying takes place during Ramadan. On top of the required five prayers a day, you must a lot do Tarawih (extra prayers during the nights of Ramadan) by the end of Ramadan, the whole Quran is recited in the mosque through Tarawih prayers.
The Anticipation
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There is always an anxious feeling for me. I'm usually always happy to start Ramadan because it's such a peaceful month for me.
Prior to I always feel energetic, and full of life. But directly after fasting I'm exhausted, because once you eat after a long day of no food it drains you. The Difficulties
The hardest part about fasting is all the things we also have to refrain from doing. For me, it was not having any nail polish on, not listening to music, not really seeing my significant other and covering up in the summer time. That stuff was hard to do because you're thrown out of all of your natural routines. But after a awhile you get use to it. Knowing that my fasts counted really helped me get over all of those little things. 
Rules for Fasting
Yeah, there are a quite a few rules but the most important rules are:
1. Have the right intention when you fast (intention is first and foremost)
2. From sunrise to sunset, you cannot drink nor eat anything. Not even water
3. Must dress modestly. It is recommended that ladies cover their hair, but not required.
4. Refrain from any sexual activity, cursing, and backbiting.
5. Pray! (Even if you aren't Muslim, when you break your fast pray for the things you want, pray for peace and happiness.)
Clarifying Misconceptions
The biggest misconception is that Muslims are all like the radical terrorist you see on tv. Anyone that knows the Muslim faith know that, we don't condone, inflict or tolerate violence on anyone. Islam is a peaceful faith that is all about forgiveness, sacrifice and peace. The biggest misconception with fasting, I would have to say is people think we really don't eat for the whole month, like at all. Sometimes I look at people and laugh when they say that because... We would die if we did that. 
When I can eat I eat
Any and everything! Besides that swine!
Customs are the same in terms of fasting. We all follow the same book and rules. Some cultures are more conservative but the rules remain the same. Celebrations may be different. For Africans we definitely like to go all out after the holy month. With new clothes, that's a must and a rule that on Eid, one must be dressed in new garments and smell of good fragrance. 
Celebration is after. We have the holiday, Eid-al-Fitr. We dress up, go to the mosque and pray. We have a big feast of different kinds of foods and deserts. You go visit family, you give little children money, some have parties and others just have little gatherings at home. 
This year my cousins and I, had a barbecue which was a lot of fun.
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Well in the mosque you must be covered as a woman. You also have to cover your hair completely. On the day of the celebration, women dressed in traditional African garments or Abayas and Kaftans. Those are bedazzled, loose fitted gowns. A lot of middle eastern women wear it as well. This year I wore a fun fuchsia color abaya and felt like a little Muslim princess in it. 
I love being Muslim because it's more than a religion it's a lifestyle. It shapes me as a person, if it wasn't for Islam I wouldn't be how I am, I wouldn't be me. It's so beautiful of a faith and I hope everyone that's reading this gets some insight on this amazing deen.