Ramadan Encourages A Cincinnati Woman To Practice Self Restraint And Forgiveness

May 6, 2019

A scrambled egg, waffle and lots of coffee is how Shabana Shakir Ahmed is starting Day One of Ramadan this May 6.

Her family wakes up around 4 a.m. to enjoy a light meal before a day of fasting. During Ramadan, the sun is the clock Muslims use to know when they can or can't eat.

"It's a spiritual cleansing process that Muslims go through every single year," Ahmed says. "There is a saying that you are starving your body to feed your soul."

Ramadan is a month of reflection through community prayer, fasting and charity.

Ahmed has been fasting since she was a little girl. She says although fasting for 15 hours a day is a challenge, non-Muslims fixate too much on that one part of the month. "I remind myself that 11 months out of the 12 months I am focused on myself, on my family, my job," she says.

Shabana Shakir Ahmed has been volunteering at The Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati for 15 years.
Credit Ambriehl Crutchfield / WVXU

Instead of focusing on fasting, she says the Muslim community look for more acts of charity and forgiving.

"Some Muslims might say the biggest pay-off is that you do lose a little bit of weight, which everybody wants to do," she says jokingly. "But really what happens for me personally is the fact that I can go through a whole month like this. That willpower that I gain."

When her three children were younger, Ahmed says she and her husband would encourage the kids to fast until noon. As the kids got older, the couple challenged them to add an hour to how long they fasted.

She says now it's a different world for her three children growing up in today's political climate. "It's difficult for a young American Muslim to practice their faith when they are being told they don't belong here in this country," she says.  

Despite it being a tense time for Muslims internationally, Ahmed says she enjoys breaking the fast with her community because of the face-to-face interactions.