Observing Ramadan in the Forest City

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 5:42 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Members of the Islamic faith here in Rockford and around the world observe the first full day of Ramadan on Thursday. Illinois is home to more than 500,000 Muslims. For the next month, their way of life will completely change.

Abubakr Amin and Ismael Shaukat with the Greater Muslim Association of Rockford say it brings them closer to God.

“It’s a month where you have you know, self-renewal, you have the resetting of your moral compass,” said Shaukat.

“What it does is, it gives us that humbleness, that we’re in need, and that need of god,” Amin told 23 News.

It’s even more different for Rahaf Tolah, a nursing student at Rockford University who moved to the United States in 2019 from Medina, Saudi Arabia. Tolah fasts during Ramadan, like many other Muslims, but it doesn’t bother her that many people around her don’t.

“I understand that people don’t have to fast like me. They are from different cultures, different religions. So if someone respects that I will so love it,” she said.

However, it’s not just breaking from food and drink. Muslims will break from a lot of vices until April 20.

“You don’t just fast from food or drink, you fast from the bad things. You cannot say a word, like a bad word, or you can’t do a bad thing, like lying or cheating,” Tolah said.

“For married people, intercourse or relationships, you’re sacrificing a lot of basic things that you normally do, you stay away from it,” said Amin.

Even though Ramadan is about giving up a lot, one thing remains close, family.

“Not only do you break fast together, you pray together, and you know you have special prayers that happen only in the month of Ramadan,” said Shaukat.

2019 was the last time Tolah was able to spend Ramadan with her whole family. This weekend she will go visit her aunt in Missouri so she can spend some of this special month with a special person.