Senior Karim Khdeer’s Experiences During Ramadan


By Aadhi Sathishkumar

Over one billion people over the world, all unified by faith and devotion, participate in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. However, not many FHN students are aware of the conditions fellow Muslim students, such as senior Karim Khdeer, put themselves through to affirm their devotion to Islam. 

“Ramadan is one of the months in the Islamic calendar, which is lunar. Once Ramadan is announced, it is every Muslims duty to fast from dawn to dusk,” Karim said. “We’ve been instructed by the Prophet to fast in this holy month as a way to repent our sins. We also get to feel the harsh conditions of the poor and the needy, which encourages us to give back to our community.”

In 2021, Ramadan started on April 12 and concluded on May 12. Sawm, one of the five pillars of Islam, makes fasting (refraining from eating) mandatory for Muslims. However, there are some exceptions regarding whether or not a person must fast. The elderly, diabetics, small children, and people who are pregnant or nursing do not have to fast. 

“As far as I know, I’ve been fasting since I was 8 years old, from dawn to dusk. It was around the same age for my other siblings,” Karim said. “You are not allowed to fast if you have any health problems, such as diabetes, because it is haram [forbidden under Islamic law] to fast when you are sick.”

All of Karim’s family fasts, from his siblings to his parents. Usually, they break their fast together, in a meal referred to as Iftar, after dusk. Before dawn, in the early hours of the morning before most other people wake up, the family also eats Suhoor, the last meal anyone in the family will eat before Iftar that evening. The fast for Ramadan is very strict, Muslims are forbidden from even drinking water. 

“The fast is completely strict, you cannot have anything,” Nasser Khdeer, Karim’s father, said. “You cannot drink anything, you cannot eat anything from sunrise to sunset. When you break your fast, it’s called Iftar.”

Despite the strict adherence to faith displayed by Muslims like Karim and Nasser, not many people outside the Islamic world stay mindful of those committing to the fast. Even though he is unable to eat or drink, Karim stays fully committed to his normal routine, including doing weight training with no accommodation. The least anyone can do for those fasting, according to both Karim and Nasser, is simply acknowledging them.

“Having others maybe just acknowledging there is a month we fast in is good, but we’re not asking for any special treatment,” Nasser said. “Awareness is good, my motto is ignorance is the enemy of the human being. More awareness is good, regardless if it is religious or cultural.”

Despite not asking for more than the bare minimum, Karim has faced some adversity from students in the form of ignorance. Karim believes that people should be less insensitive towards Muslim’s fasting.

“There should be tolerance,” Karim said. “For example, someone in one of my classes learned I was fasting, and threw me a water bottle and asked if I wanted to drink or if I wanted to eat. Honestly, I found it pretty disheartening. I was kind of upset that people would actually do that kind of stuff.”

Even after enduring some harassment, people have also been nice to Karim and respectful of his fasting. The community has provided Karim with some encouragement and good tidings. A simple greeting for those fasting can go a long way.

“I was really happy when my non-Muslim friends told me Ramadan Mubarak, which basically means happy Ramadan,” Karim said. “There is a lot of people in the Muslim community at FHN that don’t feel as represented. You should always keep in mind they are fasting for more than 12 hours, so please mind how others are.”