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||aspen, Brrrrg, buttery, dates, embarrassment, gray-pink, henna, intricate, nightfall, ninth, prayers, tousle, tudong, thoughts, mosque, prayer
||Then Hakeem, Fifteen-year-old Hakeem, Only Muslims
Print Sharing Ramadan
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By Colleen Messina
1 Hakeem slowly savored the buttery pancakes. Hot steam rose up from the pile in delicious, dancing swirls. Syrup and butter made shiny, gooey rivers down its sides. He felt a bit tired, and he looked out the window as he ate. A ribbon of pink light formed a glowing line along the dark hills. Soon the sun would rise. The blackness would fade into a gray-pink dawn. Then Hakeem couldn't eat again until nightfall. Ramadan had begun!
2 "Good morning, son! Let us give our morning prayer," said Hakeem's father. He had had a strong cup of Arabian coffee, and his bright eyes looked alert.
3 Hakeem and his father knelt in a neat little row. Hakeem's sister and his mother knelt behind them in the Muslim tradition. Hakeem loved the swirling gold and red star pattern on their prayer rug. The little woven bumps that rubbed his hands and forehead as he put his face down to pray felt oddly comforting. The dusty smell of the rug was familiar, and he prayed to Allah that he could learn to like his new school.
4 "Dad, do I have to fast today?" asked Hakeem. Fifteen-year-old Hakeem was always hungry.
5 "Yes, son. You have joined us in the Ramadan fast since you were six years old! I was so proud of how you played outside and studied hard to forget your grumbling stomach. Don't you want to fast now?" asked his father. He was concerned about his son's change of heart.
6 "Father, I don't think anyone at my new school is Muslim. It is hard sometimes!" Hakeem said, looking down. His face felt hot with embarrassment.
7 "I know high school here is different than your old school at the mosque, but we must keep our customs," his father said gently. He knew that moving was hard on Hakeem. His father didn't want to scold his son, and he gave Hakeem's black hair a loving tousle. Hakeem picked up his backpack and went out the door.
8 Hakeem thought about Ramadan as he walked to his new high school. Ramadan is the month when Muslims don't eat or drink during the day. It is a time of purification and sacrifice. Ramadan is the name of the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and the Ramadan fast begins on the night of the first appearance of the new moon. Hakeem's family went on long evening walks to find the new moon. Watching the stars dance in the purple night sky and looking for the new moon was like a game!
9 Hakeem had attended a school at his old mosque until this year. Everyone there was Muslim, so fasting was normal during Ramadan. Now he went to the public high school. Hakeem wanted to find some Muslim friends, but so far, he had found none. He felt like he was very different from the other kids.
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