When Khabeer Mustapha comes in to work at Tenders this Friday, it will be much the same as the Friday before. The demand for chicken at his family-owned eatery on Corporate Boulevard and Alafaya Trail in University Commons will be as incessant at lunchtime as it is any other day, the fryer will be just as hot and the day will be about as long.
The only difference is Khabeer will be fasting.
The month of Ramadan begins July 20 this year, according to the Islamic Society of North America. Because it occurs according to 29 and 30 day lunary calendar, the month of Ramadan starts 10 to 11 days earlier each year. During Ramadan, Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and intimate relations from dawn until dusk in order to become closer to God.
Fasting while cooking at a deep fryer all day is “absolutely painstaking,” Khabeer said.
Farida Mustapha works the deep fryer alongside her son.
“I just want to survive it in this heat,” she said.
Khabeer hopes their ability to sacrifice and mindset will be noticed.
“I really wish, being a businessman, you put so much time into the business, [but] you want time to reflect,” Khabeer said. “You hope the work will pay off, God willing.”
Ramadan is considered one of the holiest months for Muslims, a month in which reward for prayers and forgiveness from God is increased. For Abuzar Baloach, president of the Muslim Student Association at UCF, the month is about more than just fasting.
“It’s not like you refrain from eating or drinking but then you are bad to people the rest of the time,” Baloach said. “You’re supposed to be a good human being. The fasting is another method of teaching self-control.”
The micro & molecular biology senior hopes to take advantage of this month.
“My goal is to pray and ask for forgiveness as much as I can,” Baloach said. “This is seen [by others] as a deed religion — how many good deeds you do and how many bad deeds you do, but it’s not really like that; it’s about God’s forgiveness.”
Baloach said the MSA usually has an event called a Fast-a-Thon, where the club invites non-Muslims to fast for a day to see what it’s like and spread awareness. Because Ramadan falls during summer this year, MSA hasn’t picked a day yet for this year’s Fast-a-Thon. Baloach said that sometimes the Fast-a-Thon happens after Ramadan “because of everybody being so busy.”
Salima Khan, owner of Adam’s Halal Meat and Grocery, has students and alumni from UCF frequent her store, such as health sciences students researching halal meat practices. During Ramadan, she sees an uptick of business at her store located on Lake Underhill Road and Goldenrod Boulevard.
“The most popular thing that sells is dates, number one,” Khan said.
Baklava and ground beef are also popular items, Khan said.
Breaking the fast with dates is a sunnah, or example, of Prophet Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, Khan said.
Sabrina Dugan, a junior early childhood education major, views Ramadan as a time to make her connection to God stronger and acknowledges the challenge of fasting during the long summer days.
“It is hot because people get dehydrated because they aren’t allowed to drink water,” Dugan said. “If you are focusing on how hungry you are, you are going to notice it more.”
Dugan said devoting time to praying or other productive tasks helps.
“It does come out to be 13 or 14 hours, which seems like a lot,” Dugan said. “But it’s all worth it in the end.”
Dugan, who is a hafiz, or someone who has memorized the entire Quran, is particularly looking forward to the taraweeh prayers held each night during Ramadan at local mosques in which 1/30 of the Quran is recited.
“It’s great to do because you get to finish the complete recitation of the Quran, and [some] people take years to do that,” Dugan said.
Dugan is looking forward to Eid-ul-Fitr, the celebration at the end of the month of Ramadan. Muslims go to the mosque in the morning to pray and break the fast by eating.
Back at Tenders, Farida checks on patrons with a warm smile or reassuring pat on the shoulder. Her plan for Ramadan is simple.
“One day at a time,” she said.