Ramadan is a very special time of the year for Muslims. It is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, which is based on the lunar cycle. During Ramadan, Muslims are not allowed to eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset. This often begets the questions, “Why do Muslims enjoy it?” While I cannot answer on the behalf of other Muslims, I can tell why I love this month so much.

1. It is a time for self-improvement.

While self-improvement should never be set aside for one time of the year, it is different in Ramadan. Muslims believe that during this month the gates of Heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed. Therefore, it is easier to get rid of your vices and focus on purifying your soul of actions throughout the year that have negatively impacted your habits. During Ramadan, I able to reflect upon my predicaments and ask questions necessary to become a better version of myself.

2. It is a time to get closer to God

A lot of the reflection done in this month is during prayers and the recitation of the Holy Book, the Qur’an. When you’re fasting, you’re able to access a more vulnerable part of yourself. I find myself often thinking about those who are less fortunate than myself, and it makes me more grateful to God. I look forward to the times when I am praying and feel a special connection where I am able to express my fears and hopes. It feels great to know that no matter what condition I am in, I can rely on the power of prayer to feel better.

3. There is unity among the community.

During Ramadan, there is a sense of stronger connection within the Muslim community. It is not surprising to see many of my Muslim friends be awake till 5 in the morning to eat with their families and pray at the sunrise. People understand what others are going through when they are fasting. The mosque is usually more crowded during Ramadan as well. To see so many Muslims of different races and ethnicities all gathered under one roof just to hear the word of God is both empowering and beautiful to watch.

4. Iftaar.

Can’t appreciate Ramadan without appreciating the amazing food you get to eat when you break your fast. Breaking the fast with family and often friends is an amazing feeling. The feasts are made in good quantities with all members of the family coming together to contribute. I also thoroughly enjoy getting to make Iftaar next to my mom, learning all the ways she makes the foods that everyone loves.

5. Eid!

After a month of fasting, the celebration of Eid-al-Fitr is the best part about Ramadan. Muslims wear new clothes and rejoice with family and friends. Kids often receive money called Eidi from their elders. I especially enjoy getting henna done on my hands for this holiday. I love seeing everyone celebrating with their loved ones and the community as well. The prayers for Eid are always great since I get to see hundreds and hundreds of Muslims within the community whom I hadn’t seen before. It is a beautiful show of love and unity.