Sondos Kholaki, an 18-year-old Muslim freshman at the University of California, Irvine, is celebrating the month of Ramadan and sharing her journal--which she calls 'Babbers'--with Beliefnet. Check out her earlier entries (to the right), in which she writes about what Ramadan is and what it means to her, and shares her resolutions. If you have a question or comment for Sondos, feel free to e-mail us at feedback@staff.beliefnet.com.

Dear Babbers,

We're now in the last 10 days of Ramadan. These are the most important days, and not just because I can't wait until I can start having three meals a day again (who am I kidding...six meals). These are the days in which our holy scripture, the Qur'an, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Muslim scholars agree that any odd night within the last 10 days can be Laylatul-Qadr, or The Night of Power. Muslims all over the world are encouraged to stay up and make prayers for whatever they want, and the prayers are supposed to be granted. That doesn't mean you can say, "Oh Allah, please drop a bag of money, cash please, at my lap in the next five minutes," and expect anything to happen. The prayers are more along the lines of guidance, health, support, forgiveness, mercy, acceptance into Heaven, and so on.

This is the first Ramadan in which I actually went to a Laylatul-Qadr program at my mosque and stayed up all night long. At first, I thought, "Dude, I seriously doubt I am going to be able to stay up; I mean, I'll probably fall asleep standing up and make a fool out of myself in front of everyone there!" But I went anyway, just to test my limits.

Not that my limits need much more testing. I'm really hungry today. Ramadan is finally taking a toll on my stomach. And to make matters worse, my throat is killing me! Not a good sign, not at all. If you're sick, you can stop fasting until you get better and then make the days up later (the same goes for pregnant women, those traveling, and the very young and very old), but I don't think I'm that weak just yet.

Laylatul-Qadr turned out to be one of the best experiences in my entire life. My father, brothers, and I arrived around 11 p.m. and were immediately swept into a great Qur'anic reflection by the leader of the program. From there, the program switched from readings and different reflections on the Qur'an, extensive prayers, melodic chanting, and even some a capella by my father. In between, there were treats and coffee, but I was prepared with a lunch bag full of homemade snacks and apple juice just in case.

I was totally blown away by the participation of our community. There were perhaps 300 people, staying up all night, supporting and praying for one another. It was so beautiful--I don't think I remember seeing so many Muslims gathered in the prayer hall for a couple of years now. Many of my good friends were there as well, which was great because we could wake each other up in case we fell asleep in the middle of prayer. Thankfully (and very surprisingly!), I didn't fall asleep once. There were times when I rested my eyes, but I didn't fall on my face or anything, which is amazing for me!

Around 3:45 a.m., the predawn meal was served in the cafeteria. My father had to attend a business meeting that morning, so we left before praying the last prayer. When we got home, around five, I immediately prepared for bed, prayed the morning prayer, and got in my nice, warm bed. Before I went to sleep, I remember feeling a wonderful sense of accomplishment and peace. I made it through a whole night of prayer and reflection--I tested my limits to the max, and I did it! There will be another next week; let's see if I can do it again!

Signing off, Sondos

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