Rising before dawn and abstaining from food from sunup to sundown are just a few sacrifices Mustafa would make for 30 days in the name of religion.
For Mustafa and other Muslims at UNC and around the world, the holy month of Ramadan, which started Nov. 18, is filled with prayer and fasting. Usually 29 to 30 days in length, Ramadan is a time for spiritual reflection.
Nadia Siddiqui, a member of UNC's Muslim Students Association, said the purpose of Ramadan is to become a more pious person, one more devoted to the teachings of Islam.
Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, and Siddiqui said she recognizes it as a chance for Muslims to fix personal flaws, to focus on patience and to learn to deal with anger. The point, she said, is "to know and realize how dependent we are on God."
"It's such a blessed month. We thrive off of worshipping," Siddiqui said.
But in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Ramadan has taken a different tone for many Muslims.
Mustafa, a UNC freshman majoring in health policy and administration, said holy services are focusing on what Muslims can do to bring peace to a world marred by terrorism and prejudice.
"The world is a lot more knowledgeable about Islam since the attacks and now the war, so being able to fast and answer questions to the public has taken on a new importance," Mustafa said. "(We must) stand strong and be Muslim in spite of what others think."
But members of the Muslim community said standing strong is not always enough when Muslims are faced with racial prejudices of people looking to place blame. Many say there are constant feelings of apprehension and uncertainty that have created some difficulties.