Lance Cpl. Malike Mejdouli prays during the early morning of the last day of Ramadan at Combat Outpost Pennsylvania, August 19, 2012. Mejdouli, a devout Muslim, is a radio operator with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, Regimental Combat Team 6. (Photo by Cpl. Anthony Ward Jr)
HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan (August 24, 2012) — Every year, millions of Muslims participate in the month-long observance of Ramadan. This year, it ended on August 18, 2012.
Part of the observance involves fasting from dawn to sunset, something Lance Cpl. Malike Mejdouli did while deployed to a combat zone.
Mejdouli is a devout Muslim and continues to follow his faith’s principles and practices while serving in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
During Ramadan, Muslims throughout the world abstain from food, drink and other physical needs during the daylight hours. Fasting involves not just refraining from food and drink but also evil actions, thoughts and words.
“You just have to deal with it,” said Mejdouli about practicing his faith. “I was sick for like five days out here while fasting, throwing up and everything.”
Used to redirect the heart away from worldly activities and cleanse the body and soul of harmful impurities, the act of fasting is all a part of the spiritual reflection, increased devotion and worship during the period Ramadan is practiced for.
Even while fasting, Mejdouli continues to perform his daily duties as a radio operator for Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, Regimental Combat Team 6.
“To me it’s not really much of a challenge to overcome,” he said. “Yeah, I’m fasting, but if they send me outside to do something and tell me to get it done, I’m going to get it done.”
The Chicago native was raised in a Muslim home.
“My father brought me up that way. It was a fun experience,” said Mejdouli.
His family lived in the inner city and eventually moved to the suburbs when he was 17. All the while, his family practiced their religion with a twist. Mejdouli’s father allowed his children to choose which practices they would and would not perform.
“My little sister was too young to really wear the traditional head garb and my father never really forced that on us,” he said. “My entire family fasted. I didn’t get to fast last year though because I was in boot camp; I probably would have died,” he laughed.
A year and a half after enlisting, Mejdouli is now practicing his religion and fighting for freedom in Afghanistan.
“(Afghans) don’t know I’m Muslim, they’re just going to look at me as another Marine,” said Mejdouli.
Mejdouli’s deployment to Afghanistan is coming to a close, until then he continues to honor his family and faith by serving his country and continuing the traditional practices of his religion.