What is Ramadan?
“The month of Ramadan is the month in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people, and clear proofs of guidance and criterion.” [Qur’an, 2:185]
Ramadan is the holiest month in Islam. It is a month of intense spiritual rejuvenation during which Muslims commemorate the revelation of the Qur’an, and fast from food and drink during sunlit hours.
When is Ramadan?
This year, Ramadan was expected to begin on the evening of Wednesday 22 March and end on the evening of Friday 21 April.
Muslims follow the lunar calendar, so the exact start and end dates depend on the sighting of the moon, so these dates can vary slightly.
Ways to support your Muslim peers during Ramadan
Here are some common greetings you can use to share your well-wishes with your Muslim peers during Ramadan:
- ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ – ‘Blessed Ramadan’
- ‘Ramadan Kareem’ – ‘Noble Ramadan’
- ‘Kul ‘am wa enta bi-khair’ – ‘I wish you well on this occasion every year’
Consider hosting an Iftar
Consider inviting your Muslim peers to Iftar (break fast) or dinner at your place. Or, you could even bring them over a dish so that they don’t have to cook.
Be considerate when scheduling meetings or other events
Try to schedule meetings in the morning to early afternoon when many Muslims still have energy from the dawn meal (Suhoor) and preferably meetings that don’t revolve around food and drink.
This is a small gesture that will aid the productivity of your Muslim peers, and make them feel appreciated and recognised.
Don’t feel guilty about eating or drinking in front of them.
While you may think you’re being considerate by not eating in front of a peer observing Ramadan, this could actually create unnecessary awkwardness.
Fasting is not solely about abstaining from food and drink, but is more so about reflection, prayer, and connection with God. Observing Muslims know this and so make an intention each day to adhere to the fast despite urges to do otherwise.
If you notice a peer isn’t fasting, try not to publicly ask why.
Not all Muslims will fast for a number of reasons – sickness, needing to take medication, pregnancy, women being on their period etc. Care should be taken not to offend people who are not fasting, by publicly asking for reasons as to why.
Similarly, some Muslims who may not be observant during the rest of the year, may observe Ramadan. Try to reserve judgement and not make any assumptions.
Do not trivialise their fast
Be mindful not to link their fast to a fad diet or reduce it to simply being a great way to lose weight.
To your Muslim peer, this is a deep and highly important religious practice, and they sacrifice their time, appetite and energy because they are committed to their faith.
Join the Ramadan spirit of giving charity
The essence of Ramadan involves recognising the blessings one has and showing gratitude by supporting those who are in need. While this is a prescription for Muslims, Ramadan could also be an excellent time for non-Muslims to offer their support.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
You might be embarrassed by the lack of knowledge, but most Muslims welcome questions from colleagues and friends.
Fasting is an individual experience. Asking a specific fasting person if they need or want anything from you is the best way in ensuring you are actually being supportive and inclusive.
Ramadan Mubarak from the Chaplaincy team! Follow @UniKentChaplaincy on Instagram to find out about spiritual support & facilities for students and staff of all faiths and none. We invite dialogue & participation!
Written by Ellie, Student Services, 31.03.23