This Spring Semester, many Muslims at U-M will abstain from food and drink for 16+ hours a day during the month of Ramadan. Here's how you can support them and help promote a more inclusive campus community.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the month of fasting and worship observed by Muslims around the world. During Ramadan, many Muslims abstain from food and drink (including water) from dawn until sunset. Muslims consider fasting in Ramadan one of the pillars of faith. Muslims typically eat a meal before dawn, and then break the fast immediately after sunset with the iftar meal. In the evening, many Muslims attend congregational prayers until midnight or 1 a.m.
When is it?
Ramadan begins and ends with the sighting of the new moon. This year, the month is projected to fall between April 23 to May 23. Throughout the month, the fast lasts from roughly 4:30 a.m. to 9 p.m—making for a 16.5 hour fast every day.
How does this affect students?
The University’s latest DEI survey estimated the Muslim community comprises 2-3 percent of the student body. Hundreds of students studying, researching, and working this spring semester will be observing the fast. With long days, rigorous schedules, and limited time to rest at night, Ramadan is often an intense experience. By the time a 4 p.m. class rolls around, for example, a fasting student has not eaten or drank water for over 12 hours!
Common student concerns during Ramadan include conflicts with iftar time, exam accommodations for lower energy during the fast, and instructors' awareness of what the month entails.
What can I do for students?
Let students know at the beginning of the semester you are aware some in the class may be fasting for Ramadan. Signaling awareness goes a long way to make students comfortable asking for accommodations.
Students have different thresholds—some prefer to take exams earlier in the day while others are better prepared after breaking their fast. Faculty and students should work together to find the best solution in each instance.
Resources and Support for 2020
Given COVID-19, planned in-person Ramadan iftars co-led by the Islamophobia Working Group and the Muslim Students Association have transformed into completely virtual events and resources.
The website contains information, activities, and programming-- including “Zoom Into Ramadan” gatherings every Monday and Thursday from 7-7:30pm (sign up for the Ramadan listserv to get reminders and instructions for how to join these gatherings).
As with in-person iftars, the programming is open to all, both Muslims and non-Muslims. From dawn to sunset from about April 23 to May 23, 2020, an estimated 1,500 Muslim students at the University of Michigan will fast (i.e., abstain from food and drink).