Student representatives of the Reading Islamic Society
Hatty Taylor and Nozomi Tolworthy, UoR Diversity and Inclusion Advisors
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan marks the month when the Holy Quran is said to have been revealed to Prophet Muhammad PBUH by Allah (God). This is observed by a month-long fast.
Muslims around the world abstain from food and drink for 30 days, including water, during daylight hours (from dawn to dusk), as a means of celebrating and reflecting on their faith.
Fasting at Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam – the fundamental rules that all Muslims follow. Find out more about the five pillars of Islam in this video: ‘Islam, the Quran, and the Five Pillars’.
When is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic Lunar Calendar which consists of 12 months in a year of 354/55 days. In Arabic, this is called the Hijri Calendar and started with the migration of Prophet Muhammed PBUH to Madinah from Makkah 1442 years ago.
Due to the Islamic Calendar being based on the different phases of the moon, each of the months move back around 10 days each year. So, Ramadan could be in the middle of summer in 2015 and be in December by 2030! This year, Ramadan begins on Monday 12th April, and will end on Wednesday 12th May.
Who Takes Part in Fasting?
Every Muslim should take part in Fasting, unless…
- You’re too old – If you have reached an age where abstaining from water or food is too difficult or impossible, then you do not and should not fast.
- You’re too young – Generally, children below the age of 14 do not fast, as it is too difficult physically but also because they do not fully understand the meaning and the spiritual importance of fasting.
- You’re traveling – Travelling is an excuse not to fast for the day/days you are fasting as it can be exhausting to travel and would therefore require food and water. However, the days you missed should be made up after Ramadan is over. The aim should be to have completed all 30 days of Ramadan fast before the next Ramadan.
- You’re sick – Whether you have a long-term or short-term illness, you are excused from fasting if fasting would make the illness worse or if it is simply impossible to abstain from food/water.
If you have started the day fasting, but felt dizzy or sick, then you should immediately break your fast. Similarly, women who are experiencing their menstrual cycle are also exempt from fasting as the physical body is in a much weaker state and therefore requires nourishment.
Top 10 Tips
- Plan Your Meals
Eat fruits filled with water such as cucumber and watermelon to help with thirst during the day.
Eat slow burning foods for suhoor such as porridge.
Avoid fried foods!!!
- Plan your Study Schedule
Some people prefer studying in the early afternoon, others prefer studying after Iftar when you’re no longer hungry and can focus much better. Find what works best for you and make a routine.
- Stay Consistent
This is a month of reflection, so try to stay away from social media and TV which could distract you from your intentions of this month.
- Go on a Walk after Iftar!
This will help digest the food better, make you feel energised and prepare you for taraweeh.
between Duhr and Asr (if you don’t want to look like a zombie during iftar and it’s a beautiful Sunnah).
- Keep Motivated
Make a realistic Ramadan goal list and hang it up.
Make a list for the reasons for fasting to keep you motivated during the low-imaan Days.
Prepare a Ramadan playlist to listen to throughout Ramadan (Quran or lectures/podcasts)
- Learn/Implement New Habits
that you can carry on after Ramadan – everyone has high imaan and the shaytan is locked up, a great excuse to implement small daily habits such as saying daily duas or giving a pound a day to charity or even improving our vocabulary.
- Evaluate and Reflect Throughout Ramadan
Take time, even just 5 minutes, every night to check if you’re still on track to achieving yours goals, if not slightly amend them or work super hard the next day. Since Ramadan is the month of the Quran, aim to read the Quran from beginning to end in this month, if you can, and reflect on the meanings.
- Plan to Spend as Much Time as Possible
with 4 – your family, Allah, the Quran, yourself.
- Enjoy Ramadan and Get Excited for Eid!
How to Support Those who are Fasting
If you do not observe the month of Ramadan, you can help Muslim family, friends, coursemates and colleagues by:
- Trying not to schedule meetings around evening time (dusk) when the fast for the day ends, so they can eat on time.
- Additionally, don’t schedule catch-ups over a lunch or dinner, as you will be the only one eating.
- Don’t make a big deal about eating. Most Muslims don’t mind if you eat/drink near them so long as you’re not in their face about it.
- Try not to get them involved in strenuous activities which could be tiring – otherwise it could make them feel even more weaker.
- Be understanding if they need more time in day-to-day activities, as time must be taken out for prayers.
- If you notice a Muslim peer not fasting for the day, don’t question it; they have their reasons for not doing so.
- Show your encouragement with kind gestures and words.
- Ask them how you could support them through this month e.g., any adjustments that may need to be made. Everyone’s needs are different, so it’s best to ask individually.
- Once Eid celebrations begin (which marks the end of Ramadan), wish your Muslim peers an Eid Mubarak, it means a lot!
- Islam In Brief – An introduction to the teachings and history of Islam, from Harvard University
- Islam, the Quran, and the Five Pillars – John Green teaches the history of Islam, including the revelation of the Quran to Muhammad PBUH, the five pillars of Islam, how the Islamic empire got its start, the Rightly Guided Caliphs, and more
- Anyone is welcome to join a collection of online events which are educational or in celebration of Ramadan by following the link to – Big Virtual Iftar
“Faith or no faith, you’re all welcome to join us at the #bigvirtualiftar events via YouTube Live! Join the Muslim community in solidarity in this year’s month of #Ramadan during the ongoing #COVID19 crisis with people impacted by #lockdowns & #socialdistancing.We usually invite our non-Muslim friends from local communities to our Mosques to join us for the Big Iftar Dinner and we host them in a pleasant evening to talk about interfaith matters and to break bread with us. However, due to the current restrictions, so we would like to invite you to our virtual events which will consist of online live talks, a virtual tour of Britain’s biggest Mosque, National Fasting Challenge, personal stories of Muslims impacted by COVID-19, question & answer sessions and to watch people breaking a fast live.”
- The Muslim Council of Britain – This webpage shares guidelines, advice and signposting resources to help Muslims in Britain make the most of the blessed month, as well as friends, neighbours and colleagues of Muslims.