How you can support friends observing Ramadan

Ramadan marks the start of the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and in Mecca is expected to start on Thursday 23 March. Dates vary depending on the sighting of the new moon and the Islamic scholar someone follows.

When Ramadan ends, Eid al-Fitr – or simply Eid – begins. When Eid begins (this year is expected on 20 or 21 April), it tends to last from one to three days, depending on country, culture, and tradition, beginning with a prayer session of special significance. After Eid prayer the day generally consists of families coming together to share food and merriment. It is also a time for forgiveness, to seek it and to grant it.

During Ramadan, many Muslims stop eating and drinking between dawn and dusk as a sign of piety to feel closer to Allah. It’s important to recognise this so we can help our Muslim friends during this time.

Some simple things you could do to support your friends could include:

  • Be considerate when making plans. Arrange to meet friends earlier in the day when they may still have energy from their dawn meal. Perhaps you could go for a walk, rather than meet for lunch? Being considerate of an adjusted timetable shows support and respect and can be a simple – yet appreciated – gesture.
  • Check in on your Muslim friends. Checking in on your Muslim friends is always a great idea! Feel free to ask them how they are doing. Doing so will help your Muslim friends feel loved, supported, and seen.
  • Don’t ask why someone isn’t fasting. There are many reasons – including medical – why someone may choose not to fast, and these reasons may be very personal. Those who are not able to fast may still choose to take part in other ways of worship.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask how you can best help your friends to celebrate and practise their religion alongside life at Uni. You’ll probably learn a lot too.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month on the Hijri (Islamic) lunar calendar. It is also commemorative of when Allah first revealed the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

To wish Muslim friends a happy Ramadan, you can say “Ramadan Mubarak” to wish them a blessed one. Ramadan is often used as a time for many Muslims to fully develop a kind regard for others, especially those who are less fortunate.

Many Muslims will fast throughout the day to allow for mindfulness, empathy, and introspection. Most will wake up early to have breakfast just before the sunrise and will then break their fast with dinner once the sun has set.

This practice of fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, the most important practices for Muslims to follow. The other four are:

  • Believing in one God (Shahada)
  • Praying 5 times a day (Salah)
  • Giving to charities and those in need throughout your life (Zakat)
  • Making the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once (Hajj)

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