Muslim students prepare for a month of balancing school and fasting, prayer for Ramadan
With the start of Ramadan this weekend, Muslim students will celebrate as the month of fasting, prayer and religious devotion overlaps with the rest of the school year, including finals week.
In observance of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Muslims refrain from eating food and drinking water from sunrise to sunset, devoting themselves to prayer and reflection on their faith during 30 days. Khalid Dada, a third-year student in public policy analysis and co-chairman of student organization Muslim Students’ Association, said the group and university leadership had worked to welcome and advocate for students during the holy month.
“A lot of it was event-based work and making sure people had food and their spiritual needs were met,” Dada said. “But there was also this advocacy pressure to make sure our university understands what Ramadan entails for Muslim students and how the university can support us.”
Ramadan will likely start on Saturday, based on a crescent moon sighting, and end on the day of Eid al-Fitr. Eid al-Fitr is a celebration that marks the end of the Ramadan fast, which will likely take place during finals week on May 2, also based on lunar observations.
Prayer on campus, catering
Amina Basharat, a fourth-year political science and international studies student and co-president of the Muslim Students Association, said many students have to travel long distances to mosques and do not have family nearby. To solve this problem, the organization has reserved rooms in the Ohio Union for the 30 days of Ramadan at sunset, when Muslim students can break their fast and pray.
Exact times and meeting locations at the Union can be found on the Muslim Student Association website. PageInstagram.
Suhoor, the meal that takes place before the start of the fast at sunrise, is eaten before Fajr, one of the five obligatory prayers. The nightly meetings at the Union will begin at sunset with the Maghrib prayer – another obligatory daily prayer – followed by a meal to break the fast, called Iftar. Dada said local Muslim organizations and restaurants will offer free halal meals with the help of Noor Business, a local Muslim-owned business.
Students can take their meals home or have their meals at the Union, Dada said.
“These meals will be Mediterranean and South Asian dishes to bring a sense of community to campus, so they eat the meals they are used to,” Dada said.
The Muslim Student Association will continue to hold its regular meetings, service opportunities and social events for April as well as its Ramadan gatherings, according to the group website.
On campus, Basharat said the university’s food services had set up accommodation for students fasting in April.
“We wanted to make sure students had lots of healthy options, a variety of foods that felt like home-cooked meals, especially students who are going out of their homes and doing Ramadan alone for the first time this year,” Basharat said.
University spokesman Dave Isaacs said Traditions restaurants will offer extended hours from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. to accommodate students who fast until sunset. Curl Market, Union Market and Traditions will also have an expanded offering of Halal food for Muslim students, and take-out meals will be offered.
Dada said free water and dates, often consumed once Muslims can break their fast after sunset for iftar, will be available at Woody’s Tavern on request.
During a fast, students may experience headaches, irritability and dehydration, Basharat said, which negatively impacts exam performance.
Anticipating longer days towards the end of the semester, Dada said the Muslim Student Association wants to focus on defending Ramadan this year because Muslim students will be fasting more than 15 hours a day, Dada said.
Accommodation for exams
Ryan Hunt, Associate University Registrar, said in an email that The University Registrar’s Testing Center will provide extended hours by appointment before sunrise and after sunset during the week of April 25 until the end of finals. Students who require accommodation for testing must work with their instructor then make an appointment with the test center in line.
Basharat said the organization provides Muslim students with a customizable model via his Instagram to send to their teachers, if they need to request exam accommodations during Ramadan.
“We want to make sure that students don’t have to take final exams very early in the morning or late in the day when it’s time to eat,” Basharat said. “We don’t want a student to have to compromise their education for fasting for religious purposes.”
University-wide preparations, policies
The Muslim Student Association also worked with Vice Provost and Dean of University Libraries Damon Jaggars this semester to advocate on behalf of Muslim students.
On January 14, Jaggars sent an email to faculty encouraging flexibility, as the entire month of Ramadan overlaps with the academic year. On March 25, Jaggars and Helen Malone, Vice-Rector for Academic Policy and Faculty Resources, sent another email to faculty members regarding expectations for religious accommodations in the classroom.
“Our inclusive environment allows for religious expression,” the March 25 email said. “Examples of religious accommodations may include, but are not limited to, postponing an exam or presentation, or flexibility in due dates or research responsibilities.”
With the help of undergraduate student government representative Manar Alrjub, Dada said he and Basharat have been working to create accommodation for religious holidays. an official university rule. The proposal, which was approved by the USG on Wednesday, would guarantee excused absences for religious reasons and require professors to consider religious events when assigning remedial classes.
Dada, Basharat and Alrjub have yet to present their proposal to the University Senate for a vote.