Ramadan image

A faith and inclusion story about support during Ramadan

By Jack Stott - 11 April 2022

At RGU, we aim to promote social wellbeing and treat everyone equitably, fairly, and with respect. With that in mind, two academics—with support from Equality Champion for Faith & Belief Dr Ibiye Iyalla—have got together to explain Ramadan and how the community can help those fasting.

We caught up Part-Time Lecturer and research student Jamilu Ibn Mohammed (JM) as well as Lecturer Shahneel Saharudin (SS) to find out more. 

What is Ramadan? 

JM: "This year's Ramadan began on the evening of Friday, 1 April and—depending on the moon sighting—will end in the evening of Saturday 30 April or Sunday 1 May. "

SS: "Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and it begins with the sighting of the new moon. During this month, Muslims worldwide are obliged to fast from sunrise to sunset and break their fast in the evening. "

JM: "Fasting is total abstention from eating, drinking, sexual relations, smoking, and avoiding immoral behaviours. However, children, pregnant women, older adults and those who are ill, or travelling don't have to fast. 

"Fasting aims to develop God-consciousness, self-control, and health improvement by reducing or eliminating impurities from the body and becoming aware of the troubles of the poor, hungry, and sick."

As a community, how can we be more supportive during Ramadan? 

SS: "You may wish 'Ramadan Mubarak' to your Muslim friends; they appreciate the thoughtfulness. You can also join during Iftar, which Muslims end their day of fasting with throughout Ramadan. It is one of the happiest things about Ramadan." 

JM: "The biggest challenges that come with Ramadan are not normally being understood. The period causes some people to feel out of place, tired, lack focus, and have low energy due to fasting. Communities can help bridge the gap by learning more about Ramadan, resetting expectations to accommodate those fasting, and check-ins with your Muslim colleagues. We should also avoid asking Muslim colleagues why they are not fasting if we see them eating or drinking. There are many reasons people don't fast and asking about that can create awkward and uncomfortable situations." 

What time during the day do you fast or ear, and what are you allowed to eat? 

SS: "The fasting is between the hours of sunrise (Fajr) and sunset, which is about 15 hours in Aberdeen. Muslims are allowed to drink and eat pure, clean, and nourishing foods. It is Sunnah (practice of the Prophet Muhammad) to break the fast with fresh dates." 

JM: "Ramadan starts at the crescent moon's first sighting, marking the month's beginning. After sighting the moon, Muslims wake up early to have their pre-dawn meal (called Sahoor) to begin fasting and break with an Iftar dinner immediately after sunset. After sunset, all the restrictions are lifted till dawn. This practice continues every day until the new moon has been sighted, marking the next month's beginning."

When on campus, where do you go to pray during Ramadan? 

SS: "There are multi-faith prayer facilities available at Kaim Cottage. These facilities are open to all staff and students, including Muslims, for prayer." 

JM: "The facilities are open to all students and staff. The RGU Muslims society normally organises Iftar during Ramadan for certain days at the facility. You can find out more at the student union." 

What does Ramadan mean to you? 

JM: "Ramadan is a time to increase reconnection with my Lord through the constant recitation of the Holy Quran and Zikr (remembrance of Allah). The month teaches me self-discipline, reminds me how poor people suffer, and increases generosity towards them. As Muslims, it is custom to invite our friends and neighbours to breakfast and share gifts with non-Muslim friends and neighbours. It is a period to strengthen the bond between communities." 

SS: "Ramadan is about forgiveness, taking care of each other, and remembering the Almighty. During this time, fasting is more than just abstinence—it is a means of worship and for Muslims to feel a closer and deeper connection with Allah (SWT). Fasting allows everyone to understand what it means to go without and learn patience with oneself and those around them, as well as compassion for those less fortunate."

This story was coordinated by Equality Champion (Faith & Belief) Ibiye Iyalla and Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Adviser Emmanuel Akerele. To learn more about equality and diversity at RGU head to our champions' pages on our website.

If you have questions or suggestions around Equality and Diversity at RGU, please email equality@rgu.ac.uk.


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