For most people on campus, last Thursday was largely unremarkable – aside from the weather deciding to behave itself.
But for some students, and for 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide, Thursday 17th May marked the start of the month of Ramadan. For the uninitiated, Ramadan is one of the biggest events in the Islamic calendar, as Muslims fast daily from dawn till sunset. Whilst fasting is commonly perceived as simply giving up food and drink, it extends far further – Muslims are encouraged to abstain from bad thoughts and actions, and instead focus on inner reflection and spirituality.
Above all else, the Ramadan experience is unique to every believer. Below, we’ve collected some insights and tips from Muslims across campus on what Ramadan means to them and how they balance fasting with student life.
What is Ramadan?
Whilst avoiding food and drink between sunrise and sunset is partly to empathise with the poor the main purpose of the month is about spirituality: becoming closer to God, giving up bad habits for the entire month, and more. Ramadan is a time filled with big get-togethers and family reunions. Repairing old relationships and forming new ones all for the blessings of Allah. This is a blessed month of reflection aimed at strengthening the bond between creator and creation. Ramadan teaches you about self-discipline and feeding your soul rather than feeding your desires. After all, we are spiritual beings in a physical body which will ultimately be left behind. On that note: Happy Ramadan! And yes, not even water!
– Rajib Haque
Advice for students fasting
With the auspicious month of Ramadan coinciding with exams or projects, this month is a time of managing multiple goals and multitasking. Below are some tips to maximise spiritual and academic benefit.
- Get into a routine. Revision benefits from consistency. Setting, and maintaining, a regular routine will benefit your work and your body. You can choose to either drastically change your routine or attempt to keep it as normal as possible. Just bear in mind what time your exams are.
- Notice when you feel most productive. This is usually after eating before dawn or at sunset. Capitalise on these times and use them to do tasks that require the most attention, such as essay practise or problem questions. Use other times, like the last few hours of the fast, for simpler tasks.
- Timetable in your Islamic goals with as much importance as academic studies. Setting goals is important, but slotting in the time to achieve them is essential.
There are many things we can do in order to make the month pass with more ease, although it’s worth remembering that Ramadan isn’t meant to be a month of comfort. Remember every action in can be a form of worship with the correct intention – even revising! – Hafiza Irshad
As Ramadan coincides with exam season, many students will be in a state of stress and anxiety, with the feeling of being short on time. The Ramadan@Imperial programme prevents any student making the tough choice between their religion and studies, facilitating a convenient on-campus opportunity to break their fast with fellow colleagues, without them having to spend time out of the library to prepare a meal. Nightly prayers are also held, allowing students to stay in spirited faith during the holy month, without them having to travel to local mosques. It generates a sense of community with average total attendees reaching 60+, while also providing downtime to unwind, which is crucial during this stressful period. With many students associating Ramadan as being with family, Ramadan@Imperial has truly become a #HomeAwayFromHome.
– Shoaib Nasim
Personal experience of Ramadan
Whilst observing the month of Ramadan is prescribed by God and is an integral aspect of being a Muslim, every Muslim has their own personal experience of Ramadan.
For me Ramadan means, of course, gaining closeness to God, and reminding myself of my love of my religion. It also means time spent with family and friends, working on any bad habits of mine and gaining new, better ones. The month is spent both within the community – such as breaking the fast with ISoc at Ramadan@Imperial – and also in solitude, admitting any faults I have within myself and rectifying them. It’s a month of relative hardship when compared to the other eleven months in the calendar. Despite this I look forward to each Ramadan and whilst Eid (the celebration to mark the end of the month) is celebrated there is always a bittersweet feeling left behind.
– Sunia Ahmed
We hope Muslims and non-Muslims alike have found this page both informative and comforting. Love from your Muslim brothers and sisters on campus.