SUBJECT: Observance of Ramadan (March, 2023)
March 20, 2023 at 10:05 AM
Throughout the month of April (March 23 - April 20), many UM-Dearborn students, faculty, and staff will observe Ramadan, the most sacred month of the year for Muslims. During Ramadan, many Muslims around the world abstain from food and drink (including water) from dawn to sunset, which can be up to 16.5 hours. Fasting during Ramadan is considered one of the five pillars (duties) of Islam. Muslims typically eat a meal before dawn (suhur) and then break the fast immediately after sunset with a meal called iftar. A few hours after the meal, some Muslims also attend special congregational prayers (Tarawih prayers) that may take until midnight. These prayers take place each night during Ramadan.
UM-Dearborn is home to a significant Muslim population. The latest campus data suggests that about 25% of our student population is of Middle Eastern or North African heritage, many of whom are Muslim American. We also have significant communities of South Asian, African American, and Euro-American Muslims. Some of our students will endeavor to balance their academic obligations with religious observances, like fasting and evening prayers. With long days, rigorous schedules, and limited time to rest at night, Ramadan is often an intense experience. By the time a 3 pm class rolls around, for example, a fasting student will not have eaten or drank water for over 11 hours.
Common student concerns during Ramadan include conflicts with iftar time, taking exams while fasting during low-energy parts of the day, and instructors' awareness of what the month entails. Here's how you can support students and promote a more inclusive campus community during this time:
- The university has a policy in place regarding religious devotions and obligations for all students.
- Let students know you are aware that some in the class may be fasting for Ramadan. Signaling awareness goes a long way to making students feel comfortable asking for accommodations.
- Students have different thresholds—some prefer to take exams earlier in the day, while others are better prepared after breaking their fast. Faculty and students should first work together to find the best solution in each instance. If issues persist, the Student Ombuds can facilitate.
The University offers several resources for students, faculty, and staff as our community seeks to support and gain knowledge, including the Center for Arab American Studies, the Center for Social Justice and Inclusion, and the Muslim Student Association.
Additionally, the Student Government plans for Ramadan include creating small goodie bags to be placed around campus for all students, especially for those who wish to break their fast in the evening (when staying late studying, working, etc.). We encourage faculty to share this information with students.
With all Best Wishes, Ramadan Kareem!
Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs