A Guide to Ramadan

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic Lunar calendar. The start of Ramadan marks a month-long period of fasting. Each fast lasts from daybreak to sundown, and during the fast one abstains from food and drink – but the purpose of fasting runs much deeper. It is meant to be a symbolic reminder of the fleeting nature of material goods, an exercise in patience and empathy, and to inspire gratitude for what one has while understanding how people with less favourable circumstances may feel. The end of Ramadan brings the biggest festival in Islam, Eid (which I like to describe as the Muslim equivalent of Christmas), replete with enough feasting to make up for a month’s fasts.

In the UK, Ramadan this year has fallen from May-June, and it slightly overlaps exam season (ouch!). For people not observing Ramadan, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Being hangry is real: If any of your friends who are fasting get tired, cranky, or even forgetful, the most likely cause is hunger pangs- reconvene after sunset, my friends!
  2. If you enjoy Indian or Middle Eastern food, get yourself an invite to an iftaar (meal where fast is broken), preferably at a friend’s place. The food is wild. Anything and everything that can be deep-fried is deep-fried. Plus, there is an abundance of sherbet.

For anyone observing fasts this year, here are some tips to help you get through the month:

  1. If you need to say prayers when you’re on campus, head on over to one of the uni’s prayer rooms.Locations:
    • The Old Library on Streatham Campus
    • The Holnicote building on St Luke’s Campus
    • The Multifaith Chaplaincy in Tremough Barton Cottages on Penryn Campus.
  2. Take breaks. Whether it is walking to and from campus, during revision and studying, or between exams, remember to take a pause and take it slow to avoid over-exertion.
  3. Stay out of direct sunlight. As tempting as it is to lounge in the sunshine on warm days, stay out of the sun and in shaded areas to prevent dehydration.
  4. Don’t overeat when you break your fast/ at iftaar! Which is, admittedly, impossible. But if you can manage to eat slowly, your stomach will thank you later.
  5. Avoid caffeine before your fast – coffee and tea are diuretics, meaning they make the body lose water. Cut back on caffeinated drinks to stay hydrated.

Finally, the values at the heart of Ramadan are patience, generosity, and charity  – which hold universal appeal, and should be universally applicable, beyond the boundaries of faith.

Happy Ramadan, everyone!

   May 17th, 2018    International, Life in the South West, Life on Campus, Miscellaneous

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