Ramadan is quickly approaching! As the lunar calendar shifts back 10 days yearly, most of us will be spending this upcoming Ramadan away from home amidst the hecticness of the semester.
For those who may not be aware, Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic Calendar and is significant as it is the month in which Muslims believe the Quran was first disclosed to Prophet Muhammad. It is a month of spirituality where practicing Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, refrain from negative behaviors, participate in charity, and overall increase their connection to God. The meal you eat at sunset is called Iftar and the meal you eat at sunrise is called Suhoor. As a Muslim college student, I’d like to offer up tips that I’ve found helpful in navigating the holy month at Hopkins!
Prepare meals ahead of time.
Avoid the morning scramble to find something to eat by stopping by Hopkins Cafe or Nolan’s and taking some food to go after Iftar so that you can maximize the time you have in the morning to eat enough to keep you energized throughout the day. As someone who struggles to wake up in the morning, having meals ready ahead of time (especially for Suhoor) can be extremely helpful! If you are struggling to find healthy but quick foods to eat during Suhoor, both the Student Health and Wellness Center and Hopkins Dining have nutritionists on staff and they are a great resource!
Talk to your professors and advisors, and communicate any time conflicts.
Have an exam that falls around Iftar time? Or maybe even a PILOT session? Talk to your professors and advisors about accommodations. You can also request formal religious accommodations from the Office of Institutional Equity. Also, keep some dates and water with you in case you are unable to leave class early so you do not delay breaking your fast.
Follow @Jhu.ma on Instagram to stay in the loop regarding Iftars and events on the Homewood campus.
The Johns Hopkins University Muslim Association is a great organization to be a part of especially during Ramadan. Being surrounded by other students who are also fasting fosters a great support system! They host events all month long at the Interfaith Center, and it’s super fun attending Iftars, halaqah (religious study circles), and community outreach events with other Muslims. They often collaborate with other regional Muslim associations giving you ample opportunities to meet other college Muslims. Take advantage of the amazing Muslim network at Hopkins! In addition to the Homewood group, there are also Muslim groups at Carey Business School, the School of Medicine, and the Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Give your roommates a heads-up about your shift in schedule.
If you share a room/residence with someone who does not observe Ramadan, inform them ahead of time about the sudden change in your schedule including waking up early for your pre-fast meal or staying awake late at night to catch up on work. Be considerate about setting alarms and make sure to communicate to avoid any surprises. If your building has a common room, consider taking your food and prayer rug there to avoid disturbing roommates.
If you choose to, educate your peers and the people around you.
Many non-Muslims have misconceptions about Ramadan and the notion of fasting. When people ask, “Is it okay if I eat in front of you?” explain the virtues of fasting and exhibiting self-control and how it is perfectly fine for them to eat in front of you. I personally find it very endearing when non-Muslims ask about the practices of Ramadan and always try to answer any questions or misconceptions they may have with a full heart!
Make sure to schedule your day accordingly around prayer, studying, and getting sleep.
It can be very difficult to maintain concentration while fasting, so make sure to schedule your studying in such a way that you can focus and stay on task while not compromising on sleep. You’ll need to balance prayer times as well, so plan your day accordingly to fit everything. My approach is to stay awake after Iftar and sleep after Suhoor, but depending on when your classes occur, it may not work for you. Plan ahead to make the most of your time!
Pray and reflect.
Ramadan is intended to be a month of growth and reflection and we should all strive to make the most of it while maintaining the obligations of our daily lives. Stay positive and focus on the benefits of this holy month.
I hope these tips are helpful, and I wish everyone a Happy Ramadan!