Ramadan Comes to American Universities

Ramadan Comes to American Universities April 21, 2020

I was happy that last year, well before final exam week arrived, my university leadership noticed that Ramadan, which slowly moves across the solar calendar year after year, was coming to overlap with that period in our academic calendar. Given that this has not regularly been an issue, and that while most Muslims fast during the day in this period they expect to go about their business (metaphorically at least but often literally as well), I was surprised that some colleagues took exception at the fact that the university addressed this in a way that nonetheless could have had the potentially marginalizing effect of singling out Muslim students as an additional “issue” to be addressed, rather than simply members of our community.

Be that as it may, this year is no different in the sense that Ramadan begins April 23rd and ends May 23rd, and so overlaps with final exams once again. Yet this year is very different in the sense that students’ lives are disrupted in some respects more than people in any other category. As far as relates to Muslims, the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem will be closed throughout Ramadan because of the Coronavirus. The highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia is advising people to stay and pray at home. (See also recent news from Pakistan.)

This year, as you are hopefully more sensitive to the challenging circumstances facing students in general, be aware of how Muslim students in particular may be impacted by what is going on.

How does your university adjust to the religious needs and observances of students? Here’s a link to Butler University’s policy statement. Our Center for Faith and Vocation also released its own statement and guidelines last year:

Seeking Ramadan Dining Accommodations? Reach out to the CFV

See also:

Fiqh Council of North America on the start of Ramadan 2020

Colleges accommodate fasting during Ramadan

Interfaith Youth Core resources


Inside Higher Ed article on what the law mandates when it comes to accommodation of religious holidays

Is It Fair That Washington Colleges Accommodate Religious Students’ Schedules?

Bob Cornwall on building bridges of blessing during holidays of another faith tradition, and when church hosts an iftar dinner.

British Muslims’ activities during the pandemic are highlighted in this piece on “Food in the Time of Corona.”

Practicing Islamic virtues in an NYC hospital

See also:

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