- Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
By Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director
For many worldwide, the Islamic month of Ramadan is associated only with fasting and prayer. But it is about so much more — especially for some faculty, staff and students here in the College of Health Sciences.
As the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Muslims believe Ramadan is about connecting with God and their communities. It is believed that the Quran was first sent down to Muhammad during this month as guidance for all people, providing the definition of right and wrong.
And because of this deep meaning, Muslims will honor the month — which starts the evening of Wednesday, March 22, and ends the evening of Friday, April 21 — in a number of ways. Yes, fasting and prayer will be practiced, as will the striving to avoid impure thoughts or immoral behavior.
It is a special time, but also one that can be misunderstood. For clarity and enlightenment, we have reached out to Dr. Syed Ali, associate professor of anesthesiology and chair of UK’s Faculty and Staff Muslim Affinity Group.
As we approach Ramadan, here’s 5 Questions With … Dr. Syed Ali:
I think we can highlight that during this holy month, all able-bodied adults, and older children fast from dawn until sunset and abstain from food, water, and other physical needs, as well as the striving to avoid impure thoughts or immoral behavior during the daylight hours. The fast is broken each evening with a meal known as iftar. This annual observance is an important time for spiritual reflection, self-discipline, and increased devotion to God.
Here are some common challenges that people may face while observing Ramadan:
It is important to note that while these challenges may exist, many people find Ramadan to be a deeply rewarding and spiritually enriching experience. With proper preparation and support from family and community, many of these challenges are overcome.
Ramadan is observed by Muslims worldwide. The range of observances during Ramadan can vary based on cultural and individual practices, but here are some common observances that one might see:
Yes, there is some flexibility within the rules of Ramadan observance for individuals who are facing external situations. While the observance of Ramadan is a religious obligation for Muslims who are physically and mentally able to fast, there are certain circumstances in which exemptions may apply. For example, those who are traveling, pregnant, nursing, or have a medical condition that prevents them from fasting may be exempt from fasting. In such cases, they may either make up for the missed fasts at a later time or provide compensation by feeding a needy person for each missed day.
The rules of Ramadan observance are intended to accommodate individuals who are facing circumstances, and it’s always best to consult with a religious authority or a healthcare professional for guidance on how to properly observe Ramadan while prioritizing one’s health and wellbeing.
As faculty, staff, and students, we can best support those who are observing Ramadan by showing empathy, respect, and understanding for their religious beliefs and practices. Here are a few practical ways to support them:
Remember, the most important thing you can do to support those who are observing Ramadan is to be respectful and understanding of their religious beliefs and practices.
As healthcare providers, it is important to work on our Muslim patients and coworkers during the month of Ramadan. We can provide guidance on healthy eating habits during non-fasting hours and advise on medication and treatment management. It is also essential to respect and support our patients' religious practices during this season.
Culturally, Muslims may be greeted on the occasions of onset of Ramadan as well as at the end of it. In the beginning of the month the usual greeting is “Ramadan Mubarak” [Blessed Ramadan], or “Ramadan Kareem” [Generous Ramadan]. At the end of the Ramadan, marked as a festive celebration called as Eid ul-Fitr, or Feast of Fast-Breaking, people exchange greetings by saying “Eid Mubarak” or “Happy/Blessed Eid!”