By Fatimah Rathore

Muslim members of the University of Waterloo will begin observing Ramadan/Ramzan at sundown on Wednesday, March 22, 2023.

Muslims approach this sacred month, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, with a great sense of pride and humility. Many Muslims will dedicate the next 29 to 30 days to fasting from sunrise to sunset, spiritual renewal, worship, self-reflection and charity.

Ramadan/Ramzan is also a month of belongingness. Engaging in supportive practices and learning about this religious observance can be a way of showing respect and helping Muslim University community members to feel like they belong.

It is important to initiate considerate conversations to allow flexible work and learning schedules as many Muslim students and employees may be fasting during the day. Fasting may impact people differently and while Muslim campus community members are trying to figure out a schedule that works for them, creating room to request flexibility can be a good start. This may mean adjusting deadlines, weekly tasks, presentations and/or scheduling shorter meetings as energy levels can fluctuate.

Providing Muslim employees and students with the option to take short breaks throughout the day instead of one scheduled break may be helpful. This can allow folks the option to take time for prayers or attend to other needs.

In addition to the multi-faith prayer spaces around campus, consider providing easily accessible prayer room options close to workspaces and classrooms, where possible.

Observing this month comes in many forms and asking how to best support  Muslim colleagues, students and friends can go a long way. However, avoid questions that place the burden on individuals observing this month to explain why they are or aren’t fasting.

We all should strive to educate ourselves about common terminology and the diverse ways in which Muslims observe Ramadan/Ramzan. This will aid in understanding and proactively finding caring solutions for Muslim members of the University community.

May this Ramadan be abundant in blessings. Ramadan Mubarak!