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Release Date: 
Saturday, April 10, 2021

What Ramadan means, and how to support our Muslim community

Image of moon and lantern for Ramadam

You may notice that this note, and several others this year, recount an annual event. I will continue writing about these annual events each year because it encourages us to continually learn about each other and value diverse cultures, religions, and traditions. It is my hope that these messages help you feel a sense of belonging, if they describe your life or beliefs. And I hope they encourage you to talk to your fellow students and teammates about the rich diversity our College community offers.

Sundown on Monday, April 12 begins the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is a holy month of worship, study of the Quran, prayer, and fasting.

Ramadan occurs during the month in which Muslims believe the Quran began to be revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. It is a joyous celebration for Muslims.

Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Healthy adults are expected to observe the fast. During Ramadan, the fast helps believers purify their hearts, renew their faith, seek forgiveness, and increase self-discipline. It is also a time to focus on what is most important and positive in a believer’s life.

The Ramadan fast is absolute. Each day, from the time of Suhoor (the final meal before sunrise) until Iftar (the meal to break the fast), Muslims abstain from all food and water. Nothing may be consumed during these hours.

Believers are also encouraged to abstain from anger and to show compassion. Fasting can be a way to increase awareness of Allah and to be more aware of the plight of those who are poor and suffering. Acts of charity are encouraged.

When is Ramadan?

Muslims observe a lunar calendar. Ramadan is the ninth month in the lunar year.
This year, Ramadan will begin at sundown on April 12 and will continue until sundown on May 12.


At the conclusion of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate the holiday of Eid-al-Fitr (the Festival of Breaking the Fast). It begins with the communal Eid prayer. The holiday includes breaking the month-long fast and celebrating together. This year, Eid-al-Fitr begins at sundown on May 12 and concludes at sundown on May 13.

How non-Muslims can support Muslims during Ramadan

  1. Be aware of the holiday. Muslims observing the fast may be tired and dehydrated. Be aware of this and be considerate of those who may struggle during their fast.
  2. If you are interested, ask questions about what a Muslim friend or teammate is learning during Ramadan. Ask how you can learn about their religious tenets. This year, you might need to have these conversations by phone or videoconference.
  3. Muslims hold a communal Iftar meal each day after the Maghrib prayer at sunset, to break their daily Ramadan fasts. This year, as long as COVID-19 remains a threat to health and safety, many Iftar meals will take place within family residences. The spirit of community and charity will remain present.
  4. Feel free to wish our Muslim sisters and brothers a Happy Ramadan, by saying “Ramadan Mubarak.”

To all who celebrate: Ramadan Mubarak!

Russ Kavalhuna