Ramadan Mubarak, everyone!
What is Ramadan, I hear you say? This article explains everything you need to know, and will be kept updated with events and handy information for those observing Ramadan and those who wish to join. Events are open everyone!
What is Ramadan?
Muslims observe the holy month of Ramadan every year. Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, which is based around the lunar cycle. This is why the dates for Ramadan change each year, and also why a new Islamic day begins after sunset.
This year, Ramadan is expected to begin after sunset on Wednesday 22nd March with the first fast day being on Thursday 23rd March. This is confirmed following the sighting of the new crescent moon.
Lasting for 29/30 days, Ramadan will end with the celebratory days of Eid al-Fitr starting on the evening of Thursday 20th April (i.e. daytime of Friday 21st) or the evening of Friday 21st April (i.e. daytime of Saturday 22nd), again dependent on the sighting of the new crescent moon.
Why do people fast during Ramadan?
Ramadan is a month of daily fasting and abstaining from things considered to be impure for the mind and body. Those who observe this holy month will strive to increase in their worship and abstain from bad habits and deeds, amongst other actions.
Fasting is a key part of Ramadan, and 1 of the 5 pillars of Islam. Those who fast will not eat or drink from just before sunrise (i.e. from the early morning prayer, Fajr) to sunset (the evening prayer, Maghrib), which marks the end of the day's fast. It is traditional to break the fast by eating dates, before Iftar (the evening meal), which is normally eaten with friends and family.
What can I do to support my friends who are observing Ramadan?
This is an important time for many of our staff and students so we should all consider flexibility around meetings and working times as well as understanding the impact that fasting and extra worship, especially during the night, may have on the individual.
It’s helpful to know the basics and show your appreciation for a month that is very important to a lot of Muslims! Click here for further ways to help.
Where can I get more information on Ramadan?
Here’s a good starting resource.
ARU have also written an article about Ramadan which details what a normal day in the life of a fasting person looks like: Ramadan explained - a no assumptions approach
This guide is an introduction to understanding Islam as a whole. Also take a look at the ‘Common Misconceptions’ section below!
Sharmeen, Vice President Healthcare Practice, is available and more than happy to answer any questions you may have! She can be contacted on Instagram @_sharmeen_aru or via email: email@example.com.
ARU’s Chaplaincy are available to you and can help with any faith-related queries you may have: ARU Chaplaincy
Your questions, answered, no such thing as a silly question!
- Can fasting Muslims drink water during the day? No
- How long do Muslims fast for? Fasts are daily, starting and ending on the same day, and last for the whole month
- Does every Muslim fast? This will depend on the individual, please do not assume that every Muslim is fasting because they may have circumstances which excuse them from fasting, such as menstruation and pregnancy, or other circumstances that we are unaware of
- How do I ‘act’ in front of the fasting person? The same as you would usually do! You can eat and drink in front of fasting individuals and go about your business as usual, just be mindful and respectful of the fasting person as they will most likely be tired and hungry
Prayer Space Provision
Salah, or prayer, is one of the 5 pillars of Islam and there are 5 daily prayers that should be observed at their stated times.
- Fajr (prayed at Dawn)
- Zuhr (prayed at midday)
- Asr (prayed in the afternoon)
- Maghrib (prayed at sunset)
- Isha (prayed at night)
During Ramadan, there is an extra, optional, prayer called Taraweeh. This is prayed after Isha. Please see below for prayer space provisions on each ARU campus:
The current prayer rooms in the student accommodation building are open 24/7, for the entirety of Ramadan. MAB118, the Chaplaincy office, is also available.
Sawyer’s gym is available everyday from 4am-12am, to accommodate for early morning (Fajr) prayer, and late-night (taraweeh) prayer. If any issues arise, please contact Nick, Head of Security, via email.
NB: The ARU Chelmsford Islamic Society use this space for Taraweeh prayer every night. For more information, check out the events section below!
Chelmsford Central Mosque (Moulsham Street, CM2 0HU) is a 5 minute drive/17 minute walk from campus, and has prayer space provisions for individual, congregational and taraweeh (night) prayer. See here for more information.
The current prayer rooms in MUM020, fitted with ablution facilities, are open 24/7, for the entirety of Ramadan.
Cambridge Central Mosque (Mill Rd, CB1 3DF) is a 5 minute drive/20 minute walk from campus, and has prayer space provisions for individual, congregational and taraweeh (night) prayer. This mosque is known for its stunning architecture and eco-friendly design, PLUS it has a cafe and Islamic garden! See here for more information.
Masjid al Ikhlas is another local mosque and is a 3 minute drive/11 minute walk from campus, and has prayer space provisions for individual, congregational and taraweeh (night) prayer as well as providing iftaars. Mr Abdul Arain, ARU’s Muslim associate chaplain for Cambridge, works there!
The Muslim prayer room is available to all students, with an ablution unit and prayer mats provided. Dates will be put out for fasting students.
Husaini Islamic Centre (Burton St, PE1 5HD) is a local mosque and is a 2 minute drive/11 minute walk from campus. It has prayer space provisions for individual, congregational and taraweeh (night) prayer. See here for more information.
ARU chaplaincy are kindly decorating the prayer spaces on campus, and Sawyer’s gym, in celebration of Ramadan and Eid! For more information on this or to get involved, please contact the following using the details on this link.
Your chaplains are:
- ARU Chelmsford: Julia Lacey
- ARU Cambridge: Alison Kennedy
- ARU Cambridge Muslim Associate Chaplain: Abdul Arain
- ARU Peterborough: Stephanie Pedler
Julia, myself (Sharmeen) and the Student Services Team have also bought dividers for the Muslim community in Chelmsford to use in Sawyer's gym for taraweeh prayers!
MAB118 (ARU Chelmsford chaplaincy office) is available for student use and will feature a display of the significance of Ramadan.
The Students’ Union and University are proud to be hosting weekly iftaars in both the Cambridge and Chelmsford SU spaces, with the first one commencing from Wednesday 22nd of March, 2023: consider this a pre-Ramadan meal!.
The following iftaars are on:
- Wednesday 29th March 7-8pm
- Wednesday 5th April 7-8pm
- Wednesday 12th April 7.30-8.30pm
- Wednesday 19th April 8-9pm
Free Dates and Rooh Afza
The SU will also be providing free dates in our Prayer Rooms throughout Ramadan. Medjoul (and sometimes other) dates and rooh afza (rose syrup, a type of concentrated squash) are available to students every evening to break their fasts. Students participating are welcome to help themselves.
More events are lined up, such as henna stalls for Eid, with more details to follow. Keep your eye on the What's On calendar for these!
ARU Islamic Societies
The Islamic Societies, at both ARU Chelmsford and ARU Cambridge, have activities planned (having been given grants by the SU for Ramadan and Eid). Check out their Instagram for more information!
ARU Chelmsford Islamic Society: @aruisoc
Join their Whatsapp broadcast to stay up-to-date with the latest information and/or find out more information.
Taraweeh prayer takes place in Sawyer’s gym every night, current timing is 8:15pm but these are subject to change and will be updated via the Whatsapp broadcast
- Wednesday 29th March 2023: Grand iftaar
- Tueday 11th April 2023: Sisters Circle on Zoom (for more information, message a sister from the committee)
- Wednesday 19th April 2023: Brothers Circle
ARU Cambridge Islamic Society: @cambaruisoc
Join their brothers or sisters (segregated) Whatsapp groupchat, by contacting a committee member, to stay up-to-date with the latest information and/or find out more information.
- Thursday 30th March 2023: Community iftaar
Everyone and anyone is welcome to partake in their events, which range from congregational prayer to iftaars!
*To find out more about either of these societies and their events etc, visit this website's Islamic Society page, this website's events page, the Islamic Society socials or contact a member of their committee via any of these methods- if you need help with this, contact me (Sharmeen)!
Other ARU societies
Other societies may also have events planned. Keep an eye on our events page as they will show up there, and message a committee member to find out more!
Events in Cambridge:
- Wednesday 5th April: Pakistan Society iftaar
- Friday 14th April: Pakistan Society iftaar (one-dish)
Events in Chelmsford:
- Wednesday 19th April: Pakistan Society (PakSoc) SU x PakSoc iftaar
What local events are going on?
Check your local mosque to see what they offer, most will offer prayer space provision and some may also offer free iftaars!
Cambridge Central Mosque are giving out free iftaars every evening!
Questions? Comments? Anything to add? Let us know!
Written by Sharmeen, Vice President Healthcare Practice (2022-23)