Ramadan in 2022 began at sunset on Friday, April 1, marking the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and one of the most sacred times of the year for Muslims.
During Ramadan, many Muslims observe a strict daily fast from dawn to sunset, engaging in what is a private act of worship intended for nearness to God. It is also a form of spiritual discipline, and a means to empathizing with others who are less fortunate than themselves.
The observance of the fast in Ramadan, or sawm, is considered to be one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is detailed in the Qur’an.
The fast encourages self-restraint, compassion, consciousness of the divine, and collective worship. While fasting during daylight hours, Muslims abstain from both eating and drinking, as well as sexual activity, in addition to all evil speech, and any bad thoughts or actions - a fasting of the tongue, mind and heart.
At dusk, many observe the breaking of the fast (iftar) by eating dates and drinking water, following the example of the Prophet Muhammad. Nights during Ramadan are a time for families and friends, often with special foods. Many will also gather after sunset at a mosque for special prayers said in a communal setting. This is the tarawih, or night prayer, in addition to the five daily prayers at the core of the faith.
The dusk of Ramadan's 27th day marks Layat al-Qadr, sometimes called "the Night of Power" or "the Night of Majesty," when it is believed that the Prophet Muhammed first received the Qur'an, the holy book of the Muslim faith. The night includes collective worship, litanies and talks. Some individuals may choose to stay up all night to pray, recite the Qur'an, take part in collective festivities, and join in the pre-dawn meal with others.
Ramadan culminates with the observance of the celebration of Eid al-Fitr, the "Festival of Breaking the Fast."
In a very informative Q&A, Dr. Cyrus Zargar at the University of Central Florida provides helpful recommendations for non-Muslims who desire to show more consideration and respect toward Muslims partaking in Ramadan - especially when it comes to the fast:
Q: How can non-Muslim individuals be more respectful or considerate of Muslim individuals partaking in Ramadan?
A: The most important thing a person can do in the month of Ramadan is to be aware that it is the month of Ramadan. Be cognizant that, if someone is fasting, their energy levels might be lower. They might appear drowsy at times, or yawn more often, but that should not be misinterpreted as a lack of effort or interest.
As an expression of etiquette and interfaith empathy, I would say to avoid expecting a fasting person to be present at lunch meetings, if possible. Even if a person says that he or she is happy to attend, it would be thoughtful to accommodate a fasting person by being aware of their fatigue, hunger, and thirst, as much as possible.
Georgia State faculty, staff and students are also reminded of the university's policy on religious observances and related student absences and accommodations due to religious holidays. You can find the policy at https://dei.gsu.edu/religious-observances/. Policy on employee accommodations is available at the DEI Resource Library here: https://dei.gsu.edu/document/religious-accommodation-documents/
Additional information is available through the source links below, as well as Georgia State organizations and departments.
Georgia State Organizations & Departments:
Muslim Student Organization
Clarkston Muslim Student Association
Religious Life at Georgia State
Department of Religious Studies
Important Georgia State Guides:
Guide to Muslim Holidays, AY 2021-22
The guide is specifically intended to explain those holidays which have significant work restrictions for those who observe the faith. It is not intended to be all-encompassing of all holidays in the faith but is instead intended to assist faculty and staff in understanding major holidays which may necessitate accommodations.
2021-22 Cultural Awareness Guide: Building Bridges of Understanding & Respect
Center for Spiritual Life, Brandeis University
The Pluralism Project at Harvard University
UCF Today, University of Central Florida
— Jeremy Craig, Communications Manager for the Office of the Provost