Photo by David Taeil Ahn

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic Lunar calendar. It is a month wherein all healthy Muslims across the globe observe 29 or 30 days of consecutive fasting based on the visual sighting of the crescent moon. The fast requires a person to abstain from food, drink and sexual contact from dawn till dusk. The fast here in Vancouver during the summer months could last up to 16 hours, while in winter would be over the duration of 9-10 hours. At times, certain groups of people may be exempt from fasting due to health concerns or other considerations. During Ramadan, Sunni Muslims also congregate in the observance of special daily night prayers which last about 90-120 minutes listening to the recitation of their holy text, the Quran.

Among the benefits of fasting, a few are:

  • Enhances a person’s discipline and willpower
  • To feel compassion for the less fortunate
  • Develops a sense of community and generosity
  • Increases one’s spirituality, patience and determination

Considerations for Muslims Observing Ramadan at SFU

  • Ramadan is observed between approximately March 20 - April 21 depending on sighting of crescent moon.
  • Those observing will not eat or drink anything between approximately 5:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
  • Ramadan celebrations often involve gatherings and prayers late into the night for some Muslim communities.
  • Fasting over the month results in natural bodily responses such as fatigue & inability to concentrate.
  • International students may be away from home which may create a sense of lonliness and lack of community support


  • When a student approaches you for support, welcome their request with a positive demeanor. If you cannot answer their question or wish to understand better connect with the centre;
  • If an exam is scheduled in the late afternoon or evening, be aware that fasting students may be a bit fatigued or distracted. You may consider allowing them some additional breaks if requested;
  • During the last ten days of Ramadan and the day marking the end of Ramadan known as Eid-ul-Fitr, students may be feeling particularly fatigued and could ask for a deferral of an assignment or exam. We encourage them to be considered;
  • Consider allowing a student to partake in a light snack if the class is scheduled during sunset.
  • Read more on Religious Accommodation


  • Ensure you have a nutritious pre-dawn meal as this is not only highly encouraged in Islam, but will also help sustain you throughout the day;
  • Break your fast with a few dates and water as per the Islamic recommendation. One of the many physical benefits of breaking the fast with dates is that our body benefits from the date’s high level of natural sugars;
  • Do not overexert yourself physically while fasting. Conserve your energy during the day and try to sneak in an afternoon siesta!
  • If you are having difficulties, communicate to your professor that you are observing Ramadan and need some assistance – be open and specific about what support you are asking for.
  • Read more on Religious Accommodation

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