Ramadan At School

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and it is a time of fasting, prayer, reflection, charity, and community. The month is highly celebrated by Muslims worldwide, including young Muslim students. Since there are plenty of Muslim students at the Hutchison campus, I decided to interview two Muslim seniors, Hamna Tameez and Mariam Husein, to talk about their experiences during Ramadan and inform those who may not know much about this time of year.

Can you give a breakdown of what Ramadan is and fasting for the students who may not know about it?

Hamna: Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is a lunar-based calendar. Muslims, practitioners of the faith of Islam, mark the start of this month when the new crescent moon is sighted in the sky. In this month, Muslims believe that the Qur’an, the Islamic holy book, was revealed to Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him. Prophet Muhammad is the last of the prophets of Islam, some of which include Prophet Moses, Prophet Jesus, and Prophet Abraham, may peace be upon them. Muslims believe Allah, or God, revealed the final message of monotheism for mankind through the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who received the revelations through the angel Gabriel. After Ramadan, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which for this year falls on May 2. This literally translates to “festival of breaking the fast”, and its three days when the Muslim community comes together to pray, have a dinner or a feast, give gifts, strengthen our relationships with one another, and celebrate the blessings we received during Ramadan.

Mariam: Ramadan is a time for Muslims to become closer with their faith. It’s where people fast from sunrise to sunset. No, we can’t even drink water or chew gum, or any of that.

What does Ramadan mean to you? Why do you fast? Do you just do it because it’s tradition, or does it hold significance specifically for you?

Mariam: I enjoy Ramadan because it gives me time to focus on my faith; it’s almost like a reminder to get closer with God and my family. It is sort of like tradition with my family because we always have family from out of town come over to celebrate.

Hamna: For me, Ramadan is a time of community building and learning patience through difficult times. Without a strong Muslim community and without looking within myself to strengthen my tolerance, I would truly feel like I would be missing something crucial in my life and religion.


Does going to school make fasting more challenging or easier? Does the workload help distract you, or is it harder to focus on work? If it’s difficult, are there any ways you cope with it?

Mariam: Honestly it’s in the middle, because some days it distracts me from fasting, but I would much rather sleep in and have time pass like that. So yes, school does make fasting harder.

Hamna: Going to school definitely makes fasting more difficult, but this is usually true for the first week or so. The new prayer room in the library has really proven to be a place for me, and hopefully others, to take a break from my busy academic life and focus on my relationship with Allah. Prayer also keeps me grounded and allows me to reflect on why I am fasting and the benefits it provides in my own life.

Do you skip lunch to distract yourself, or do you go there anyway because it doesn’t affect you as much?

Hamna: Yes, I usually skip lunch because, especially during this time of the year, I need that time to work on homework and studying for exams!

Mariam: I sometimes skip lunch because I have work to do, but being around food usually doesn’t bother me.

What are some common misconceptions about fasting you would like to address?

Hamna: I believe the Hutchison community is really respectful and open-minded when it comes to fasting and Ramadan, so I am really grateful for the supportive community I have here. However, one misconception I have encountered outside of Hutchison is that Ramadan is only a time of fasting. For most Muslims, Ramadan is also a time of strengthening our relationship with Allah and solidifying beneficial spiritual habits, like the five daily prayers or giving charity, for the year to come. It is also a time of learning self-control, not only in what we eat but also in our desires, emotions, thoughts, and actions.

Mariam: People usually think that fasting is hard, or usually when i tell them it’s from sunrise to sunset they’ll respond with “Oh, i could never do that.” But honestly, it’s not as hard as you think. Also people think that you lose weight during Ramadan, but actually I gain weight.

What are some ways the school or student body can improve your Ramadan experience at school?

Mariam: Honestly I feel like everyone is fine; I haven’t had anything happen that has bothered me at all.

Hamna: Continue to be open minded and question why you may make some assumptions about other religions, if you do find yourself making them. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions to me or other Muslims you may know! I always look forward to hearing any and all questions about Ramadan or Islam, especially because I find myself learning more about my own or other religions in the process. Just remember to please be respectful!

What’s your favorite thing about Ramadan?

Mariam: Having Iftar with friends and family is always really fun.

Hamna: I love seeing my community come together for iftars (the meal with which Muslims break their fast), I love going to nightly prayers at the mosque, and I love the emotional and spiritual connections I get to make with those around me. I also love seeing how the Memphis community comes together to support Muslims during Ramadan and learn more about Islam. I have recently seen this in different events at the Memphis Islamic Center, the mosque I attend. I especially enjoyed the Interfaith Dinner which I attended this past weekend, and I am looking forward to more events like these to come!

If you could say anything to all of the fasting students at school, what would you say to them?

Mariam: I know having school while fasting is hard but you got this!!

Hamna: Ramadan Mubarak! I hope you and your family have a blessed and peaceful Ramadan. Also, feel free to use the prayer room! It is the right-most study room at the back of the library, and the door has a dark blue sign. 🙂 <3