May 10, 2018

How to support students observing Ramadan

UCalgary student offers tips on how to survive studying while fasting
Nima Macci, volunteer with the Faith and Spirituality Centre at the University of Calgary and third-year chemical engineering student.

Nima Macci, volunteer with the Faith and Spirituality Centre and chemical engineering student.

Justina Contenti, University of Calgary

Many UCalgary students, faculty and staff will be observing Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, from the evening of May 15 to the evening of June 14. During Ramadan, which is one of the five pillars of Islam, healthy adult Muslims abstain from food and drink from dawn until dusk.

Nima Macci, third-year chemical engineering student and volunteer with the Faith and Spirituality Centre, knows what it’s like to take classes while observing Ramadan — and she has some practical advice for students observing the first Ramadan of their university career during the spring semester.

With long hours of fasting during the day and only a few hours to pray and sleep at night, studying during Ramadan can be difficult. “The headaches, nausea, and fatigue from the hunger are challenges,” says Macci. “Your energy begins to deplete as the day goes on, and it becomes harder to focus. I’ve found it helpful to start the day with a proper morning meal.

“A meal rich with complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals can make fasting easier to manage,” she adds. “Drink lots of water with the meal to lessen thirst during the day. Suhour makes it much easier to concentrate by preventing nausea and headaches, regulating blood sugar and reducing thirst during the day.”

Macci has also found that good time management can go a long way in helping her perform her best on exams. “I try to pace myself and get a good amount of studying done earlier in the day, since that’s when I have the most energy,” she says. “I take 20-minute power naps so I can concentrate while studying. Also, studying outside to get fresh air helps me retain more information.

“Plan ahead and create study schedules,” she advises. “And pace yourself with the course load! Structure your study schedule around important deadlines and test dates.”

Macci recommends selecting courses offered in the morning or early afternoon, rather than in the evening. She realizes that some students need to take evening courses, but she sees this as an opportunity for faculty to support students observing Ramadan. “It would be amazing if professors could schedule lecture breaks for long evening courses around the time Muslim students need to break their fast and pray,” she says.

Events and resources on campus

The Faith and Spirituality Centre is partnering with the Muslim Students' Association for a Community Iftar Dinner, May 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the Loft (fourth floor, MacEwan Student Centre). The iftar is open to everyone who wants to partake in breaking the fast and spend time with some of the Muslim community on campus. You can find more information about this event on the Faith and Spirituality Centre website.

The Faith and Spirituality Centre’s Muslim Chaplains, Imam Hadi Hassan and Imam Fayaz Tilly, are available to anyone who would like to learn more about supporting our Muslim community during Ramadan.