This year, the Holy month of Ramadan began the evening of April 1 in the U.S. and will be celebrated through the evening of May 1. Many within our UNC community will begin a spiritual reflection and fast daily from dawn to dusk. Islam, meaning “submission to the will of God”, is the second-largest religion globally, with roughly 1.9 billion Muslim followers. Followers of Islam are known as Muslims, which means “those who have surrendered”. The most concentrated areas of Islam are Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Egypt, Iran, Turkey, Algeria, and Sudan. Here in the United States, 7 million Muslims reside, and Mosques are represented in all 50 states.
Ramadan recognizes the event in which the prophet Muhammed was chosen as the ‘Messenger of God’ and received religious revelations through the angel Gabriel that became the Quran. Ramadan falls on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, a lunar calendar compared to the United States' solar calendar. Ramadan signifies the abstinence of eating and/or drinking anything from dawn to sunset. This practice, Sawm, is one of the five pillars of Islam. The remaining four pillars of Islam include Shahada, declaring faith in God and a belief in Muhammad; Salat, to pray five times a day; Zakat, to give to those in need; and Hajj, to make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a person’s life if they are able. Ramadan is a time for spiritual reflection, prayer, doing good deeds, and spending time with family and friends.
Observing Muslims typically begin their days during Ramadan with a pre-dawn meal known as suhoor, which is followed by a fast for the remainder of the day. The fast is broken each day at sunset with a meal known as Iftar and is recognized as a way to come together no matter the distance since most Muslims will break fast together at relatively the same time. The fast is symbolic of the cleansing nature of Ramadan, during which Muslims are to avoid many things thought to be impure. Additionally, it is common to reflect on empathizing with the poor and hungry of the world during the fast. The Muslim holiday, Eid al-Fitr (Festival of Breaking the Fast), marks the end of Ramadan and is celebrated over three days with special prayers, family visits, giving of gifts, and charity.
Ramadan this year brings the opportunity for many Muslim communities to gather as worshipers in public mosques as social distancing due to COVID-19 has affected the last two years. Gathering with family and community is a significant part of Ramadan and the return to something resembling pre-pandemic gatherings will be celebrated.
UNC meal plan holders observing Ramadan can request packaged meals to enjoy after they break fast by emailing email@example.com. Up to 4 packaged meals per day (based on meal plan) can be requested and picked up daily at Holmes Hall.
Let us remember that our students, TA's, GAs, faculty, and staff who observe Ramadan will be fasting during the most stressful time of the academic year. Please acknowledge this and consider appropriate accommodations.
- UNC Gender Studies PUGS: Lavery Essay - Third World Feminism & the Hijab
- Watch: Five Ramadan Iftar Meals Around the World
- Watch: How the World Celebrates Ramadan: Community Iftar
- Eventbrite: At Your Service Virtual Iftar
- Eventbrite: Ramadan & Eid-Ul-Fitr – A Special Time of the Year
- Attach the Ramadan design element to your email signature and social media
For additional education and personal development related to diversity, equity and inclusion, the following resources are available: DEI Education and Resources, DEI & Antiracism Resources from the UNC Libraries, the Education Equity Toolkit from the Colorado Department of Higher Education, and the UNITE workshops for faculty, staff, and students.