Last week marked the beginning of Ramadan this year. People all over the world, here in St. Louis, and many colleagues and patients will be celebrating and observing Ramadan.
As we work towards a culture that values diversity and a community that strives to foster belonging, we thought it might be helpful to share a little bit of information about Ramadan and how to be respectful of those who are observing it.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan, the most sacred month of the year for Muslims, is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It lasts 29 or 30 days, depending on when the new crescent moon is, or should be, visible. Ramadan is remembered as the month in which the Prophet Muhammad was revealed the first verses of the Qur’an and includes fasting, extra worship, charity as well as special family and community time, particularly around breaking fast together.
What do Muslims do during Ramadan?
Muslims fast every day from sunrise to sunset for the entire month of Ramadan. The fast includes refraining from food, drink and intimacy during daylight hours. It is meant to be a time of deep spiritual contemplation and reflection of one’s relationship with God. It is also a time of celebration and joy to be spent with loved ones. Additional goals of fasting include reconnecting with the Qur’an, cultivation of good character, increase in willpower and self-control, and feeling compassion for others.
At the end of the Ramadan, which this year it will be on April 20th, Muslims celebrate the conclusion of Ramadan with a holiday called Eid al-Fitr which means “Festival of Breaking the Fast”. The holiday is celebrated with special prayers, gifts and lots of good food!
What can one do to be respectful of Muslim students, trainees, staff, faculty and patients observing Ramadan?
- Wish them a “Generous Ramadan (Ramadan Kareem)” or a “Blessed Ramadan (Ramadan Mubarak)” or simply say “happy, blessed and successful Ramadan”
- Expressing a genuine curiosity and willingness to learn about Ramadan
- If possible, schedule department parties or food outings after April 20 (That’s when Ramadan ends this year)
- If possible, eat your really good smelling food somewhere away from them. While many Muslims do not mind others eating around them, do avoid offering food to them during Ramadan.
- If possible, managers can allow flexibility in schedule, particularly during Eid al-Fitr
- If possible, and with the patient’s consent, do not schedule appointments that require patients to have a full stomach or have drunk liquids
- For additional reading on Muslim patients during Ramadan you can refer to this article in the Avicenna Journal of Medicine.
Here are some additional resources to learn more: