University of Birmingham students Alisha Aleem and Raneem Alterkawi explain the significance of Ramadan.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and its start date is determined by the sighting of the new moon. Also known as the month of the Qur'an, Muslims believe it is the month when the Holy Qur’an was revealed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It is a holy month of reflection and fasting and Muslims are encouraged to increase their good deeds in Ramadan. The Iftar is the meal served when the fast ends at suset during each day of Ramadan. The end of Ramadan is marked by the important festival of Eid ul-Fitr when many Muslims in non-Muslim countries may take the day off work to join in the celebrations.

About one in ten Birmingham students are Muslim. Although observance may differ between individuals due to health or other personal circumstances, nearly 4,000 Birmingham students would normally abstain from eating or drinking between the hours of sunrise and sunset during Ramadan. Whilst Muslim students would take personal responsibility for managing their academic duties, they would generally have commitments to extra prayers and readings in addition to their daily religious practice.


Top tips for Muslim students during Ramadan

  • Drink plenty of juices or water between iftar and suhoor to keep your body hydrated throughout the day. Severe dehydration can lead to passing out.
  • Be disciplined about sleeping habits and intake of nutritious foods during iftar. You have a responsibility to fulfil your religious, academic, placement, or other commitments.
  • Individuals who are unwell, travelling, menstruating, pregnant, breastfeeding, or in young/old age are exempt from fasting.
  • The University’s Muslim chaplains can be consulted to discuss your thoughts and approach to Ramadan and fasting.
  • A Ramadan Health Guide from Communities in Action provides information on healthy fasting.
  • The University’s Code of Practice on Accommodating Students’ Religious Observance provides guidelines to support students who are managing their Ramadan commitments. You may find further information at the bottom of this page.
  • Students can connect with the Muslim community through UOBISOC.

Watch the top ten tips video

How can I be supportive of Muslim students during Ramadan?

It is important to recognise that fasting and reduction of sleeping hours can leave individuals feeling more tired than normal, especially towards the end of the day. Circumstances for different individuals may vary, so it would be beneficial to have an earlier dialogue to discuss possible inclusive arrangements.

Considerations over meeting schedules during this period can support Muslim students in balancing their prayer patterns. The arrangement of a nearby quiet and private space to pray where possible is often much appreciated as many Muslims increase their worship during Ramadan.

Leave requests are also likely to be made to enable students to celebrate Eid with their families at the end of Ramadan. Staff are encouraged to demonstrate flexibility and understanding in line with the University’s Code of Practice on Accommodating Students’ Religious Observance to support students who are managing their Ramadan commitments. You may find further information at the bottom of this page.

What is the cultural etiquette during Ramadan as a non-Muslim in Muslim countries and the UK?

Ramadan traditions, rules, and cultural etiquette could be different country by country. It is important to familiarise yourself with local expectations when you are abroad on university activities. Muslims always say or write 'Peace be upon him' after the Prophet Muhammad's name, you can shorten it to (pbuh). Muslim countries, including Dubai, normally have designated screened-off areas for non-Muslims to eat and drink during the daytime. There would also be expectations concerning dressing etiquette and other social activities.

In the UK, you should carry on business as usual as a non-Muslim. You do not have to fast even if your best friends are observing. You can eat in front of Muslim students or staff. However, it is a courtesy to try not to schedule working lunches during Ramadan. They can go for a coffee chat with you, but they would take a pass on eating or drinking. You can also join them for Iftar, a big communal meal as the breaking of the fast after sundown. Previous UOBISOC’s Community Iftar in the Green Heart was attended by over 400 students, staff, and community members. For greetings, you may say ‘Ramadan Mubarak' (meaning Happy Ramadan). Your Muslim friends will appreciate the thoughtfulness.

Ramadan and Covid-19 testing

We have consulted the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) and they have advised the following:

’Our position is that PCR and LFD tests do not invalidate the fast, which is the opinion of the vast majority of Islamic scholars. Attached is an infographic we have made on this.’ 

BIMA guidance on Covid-19 testing


Iftar takeaways at the Multi-Faith Chaplaincy

The Multi-Faith Chaplaincy is extremely excited to be provide students with an Iftar (dinner) takeaway during the month of Ramadan. The Iftar takeaway involves providing takeaway food to be eaten at home for the opening of students’ fast during the month of Ramadan.

The Prophet (may peace and blessings be on him) said: “Whoever feeds the person who is breaking his fast, he will have his reward (for his fasting) without decreasing anything from the reward of the fasting person.”

Takeaway food will include a selection of sheesh kebabs, vegetable pakoras, chicken, vegetable samosas, rice, noodles and pasta. For further information on how to sign in to this activity, please contact Alex Ferranti, the Multi-Faith Chaplaincy Administrator (a.ferranti@bham.ac.uk).

Relevant policy documents

Please go to the Codes of Practice, Policies and Guidance page to look for documents that apply to your cohort year. You may find the Code of Practice on Accommodating Students’ Religious Observance, Religious Observances FAQ's, and Religious Observance Form under the Student Support & Student Related (incl. Immigration) section.

The College of Medical and Dental Sciences (MDS) also has guidelines on matters of Muslim religious observance for students on clinical courses. The MDS EDI team can be reached by email at mdsequality@contacts.bham.ac.uk.



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