Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Newsletter, July 2022
Department of Medicine
Muslims Holidays (Ramadan and Eid) in American Academic Institutes
Earlier in the month of May, Muslims in the U.S. and around the world celebrated a major holiday “Eid al-Fitr.” This is one of two major holydays in Islam. Just like most religious holidays, Eid is a joyful celebration, with more family time, meaningful social visits, and connection with people. It is a time to give charity and gifts and spread happiness. Although the holiday is three days long, more attentions is given to the first day. The Eid day marks the end of Ramadan, which is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Ramadan is the month of fasting. If you are an adult who can manage to fast, no food or drink, from dawn to sunset, you are asked to do that for the entire lunar month of Ramadan. There are exceptions such as those who are sick, traveling, pregnant or breastfeeding. According to the teaching of Islam, the spiritual goal of fasting is to help you appreciate what you have, to feel and empathize with people with limited means, and to acknowledge the immaterial part of our lives. That mental exercise is more important than restraining yourself from eating or drinking.
Ramadan is a holly month and a special time of the year with exceptional rituals that changes your daily routine. Muslims go on with their lives and work as usual during the fasting time. You can imagine how this impacts the lives of fasting students, workers and for us at the health center such as residents and physicians on duty.
I noticed that Ramadan was reported in many media outlets this year, as part of the country’s Diversity Equality and Inclusion (DEI) program’s ongoing discussion. This is one article that addressed the matter in collages.
More schools are taking it upon themselves to make changes to accommodate students celebrating Ramadan. Muslims inclusion efforts aren’t completely new to American collages, but more work can always be done. One of thing that students and residents miss most is Suhoor, the meal at dawn that begins each day’s fasting. This is the most difficult to accommodate, especially if the school or program is not aware of it. This year, for example, Suhoor time was between 3 to 4 a.m. Some collages started recognizing this change in the Muslim students’ schedule and made innovated arrangements at the cafeteria or food court.
Here at UConn the Office for Diversity and Inclusion recognized the beginning of the month of Ramadan. An email was sent on April 8, 2022 with tittle “Honoring and Supporting our UConn Communities”. This year the month of Ramadan started in the beginning of April. Coincidentally, April this year reflected religious diversity as it marked Ramadan, Vaisakhi, Passover, Easter, and Orthodox Easter. Eid-al-Fitr was also listed in May.
Yazeed Maghaydah, M.D., CMD, FACP
Department of Internal Medicine DEI committee