4 ways to support your Muslim friends during Ramadan

University of Leeds
4 min readMar 28, 2023

Do you have Muslim friends observing Ramadan and want to know how to best help them through the fasting period?

The International Student Office’s Ramadan intern, Gulana, is here to tell you about some of the things you can do to look after your Muslim friends during the next few weeks.

Ramadan? What is that?

Picture this — you’re on campus, having a delightful lunch (my favourite spot is Bakery 164) and you offer your friend a bite of your sandwich. Usually, this friend accepts, but this time, they reply in a haste, “Oh no I can’t, I’m fasting!”. The first thing you’ll question is “Why?”, and as they attempt to explain, you’ll reply “Not even water?!”. Yes, not even water!

For Muslims, Ramadan is the holiest month of the year, and is the month where Muslims perform their obligatory fasts. This falls usually as the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, and the exact dates of Ramadan vary yearly. In the month of Ramadan, the Holy Quran was sent down as guidance for Muslims to follow, and is thus, a month of increased religious activities for Muslims. As part of the obligatory fast, most Muslims will fast from dawn until sunset. During this fast, they will abstain from all food, drink, and ill behaviour.

The reasoning behind this fast is to attain piety and improve one’s personal relationship with God, but this is not the sole purpose of the fast. Fasting during the month of Ramadan is aimed to increase empathy with the less fortunate; to improve relationships with fellow Muslims; to obtain greater self-control; to become more grateful for the sustenance received daily; to become more mindful; and to increase acts of charity/good deeds to the underprivileged.

So now you may be asking yourself “What can I do to support my friends during Ramadan, then?”. We’ve put together a list of some things you can do — but bear in mind, this list is non-exhaustive, and there is actually a plethora of things you can do to help your friends during this month!

Be curious!

Islam is the second largest religion in the UK, and thus, the first step to support your Muslim friends would be to learn more on Ramadan, and why it is extremely important to them.

Something else you could do is plan gather-ups after sunset or cater your meet ups to include food around sunset, since that’s when they’ll be breaking the fast. You could try to make your friend feel more included in your activities, but also remember, it’s okay to eat around them!

Invite them over for iftar

Have an iftar dinner party! An iftar is the evening meal or dinner that marks the end of the daily fast on Ramadan. Having an iftar party would be seen as a highly supportive, and fun, way to accommodate your friend this month. Aim to have a menu that respects dietary requirements of your friends, for example, Muslims tend to consume a Halal diet. Maybe try the “board night” trend on TikTok and make your own video! Traditionally, Muslims break their fasts with dates and water, so giving these to your friend can bring a big smile on their face.

Be respectful during prayer time

Assuming you have followed tip #1, you now are aware that Muslims have 5 prayer times in a day. It is important that during these times you respect their worship. Some simple ways to do this can include helping them find a quiet place to pray, turning down the volume of any music or TV playing nearby, and respecting if they must leave meetings/gatherings in order for them to pray. This will help your friend feel more open, respected and seen.

Try to avoid this question!

And lastly, try to avoid asking your friend why they may not be fasting. Islam permits those who are menstruating, pregnant, ill, or travelling to be exempt from the fast as a means of ease. So, asking this question may be embarrassing for your friend as they are perhaps not willing, or ready, to share their reason for not fasting during the month.

Ramadan is a month of spreading love, peace, and good tidings to all — extend this to everyone you know. Ramadan Mubarak!

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