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Navigating being an academic weapon during Ramadan: Tips for students

By Reyam Jamaleddine, March 27 2024—

Muslims who experience fasting during Ramadan know all too well the host of challenges this month brings. From caffeine withdrawals to the rumbling of stomachs during quiet lectures and the persistence of jarring headaches throughout the day — these challenges are familiar to those who fast. 

In the face of these challenges, it is crucial to recognize that fasting is not a hindrance to academic success, rather it is an incentive for a non-permanent adjustment to your academic schedule. By acknowledging the unique demanding nature of this sacred month and implementing effective strategies, students can not only maintain but excel in their studies.  Below is a list of ways you can be an academic weapon that I have personally curated, it is not an overwhelming list of all the approaches for Muslim students’ studies, rather it is some ways that can be utilized, even in a trial and error manner. 

Do not stay up until Suhoor/Sehri

The window of time between Iftar and Suhoor is a mere few hours, this year being from about 8 pm to 5 am. Resisting the temptation to stay awake until Suhoor is a crucial juncture during this month. Once Iftar is complete, the hours start to progress rapidly and the loads of school work and studying your students face can feel overwhelming. But, those few hours of sleep that can be squeezed into busy academic schedules before Suhoor can assist in the pursuit of studies for the day ahead. If it can wait until tomorrow, then it can be left for tomorrow.  

Allocate and prioritize tasks for specific times of day

Keep main priorities such as major assignments and papers, studying for exams and even discussion posts as tasks to do after Suhoor or after Iftar. During this period of time, energy will be highest in comparison to the rest of the time slots during the day. During the day, maintain your focus on getting the most valuable notes from your lectures, send emails and check off the lighter tasks on the to-do list. 

Do not have caffeine at Iftar, have it during Suhoor

Caffeine withdrawals are common for those who are fasting, the fasting person might be eager to have a caffeinated beverage during Iftar. Avoid consuming caffeine during Iftar as it can disrupt and avert sleeping schedules. Instead, opt for a caffeinated beverage during Suhoor which will kick-start your day with energy and productivity.

Managing migraines and headaches 

With no water or food, the chances of having a migraine or headache are increased and highly probable. In order to manage this, ensure that there are ample amounts of water consumed during Suhoor. Similarly, take painkillers such as Ibuprofen during Suhoor to get a head start on any potential headaches that one may face throughout the day. 

Take a nap

Someone who is fasting will likely feel exhausted and studying in these conditions will make retaining information difficult. There are several locations on campus where you can have a moment for rejuvenation. The Women’s Resource Centre as well as the Faith and Spirituality Centre offer secluded spots to take a nap. Similarly, the third-floor MacHall couches (the communal napping area) are a great place to doze off for a few minutes as well. 

Touch base with support systems

Seek academic support from professors, teaching assistants, peer mentors and Muslim communities on campus. Touching base and communicating the challenges you are facing with the campus community will allow for different perspectives to assist you with navigating potential challenges that you are facing. 

Nutrition and Hydration 

Indulge in samosas and pakoras but make sure that nutritional balance is a top priority and food intake is not based on oil-dense or sugar-dense foods. Prioritize your protein intake as well as your hydration. This will keep you fueled for the day and will help steer you clear of any upset stomachs. 

Overall, call to mind that this month is a time to be thoughtful and deepen your spiritual and religious endeavours. It is a month where being kind to yourself is a requirement of the fast. Ensure that you are consistently being considerate to yourself and others. Good luck with your studies. 

This article is a part of our Voices section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet editorial board.

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