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LCM Fasting Exams Guidance .pdf


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Charity Registration Number: 1015119

Introduction
The Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM) is issuing this guidance to schools and
colleges to support students, families and staff, in order that they may adequately
prepare to meet the needs of students during the coming month of Ramadhan.
This year, public examinations may coincide with the month of Ramadhan. Young
Muslims, therefore, will need to include the preparation for examinations into their
daily routine throughout the month.
The LCM appreciates diversity and represents all denominations and schools of
thought within the Muslim community in Lancashire. Ultimately, this is a matter for
students, parents and carers, and it would not be appropriate to encroach on their
liberties and freedom to practice their faith as they see fit. Nonetheless, fasting in
Ramadhan being a compulsory religious injunction, this guidance is intended to
provide recommendations to schools and colleges in relation to fasting and public
examinations, with the aim of securing the welfare of Muslim students taking part in
public examinations during the month of Ramadhan.
The Islamic Calendar
The Islamic calendar is lunar and has 354 or 355 days in a year. In 2016, the month
of Ramadhan begins on the 6th or 7th June, which is in high summer when the days
are at their longest. Precise dates cannot be forecast as they depend on the sighting
of the moon and the particular country the sighting is taken from. In 2016 Eid-ul-Fitr
(the festival marking the end of Ramadhan) will fall on July 7th (give or take a day).
Who Will Be Fasting?
In Islam, fasting becomes obligatory during Ramadhan, when an able Muslim
reaches the age of puberty. No food or drink is allowed during the fasting period from
dawn to dusk. It is important for many Muslim families that their children should
begin participating in the practice of fasting at an early age. Most children of
secondary school age are considered adult members of their communities and fast
throughout the month. Younger pupils may choose to fast for part of Ramadhan, or
only on certain days of each week (under the guidance of their parents / carers).
However, not every student will fast. In Islam, fasting only becomes obligatory after
the age of puberty.
Routine
The routine of an observant Muslim family changes during the month of Ramadhan.
When fasting falls during the summer months, the longer daylight hours mean that
Bangor Street Community Centre, Norwich Street, Blackburn, Lancashire, BB1 6NZ
Tel: 01254 692289 Web: lancashiremosques.com E-mail: enquiries@lancashiremosques.com

the family may wake up early, will have ‘suhoor’ or ‘sehri’ (a pre-dawn meal), and will
start fasting at about 3am, dependent upon the Mosque timetable that they follow.
The fast ends at sunset, after 9pm. A summer fasting day will therefore constitute
approximately 18 hours.
After completing the fast, there is also a special Ramadhan night prayer which many
Muslims observe, referred to as the ‘Taraweeh’ prayer. During this prayer a portion
of the Qur’an is recited daily by the Imam from memory, whilst the congregation
listen attentively to what is being read. As a result of this, the practice of the Muslim
community around the world is that a complete recitation of the Qur’an is completed
by the end of the holy month.
As noted, many Muslim examination students will be fasting and will have consumed
their last food and drink before dawn, as early as 3am.
Taking important examinations whilst fasting for long hours over the summer period
will be a challenge for students. Individuals will inevitably differ in the extent to which
they do, or do not, experience such challenges, depending on their metabolisms,
activity, etc.
Mornings will not be as effected as fasting students would have the opportunity to
have breakfast before dawn, so would be little different to other days.
It is important, however, that sleep deprivation also be taken into account, and
students should ensure they get a healthy amount of sleep. Sleep Deprivation may
potentially be the biggest factor affecting performance for young people who are
fasting, observing prayers at night and sitting exams.
Fasting can enhance performance too
That said, there are many Muslim students who say that fasting enhances their
performance, particularly if they have been used to it for some years. There is huge
enthusiasm for fasting amongst the Muslim community and some young people, who
have made a positive decision to fast, say they feel energised during Ramadhan.
The NHS says: ‘Fasting during the month of Ramadhan can be good for your health
if it’s done correctly… When the body is starved of food, it starts to burn fat so that it
can make energy. This can lead to weight loss.’1
Advice
Fasting during examinations is a sensitive issue and has been debated recently, in
light of Ramadhan falling in the summer months. However, we would not like to
compromise the religious commitments that students and their parents choose to
have, as fasting in Ramadhan is a religious injunction. Students and parents tend to
consult their trusted religious advisors or Mosques when it comes to matters of faith
and we would advise people to continue doing so. However, it is generally accepted
that those who have a medical condition, physical or mental, or who are traveling are
exempt from fasting. If fasting is causing extreme hardship to the student (the
1

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/HealthyRamadhan/Pages/fastingandhealth.aspx
Bangor Street Community Centre, Norwich Street, Blackburn, Lancashire, BB1 6NZ
Tel: 01254 692289 Web: lancashiremosques.com E-mail: enquiries@lancashiremosques.com

discomfort of hunger or mild sleep deprivation would not fall into this), the student or
the student’s parent may decide themselves to end the fast.
Schools and colleges are encouraged to liaise with parents and students in advance
of Ramadhan to ensure that those fasting are well prepared and able to achieve their
best during this month of religious observance.
Guidelines
The following are guidelines which would be useful for students in relation to fasting
and examinations:


Organisation is key. Create a routine which allows you to observe your
religious duties and prepare for your examinations whilst minimising stress.



Plan your day ahead. Check the examination timetable carefully on the night
before an examination. Prepare your clothes, books, pens, etc., in advance to
avoid rushing around in the morning.



Avoid unnecessary activities. Abstain from doing extra physical activity
such as sports, or running for the bus. Take the opportunity to rest when you
can and avoid the dehydrating effects of sitting in hot sunshine.



Safeguard your health. If your health is put at risk due to the fast, i.e. severe
dehydration or injury, you can break your fast as your health is more
important. Islam teaches that there is permission to break the fast in such
circumstances. Islam does not require you to harm yourself in fulfilling the
fast. If a fast is broken, the days will need to be made up by fasting at a later
date when your health is better.



Take medication into consideration. It is really important that if you have a
medical condition, especially one that requires regular medication that you
see your GP before Ramadhan begins to discuss treatment options that do
not interfere with your fast. You can also talk to your community pharmacist
and Imam or faith adviser.



Ensure you are well-rested. It is important to get a healthy amount of sleep
during Ramadhan, especially during examinations. This may even mean not
attending a 'taraweeh' (night prayers in congregation) if you are you are
struggling.



Eat right. Ensure you have 'suhoor' or ‘sehri’ (a pre-dawn meal), and aim to
eat slow-release energy foods during the morning meal. Eat healthily and
well, bearing in mind that undereating or overeating is equally unhelpful.



Drink plenty of water. Between sunset and sunrise, ensure that you are
taking in plenty of water. Rather than drinking lots of water at once, make a
routine of drinking smaller amounts at regular intervals.



Rest. If the exam is in the afternoon, consider taking a short rest/nap around
midday.

Bangor Street Community Centre, Norwich Street, Blackburn, Lancashire, BB1 6NZ
Tel: 01254 692289 Web: lancashiremosques.com E-mail: enquiries@lancashiremosques.com


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