Double-book diverted 

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A copy of the Quran sits on a carpet and is illuminated by sunlight
If the Associate Dean of Research can’t keep track of dates, where’s the hope for mere mortals?  Essam5 via Pixabay

Faculty of Science grad student celebration initially excluded those observing Ramadan, recently rescheduled

On Mar 5, Dr. Tanya E. S. Dahms, the Associate Dean of Research in the Faculty of Science, sent an email to graduate students reminding them that on Tuesday, Mar 12, a celebration for graduate students was set to take place on the third floor of the Research and Innovation Centre.  

The celebration, according to Dr. Dahms, was set to include “snacks, beverages, and great conversation.” The celebration is meant to honour and celebrate all graduate students involved in research. The event, initially scheduled on Mar 12, would have been during Ramadan fasting for Muslim students.  

People of Muslim faith observe Ramadan as a holy month. According to Muslim faith, more than 1,400 years ago during Ramadan, the first verses of the Quran, the central text in Islamic faith, were delivered. Islam’s lunar calendar determines the dates of Ramadan and, according to Al Jazeera, most Muslim-majority countries adjunct their dates for the holy month based on testimonials from moon sighters.  

Throughout Ramadan, observing Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. This is done to, as Al Jazeera reports, “achieve greater ‘taqwa,’ or consciousness of God.” The fast can include abstaining from eating, drinking, smoking, and sexual relations among other things. The networking event that “celebrates” graduate students in the Faculty of Science would be primarily inaccessible to Muslim students fasting to observe Ramadan, thus excluding a large number of both students and faculty from it.  

One day after Dr. Dahms’ initial email on Mar 6, a follow-up email was sent by Dahms. Addressed again to graduate students in the faculty of Science, the email pre-emptively ‘forgave’ Muslim students who may have chosen not to attend. “If you are fasting, it is completely understandable if you choose not to join,” Dahms wrote. “I am sorry to exclude you.”  

Dahms also cited the planning of the celebration which occurred during the fall as the reason for the celebration being scheduled during Ramadan.  

The dates for Ramadan, while subject to slight variation depending on the Islamic lunar calanar, are known well in advance. For example, Ramadan 2025 will likely begin between Feb 28-Mar 1, and conclude on either March 30 or 31. Aljazeera has a 33-year Ramadan cycle publicly available.  

In the Mar 6 email, Dahms made no mention of rescheduling the event to consider Muslim students. Dahms simply stated that the department would “be more mindful of timing.” 

On Mar 7, Dr. Dahms sent another email addressed to graduate students which informed them that the celebration had been rescheduled for April 15. The event is now schedules shortly after Eid al-Fitr. Dahms explained in the email that “it did not sit well” with her when she realized that she had scheduled a celebration with food and drink during the Ramadan fast.  

The University of Regina (U of R) observes Good Friday as an institution – most offices are closed, and no classes are held on the day. While it’s nearly impossible to accidentally schedule an event on Good Friday because the religious holiday is also observed as a federal statutory holiday in Canada, events such as the one initially scheduled for Mar 12 may fall during Ramadan if university staff are not mindful of religions outside of those which have impacted Canada’s holidays.  

Events on campus taking place in the near future that may be of interest include the University of Regina Muslim Student Association’s (URMSA) “Lectures and Iftar” event titled “Miracles of the Quran” on Mar 16 from 4-6:40p.m.. RSVP is required, but tickets are offered at no cost and can be downloaded from the URMSA’s website: urmsa.org/  

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