SEATTLE – Muslim students at the University of Washington are having their final exams after sunset after three professors offered the chance of a night exam to accommodate fasting students during the holy month of Ramadan.
“This might not seem like a lot to Dr. White, but it really means a lot to us,” junior Zoha Awan told Seattle Times on Saturday, June 10.
“To see even something this small … it does make a big difference.”
The story began last year when University of Washington biology Professor Bryan White met with one of his Muslim students to ask about final exams results.
Though the student achieved progress during the quarter, she dropped sharply on her final exams.
Asking her about the issue, the student said she had been having trouble focusing because it was Ramadan and she, along all Muslim students, were fasting.
Therefore, Dr White decided to hold two sessions of final exams for his Introduction to Physiology class: one at the normal time in the morning, and one at 10 pm.
Another Muslim student, Indira Ongarbaeva, a huge coffee drinker, said she felt “emotionally prepared” knowing she’d be able to eat right before the test.
Two other professors at the UW heard about White’s gesture and decided to do the same. One of them, Rania Hussein, is also Muslim.
White says that besides the food and the timing, students who feel they belong do better on tests.
“I’ll have my students chant, ‘I am meant to be in this Intro to Physiology,’” White said.
“I know that’s corny, but … I want them to think, ‘this class really cares about each other.’”
Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, started on Saturday, May 27.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.
It is customary for Muslims to spend part of the days during Ramadan studying the Noble Qur’an.
Many men perform i`tikaf (spiritual retreat), spending the last 10 days of the month exclusively in the mosque.