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Ramadan has always been significant to Muslims as a time to devote themselves to their faith. However, this year’s Ramadan is unique for many Muslim university students across Canada because the holiest month in the Islamic faith coincides with final exam season.

Achieving balance between multiple identities was never an easy task. Throughout Ramadan, Hanzalah Hussain, an international student from Pakistan at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, has had to juggle his responsibilities as a university student and his commitment to his Muslim faith. That has included fasting between dawn and dusk while also studying for final exams and working at a part-time job.

Hanzalah Hussain stands for a photograph in front of a mirror at his residence in Saskatoon on Monday. Hussain recently finished the third year of his mechanical engineering degree at the University of Saskatchewan. Originally from Pakistan, Hussain moved to Saskatoon in December, 2019 to continue his education.Heywood Yu/The Globe and Mail

Hanzalah Hussain stands during the Eid-ul-fitr prayer at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon on Monday.Heywood Yu/The Globe and Mail

Hanzalah Hussain, right, embraces Muhammad Ali Warraich, left, after the Eid-ul-fitr prayer at Prairieland Park. 'Eid, for Muslims is pretty much how Christmas is for Christians, so it's kind of like the one celebration you kinda want to spend with your family and stuff,' said Hussain.Heywood Yu/The Globe and Mail

Hanzalah Hussain bows during the Eid-ul-fitr prayer at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon on Monday.Heywood Yu/The Globe and Mail

Hanzalah Hussain has his first proper meal of the day after writing his exam on April 28. Since the exam is scheduled at 7 p.m., which is before the time of Iftar, Hussain has to break his fast mid-exam with a bottle of juice. Without proper sleep, Hussain states that walking into the exam room while fasting for the entire day affected his performance. 'I did end up having a headache at the end,' said Hussain. 'Because you can’t take Advil or something if you have a headache before exam, you're not allowed to, so it's kind of tough.'Heywood Yu/The Globe and Mail

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