Tips for working with colleagues observing Ramadan 

Ramadan began on Sunday 10 March and will continue until Tuesday 9 April. In this blog post, Hana Ahmed who works in our homelessness service shares her tips for working with colleagues observing this holy month.  

For those unfamiliar with Ramadan, can you explain what it involves and the importance of observing? 

Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam; these are the core beliefs and practices in Islam. During the month of Ramadan, which is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, all healthy adults are required to fast from sunrise to sunset. This means they cannot eat or drink during daylight hours. If you see your colleague not partaking this could be due to illness and for women, they do not fast when they are on their monthly menstrual cycle. 

Please be mindful of publicly asking Muslims why they are not fasting.  

How can colleagues who aren’t observing Ramadan support colleagues who are? 

As Muslims will be fasting from sunrise to sunset, energy levels may fluctuate and sometimes, they might not be in the mood for chitchat or small talk. As the month goes on the fast gets longer especially once daylight saving time begins, fasting can become harder for some. Being mindful of this and allowing our participating colleagues to have some space and a little bit of quiet (dehydration headaches are a killer!) would go a long way. 

Muslims will be engaging in a lot of prayer during this holy month, even those who may have been more relaxed throughout the year with prayer may be more diligent, blocking out prayer times.  

Towards the last 10 days of Ramadan, there are prayers offered throughout the night. Due to the nocturnal lifestyle during the month, flexible hours may be awarded to colleagues to support them in this holy month.  

Eating and drinking in front of fasting colleagues isn’t an issue, Muslims fast from 15 years of age or puberty (whichever comes first), sometimes even earlier as children want to take part, so most are accustomed to it. Fasting is still hard and strenuous, as it is a subjective experience no two people find it the same however generally Muslims do not have an issue with others eating around them. Try not to create too much fuss around it.  

How can people find out more or get involved? 

Ramadan is open to all who want to participate! You don’t have to be Muslim to fast. Ramadan has a lot of health and personal benefits, such as self-discipline and optimal immunity, even if you’re not religious feel free to join in! Most Muslims are happy to answer any questions from curiosity so don’t shy away, when researching online be careful you’re using credible sources as there is a lot of misinformation out there. 

Cover image by Anna Tarazevich courtesy of Pexels.

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