Today marks the first day of Ramadan! With over 1.9 billion Muslims worldwide, we wanted to share how we can better support those who are fasting or refraining from eating and drinking while it’s light outside during the month of Ramadan.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month on the Islamic calendar, which marks important holidays and events for Muslims. During this month (from the evening of Wednesday 22nd March 2023 to the evening of Friday 21st April 2023), Muslims won't eat or drink between dawn and sunset – which is called fasting.
It’s important to fast during Ramadan as it allows Muslims to devote themselves to their faith and come closer to Allah, or God.
Fasting, also called sawm, is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, which form the basis of how Muslims live their lives. The other pillars are faith, prayer, charity and making the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.
It is common to have a meal (known as the suhoor) just before dawn and another (known as the iftar) directly after sunset.
At the end of the fast - when the sun has gone down - usually, families and friends will get together for iftar to break their fast.
How does working during Ramadan impact Muslim colleagues?
Colleagues will wake up before sunrise to pray and eat, then start the fast, which lasts until the sun goes down. At sunset, Muslims break the fast and spend time in prayer before they go to sleep.
The start of Ramadan can be the hardest for some as it can be a drastic change to their routine. Fasting during daylight hours, performing extra prayers and having longer nights can be challenging too.
In the workplace, your colleagues might also:
- Be sleep deprived during this time.
- Have low energy levels or struggle to focus.
- Have withdrawal symptoms e.g. from quitting caffeine.
- Those who have manually demanding jobs are also at higher risk of dehydration.
So how can we better support our employees who are fasting?
We think the best thing you can do for your employees during this holy period is to understand what they’re going through and offer support wherever possible.
It’s really important to ask your colleagues how you can support them, everyone will have their own thoughts, but here are mine:
- Keep checking in with your colleagues throughout Ramadan – not just the first few days!
- Providing hybrid and remote options to your colleagues and being as flexible as possible throughout this time, really does help.
- Set up a prayer space for colleagues, this could be a dedicated meeting room.
- Talk about the occasion! Part of my role as Race Ambassador is to not only inform my colleagues about different cultural celebrations but to also encourage employees to be supportive of each other and to ask questions so that we can all learn more about each other’s cultures and beliefs!
- Here at Outsource, we have an Inclusive Bank Holiday policy, which allows our colleagues to swap two of the UK Bank Holidays for other dates that are important to us - could your company do something similar?
- I know this can’t always be helped but if meetings can be moved to the morning rather than later in the day as the afternoons at work can be the hardest!
How can you greet colleagues during Ramadan?
The two most common greetings are:
- “Ramadan Mubarak” which roughly translates to “happy Ramadan”
- “Ramadan Kareem” roughly translated to “have a generous Ramadan”
Want to continue the conversation?
If you’d like to find out more about how you can better support your colleagues, or you’d like to continue the conversation, please don’t hesitate to drop Nandini a message on LinkedIn, or via email NBhatia@outsource-uk.co.uk or 0161 694 5940.