How to show support for those fasting during Ramadan
By Mustafa Jung, CRM DeveloperApr 7th 2022
Muslims all around the world are now fasting for Ramadan — but it’s a tricky concept to explain to non-Muslims. Our CRM developer, Mustafa, has written a quick explainer to increase awareness and help non-Muslims show support to those who are fasting for Ramadan.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is a month-long celebration, when Muslims start fasting from sunrise until sunset. This month is of importance in Islam, as it celebrates the time when the Holy Qur’an was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad, the messenger of Allah (God). The Five Pillars are the core beliefs and practices of Islam, with Fasting as one of them.
When is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, where Muslims worldwide observe it as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community. Ramadan this year started on Saturday 2nd April and will end on Sunday 1st May. Next year it will start approximately 10 or 11 days earlier, depending on the observation of the moon.
What is the significance of Ramadan for Muslims?
Muslims during Ramadan think about their privileges in everyday life, because there are things we tend to take for granted. Think about the people not being able to have a glass of water, or a plate of food, when you want to help appreciate the gifts we have in our lives.
Ramadan is a time when Muslims who are fasting think about others who do not have ready access to food and drink throughout the year.
It is about sharing special moments with family members or people in the community. When the fast is broken at sunset, the meal after is called Iftar. Families may deliver this meal to their neighbours or invite them to share this meal with them. In Mosques, lots of people from other areas come together to share this Iftar. The reason is about togetherness and equality, showing mercy and compassion to others.
Another one of the pillars of Islam, the third pillar, is known as the Zakat. The idea is that Muslims are obliged to donate a specific percentage of their salary to those who need it most. In the month of Ramadan, Muslims are obliged to donate a charitable portion of food, to those less fortunate than themselves, before Eid prayer.
The ultimate goal of fasting is not eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset, as teachings of Islam stress that this ritual is not meaningful without abstaining from saying or doing what could harm one’s self or others. The goal is about being humble, kind and willing to share with others. Ramadan is not physical starvation, but an opportunity for spiritual development.
How does it impact the workplace?
During this Ramadan in 2022, Muslims will typically be fasting for approximately 15-17 hours a day for 29/30 days. For employees who are fasting, their energy levels will be impacted and there are no prescribed ways to support them. However, it is recommended that meetings and appointments are best scheduled in the morning and early afternoon.
Managers are advised to consider flexible working patterns and options during this time. For example, afternoon lunch can be a nap or allow the employees to finish early if they do not take a lunch break during Ramadan. Since the post-Covid pandemic, this is a great opportunity to allow employees to work from home during this Ramadan, so their energy levels will stay consistent.
Bear in mind that Muslims who are fasting need to take part in regular worship during the day in addition to special prayer for Ramadan. During this Ramadan, Muslims must pay attention when they're reading the Qu’ran. You should try to avoid scheduling late meetings because meals need to be prepared to be ready when time has nearly reached sunset.
As the time of Ramadan takes place changes every year, it is important to raise awareness in the workplace of its significance for Muslims, and the impact of fasting on activity levels.
You can ask your employees if they are fasting. Please note that if someone is fasting, nothing should pass their lips and this includes smoking, eating snacks, taking medication or drinking water. Don’t worry about offending anyone if you want to eat or drink during their fasting hours. You can go ahead and eat, but at least just avoid offering food or drink in front of your employees who are fasting.
How does Ramadan end?
The day after the end of Ramadan there’s a big celebration, called Eid Al Fitr, which lasts for three days. It’s a public holiday in Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates.
Muslims like to wear new clothes for this celebration, prepare celebration meals and visit friends and family. This is an opportunity for Muslims to give donations and food to others. In non-Muslim countries, we might expect employees to book annual leave during this three-day celebration. This is a great opportunity for non-Muslim employees at the workplace to join and share treats, to create a positive atmosphere amongst employees.