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Ramadan – what is it about and what can you do?

by Zarvesha Rasool


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As Ramadan is fast-approaching, this article outlines a brief overview of what the upcoming month entails, how it may impact those observing it around you, and what you can do to help. 

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and one of the most important times of the year for billions across the globe. It is a core and fundamental pillar of faith, and other than exceptional circumstances, observing Ramadan is obligatory upon every adult Muslim. 

Throughout the month, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset and refrain from physical desires of the stomach and body, including abstaining from food and drink. The fast is opened at sunset, usually with dates and water, and then a warm meal with family and friends. Along with the physical fast, Muslims offer additional prayers in the night and increase their recitation of the holy scripture throughout the month – which explains why observers may be yawning a little more in Ramadan than other days! 

Beyond staying hungry and thirsty however, the essence of Ramadan lies in actively refraining from bad habits and behaviours and replacing them with good manners, excellent etiquettes, and thoughtful consideration for others. It is a month of physical training for self-discipline and self-control, showing observers what their devotion looks like at its peak with all their effort and focus, and encouraging them to sustain those levels of good morals, kindness, and compassion throughout the rest of the year across their personal, social, and professional lives. 

Similar to how a healthy diet or gym are used as a means of developing good physical health and capability, so Ramadan comes as a source of training on how to develop the health of one’s character and spirituality by instilling attributes such as patience, resilience, empathy, and humility within its observers. In that sense, then, Ramadan can be seen as that training period of hard work, effort, and struggle before the marathon for the rest of the year kicks off. As a runner famously said: 

“Training is doing your homework… you stick with it, and incrementally through no specific session, your body changes. Your mind becomes calloused to effort. You stop thinking of running as difficult or interesting or magical. It just becomes what you do. It becomes a habit.”  

As such, observing Ramadan is a challenging and demanding practice that requires real commitment, dedication, long nights, and hard work. Equally however, it is a fulfilling and fruitful experience that aims to nourish the body, soul, mind, and character of its observers and, therefore, to mark the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr – a day of gratitude and joy with loved ones to commemorate the completion of the month-long fasting. 

With this in mind, here are our top tips for how you can support your colleagues: 

Supportive work environment and culture – Foster an inclusive and respectful work environment where observers feel supported and psychologically safe to share any needs for adjustment. Encourage open communication to educate non-observing colleagues and enhance a positive company culture.

Flexible working hours – Can you accommodate fasting schedules by offering flexible working hours? Working with fuelled bodies tends to enhance productivity, so some individuals may find it beneficial to allocate a couple of hours in the evening or night for work. While core hours might still be necessary during the day, providing flexibility for the remaining hours can greatly support those observing the month. 

Work from home – Consider embracing and enabling work from home options during Ramadan. This month, while enjoyable, can be physically taxing. Allowing increased flexibility for remote work not only helps observers maintain their schedules but also enables them to work with enhanced concentration, focus, and energy. 

Annual Leave – With increased spiritual, charitable, and communal activities throughout the month, and particularly the last 10 days as well as Eid, some observers may require additional time off. Providing support regarding annual leave arrangements can be highly beneficial in accommodating these needs. 

Avoid eating and drinking in presence of observers – Where feasible, avoid eating and drinking in the presence of observers. While it may not always be possible, this gesture of solidarity and alliance can help build an uplifting atmosphere of support and respect for observers.

Be mindful and considerate – Refrain from dismissing or disregarding a fatigued colleague simply because fasting is their personal practise. We all tend to reciprocate and reflect the energy we are given. By supporting colleagues who are fasting, you can foster a committed and productive workforce where observers are likely to go above and beyond to ensure work quality is not compromised due to their religious observances. 

Ask questions and engage in a two-way conversation – While there are common practises amongst all observers, each individual requires a different level and type of support. Simply picking up the phone to your colleagues and discussing how they may require adjustments can make a huge difference for people. It’s always the little things that matter the most. 

We hope these tips are a helpful starting point and would like to take this opportunity to wish a heartfelt Ramadan Mubarak to all those observing the month – we wish you the best of luck and hope that you have a wonderful and valuable experience this year. 


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