Advice from RVU’s Data and Analytics Executive, Safiyah Raja, on what teams should know about those partaking in Ramadan, and how best to support them.
Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims across the world which involves fasting (no food or water) during daylight hours. The goal is to build good habits, become kinder and more charitable.
Muslims break their fast at the end of day, during ‘Iftar’, which is the evening meal served at sunset.
Ramadan will start on Monday 12th April and will end on May 11 – followed by three celebratory days of Eid al-Fitr from May 12.
- Check who in your team is fasting. Ensure wider team members are aware, as fasting for 13+ hours a day is not easy and it is helpful for colleagues to understand who is taking part. Some people may be fine, others may be more tired, but it’s always worth being aware.
- Be prepared for people to take between 1-5 days holiday at the end of Ramadan to celebrate Eid. Eid is a religious holiday celebrating the end of Ramadan, where families and friends get together to share presents and tasty food. However, it is likely to be a very different celebration this year due to the pandemic.
- Be aware when organising lunches and events (even virtual). Many of us don’t mind sitting in on lunches but it’s always worth asking if your friend/colleague is comfortable. Evenings are dedicated to eating, prayers, and potentially virtual gatherings within the family and with friends, so bear this in mind when organising post-work activities.
- When working internationally. If you’re a global company or work internationally, see what the time differences are. As Ramadan timing follows the lunar calendar, fasts are broken at evening sunsets, so it’s worth checking when this is.
- Use Ramadan as a platform for greater understanding and improving team dynamics. Ramadan is a very important and enjoyable period for us. It is also a great opportunity to ask colleagues any questions about Ramadan or fasting that you’re not too sure about.
- Give support. Ramadan can be tough during lockdown, and this is the second of the pandemic. For those who live away from their friends or family, it can sometimes feel lonely. Do check in on your Muslim friends and colleagues during this month. Why not throw a virtual Iftar one evening? You can always wish people a ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ anytime during the month (with “Mubarak” roughly translating into ‘blessings’). It’s a bit like ‘Merry Christmas’ or “Happy New Year”.
- Team meetings. As we usually pray five times a day, it would be advisable to check preferences for meeting hours. Prayer doesn’t take longer than 5-10 minutes, but it is worth checking in with your colleagues if the meeting times work for them.
- Ramadan and pregnancy. For those who are pregnant, it’s up to them if they’d like to fast or to make up the days later. It’s best to check with one’s doctor to ensure it’s something that’s safe for them to do. Muslims don’t fast on the days of menstruation, but make up the days later in the year. So if you see a female colleague/friend drinking water during a call, do not make a fuss.
- Those with medical conditions. Naturally not everyone is able to fast during the month of Ramadan. People who are ill or are on medication, which can’t be adjusted for fasting hours, are exempt from fasting. They can participate through charity and helping those in need.
- Try it for yourself. Why not give it a go? If you have any muslim colleagues or friends, try a fast with them for one or more days to see what its like!