Supporting Colleagues During Ramadan
The Islamic month of Ramadan is considered the most sacred month in the Islamic calendar and is observed by billions of Muslims worldwide. Each year the month begins depending on the sighting of the new crescent moon. For Halifax, the first Suhoor (the last meal before dawn) started in the early morning of March 23rd.
Fasting is a fundamental aspect of Ramadan, where Muslims abstain from food and drink, including water, from dawn until dusk. While it is a month of physical discipline, it is also one of spiritual discipline, when Muslims detox their body, mind, and spirit, all while carrying out their day-to-day responsibilities.
Here are some things to consider when supporting your colleagues throughout Ramadan:
Dedicated areas for prayer. It is common for Muslims to pray and meditate during their workday, so if there is no dedicated space in the office for this, employers can consider providing a wellness room, quiet room, or office for colleagues and clients to use.
Meeting times. Employers can ask their colleagues and clients when they prefer to have meetings. For example, scheduling longer meetings in the morning may be better than later in the afternoon. Avoiding Friday meetings is also helpful, as many Muslims observe Friday prayers at the Mosque.
Work hours. Some colleagues may request adjustments to their working hours to better manage their work and family life. Employers can consider flexible working hours so that employees can work around their eating and prayer times. Some individuals could take a shorter lunch break or leave work earlier. While flexibility is not mandatory, it can benefit some Muslim employees.
After work events and gatherings, Muslims break their fast at sunset. This time is called "Iftar" and is usually followed by prayer and a meal. During Ramadan, Iftar is a time for family, friends, and the community to unite. Therefore, attendance at after work events and gatherings may be difficult for Muslim colleagues and clients. If attendance at an event is necessary, employers can consider providing the time and provisions needed for colleagues and clients to break their fast on time.
Maintaining an inclusive workplace is essential by not disadvantaging employees who choose to refrain from participating in certain activities by ensuring they have equal opportunities.
Muslims who are not fasting. It is important to remember that not all Muslims will be fasting. There are various reasons someone may not fast, such as health issues, pregnancy, or other personal reasons. Fasting is a personal choice, so unless someone shares their reasons with you it is best not to question why someone is or is not fasting.
Ramadan is an important and sacred month for Muslims worldwide, and employers can support their Muslim colleagues and clients during this time by being aware of their needs and preferences. It is important to maintain an inclusive workplace by respecting personal choices and differences among employees. By taking these steps, employers can create a welcoming and supportive environment for all their colleagues, regardless of their religious beliefs or practices.
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