Over the next few weeks you will find that some of your colleagues
aren’t taking part in the usual water-cooler gossip sessions or have taken to declining offers of coffee. That’s because it’s Ramadan. Muslims are called by their religion to celebrate the month of Ramadan by coming together in worship, fasting each day for thirty days from dawn until sunset. While this may seem like a tremendous feat, consider this: Fasting while working is an even greater endeavour! So, how can we help our colleagues? Is there an etiquette to follow?

Ramadan is a joyous occasion and Muslims look forward to this special holy month for the whole year.  Throughout it all, they maintain an ambiance of joy and gratitude for all that God has blessed them with. By following these few simple guidelines you will help make your Muslim colleague feel appreciated and understood:

  • Just wishing someone a ‘Happy Ramadan’ will be very much appreciated.
  • Remember Muslims voluntarily fast; they aren’t forced to do so. You don’t have to feel sorry for them or refrain from your normal life in front of them.
  • Although energy levels might be low, the point of fasting is not to slack off from any other duties and responsibilities. Muslims believe that they are rewarded for continuing to work and produce during their fast. Fasting is not a reason to push meetings, clear schedules, or take a lighter load on projects.
  • Business lunch meetings can be arranged as usual. Don’t feel as though you mustn’t include them.  Remember they have chosen to fast, so you can eat and drink when they are around. It’s all part of the test.
  • Don’t keep mentioning not eating or apologising for your own eating!
  • Halitosis (bad breath) can be a side effect of fasting. All Muslims know this, so you don’t need to point this out or mention it to others.

A friend of mine told me this:

I’m only in Day 2 of the fast, and you won’t believe how certain things are becoming more tempting than normal. Already I find myself thinking that a piece of fried chicken or an ice cream sundae would be really good to eat. My point is that fasting, though not easy, is a great way to practice discipline, and you’d be surprised by the things that end up tempting you that were never a problem before. But the flip side is that it can also be a time where you go deeper in your walk with Allah than you have in a while. So, please just ignore my stomach when it growls at your sandwich!

Another said:

It’s officially week 2 of fasting for Ramadan and the cravings for coffee have now subsided.  That is to say, the loud voice in my head chanting, “Coffee, Coffee, Coffee” has now quieted to a whisper.  That’s probably because the voice is tired and wishes it had some!

It is important to note that fasting MUST be accompanied by prayer, otherwise it turns into more of a challenge of willpower than anything else. Remember, there is a spiritual purpose to fasting. It is not to see how long you can go without eating or drinking anything, it is a way of sacrificing something material so that you can attune yourselves to what God is saying to you. And the only way to accomplish that, is to spend time in prayer, listening for His voice.

See article on: ‘Ramadan Explained: everything you wanted to know about Ramadan and were afraid to ask’

See article on ‘What is it like to fast for a month?

See article on: ’10 ideas for Ramadan at your workplace’

For an insightful understanding of ‘The Significance of Fasting in the Month of Ramadan’ written by a Muslim, read the article on Khurram’s blog.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, July 18th, 2013 at 7:00 pm and is filed under cultural intelligence, days of significance, General, other interesting stuff, social practices . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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