Ramadan is a holy month of fasting and prayer observed by over a billion Muslims around the world. Ramadan in 2023 started on March 23 and will end around April 20th (depending on the moon cycle). During this time, Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset, and focus on prayer, self-reflection, and acts of charity.
If you’ve ever wondered if you can eat around those who are fasting, or how to show consideration for your Muslim friends and colleagues throughout Ramadan, here are ten practical ways to show your support in the workplace.
1. Learn about Ramadan to understand the reasons behind it
Ramadan lasts for 29-30 days (based on the moon cycle). During this time, Muslims will rise at dawn to eat a main meal (Suhoor), and then fast until sunset. During this time, Muslims will refrain from undesirable habits such as smoking, swearing, gambling, and gossiping.
Fasting is a private act of worship to bring nearness to Allah SWT, but it is also a form of spiritual discipline and a means of empathizing with those less fortunate. Muslims also practice Zakat during Ramadan which is the practice of charitable giving.
The fast is broken at sunset with a meal (Iftar), which is often shared among family and friends, and meals can also be shared with the less fortunate.
During Ramadan, many Muslims gather at the mosque and spend several hours reciting the Quran and praying.
What Does SWT Stand For?
When writing the name of God (Allah), Muslims often follow it with the abbreviation “SWT,” which stands for the Arabic words “Subhanahu wa ta’ala.” Muslims use these or similar words to glorify God when mentioning his name.
2. Learn a Ramadan greeting
“Ramadan Kareem” means ‘generous Ramadan’, and is said to others as a blessing; as if you’re saying, ‘may Ramadan be generous to you’.
“Ramadan Mubarak” (pronounced Moo-Bahrock) means ‘honored Ramadan’ and can be translated as ‘Happy Ramadan’. It is something you say to politely greet one during the sacred month of Ramadan to wish them well during fast.
“Happy Ramadan” can also be said to those observing Ramadan.
3. Do not ask why someone is or is not fasting
Asking someone if they are fasting or not, can be an intrusive question where someone would have to explain their faith practices or private medical information.
Those who are pregnant, menstruating or have a health condition are exempt from fasting. Children may fast for small periods of time and typically begin the full fast once they hit puberty.
4. Don’t compare fasting to weight loss
When we compare fasting to weight loss strategies or intermittent fasting, we lose sight of why Muslims fast during Ramadan. Because fasting is not done for health reasons, comparing it to a weight loss strategy or intermittent fasting is inappropriate.
5. You can eat around those fasting
It normally isn’t necessary to avoid eating around those fasting, however it never hurts to ask.
6. Avoid planning group celebrations around food during daylight
You can avoid planning group celebrations centered around food during daylight hours or offer food to-go for the person to enjoy once their fast breaks at sunset.
7. Be aware that Muslims may be less available in the evenings
During Ramadan, evenings are usually reserved for eating, praying and gathering with family members.Many Muslims gather at the mosque to pray and recite the Quran for several hours. In addition to the five daily prayers that are part of the core of Islam, Muslims recite special night prayers known as the Tarawih & Qiam.
8. Be aware of prayer times and avoid scheduling meetings at this time
Avoid scheduling meetings with Muslim co-workers around 1:20 – 1:30pm as this is the time of the Dhuhr prayer in BC during the Ramadan month.
The other four daily prayers fall outside of the typical workday (between 8am – 4:30pm). Some Muslim staff may be more diligent in their prayer times during Ramadan.
9. Understand that Muslims experience Ramadan differently
Some may experience dehydration, fatigue, or headaches. Some may appear more introverted due to lower energy levels and the desire to use the time for reflection. Try to be considerate of your requests of friends and co-workers at this time.
10. Allow Muslims time to celebrate Eid
Eid Al Fitir is a three-day festival that follows the end of Ramadan. The first day of Eid Al Fitir is the Muslim equivalent of Christmas and the second largest Muslim celebration after Eid Al Adha (June 28 – July 2, 2023). Allow people time to celebrate and avoid scheduling any meetings or activities on these days.
Families typically celebrate Eid by wearing new clothes, attending group prayers, having family visits, getting together for meals, exchanging gifts, trying to repair broken relationships with family and friends, handing new gifts to the children, and sharing the joy with those less fortunate.
Families gather together to reflect on the goodness in life and give thanks for all the blessings they have received. It is a time of joy and happiness after a long month of fasting.