As it is coming to the end of Ramadan, I thought I would write a blog explaining what Ramadan is, the significance of it, and my experience at work during it.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the Muslim month of fasting observed in the UK and around the world. It is a time of fasting, prayer, self-reflection and self-discipline for Muslims around the world. At its core, it is a time of giving more and receiving less and putting others before one’s self. It is a significantly holy time for Muslims.
During Ramadan, Muslims will wake up before dawn for sehri or suhoor (a meal taken before dawn). From dawn till sunset, most Muslims will be fasting refraining from food and drink. Many spend that time focusing their minds and activities on prayer and spiritual reflection including a greater study of the Quran. At sunset, most Muslims will break the fast with dates and water followed by iftar (the evening meal).
When is Ramadan?
This year, Ramadan began on the evening of 26 May and is predicted to end on the evening of 24 June (dates may vary slightly due to the cycle of the moon). The day after will be the day of Eid al-Fitr (the festival of the breaking of the fast). Ramadan during this time of the year means longer fasting periods for Muslims due to the longer days and shorter nights. Last year 2016, on the longest day of the year, this was a total of 19 hours of fasting off food and drink!
Why do Muslims fast?
One of the main reasons why Muslims fast is to obtain Taqwa. Taqwa is guarding yourself from all the evil in the world, and giving your time to God, thus reflecting the essence of piety. Through fasting, a person would demonstrate a high degree of obedience by wilfully staying away from food and drink from sunrise to sunset for a whole month.
Through fasting, Muslims learn to tame themselves away from greed, thus traversing a path which progressively elevates his consciousness from the physical to the moral and ultimately to the spiritual side of living. Ramadan teaches us self-discipline and is the ideal catalyst to improve society by improving ourselves.
It also means for people like me, who are fortunate enough to go home and always have a bite to eat or something to drink, are personally made aware of the less fortunate and underprivileged, which evokes a degree of social consciousness. Ramadan is a time for giving to the less fortunate through Zakat. Zakat is when you give a percentage of your wealth away to charity.
The month of Ramadan also contains the night of Layatul Q’adar (the night of power). This is a very special and important night to all Muslim, this is because this is the night that the Quran was revealed to the prophet Muhammed (P.B.U.H). Layatul Q’adar can be found in the last 10 nights of Ramadan. The last 10 nights are called Itikaf. Itikaf is an Islamic practise in where both men and woman stay at the mosque for the last 10 days of Ramadan, devoting themselves to God and staying away from world affairs. Muslim seek forgiveness on the night of Layatul Q’adar, and stay up all night praying and reading the Quran. The rewards Muslims can obtain on this night are vast, and that is why this night is the most important night on the Islamic calendar.
Fasting from an employee’s view –
People seem to think fasting is a difficult task, and at times it can be (especially when the weather outside is 30 degrees+), however ESC Global have done all they can and much more to make it as easy as possible for me. They have supported me in many various ways and I am so thankful that everyone at the company have been so supportive.
ESC Global have understood that late night prayer, and having to eat sehri before dawn can cause me to be tired at times, so they have allowed me to take a break to refresh myself; this can be anytime throughout the working day. Thirst is major drawback to Ramadan, as it is in summer, and we have had weather of over 30 degrees. Due to the hot weather and my love for Coca Cola, I had kindly requested to my colleagues not to consume the drink in front of me as it’s a drink I crave throughout the day. My needs have been very minimal, but it is great that everyone has respected them!
My experience working during Ramadan has been of ease, I have not found it difficult in the workplace and that is thanks to all my colleagues. They have been so supportive and helpful, and are always cheering me on to the finish line at the end of the month.
From and employer’s view –
ESC Global want everyone to be able to be themselves at work. We have found the follow helpful in understanding how to best meet the needs of our employees and customers during Ramadan.
– Managers and colleagues should be sensitive to the needs of Muslim colleagues and do what we can to support them during this period.
– Managers should encourage Muslims to discuss their needs during Ramadan. This includes being aware that those who may not normally recognise prayer times during the workday may do so because of the significance and importance of Ramadan.
– We encourage our Muslim employees, if comfortable, to make their needs for Ramadan known to managers and colleagues so they know how to support during this period.
– Employees may request leave and flexibility in their work patterns during this period. Subject to business needs, managers should allow annual and flexible working requests as well as the flexibility to take earlier or later lunch breaks.
– We recognise that due to fasting from food and drink, employee’s energy levels may deplete through the day and they may work best earlier in the day. We recommend avoiding booking meetings past 15:00 so that employees can still be productive or leave work early.
– We consider workplace adjustments during this period such as allowing Muslim employees to start early, work through lunches and take regular breaks for prayer times.
– If possible, we avoid organising social events during Ramadan such as team meals and evening socials. We won’t be offended if Muslim employees decline invitations to these events during Ramadan.
– When interacting with customers and businesses, we will plan visits for earlier on in the day rather than later in the afternoon as some customers and partners may be observing Ramadan.
Eid Mubarak to all of our Muslim customers, suppliers and clients who are participating in fasting during the month of Ramadan.