Embracing Ramadan in the Corporate Sphere

Ramadan is right around the corner, so I decided to create a series that focuses on adapting your corporate schedule to Ramadan. The corporate world operates on schedules and deadlines that don’t adjust for religious observances. Meetings are set, projects continue, and productivity is monitored. We’ll talk about the challenges of working while fasting, juggling salah and meetings throughout your day, isolation during Ramadan, and much more. This blog post will focus on introducing Ramadan to your co-workers, the questions you’ll be asked, and working out accommodations you might need from your team or manager. 

Ramadan 101: 

Here’s your perfect copy and paste into what Ramadan and the key questions you’ll be asked. 

Ramadan is one of the holiest months in the Islamic calendar. In Ramadan, Muslims take the time to fast and build better habits to bring them closer to Allah SWT. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam and is expected of all who are capable. It’s a month for spiritual discipline and gratitude. Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, so yes, this means neither water nor food during this duration. The fasting extends into abstaining from toxic habits such as gossiping, cursing, backbiting, and smoking and harboring better ones such as patience and kindness. This is also the time to give back in whatever capacity, be it financial, emotional, or something more tangible. Ramadan is a time for rejoicing and happiness. 

Terms to Know: 

Ramadan: name of the Islamic month – like January, February, etc. 

Eid-ul-Fitr: holiday to mark the end of Ramadan. 

Ramadan Mubarak/ Eid Mubarak: Happy Ramadan, Happy Eid! 

Suhoor: pre-dawn meal before the start of the fasting day

Iftar: meal to break the fast after sunset

Taraweeh: optional nightly prayers, and actually means “to relax”

Challenges: 

Energy Management: The absence of food and water from sunrise to sunset can lead to decreased energy levels, which can initially impact concentration and productivity. Remember that fasting while working has benefits in the long run. 

Time for Prayer and Reflection: Carving out time for the five daily prayers and additional Taraweeh prayers in the evening requires careful time management.

Social and Professional Events: Ramadan often coincides with a slew of professional networking events, which typically involve food and drink—posing a dilemma for fasting professionals.

Educating Colleagues: Non-Muslim colleagues may lack understanding of Ramadan’s practices and requirements, leading to awkward situations or inadvertent insensitivity.

Sadia Said So Recommendations: Adaptations for a Balanced Ramadan

Flexible Work Hours: In an attempt to prioritize our own time and deen, we can start by negotiating with our employer to start and end the workday earlier. This can help us manage energy levels more efficiently and allocate time for meals and extra ibadah (worship). This works best when you plan in advance! I would request to work from 7:00 am to 3:00 p.m. After suhoor, my energy levels are high, so I work right after, and once 3:00 p.m. hits, I take a quick nap and wake up in time to make iftar, ultimately, and this is what worked best for me. I encourage you to find a schedule that works for you!

Quiet Spaces for Prayer: If your workspace already lacks a prayer room, this is the time to request a space. Seek out or request a quiet area in your office to pray undisturbed. Many workplaces are willing to accommodate this if approached respectfully and in advance.

Mindful Scheduling: When you have control over your schedule, avoid setting meetings during times not amenable to your energy level. You know you best.  Also, try to schedule demanding tasks for when you’re likely to be more alert.

Open Dialogue: Use Ramadan as an opportunity to educate your colleagues about your needs and the significance of this month. An informed workplace is a more accommodating one.

While Ramadan in the corporate world can undoubtedly be a challenge, it’s also an opportunity for growth, inclusion, and advocacy. By making thoughtful adjustments and engaging in open communication, we can honor our religious observances while maintaining professional excellence. This Ramadan, write down your spiritual and workplace goals and let’s make finding a balance more manageable.