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Workplace Accommodations & Best Practices for Ramadan

March 31, 2022

7-minute Read
Written by Mahrukh Ali Aziz, DEI Coordinator

In this article read:

  • What is Ramadan
  • Workplace Accommodations and Best Practices
  • Ways to Support
  • Meet Our New DEI Coordinator, Mahrukh Ali Aziz

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan marks as one of the holiest months in the Islamic Lunar Calendar, a time filled with the intent and purpose of one’s spiritual rejuvenation, increased worship, inner reflection and charity. 

As one of the five pillars of Islam, fasting is mandatory and expected of those who are able to during the month. This allows one a sense of self-discipline, control and empathy towards the less fortunate. This year, the month will run from April 2 – May 2. The end of the month is marked with a 3 day long celebration known as  Eid Fitr (keep a lookout for more info on that at the end of April!). 

How is it observed? 

Muslims fast around the world from sunrise to sunset daily, abstaining from food and drink (yes, not even water or chewing gum). The meal eaten when starting the fast is called Suhoor and the one in the evening (at the point of breaking the fast) is known as Iftaar. 

Exemptions: Some Muslims may not choose to or have valid exemptions from fasting. Some reasons they may not fast include: chronic/acute illness, breastfeeding, menstruation and traveling. 


Workplace Accommodations & Best Practices


If you have self-identified Muslim colleagues, it’s important to acknowledge the upcoming month and the importance it holds for them. Allow the work culture to be a welcoming one, and initiate open conversations to provide support and comfort. 

  • Communicate & Educate: Acknowledge the upcoming month! As a leader of your organization, send out an email informing your staff to be aware of the upcoming month, share greetings i.e., Ramadan Mubarak, or Ramadan Kareem. Your simple greeting with a smile can go a long way for a fellow Muslim and make them feel welcome!

 

  • Support Flexibility: Allow flexible working hours, check-in with your staff if they prefer to alter their 9-5 timings, and their best timings when scheduling meetings. Allow special exceptions for Muslims employees during their shifts to take a break during sunset hour for breaking their fast, pray and eat. 

 

  • Holistic Support: Some employees may not be fasting for personal reasons, yet they may still observe the month in different ways. Avoid asking why they are not fasting, and allow the same workplace accommodations for them as you would for one who is fasting.

 

  • Thoughtfulness: Be considerate when planning social hour/networking lunches during this month, instead try to schedule evening supper after sunset. Offer to donate (if you can) as Muslims tend to give a lot of charity during this month. 

Can you eat around us?

YES! Kindly feel free to eat your meals around us normally, but try to remember not to offer a bite or sip of what you may be eating. It’s okay to eat around us, we won’t get offended or hold it against you.


Additional terms to know: 

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

Ramadan Mubarak/Eid Mubarak: Respectful greetings/wishes

Taraweeh: Optional nightly prayers (approximately last for 30 mins – 2 hrs)

If you would like to learn more or to support and donate during Ramadan, check out the links below:


Meet our new DEI Coordinator, Mahrukh

Hi there! I’m Mahrukh Ali Aziz, the new DEI Coordinator at The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. I graduated in 2020 with a double major in Communications & Global Studies from Monash University Malaysia, and a few months later immigrated to Winnipeg. 

Why Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)?

In the last 12 years, I’m grateful to have had the privilege of living in four different countries and, three continents, finding a sense of home in each place. 

As a newcomer within different communities across the Middle East, South East Asia and now Canada, my exposure granted me the privilege to recognize, learn, understand and appreciate the diversity existing amongst multicultural communities. And at the same time, allowing myself to understand how often systemic barriers tend to exist for many minority groups within diverse societies, and the need for creating a safe, healthy and inclusive space where each individual feels empowered. 

We’re all learning and on our own individual DEI journey, and now more than ever it is time to recognize how our differences can be celebrated to bring us together as one. 

And to envision a future as Riz Ahmed mentioned in his Oscars 2022 acceptance speech, “In such divided times, we believe that the role of story is to remind us there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’. There’s just ‘us’.”

On a side note…

I love to read – no specific genre, pretty much anything that piques my interest, these days, I’m reading The Great Gatsby & The Parisian. I love to bake, huge sweet tooth! You can follow me on my baking journey on Instagram @bittersweetbakes_, and find lots of content there on book recommendations, my cat and sunsets!