Written by Mahrukh Ali Aziz, DEI Coordinator
In this article read:
- What is Ramadan
- Workplace Accommodations and Best Practices
- Ways to Support
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 March 23rd – April 21. The end of the month is marked with a 3-day long celebration known as Eid Fitr.
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 travelling.
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 and 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 Muslim employees during their shifts to take a break during sunset hour to break 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 and ways to support:
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:
- Islamic Relief Canada: Ramadan timetables for all provinces, FAQs about Ramadan
- Donations & Ways to Give during Ramadan, and/or donate to a cause
- Canadian Muslim Women’s Institute: Donate to provide Ramadan food hampers & Eid gifts for families in need
- Manitoba Islamic Association – Donate to Ramadan Food Program: Sponsor food hampers, daily iftaar packages to feed those in need.
- Find more resources specific to Muslims observing Ramadan within Manitoba i.e., Prayer timetable, Suhoor/Iftaar timings etc.
- Guide to working with Muslims Students during Ramadan