Every year when Ramadan comes along, Muslims throughout the world change their schedule. They fast from dawn to dusk, refraining from food, drink, and water during the daylight hours. In some parts of the world, this means no food, drink (not even water) for 12-17 hours of each day for the entire month. In the evenings, they usually break their fasts with their families and then head to the mosque for a late-night prayer. This prayer can end as late as midnight in some parts of the world. They then rush home to sleep and wake up a few hours later to eat a meal before dawn so they have some energy throughout the day. Those who are exempt from fasting are the sick, elderly, and women who are pregnant, nursing, or menstruating.
Therefore, they are fasting during the day, standing in prayer in the evening, and waking up in the middle of the night to eat breakfast before the sun comes up. This can all be very exhausting and energy levels in Ramadan are usually much less than outside Ramadan. However, they can certainly still do their jobs and even some may even have more focus at times because they are not distracted by food or drink. Nevertheless, if you have a Muslim employee, it would mean a lot to them if you made some slight accommodations to support them if possible. Although consulting with your Muslim employees may be the best way to support them, here are some general ways you can support them:
1. Educate yourself about Ramadan
If you are reading this article, this is a great first step. Make yourself aware of the start and end dates of Ramadan. What Muslims do and refrain from during Ramadan. Also, note that Ramadan ends with one of Islam’s major holidays called Eid al-Fitr. If you are aware of this day in advance it would be helpful to allow your employee to take off on that day and not schedule any major work meetings if possible.
2. Be flexible with their work schedule
As noted above, during Ramadan most Muslims are awake at odd hours of the night, they will naturally be more tired than usual. The last ten days of Ramadan are especially holy and many Muslims will spend most of their nights awake in worship. Consider flexible start and finish times. Allowing them to adjust their schedule to either come to work a little later or leave a little earlier will mean a lot. Allowing some flexibility in completing their work would be one of the best ways to support your Muslim employee during Ramadan. Some may want to start work earlier so they can leave earlier, or others may want to start a little later to catch up on some sleep. If the nature of the job involves shifts, asking your Muslim employee if they prefer a certain shift during Ramadan in a way that suits all parties would be a great way of accommodating them.
3. Avoid food events
While most Muslims do not mind others eating or drinking around them, having food events, such as lunch meetings, might make them feel awkward. It may also make others feel uncomfortable eating in front of them.
4. Allow remote or hybrid work
Covid has taught us that were are perfectly capable of working remotely or hybrid in most fields. If your employee can get their work done from home, it might be best to allow them to do so. Do not make them commute to come in to work to sit in front of a computer or for one in-person meeting that they can easily attend online. Also avoid evening meetings, even if they are online, because that is when they are likely going to break their fast.
5. Include Ramadan on the work calendar
If your workplace has a calendar, or if there are major announcements made to the company, it would be helpful to include Ramadan. Publicizing the beginning of Ramadan and briefly explaining what it is will make Muslim employees feel appreciated, make the rest of the staff aware of Ramadan, and make the workplace more inclusive.
Ultimately, understanding the needs of Muslim employees and making adjustments to support them during the month of Ramadan shows good management and makes the workplace more inclusive. It also helps ensure that employees perform to the best of their abilities. Have more questions? Call 877-WhyIslam, you deserve to know!