Search
Close this search box.

Ramadan and the Workplace: Purpose & Empowerment

Ramadan at the workplace
Ramadan at the workplace
Summary. Ramadan is not a month to fast for food & drink only, it's a month to reflect, give, show gratitude, come together, and reduce bad habits - many that negatively affect the workplace - such as gossip, sabotage, procrastination, entitlement, and addictions such as coffee or cigarettes. For a Muslim, Ramadan is a reminder of our purpose in life. It is also a time to remember reading the Quran, the holy book of Islam, which serves a manual for beliefs, values, good behaviour, and shortcuts to happiness for Muslims.

The content of all our articles is protected by the Terms & Conditions policy. For license of content, please reach out to us directly, our information are on the contact us page.

Ramadan, the holiest month in Islam, is a time for Muslims around the world to focus on spiritual growth, self-reflection, and community. Observant Muslims abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk, fostering discipline and empathy for those less fortunate. In this article, we explore some of the reasons behind the fasting ritual as well as how you can support your fasting colleagues during Ramadan. We also have a look at what is considered appropriate or inappropriate questions to your fellow Muslims in terms of organisational culture.

 

The purpose of fasting

The purpose of fasting goes beyond simply abstaining from food. It’s a time for heightened spiritual awareness, introspection, and developing self-control. Muslims believe that by experiencing hunger and thirst, they gain a deeper appreciation for life’s blessings and cultivate empathy for those in need.

 

Fasting from bad behaviour

But food is not the only pleasure to abstain from, sex is another pleasure that is not in the day menu during Ramadan. This is to teach self-control as well practice focusing on worship and self-improvement, the muslim way of meditation.

Another thing to include in the fast is reducing bad behaviour such as swearing, gossip, sabotage, hurting others, procrastination, and entitlement. Through Ramadan, Muslims also cultivate patience, anger management, sharing kind words, and thinking before speaking.

 

Fasting for Focus and Gratitude

Thinking and learning are one of the pillars of Islam, therefore, in their most holy month, Muslims think about deep meaning such as purpose of being, life and death, who they are and who they aspire to be, family and other human relations, as well as show gratitude for what they have towards God and towards fellow humans. Fasting is a way to feel the need for things you usually have and take for granted. After all, we humans are wired to like what we don’t have. So, when you cannot have something as simple as a drink of water, not only would you feel for the less fortunate through this practical empathy exercise, but also feel good about what you have been enjoying in your daily life. Surely this way, the grass will feel suddenly much greener around here.

 

Giving and Charity Work

Charity work and giving to the poor cannot be separated from Ramadan. In fact, in the last 10 days of the month, Muslims who can afford it, are obligated to give a small amount of money, equaling a meal’s value to someone in need. This is called Zakat Al-fitr, and an adult Muslim gives away enough money or food to cover himself and all his dependents.  As the heavenly reward for good deeds is multiplied during Ramadan, Muslims usually give generously not only money, food, and clothing to the needy, but also time serving iftar/food in Mosques, similar to soup kitchen, or volunteering to help cook for the elderly, the sick, and so on. Helping others is a yearly theme in Ramadan, and being kind to others whether family, neighbours, or the needy is a core act. The objective is to learn how to be kind, and keep practicing it as a way of life, a lifestyle, as opposed to only score points during Ramadan. This tightens communities and fosters a culture of caring and empathy.

 

Fasting and the Workplace

One question that many wander about is: does fasting impact your performance at work? While fasting can initially cause some adjustments to eating and sleep patterns, particularly in non-Muslim societies where work is 9 to 6 regardless of the season, many Muslims find it ultimately enhances their focus and productivity. The discipline required for fasting can translate into increased focus during work hours. I can tell you from experience, that the only day that might feel odd is the first day, this is how long it takes for a human to adapt. Yours truly had many exams and work deadlines while fasting, including her PhD viva, which happened on the first day of Ramadan.

 

Supporting Colleagues During Ramadan

If you have Muslim colleagues observing Ramadan, here are some ways to show your support:

  • Be flexible: If possible, be understanding about slight adjustments in work schedules or breaks. Empathy and compassion to fellow humans go a long way.
  • Offer encouragement: A simple “thinking of you” or “wishing you a successful Ramadan” can change someone’s day and spread positivity.
  • Celebrate the spirit: If appropriate, share a celebratory meal together after sunset to acknowledge the end of the fast.

 

Appropriate Questions

So, is it good or bad to ask your Muslim colleagues about Ramadan, some think that it shows interest and spread awareness through shared experience. Others, think it too personal, or even embarrassing, particularly if your Muslim colleague is not fasting for any reason. Our advice would be, unless you know your Muslim colleague very well, let them initiate the conversationby showing or talking about Ramadan.

Here are some respectful ways to inquire about Ramadan:

  • “How is Ramadan going for you?”
  • “Are there any adjustments I can make to support you during this time?”
  • “Would you like to break your fast together (after sunset) sometime this week?”

 

Non-Appropriate Questions

There are many reasons why some questions might be offending, particular if you don’t know the person well. Moreover, there are many reasons why a Muslim might not fast, mostly related to health.

Here are some things to avoid:

  • Asking intrusive questions about personal struggles with fasting.
  • Making assumptions about a colleague’s fasting experience.
  • Offering food or drink during fasting hours (unless after sunset).

 

Organisational culture in Muslim Countries

If you work in a predominantly Muslim country such as the UAE, you will notice that during Ramadan, the working hours are reduced, so you start work 30 min or 1 hour later than the usual to allow you a bit of sleeping in provided muslims have to wake up early to eat, drink, and pray at dusk. The other end of the working day is also shortened, so you would leave work earlier, possibly one hour earlier than the usual to go home, pray, reflect, read the Quran and prepare your break-fast meal. Schools do the same, so you can pick up your kids earlier.

 

 

Finally, Ramadan is a beautiful time of self-discovery, community, and spiritual renewal. By creating a supportive and understanding environment, we can cultivate a more inclusive workplace for everyone. Through empathy and awareness, we can make Muslim colleagues more open, comfortable, included, motivated, empowered to be who they are and who they aspire to be, and most importantly happy.

Disclaimer: The content of all our articles is protected by the Terms & Conditions policy. For license of content, please reach out to us directly, our information are on the contact us page.

Table of Contents