How to support colleagues observing Ramadan

  • Posted on May 28, 2019
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes

The following blog post was written by Avanade alum Duygu Ciftci.

Ramadan has always been a heartwarming month for me. It’s a time when being together with my family and loved ones is even more important. But for those who don’t know, what is Ramadan and what does it entail?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It’s the month when Muslims all over the world start their fasts. It starts with the appearance of the crescent moon in the night sky. Since it is based on lunar calendar, the date varies each year, and lasts for an entire month.

We wake up before sunset to have breakfast, which means that if Ramadan falls in the summer period, we have to wake up to have something to eat around 3 a.m.! In wintertime, this means that you are perfectly able to have breakfast before you go to work. I started fasting for the full month when I was around 11 years old. I remember that it was around December, and I was able to eat before leaving to school on my bike. And soon after I was back home, we would be having dinner already.

Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with praying five times a day, giving to the poor, declaring your faith and the pilgrimage to Mecca. During this month, we are not allowed to eat, drink or engage in sexual activity from sunrise to sunset. There are multiple reasons for fasting. Not eating and drinking all day makes us able to feel what it is like to have nothing to eat and to be hungry, which makes us more generous to give to the poor. It also brings us closer to God. We believe this month is a holy month where God is even more generous in his mercy and forgiveness. We experience this month as a cleanse of our soul and as obedience to God. The concept of fasting is very broad, and it encourages Muslims to refrain from all activity that hurt the body and the soul; including common human behaviors like smoking, lying, gossiping and anger.

Some may wonder how Ramadan affects Muslims in the workplace. At Avanade, we value a diverse and inclusive environment. At Avanade in the Netherlands, people are aware of our fasting. Of course, colleagues still ask me whether they could bring a cup of coffee for me as well, and after I respond, “No thank you, I am fasting,” they always say that they are sorry they asked. But I really don’t mind. It’s a mindset. When I switch on the “Ramadan” mindset, I don’t crave anything to eat or drink. Sometimes I do miss the quick coffee moments with my colleagues, but then I just join them for a chat. In the Netherlands we also have a room that can be used for prayer or meditation. This way, we can perform our prayers during the day as well. For me, it is these things that make the difference at Avanade. We truly foster an inclusive environment, and I am proud to be part of this company.

How can colleagues support Muslims during Ramadan?

Fasting does not prevent Muslims from performing their jobs with the needed efficiency. But, putting into consideration that some individuals within the community are fasting will be great. This can be done by:

  1. Congratulating when the month begins by saying, “Ramadan Kareem,” “Ramadan Mubarak” or “Blessed Ramadan.”
  2. Postponing team dinners to include your fasting colleagues.
  3. Schedule the team events after fasting hours or after Ramadan (e.g. grilling parties)
  4. Accommodating requests for flexibility when possible. Some colleagues may ask to change their working day or shift times, or to take a shorter lunch break. Or they may want to make sure they finish on time to be able to break their fast with their family or friends. Also the last ten days of Ramadan are considered especially holy. Some Muslim colleagues might decide to take time off, or ask to change their working patterns to attend all-night prayers. Being flexible may help people work when they are most productive.

Jenny Wrobel

A belated blessed Ramadan! Thank you for writing; I find your tips for colleagues really helpful. <3

June 18, 2019

Stella Kleinrath

Interesting information. Thank you for sharing! I feel more comfortable to engage in any communication with my Muslims colleagues and friends during Ramadan now. Ramadan Kareem!

June 5, 2019

Alessandro Zito

Hi Duygu,
Very good and educational article. It explains clearly the meaning of Ramadan and how actually can help our mind in our every day life.

June 5, 2019

Jed Khan

Eid Mubarak Avanade 

June 4, 2019

Petra Lange

Ramadan Kareem Duygu! Happy that you have shared this to create a better understanding and show how inclusive Avanade is. It is up to all of us to consider what Ramadan or any other cultural activity means in the workplace. With this example everybody can better understand. 

June 3, 2019

Jefferson Costa

Thanks for sharing a very informative post. Ramadan Kareem

June 2, 2019

Haseeba Saban

Great article Duygu. Ramadan Kareem! And early next week we will celebrate Eid. I am sad to bid farewell to this blessed month, I have had such an amazing month of fasting and love Avanade's diverse and inclusive environment. 

May 31, 2019

Ismael Quteifan

Ramadan Mubarak... always a pleasure to read articles about observing Ramadan.

May 30, 2019

Dave Gartenberg

Thank you Duygu for helping me better understand the holiday and how I can better support my Muslim coworkers.  Ramadan Kareem to you and your loved ones!

May 30, 2019

Duygu Ciftci

Thanks Dave!

June 3, 2019

Kathrine Lord

What a wonderful article. Thank you for taking the time to write it. Blessed Ramadan to you and yours.

May 30, 2019

Duygu Ciftci

Thanks a lot Kathrine!

June 3, 2019

Mohammad Al-Aqrabawi

Duygu, Ramadan Mubarak and happy upcoming Eid! 
Nice article. I hope this will educate more of our colleagues about this Holy Month especially that I don't see any email communications go out about this occasion similar to the emails that go out for other religious or cultural holidays. 
I've been with Avanade for almost 6 years now, and I'd like to say that I am very blessed with the people I've worked with; especially their understanding of my work schedule changes - mainly the last 10 days of Ramadan when I really don't sleep until after sunrise. 

May 29, 2019

Duygu Ciftci

Hi Mohammad, Ramadan kareem! In the Netherlands we create some awareness ourselves from the HR team by bringing nice sweets to the office (initiative from my colleague Feray). I think it can be hard to keep track of the different religion's holy days. I myself for example have no idea about the holy days of all other religions (only about the national Dutch holidays which are Christian :)). I believe as a diverse workforce we can create more awareness as well. And Avanade definitely fosters that culture, I agree!
May you have a blessed Eid!

June 3, 2019

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