How to support colleagues and friends during Ramadan and Eid
- Posted on March 20, 2023
- Estimated reading time 3 minutes
From the evening of Wednesday, March 22 to the evening of Thursday, April 20, thousands of our Muslim colleagues will be observing Ramadan. This is a significant time of year – 30 days when Muslims all over the world dedicate themselves to working on their spirituality.
Avanade’s Regional Business Operations Lead for the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Nusaiba Abdulgader, will be one of them.
“It’s a very special time where you build your relationship with God. I try to disconnect from worldly things and ‘fill my spiritual tank,’” Nusaiba says. “During Ramadan, we fast during daylight hours (no food or water!) to help us disconnect from worldly things. I focus on practicing positive acts, being grateful for all my blessings and showing compassion to those less fortunate.
“You may notice Avanade’s Muslim colleagues giving back to the community during Ramadan. That means everything from making daily charitable donations and contributing to clean-up work, volunteering, or mentoring children. We also put together ‘brown bag’ events for Ramadan, making sure everyone observing this special time has a meal to break their fast with every day.”
Nusaiba, who is currently based in Dubai, will be going home to the United States to spend time with her family.
“At sunset, my mom cooks up a feast to break our fast. As a family, we say what we are thankful for and express gratitude for our blessings,” she says. “Afterwards, we go to the mosque where we perform special prayers, listen to and reflect on the recitation of the Quran.”
How do Muslims accommodate work during Ramadan? Nusaiba says it’s a lot easier in countries like Dubai where Islam is the official religion.
“Dubai accommodates this spiritual month. Work and clients slow down. And my non-Muslim colleagues are extremely understanding,” she explains.
“However, in countries where Muslims make up a minority, people often don’t realize what it means to observe Ramadan. Also, in European countries, 20 out of 24 hours can be daylight – making fasting all that more challenging.”
Be flexible and accommodating
Nusaiba suggests making the following accommodations for Muslim colleagues:
- Honor leave requests – Be mindful and accept that people observing Ramadan will likely want to take leave during this time.
- Hold meetings later in the day – For people who are working through, move early meetings to later times so colleagues can get sufficient sleep. Remember, they’ve been up very late performing night prayers.
- Respect sunset – Anticipate that colleagues will have a hard stop at sunset and don’t let meetings go over. Your teammate has had nothing to eat or drink for 16+ hours!
- Be supportive – Ask colleagues how best you can support them. Maybe don’t eat hot food at your desk to avoid office smells that trigger hunger! Your colleague will break their fast with a date, so a box of dates could be a thoughtful Ramadan gift.
“Eid Mubarak” – happy Eid!
Eid-al-Fitr begins the day after Ramadan ends. “This is the three-day festival to end Ramadan officially – the first daytime meal we will eat in a month,” explains Nusaiba.
“We observe the day by dressing up in our finest clothes, decorating our homes, visiting the mosque for prayer services, gathering with family and friends, and giving children gifts. It’s a little bit like Christmas. The most important day is the first one, but many of your Muslim colleagues will want to take all three days as leave.”
Nusaiba says she appreciates that Avanade is open to and accommodating of her religion.
“My religion contributes to my core values,” she explains. “When we talk about wellbeing, for me that means taking into account my mental, physical and spiritual health. I feel like Avanade proactively takes all this into consideration. That’s very important to me. Having a month to focus on the spiritual aspect of my life keeps me grounded. That’s when I can do my best work.”
Wishing all our Muslim colleagues a very happy and peaceful Ramadan!