What Ramadan means to me
- Posted on April 16, 2021
- Estimated reading time 5 minutes
The following blog post was co-authored by Avanade alum Tayfun Cakir, Ali Achikzai and Siti Ridwan.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, in which Muslims all around the world fast for 30 days from sunrise to sunset. It’s also one of the five pillars of Islam. Ramadan commemorates the first revelation of the Quran (the holy book of Islam) and is therefore the most sacred month of the Islamic Calendar. Avanade employees from around the world shared their reflections on the meaning of the sacred month and how to be inclusive of Muslim colleagues.
The importance of the fast
With the holy month of Ramadan upon us, I wanted to give you an idea of what it is and why we observe the month. Adults that are capable and healthy do not eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset. This is where I usually get the, “Not even water dude?” That’s right, not even water, dude. Or a personal favorite: “Wait Ramadan lasts for a month, so you don’t eat or drink the whole time?” This always makes me chuckle, but shortly before that I respond with a very serious and stoic face and say yes (with conviction to make it sound extra dramatic).
Fasting is important because it gives me heightened sense of God consciousness, self-control, improvements of health by reducing and or eliminating impurities from the body, and to also sympathize with the poor and less fortunate who are sick and hungry. Lastly, it is a good sense of discipline to abstain from food and water but also it gives me an opportunity to grow spiritually as we also abstain from things that can prove harmful to the body such as: tobacco, alcohol, talking back/swearing, backbiting, and fighting. In my young adult years, I remember my buddies taunting me or ruffling my feathers all in good fun and innocently just to see if I break and swear or get angry – good times! Rest assured there were no Incredible Hulk moments, that I could recall anyway.
I have fond memories of my mother’s cooking, the smells of the kitchen as the sun would traverse toward the horizon, she would get super creative every evening for the family and make the best meals a kid could ever hope for in a life-time all packed into 30 consecutive days of yummy goodness! Sitting around a table with family to have a dinner, even just one night together in this day and age is a commodity, and we get that privilege every night for the duration of the month!
—Ali Achikzai, U.S.
The benefit of an inclusive culture
Ramadan has and will always be an exciting and uplifting time for me as a Muslim to reconnect with my faith and feel gratitude for all that I have.
I am #AvanadeProud. The workplace truly embodies an inclusive and diverse environment, with the team being fully aware of the fasting obligations.
Being a full-time working mother entails me waking up very early to prepare a fresh hot meal for the day ahead of fasting and dinner later. Having flexibility in work timings to accommodate changes has helped juggling both faith and work simultaneously.
Do I miss having lunches and Starbucks with those frequent snacks in between (oh the agony of it; my Achilles heel!) to help me wade through the day at work? At times, yes! The fasting month however transcends the mind to be truly appreciative for all that I have, and for that I am grateful.
—Siti Ridwan, Singapore
Creating new traditions
This year and last year have looked different due to the COVID-19 crisis. Breaking the fast with family and friends is not possible because of the COVID-19 government rules, which is understandable but also unfortunate.
But it is important to stay positive and to make the best out of the current situation. Working from home reduces commute time and gives me more time to think about certain recipes, helping my wife with household activities being, being calmer in mind and the possibility to pray on time.
To make it also fun during fasting, my wife and I introduced this concept of Ramadan Jar in our life.
Examples of what we have picked last year:
- Bake and share food with a neighbor
- Donate to a food bank
- Make a card or note to tell someone you love and appreciate them
- Pick up waste from the street and put it into the bin
Our Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) teaches us that even a smile is charity, and I’m convinced that little things in life matter and leads to this bigger picture.
—Tayfun Cakir, Netherlands
How you can support your Muslim colleagues who are observing Ramadan
This will be the second year in a row that Muslims will be taking part in Ramadan during the pandemic. The current COVID-19 crisis has already affected your colleagues who are parents, guardians, and carers and the situation will only become more challenging when you take into consideration that they will be fasting for around 17 hours. So here are some tips to support your colleagues who are observing Ramadan this year:
- If you manage a team, speak to those you know who are intending to fast to resolve any possible concerns.
- Managers may also want to brief other team members to further facilitate effective working relationships.
- With fasting lasting around 17 hours, your Muslim colleagues may wish to have some flexibility within their work arrangements if it can be accommodated.
- Consider meeting hours: If you have a meeting past 5 p.m., they may not be able to work late evenings as this is when they will break their fast and they may have other family commitments.
- And finally, send greetings to your colleagues who will be taking part in Ramadan this month by saying a "Ramadan Mubarak,” which means “Have a blessed Ramadan,” or “Ramadan Kareem,” which means “have a generous Ramadan.”
—Adam Malik, U.K.