A Guide to Supporting Coworkers Celebrating Ramadan

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At Traackr one of our core company values is “diversity”. To many of us, this means actively promoting a welcoming, inclusive, and equitable work environment regardless of race, culture, gender, ability, or creed. Not only do we believe that this is a necessity in our workplace, we believe it’s important for our industry.

Relatedly, a friend recently asked me how best to support a colleague who will be celebrating Ramadan. While this was a challenging question to answer, it gave me the idea for this article — a small intro to Ramadan (for those who don’t know) and some tips for how to support colleagues who observe it.

Since this week marks the first week of Ramadan, here is a small primer on the month.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, and Muslims around the world observe this month by abstaining from food and water from dawn until sunset. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, and it is a time for spiritual reflection, self-improvement, and charity.

At its core, Ramadan involves two key events every day. 

  • Suhoor: The meal eaten right before the sun has risen. 
  • Iftar: the fast-breaking meal eaten at the end of the day after the sun has set.

As a Muslim, this month is a time of reflection, prayer, and connection with my community. Growing up, I had fond memories of waking up in the middle of the night and eating a meal with my family – half awake, yawning, and rubbing my eyes. The evenings were filled with cooking with my family, guessing if there was enough salt in a dish, laughing when we later realized there wasn’t, delivering food to neighbors, receiving food from muslim neighbors, and parties filled to the brim with people from the neighborhood and some of my favorite foods.

While Ramadan is a deeply personal experience, it is also a time for community. If you have Muslim colleagues who are observing Ramadan, it is a great opportunity to learn something about them and to show your support. While I will provide some advice below for how you could support colleagues who observe Ramadan, please remember that it is a different experience for each individual. The best place to start is to always simply ask the person what kind of support, if any, they would like. 

Here are some tips to help you interact with your colleagues during Ramadan 

  1. Send a greeting. “Ramadan Mubarak”  is a great way to send a greeting, it means to have a blessed Ramadan.
  2. Ask questions. If you are curious about Ramadan, ask your colleagues! They will likely be happy to share their experiences and answer any questions you may have.
  3. Be mindful. It’s important to note that not every Muslim will fast during Ramadan. For some, fasting may not be possible due to health reasons or other personal circumstances. 
  4. Be understanding. Your Muslim colleagues may seem tired or less energetic than usual during the month of Ramadan. Fasting can be a challenging experience, and it’s natural to feel more tired than usual.
  5. Avoid scheduling calls near sunset. Your colleagues will be using this time to prepare their Iftar meal with their family.
  6. Avoid scheduling calls during lunchtime. For some, even on zoom, it can be challenging to be around food while fasting.

Hungry for more details on Ramadan? 

I’ve got you covered. Here are some of my favorite muslim influencers who can shed more light on the month:

  1. Hajar Larbah: For three years, Hajar has done a video series on new recipes for Ramadan. She shares 30 new recipes with her audience to enjoy during Ramadan (one for each day of the month!). Word to the wise: do not look at these while you are fasting or you are gonna have a bad time. 😅
  2. Saman Munir: Saman provides knowledge on working out during Ramadan. For the past few years, she’s provided various sample workouts to do during Ramadan. Look out for her tips on working out during the month. In this video she shares sensible advice about when to exercise during Ramadan, but to my colleagues who’ve seen me overtrain to my detriment, know the real answer is: workout all day long. Kidding! Sort of…
  3. Azeems: I love his focus on bodybuilding during Ramadan and the best way to get all the nutrition you need during the month. This is something I’ve had a hard time with in previous years during Ramadan. Recently I’ve been really focusing on giving my body the protein it needs to grow muscle, so I’ll be putting this video to practice.
  4. Rehma Khan: I love her video series on decorating/prepping for Ramadan. It has a very personal feel to it. You’ll really get some great insight on the more mundane parts of Ramadan that all muslims go through. 

This might be blasphemy, but there is a third option. Dates, like raisins, are just inferior fruits. So instead of dates, I suggest you break your fast with mangoes. You’ll thank me later.

I’ll admit that my family didn’t quite have the energy for decorating that she does. Growing up, when my sister and I wanted to do some Ramadan decorations, my parents always responded with that’s a great idea, let’s do it next year…😂😂😂.

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