What is Ramadan?
In Islamic tradition Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, when the first verses of the Koran/Qur'an were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Observing Ramadan is regarded as one of the five pillars of Islam.
When is Ramadan?
The dates of Ramadan change each year and commences on Saturday 27 May 2017, although this can vary slightly depending upon regional customs and when the new moon is first sighted. It lasts for 29-30 days and ends with the celebration of Eid-Ul-Fitr. The Islamic calendar is lunar, which means that days start at sunset.
What do people do during Ramadan?
Many Muslims will fast each day from sunrise to sunset. This includes not eating food, drinking liquids or smoking. It is common to have one meal known as the suhoor just before sunrise and an evening meal known as Iftar after sunset.
Ramadan is a time of prayer and self-reflection, where Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Qur'an.
Ramadan is also a time for charity-giving, which can involve both making donations and participating in charitable events.
Key workplace considerations during Ramadan
- Observing Ramadan may be noticeable (for example not eating at lunchtime) and so it is often sensible for employees to inform their managers of the fact they are fasting.
- Fasting may affect people in different ways (for example some people may understandably become a little irritable or slightly tired at times) and some understanding from managers and colleagues can be helpful.
- The effects of fasting may be felt most strongly in the afternoon so it can help to use the morning for meetings and intellectually challenging work, and perform routine tasks later. Also when Ramadan falls in the summer months it can be particularly challenging as the days are longer.
- Although breaks should be kept, a shorter lunch may make it easier for an employee to manage their workload if they wish to take time off to carry out additional prayer or worship.
- Colleagues may want to avoid offer food and drink to those who fast if sharing food with other colleagues, or eating during meetings.
- It would be helpful to avoid meeting / social events etc that ALL staff must attend during Ramadan as it may people would still be fasting.
- In certain years, a considerable portion of annual leave may be used by employees wishing to observe the Ramadan rules. Where the leave timings can be accommodated, it is also important to ensure an employee has adequate leave days available for these needs.
- Awareness and understanding of Ramadan and other religious festivals can be aided by posting information on staff notice boards or newsletters etc.
- Ramadan may offer an opportunity for closer team relations and teamwork - for example by avoiding cakes / biscuits during a team meeting.