How can organisations support Muslims in Ramadan

With the number of Muslims around the world expected to increase to 2.2 billion by 2030, their number in the working force will increase as well. Therefore, organisations may well be wondering how to best support their Muslim employees. I wrote this article in collaboration with my colleagues, Souhalia Abdelselam and Omniya Tajni as guidance for Employees and Managers to support their Muslim colleagues, specifically during the month of Ramadan. However, it is important to note that the needs of every Muslim employee will be different so there’s no a one-size-fit-all guide to follow, and organisations will need to adjust based on the needs of each person.  

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Lunar (Hijri) calendar, and it has commenced this month on the 11th of March 2024. Muslims worldwide eagerly await this annual celebration, viewing it as a time to slow down, reflect on actions, and strengthen the spiritual reconnection with Allah (God). 

Ramadan officially begins with the sighting of the new Moon in the night sky and concludes as the Moon wanes. Historically, it is believed that Allah revealed the Quran to the prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) through the archangel Jibril (Gabriel) in Ramadan.  

Throughout this month, those who can, fast by abstaining from food and drink from dawn until sunset. Fasting is regarded as a means to purify the heart and strengthen the connection between an individual and Allah (Taqwa). In its mercy, Islam grants exemptions from fasting to certain individuals, such as menstruating or breastfeeding women, children, the elderly, those with severe illnesses, and travellers. 

Fasting is also a way to increase self-discipline, as during this month Muslims need to fast not just from eating and drinking, they need to fast their souls from anything that is considered Khatiya (sin), this includes any act that could be harmful to others around us. It is also a way to help develop your empathy towards the less fortunate.  

 

Ramadan holds a special place in a Muslim’s heart. It’s a time of joy and a time to strengthen spiritual and family bonds. As Muslims spend most nights of Ramadan in worship, their moods and energy levels during the day could be impacted, and there are several ways organisations can offer support to Muslim employees during this time:   

  1. Raising awareness about Ramadan in the company through blogs, articles or asking Muslim colleagues to facilitate small workshops about Ramadan. 
  2. Muslims find themselves mostly productive during the early hours of the working day and feeling tired towards the end of it. So, accommodating flexible working hours will help with their focus and efficiency at work. For an example, Souhalia, Omniya and myself finish around an hour or an hour and half earlier to have enough time to prep for breaking our fast.  
  3. Prayer is important in Islam in general but especially in Ramadan so being able to offer designated prayer areas within the office as well as trying to avoid meetings that occur during the prayer hour can have a helpful impact. Having this in the company’s diary will help employees remember and understand that Muslim colleagues won’t be available during this time. This will help create an inclusive and understanding environment. 
  4. Encouraging Muslim employees to work from home if applicable as this will help them manage their energy levels and prioritise their responsibilities better. It also allows them to spend more time at home away from the office where treats and nibbles could be served. For instance, I have decided with my manager to work from home for the period of Ramadan while Omniya and Souhalia have decided to reduce the number of times they come into the office.  
  5. Avoiding meetings and calls close to fast breaking time, and if Muslim employees are unable to clock off by the time it’s fast breaking time, organisations can offer them Dates to break their fast with.  
  6. The last 10 days of Ramadan are considered the most important than the other 20 days (even though every day is important). So, there may be an increase of request for leave as Muslims would like to use this time to have the whole day in focus towards worship. 
  7. Be prepared for Eid, which is the celebration that marks the end of Ramadan. Organisations need to be prepared that Muslim employees might request time off at a short notice as the exact date of when Eid will fall depends on the sighting of the new moon. At ECC, Muslim employees can take the day off for Eid without it being counted towards their annual leave.  

Finally, employers must understand that the needs of each Muslim employee will be different, and a plan that works for one might not work for another. So, managers and HR officials should encourage open conversation to ensure that Muslims feel supported during this month.