The celebration of Ramadan & how we can support our Muslim colleagues

Ramadan family dinner

What is Ramadan?

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims won’t eat or drink during the hours of daylight – this is called fasting. Children are not expected to fast until they reach their teenage years.

Ramadan remembers the month the Qur’an (the Muslim holy book) was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. The actual night that the Qur’an was revealed is a night known as Lailut ul-Qadr (‘The Night of Power’).

When is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. The exact dates of Ramadan change every year. This is because Islam uses a calendar based on the cycles of the Moon. This year in the UK, Ramadan will begin in the evening of 10th March and will end on 9th April.

Ramadan starts when the new moon first appears in the night sky and the full moon marks the middle of Ramadan. As the moon wanes to the other side, Ramadan finishes.

How is Ramadan celebrated?

Most Muslims fast between dawn and sunset. Fasting allows Muslims to devote themselves to their faith. It is thought to teach self-discipline and reminds them of the suffering of the poor. However, children, pregnant women, elderly people, and those who are ill or travelling don’t have to fast.

During Ramadan, it is common to have one meal (known as the suhoor), just before dawn and another (known as the iftar), directly after sunset.

Almost all Muslims try to give up bad habits during Ramadan – it is a time for prayer and good deeds. They will try to spend time with family and friends, help people in need, and support charities and good causes.

Many Muslims will attempt to read the whole of the Qur’an at least once during Ramadan. They will also attend special daily prayer services in Mosques during which the Qur’an is read.

Eid ul-Fitr

The end of Ramadan is marked by a big celebration called ‘Eid ul-Fitr’ (the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast).

Muslims are not only celebrating the end of fasting but thanking Allah for the strength he gave them throughout the previous month. Mosques hold special services and a special meal is eaten during the daytime (the first daytime meal for a month).

During Eid ul-Fitr, Muslims dress in their finest clothes, give gifts to children, and spend time with their friends and family.

How can I support my Muslim colleagues?

  • Understand and be mindful that colleagues may take more breaks during the day to rest or pray
  • Accommodate temporary flexible working arrangements. Some may prefer to start earlier, miss or reduce lunch breaks, and leave work earlier to end the day’s fast with their families
  • Consider putting meetings and training sessions earlier in the day when colleagues’ energy levels are higher
  • Prepare for an increase in annual leave requests at the end of Ramadan to celebrate Eid ul-Fitr. This will come at short notice as it is dependent on the sighting of the moon
  • If you would like to wish someone a Happy Ramadan, you can simply say “Ramadan Mubarak” which means “Blessed Ramadan” or “Ramadan Kareem”, which means “May Ramadan be generous to you”
  • Remember to not offer any food or drink out of consideration – be mindful of this in team meetings and work events
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions to expand your knowledge and understanding – the more we all know, the more we can support

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