In the next few weeks, you may come into work and find your co-worker taking a power nap at 9:30am. At break time, you’ll notice she is missing in the discussion about Harry Potter over at the water cooler. At the staff meeting, you will be shocked when she is offered coffee and cookies and refuses ! By lunch time, your concern about her missing at the water cooler compels you to investigate the situation.
Then you remember what she had mentioned last week over a delicious Sushi lunch. Flooded with relief, you go up to her desk, and proclaim with much gusto, “Ramadan Mubarak (Moo-baa-rak)!” Ramadan’s Blessings to you!
The month of Ramadan is a happy occasion; it is the month that the Muslim holy book, the Koran, was revealed to our Prophet Muhammad. Muslims are called by their religion to celebrate the month by coming together in worship, fasting each day for thirty days from dawn until sunset.
While this may seem like a tremendous feat, consider this: Fasting while working is an even greater endeavor. Make it a little easier on your Muslim colleague by following a couple of simple rules:
The next time you find yourself in line for the copier with your Muslim colleague, feel free to wish him or her “Ramadan Mubarak” or “Ramadan Kareem” or simply “Happy Ramadan.” We absolutely love it when people acknowledge Ramadan and are happy about it.
Keep in mind that we’re fasting voluntarily and, actually, pretty joyously (despite the tired, sad look on our face). We’re not forced to fast. In fact, we wait for this month the whole year, so you don’t have to feel sorry for us. We are not trying to be rescued (other than by that ticking clock taking us closer to sunset!).
The Lunch Meeting
Most of us understand that life goes on, and so do lunch meetings, and if we are participating in them while fasting, don’t worry about eating in front of us. This is just part of the test. We appreciate your acknowledging our fast, but don’t feel the need to discuss it every time you show up in our line of sight holding food.
Just try not to eat smelly foods. . . and please ignore our stomach when it growls at your sandwich.
It’s true — we can’t drink water either. Again, this is part of the Ramadan test and our exercise of spiritual discipline. This is probably why you may not find your friend at the water cooler. Try switching the break time conversation to another location in the office. You should probably also let them skip their turn for the coffee run this time.
While God may tell us that the breath of the one fasting is like “fragrant musk” to Him, we know that you might not experience the same. Understand why we’re standing a good foot away from you when speaking or simply using sign language to communicate.
Consider holding a Ramadan Iftar dinner . Iftar is the Arabic word for the meal served at sunset when we break the fast (it’s literally our ‘breakfast’). This will be a nice gesture for Muslim coworkers and will give others the opportunity to learn about and partake in Ramadan festivities. Although there is no specific type of meal designated for iftars, it is is tradition to break the fast with a sweet and refreshing date before moving to a full-on dinner
Fasting is not an excuse
Although energy levels might be low, the point of fasting is not to slack off from our other duties and responsibilities. We believe that we are rewarded for continuing to work and produce during our fasts. Fasting is not a reason to push meetings, clear schedules, or take a lighter load on projects.
That said – we don’t mind if you help work in a nap time for us!
Ramadan is a time for community and charity. There are iftar dinners held at mosques every night (you are welcome to join the fun – even if you’re not fasting!) and night time prayer vigils throughout the month. We give charity in abundance and make an extra effort to partake in community service. Throughout it all, we maintain an ambiance of joy and gratitude for all that God has blessed us with, and reflect on those in this world who have been given much less. This is a time for all of us–not just Muslims–to renew our spiritual intentions, increase our knowledge, and change ourselves for the better.
Thanks for this guide! Really helpful for non-muslims. One of my colleagues in my team is muslim and is fasting for Ramadan. Do you think it would be acceptable for us as non-muslims to get him a Happy Eid card for the first day of Eid?
Plz let me cite your comment mister, coz i've been saying it for long that many non-Muslims do have respect for Islam and for our Muslim beliefs more than some of the Muslims. Me and my religious Muslim colleague have been respected and had our beliefs respected by our European non-Muslim colleagues more than our MUSLIM direct manager, if any one would believe that. Our previous direct manager was an Australian lady who was a gift from God, as a manager. Our new Muslim direct manager is a torture from the devil. And I know that still no one would believe it. So who is the real Muslim? is it this allegedly one who makes us hate ourselves with his inhumane behavior, or this Catholic lady who used to treat us like her own blood brothers???
Thanks very much for this guide! As a non-Muslim who has just recently had the pleasure of meeting and working with some awesome and cool Muslims, this helps me to understand a little more about Ramadan. One question though. Since we are up in Northern Canada and the sun barely goes down past the horizon, and this doesn't usually happen until past midnight, is there any guidelines for what is considered sunset?
I would also add that not everyone is fasting so non-Muslims shouldn't act like they have caught a Muslim with their hand in the cookie jar for eating during the day. Menstruating women don't fast, and pregnant and diabetic people should NOT fast (I don't care if some not-doctor scholars say it's OK), breastfeeding women, and people with any illness where fasting would compromise their health are not fasting. So yep. Non-Muslims should know that not every one is fasting. But they are still engaging in many other activities during the month, because it is not all about fasting, either.
I actually love the smell of food and coffee when I'm fasting; I find it so comforting. So i disagree with the article where it says try not to have 'smelly foods'. Also I would hate for anyone to alter their lunch for fear of offending me. My fasting shouldn't inconvenience my co-workers in anyway.
As I pointed out 12 months ago, that regular brushing of one's teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste or regular use of mouthwash does NOT invalidate the fast as long as the person does not swallow the saliva that has mixed with the toothpaste. Also, the lingering flavour or taste of the toothpaste that mixes with the saliva does NOT affect the fasting either
What lovely comments from the non-Muslims! "Off to buy dates..keep up the good work"..how sweet! The article is absolutely right when it says we are not forced to fast, we do so out of piety and we believe in the rewards that will come with fasting (God willing). That said, kind comments like those below, and a tolerance for this month, is much appreciated :)
Sa’d told of hearing Allah’s Messenger say, “He who has a morning meal of seven ‘ajwa dates will not suffer harm that day through toxins or magic.” (Bukhari, Hadith 5327 and Muslim, Hadith 3814)
‘Aisha reported Allah’s Messenger as saying, “The ‘ajwah dates of al-‘Aliya contain healing, and they are an antidote (when taken as) first thing in the morning.” (Muslim, Hadith 3815)
‘Aisha reported Allah’s Messenger as saying, “The ‘ajwah dates of al-‘Aliya taken as the first thing in the morning, in the state of fasting; contain healing for all (kinds of) magic or toxins.” (Musnad Ahmad, Hadith 23592)
Narrated ‘Urwah: ‘Aisha used to order to make a habit of or taking in regular intervals seven ‘ajwah dates, in the state of fasting for seven mornings. (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba, Hadith 23945)
I have known about ramadan through my work colleagues.They have always displayed alot of courage and piety during the fasting period. At best of times I tried not to eat in their presence during lunch breaks purely out of respect. Thank you for this info, it is well presented.
This is great info for all us non-muslims - thank you very much! Please keep up all your good work. The first I new about Ramadan was when a girl at work brought in a huge tray of yummy treats for everyone at the end of Ramadan.