What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is a sacred month for over 1.8 billion Muslims across the globe, during which it is believed the Quran, the literal Word of God, was revealed to Muhammed. To mark this month Muslims will fast during daylight hours abstaining from food, drink and sexual relations. As one of five pillars (Core Principles / obligatory actions) of the Islamic faith, it also involves controlling oneself by abstaining from anger, rudeness, lying, cheating and practising patience and self-reflection to effectively reset the body physically, emotionally and spiritually. During this month Muslims will engage in extra worship and prayer as well as engaging in many communal activities.
When is Ramadan?
Ramadan will start when the new crescent mood is sighted which is expected to be either 12th April or 13th April 2021. This year in the UK Ramadan runs from 12th April – 12th May. It is not uncommon for different communities and sects to start Ramadan on different days. The rules for sighting the moon differ between different groups within in the religion and thus results in a differentiation in starting dates.
How long will a fast last?
This year the average fast will be approximately 16 hours, with a start time of circa 4am and sunset being after 8pm.
Why should I care?
You may not be religious or be up for fasting for 30 days, but it is good to have an understanding of the importance of Ramadan to those of the Muslim faith. You may have colleagues, friends or family who are entering Ramadan and they will appreciate your support. Having a grasp of the basics of the faiths of others gives you a great opportunity to demonstrate mutual respect to those around you as well as helping you connect with those around you.
What can you do to support Muslim colleagues during Ramadan?
During this time it is important to be mindful that your colleague or friend may be experiencing:
- Lack of sleep. This is because they must wake up early to close their fast and they also have extra prayers in the evening after they have opened their fast. This can lead to lack of sleep an a disturbed sleep pattern
- Lack of energy. At this time Muslims consume less food and naturally will have less energy with concentration levels becoming lower at certain times of the day.
To support those around you going through Ramadan, you could encourage them to speak to their manager about potential flexible working hours, working from home or requesting consolidating their breaks so an employee could have a shorter day.
Another great thing you can do is to simply show your support and understanding. Do some research and ask your colleagues questions about things you are genuinely unsure about.
The worst thing anyone can ask someone who is fasting is:
- So, you don’t eat for a whole month?
- What? You can’t even drink water?
- Don’t you get hungry? Thirsty?
- At least you’ll lose weight, right?
While the above is not an extensive list, they are the most common questions that most Muslims find annoying when asked. Of course they feel thirst and hunger when they are fasting, it is a choice they have made and feel strongly about.
You could also show your support for friend or colleagues going through Ramadan by getting involved! You could fast for a day to see if you can exercise the same self-control. You could “give it up for Ramadan” – like many Christians do during lent. You could show support by giving up something like smoking or junk food.
If you are feeling particularly motivated you could raise money for charity. During Ramadan Muslims in the UK donate more than £150 milling to charity. You could use Ramadan as an opportunity to raise money with your colleagues for a specific cause.