Tag Archives: fasting

Ramadan Begins this Week

18 Jul

The holy month of Ramadan starts at the end of this week. Depending on where you are in the world (because the start date depends on the sighting of the moon) the first day could be on the 20th or the 21st (North America). But observance begins the night before at sunset.

Ramadan is a month of contemplation and re-focusing on God (among other things). It falls in the 9th month of the Islamic calendar (which is lunar, hence the date changes every year in our Gregorian calendar). It continues for 30 days.

Why should you pay attention?

Observant Muslims fast during Ramadan from sunrise to sunset, so think about how this may affect productivity, mood, creativity, energy levels, and the desire to socialize later in the day – and plan accordingly if you have colleagues on your team or in your department who are fasting.

I often hear things like “Don’t worry about me at the office party. Go ahead, I just won’t eat.” And often people are too ready to go ahead. But think about it. In an inclusive workplace, how inclusive it is to have a work function or potluck luncheon during a time when some of your colleagues are fasting? And beyond those planned events, what about eating at your desk when your cubicle-neighbour can’t eat for more than 12 hours?

Remember, days are longest in the summer! Sunrise in Toronto, for example, is currently just before 6am, and sunset just before 9pm. That means a fasting day of 15 hours! And it’s hot!

I know what you’re thinking. Why should the rest of us change what we are doing? It’s not our holy month! Well…in a workplace that practices inclusion, the underlying theme is respect and acknowledgment of differences. Being mindful of your colleagues who are fasting, and extending them the courtesy of things like not eating in front of them, planning social events you’d like them to be a part of for after Ramadan is over, or scheduling meetings in the morning when they are likely to have the most energy, (just 3 examples) I think, is fair.

If we put ourselves in another’s shoes for a moment, these courtesies don’t seem so inconvenient or unreasonable. They do show acknowledgment and send a message of belonging and inclusion.

See more.

copyright 2012 Annemarie Shrouder
Author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity & inclusion.



Ramadan @ Work

3 Aug

If you are Muslim, or know someone who is, you likely know that Ramadan started on Sunday night (July 31st) and that it will run for a month. While it isn’t a religious observance that requires absence from work, it can impact the workplace.  For those of you who don’t think religion has a place at work, think again.

Ramadan is the ninth month (and the holiest month) in the Islamic calendar. Since the Islamic calendar is lunar (using the cycles of the moon) this means that when referenced on a Gregorian calendar (used in North America and most Western countries) that is static, the dates change yearly.  Ramadan is a month of fasting and spiritual reflection. While you may be tempted to brush this aside as “not my business” there are some implications that, if acknowledged, can make this month much smoother for everyone in the office.


During Ramadan, devout Muslims eat only before sunrise and after sunset. For some, this even includes water. The length and heat of summer days adds to the challenge. Here are three suggestions that you can implement until August 30th, to acknowledge the reality of fasting employees. I’m sure you will agree that all of these fall within reasonable accommodations in the workplace.

If you have ever skipped lunch because you were too busy, you know how this can affect your concentration and patience (among other things) later in the day as your blood sugar drops. Scheduling meetings in the morning means your fasting employees will have more energy. Board meetings that typically occur in the evenings, or expectations to meet with clients over dinner are especially problematic.

Get togethers and celebrations:
Although your fasting employees will likely say “don’t worry about me, I just won’t eat” think about it: if you hadn’t eaten since the sun came up, and had hours to go, would you want to stand around and make small talk over hors d’oeuvres? If you can postpone the festivities until Ramadan is over, do so.

Flex time:
If your company does flex time, this may be something to discuss with your employees who are fasting. Working earlier in the day and/or from home may be an option they may like to consider during Ramadan.

Still think religion doesn’t impact work? Think again.

See more.

copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder


%d bloggers like this: