The Working Muslim in Ramadan

ramadan picRamadan is a tough month for everyone celebrating, especially when you live in a country where 40C is considered a reasonably warm day. For those who are not familiar with the Holy month, it is where observers eat and drink nothing from dusk to dawn (with exceptions of course). Fasting is one of the five main pillars of Islam, which was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) in his later years. Fasting is meant to be an exercise of self-restraint. It’s seen as a way to physically and spiritually detoxify by kicking impulses like morning coffee, smoking and midday snacking. It is also a month where one is expected to detach from worldly pleasures and focus on prayer and meditation.

Though it is a blessed month where it is believed that the doors of heaven are open to receive prayers, it somehow has a negative impact on the local workforce. During the blessed month of Ramadan, many Muslims (especially in Muslim countries) slack off, showing up late at work (or not showing up at all), sleeping on the job, procrastinating, doing the least possible, and asking employers for shorter working days at the same wage rate. This type of behavior is inconsistent with the very spirit of Ramadan.

According to Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad in the UK, “God isn’t only found in ‘sacred places’. We make our lives sacred by the intentions we make and the actions we do.” After all, the Prophet (PBUH) invoked God’s Mercy on those who were involved in business transactions too.” With shortened working hours and social acceptance of slightly late attendance, the local authorities are already giving the working Muslim a break. It is unfair to take advantage of the situation simply because one is fasting. The truth is, everyone around you is supposedly fasting too.

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when working during Ramadan:

  1. If you feel that you are having a bad day, keep your conversations short and straight to the point. If possible, avoid confrontations by writing emails or memos.
  1. Staying true to the Ramadan spirit, you can practice patience in the workplace by counting to five before speaking when feeling evoked. It will help you get your thoughts together and possibly save you an argument.
  1. When going about your day and sticking to spiritual Ramadan guidelines, note your amended behaviors with the intention of keeping them up after the Holy month as well.
  1. Keep a to-do list or a personal agenda, you will be glad you did by mid-month. I keep mine very precise, with written down questions I may forget to ask otherwise. The lack of nutrients will eventually catch up with you.
  1. If all else fails, ask for help. Delegate your least favorite responsibilities with reasonable caution, of course, remembering that the majority of people are also fasting.