The most sacred month in the Islamic calendar year has begun with 1.6 billion Muslims currently fasting from sunrise to sunset and increasing their spirituality for the next 30 days.
Ramadan is the most important time of the year for Muslims and is a period where people increase their amount of worship, donate to charity, feed those less fortunate, read the Quran and of course, refrain from eating and drinking until the sun goes down.
It’s also a month where Muslims practise extreme discipline — this means, no swearing, gossiping or losing your temper. The next few weeks are a moment to reflect and work on character development.
It’s certainly not easy, but it’s not supposed to be. But there are a few things you can do to help support your Muslim friends and co-workers during Ramadan — trust me, they’ll appreciate it.
Be Considerate of Sunset Time
It may seem self-explanatory, but it can be easy to forget that during the month of Ramadan, sunset is the time Muslims are breaking their fast often surrounded by their loved ones.
If you have a co-worker who is fasting, then try to be considerate when setting online meetings or after-work dinners, because chances are, they will need some space to break their fast.
The same goes for a friend. Try not to call or text during sundown, because they’ll most likely want some quality time with their family during Iftar.
Join the Ramadan Spirit of Giving Charity
Giving charity is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the testimony of faith, prayer, fasting and performing Hajj. Giving to those less fortunate is encouraged all year round, but during Ramadan, charity is particularly important and helps us recognise our blessings.
Every year, Muslims pay zakat — an obligatory form of charity that requires us to donate 2.5% of our total wealth to the people who need it most. Of course, non-Muslims are not expected to pay zakat, but if you’re looking to support your Muslim friend, then donating a few dollars to certain charity organisations is a beautiful way to do it. The most well-known organisations are Islamic Relief Australia, Muslim Aid and Sadaqa Welfare Fund.
Send Well-Wishes to Your Muslim Friends
This not only applies to individuals but also corporations. Similar to Christmas and Easter wishes, Ramadan has its own greeting. There’s nothing that lifts my spirits more than hearing someone say “Ramadan Mubarak”, and while it may seem like a small show of appreciation, it goes a long way.
If You Notice Your Muslim Friend/Co-Worker Isn’t Fasting, Try Not to Ask Why
There are many reasons why someone may not be fasting — they may have an illness, are pregnant or nursing, or they could be menstruating. Whatever it is, everyone’s spiritual journeys are personal and are a matter between them and God.
Sometimes it can leave people feeling awkward if they have to explain why they aren’t fasting, so it’s best to not bring it up.
Don’t Feel Bad About Eating and Drinking In Front of Muslims — But Don’t Pressure Them to Join You For Lunch
Fasting is one of the biggest parts of Ramadan, and observing Muslims prepare their minds and bodies to do exactly that. As we make the intention each morning to stick to our fast, we know that those around us will be eating and drinking, and we really don’t mind at all.
It’s not always easy, and yes, towards the end of our fast our stomachs are usually gurgling but feel free to tuck into your lunch in front of us. In saying that, if you’re making plans to go out and eat, try not to pressure your Muslim friend or co-worker to join you.
Give Them Space to Pray
Muslims are required to pray five times a day, and if we’re at work, we’re usually trying to find a private place to perform our spiritual duties. Providing a space to pray, even if it’s a meeting room, is one way to truly show support during Ramadan. When we’re working from home, it’s easy to carry out our prayers, but when we’re in the office, it can be slightly more difficult, so giving us a safe space makes us truly feel acknowledged.