RAMADAN TIPS FOR SAVVY MANAGERS

Ramadan is a time of spiritual renewal. Muslims the world over observe this holy month through charity, fasting and feasting. One of the five pillars of Islam, Ramadan occurs the ninth month on the lunar calendar. The basics of Ramadan include:

  • Fasting from sunrise to sunset, (no food or water) and nightly community feasts
  • Focusing on devotion, charity, extra prayers, and reading the Q’uran
  • A community-wide prayer to mark the end of Ramadan is called Eid-al-Fitr
  • There are exceptions to these guidelines, depending on personal factors.

American-Muslim Perspective by Catherine England, M.Ed. Zena Consulting Associate

Non-Muslim Business Perspective by Lee Mozena, M.A. Zena Consulting, Founder & Owner

Ramadan is a special time for most Muslims. It’s an annual opportunity to deepen our connection to Islam, family, community and the world.

During the month we get up before the morning prayer at sunrise to eat and drink enough to sustain us until sunset. We also try to abstain from bad behavior– anger, gossip, etc. Children, elderly, sick, or pregnant women don’t have to fast.

Fasting is a spiritual exercise, a chance to briefly experience the daily suffering of those who are truly poor.

Ramadan highlights another pillar of Islam- charity, (zakat or zakah). People who have no food can go to the masjid, (mosque) for a free meal (Iftar). Those who are financially able make a charitable contribution for each member of their household. These contributions are given to the poor before Ramadan ends.

Ramadan can be quite a challenge, especially in Seattle. We’re allowed to break fast according to the nearest, normalized location.

Savvy leaders want to know about an annual event that lasts a month and places unusual demands on employees. Assume this spiritual undertaking will impact Muslims you know in some way.

Ramadan shares some similarities with Christian and Jewish holidays. Like Christmas, its an intensely personal yet public celebration. Like Lent and Passover, Muslims aren’t likely to complain about their spiritual sacrifices – especially on the job.

Family and social obligations are also higher during Ramadan- even for the less devout. And, as with most religions, extra tasks tend to fall on women!

Ramadan marks a New Year, (sans alcohol), of renewal, devotion and forgiveness. It ends with a huge celebration called Eid-al-Fitr. Make an effort to offer Muslim employees time off for the final prayer of Ramadan.

And since shopping is especially popular around Eid, retailers and other businesses might consider extending their hours to attract Muslim shoppers.

American-Muslim Perspective By Catherine England, M.Ed. Zena Consulting Associate

Non-Muslim Business Perspective By Lee Mozena, M.A. Zena Consulting, Founder & Owner

… American-Muslim Perspective

Ramadan can be quite a challenge, especially in Seattle. We’re permitted to break fast according to the nearest, normalized location.

This is just one example of the fact that adherence to Islam varies in the world-wide community and especially the U.S.

That’s why it’s hard to spell out rigid rules about if and how Ramadan impacts employees. To think that all Muslims believe or act in a particular way is not a realistic view of human nature. There are Muslims who only ‘show up’ once a year for Ramadan- just like in other religions. But even less ob-servant Muslims may have increased family commitments or do a partial fast.

Most of us experience Ramadan Burnout, but we don’t complain! The point is worship, not to call-ing attention to yourself.

It’s helpful to avoid putting us on the spot about food or drink; it’s also awkward if I’m not fasting and you assume I am. It’s true that we may not ask for accommodations around Ramadan, but a smart manager will consider the demands on us outside of work; give more notice on deadlines or discreetly check-in about our stress levels.

Ramadan ends with the sighting of a new moon. We hold a community-wide celebration and final prayer called Eid-al-Fitr. Eid used to be held in local masjids, but with over 100,000 Muslims in the Seattle area, even Qwest Field isn’t big enough!

We usually celebrate Eid with new clothes and gifts. And, considering the strains of fasting, last minute shopping is common. Non-Muslim business owners should capitalize on this!

… Non-Muslim Business Perspective

And since shopping is especially popular around Eid, retailers may consider extending their busi-ness hours just before Eid.

It takes time to recover from the demands of Ramadan. Imagine how tired you’d be after hosting, preparing or attending 30 consecutive Thanksgiving dinners with family, friends and com-munity. And, since the Northwest’s long summer days create a greater challenge, Muslims vary on when they break fast.

While American Muslims are very diverse, these tips should help you be an outstanding employer or co-worker during Ramadan:

1. Educate yourself about Ramadan basics.

2. Consider minimizing food celebrations.

3. Have key meetings in the morning when Mus-lims who fast are fresher. Avoid late afternoon meetings when they may have low energy lev-els and dinner obligations.

4. If you offer flex time, encourage staff to use it strategically during Ramadan and Eid.

5. Since exhaustion builds during Ramadan it’s an ideal time to revisit stress management skills and discuss floating holidays.

6. Talk with all staff before Ramadan about time and vacation needs to avoid disappointments, particularly so they can attend the Eid prayer.

7. If you’re invited to an Iftar dinner- go! Your presence brings honor to the home. Many mosques invite the general public to share a meal one night during Ramadan.

8. If you feel close enough to acknowledge an employees’ dedication, a new year’s wish of “Happy Eid”, or “Eid Mubarak”, will probably be appreciated.

© Copyright 2020 by Zena Consulting, LLC. All U.S. and international rights reserved.


This article was first published in Zena Consulting News. 

© Copyright 2020 by Zena Consulting, LLC. All U.S. and international rights reserved.

ABOUT-

CATHERINE ENGLAND, M.Ed, (1957-2020). Catherine taught English to New American, refugee, and native-born adults for over 15 years- most recently at Lake Washington Institute of Technology, where she was ten-ured faculty. A practicing Muslim, Ms. England also brought new cultural perspectives to projects, in addition to learning development expertise.

LEE MOZENA, M.A., is a cross-cultural consultant, trainer, and facilitator. She founded Zena Consulting in 2008. Originally a training and development firm, we’ve since added strategic communications to address the complexity of an increasingly multicultural marketplace. Our mission is improving business capacity and growth through better communications. Our vision is a thriving USA rural and urban middle class prepared to compete globally.

Lee’s expertise is 15 years of working as an effective liaison for diverse stakeholders in the private, public, and social sectors. Clients count on her systems-thinking and people skills to close gaps that reduce productivity.

Her previous careers included advertising and family support education.

Zena Consulting is woman-owned and a Washington OMWBE-certified DBE. Learn more at: zenaconsulting.com.

A Special Thank you to Zena Consulting:  For more information about Zena Consulting and Lee Mozema the Founder & Owner please visit the

Zena Consulting Website

Additional Resources:

Alcance Media Group: Multicultural Media Agency

Multicultural Healthcare Initiatives

Arab American Media – Opportunity & Challenge

2020 Multicultural & Diversity Calendar