The beauty of our great province of Alberta is most evident in the diversity and uniqueness of Albertans. Albertans come from all corners of the Earth. They come from different cultural and religious backgrounds.
On May 6th, over 115,000 Muslim Albertans will be observing the Holy Month of Ramadan. This is a month of heightened spirituality which includes prayer, reading Qur’an, fasting and giving charity. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dusk to dawn. A total of about 19 hours. This means Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, intimacy and worldly desires during those hours. Also, Muslims are expected to control their tempers and behaviors.
If you want to be a good Ally, Ramadan is a great time to start. As you can imagine, fasting such long hours can take a toll on your co-workers. Although they will do their best to maintain their work, their energy and their friendly personality they may need a little support from you. So how can you support your Muslim Coworkers? Here are some pointers to help you out.
- Ramadan is a Holy Month for a Reason:
Ramadan is the 9th of the Islamic Months following the Islamic Lunar calendar. Its significance over other months is that the Holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammed (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) in its entirety during this month.
You may see Ramadan making the headlines because there are more than 1.8 Billion people around the world who are willingly abstaining from food and drink during daylight hours, but fasting is truly only one of many practices during Ramadan. Ramadan requires a significantly spiritual state of mind. Being able to overcome worldly needs and desires is not an easy task.
- It’s OK to Eat Infront of Us:
Lunch hour can be an awkward time when you are ready to dig into your lunch and your coworker has about 10 more hours of fasting left to go. Rest assured, it is okay to eat infront of your Muslim co-worker. There is no need to apologize; although it is appreciated. But, making loud moaning sounds or comments about the deliciousness of your meal just isn’t nice.
- Not All Muslims Practice the Same Way:
Although the standard practice is to fast during daylight hours, you may see some Muslims partaking in Ramadan in different ways. There are many reasons someone may not fast including but not limited to: menstruation, illness, pregnancy, nursing, and simply not being able to fast. To avoid what could be a very uncomfortable conversation, it is best not to ask why they are NOT fasting. Or even worse, say something like “Shouldn’t you be fasting?!”
- You Do Not Need to Feel Sorry for Us:
Ramadan is actually a very joyful time. Yes, it is a difficult time physically and mentally but “the blessing is in the struggle”. Ramadan is a beautiful time filled with family gatherings, overcoming ego, strengthening ones relationship with God and so much more. Plus, when it is all said and done, we get to celebrate and feast for 4 days! Rather than focus on conversations revolving around what we cannot do during Ramadan, why not ask us what we can do and what we enjoy the most about this Holy month?
- Practice Understanding:
Whether it’s an office party or after work outing you may find your Muslim co-worker choosing not to participate. Although the invite is greatly appreciated, it may be more comfortable for them not to attend. Please be understanding and do not pressure them to attend.
You can imagine how energy levels will drop drastically by the end of a work day. The way to get the most productivity from them would be to give them larger tasks that perhaps need more focus or effort earlier in the day. Waiting until the end of the day for meetings and important tasks may not be the best option.
Your co-workers and friends will undoubtedly be very grateful to you for your understanding, support and respect during this Holy month. You will be showing them what being a great Ally is all about!
The Alberta Mamas would like to wish all Muslim Albertan a blessed Ramadan. Ramadan Kareem!
If you have any further questions about Ramadan, feel free to reach out to our contributor Mona Ismaeil.
Mona Ismaeil is a modest fashion blogger, writer and community organizer. Mona advocates for Muslim women and promotes their civic engagement, builds interfaith bridges, and is passionate about bringing awareness about Islamophobia to light in public forums. A trained teacher and seasoned educator, Mona lectures on a variety of subjects across the province, including Islamophobia, bullying, building acceptance, and multiculturalism. Her favourite things to do are to travel and spend time with her 2 children enjoying all Edmonton has to offer! www.mymodernhijab.com