By Khaula Mazhar

The Blessed month of Ramadan is looked forward to and celebrated by Muslims all over the world, however it is not just festive, it is a spiritual and physical challenge that helps us condition ourselves to be better people. It comes with a set of hurdles unique to every individual that we all handle in different ways. One challenge is finding that work-Ramadan balance especially living in western countries where routine hours are the same as regular days as compared to Muslim countries where the work day is cut short to help facilitate fasting.

Founder and project manager of Muslim Moms.ca, Erum Zehra, posed a question in the Muslim Moms FB group because we want to share tips and advice from our members to help others in the community. A huge shoutout to our members who had plenty of information to share!

“Do you work full time? What are the challenges you face during Ramadan? How have your employers supported you during Ramadan?”

Challenges

The Yawning Employee (is honestly not bored-just sleepy!)

As we know the biggest challenge is adjusting to a different sleep schedule. Embrace your yawns, honestly you may give yourself a hernia trying to suppress them, but please don’t yawn at meetings!

One of the best things you can do yourself is to set an earlier bedtime, the days are still relatively short so the Isha prayer is not that late. Getting to bed right after Isha prayers will help a lot! Schedule things so you have everything ready for the next day before Iftar time (opening the fast) and have time to unwind and relax between Maghrib and Isha prayers.

We had some great suggestions from group members, including talking to your employer about coming to work earlier and leaving earlier. This is actually great, rather than trying to catch some shut eye after Fajr prayers you can get ready for your day, including some Iftar prep before you leave for work that way you can stay active while you have the most energy and wind up your work day as the energy levels start to wane. It was great to read about all the employers who were considerate to the fasting employees, very heartening!

With the pandemic came the work from home era, many work places are still in work from home mode on and off which is perfect for anyone fasting in Ramadan. And of course, there are many entrepreneurial ladies in the group who set their own work times to fit their Ramadan schedule. Definitely something to think about if you have ever considered taking the leap into running your own business! For me this has definitely been the biggest perk, I love that flexibility!

You’re not you when you’re hungry-but no you can’t have that Snickers bar!

Another challenge is having to work where people may be enjoying their lunches at their desks. If lunch is eaten out, then it doesn’t really affect those fasting. Some group members said they simply work through breaks and are able to get off work a bit earlier that way. Sometimes you have to politely decline coworkers when they ask you to join them for lunch, and fortunately they are pretty understanding. Some of the replies we got were related to how helpful coworkers were towards those fasting. Members had nice experiences with colleagues who were more than happy to take calls, or run errands so they could save their energy. It is always a good idea to be very open about your practice and respectful of others when the time comes that you can return those favors, it creates a positive work environment.

One thing we couldn’t find an answer to, how to pretend that embarrassing tummy rumble did not just happen?! Please let us know how you deal with that!!

Prayers at Work

It is amazing to read all about how respectful many employers and coworkers are towards prayers timings and space, one member mentioned how her employers put in an extra carpet in the room where she prayed-how sweet and caring is that? Again letting your employer know your requirements is important, but we also have to be really respectful of time and boundaries as well as being equally helpful when others will need the same understanding from us at work.

We were really happy to see so many positive experiences in the community, we would love to hear more tips and experiences, so please leave us yours in the comments!

About the Author

Khaula Mazhar, artist at Khaula’s Art, has written for Dawn Pakistan and now bestows her wisdom upon the world at her blog. Last time she counted she had five kids, however the vast amount of laundry has given her doubts. This is a cause of constant distraction as she tries to finish writing the next NYT best-seller.