A recent conversation with a Muslim brother looking to change careers highlighted a key issue for many of us in employment – dealing with work cultures that emphasise particular social values and going out for “drinks with the team.”
It got me thinking about the one time of the year that presents challenges for working Muslims, and that is Ramadan. This blessed month is about increasing in our acts of devotion and strengthening our relationship with Allah (swt). But how can we manage this whilst working, and in cultures that are not conducive to our way of life?
It is definitely a tricky situation, particularly in the West. The question arises as to whether responsibility is with the powers that be in creating the right environment, or do we need to initiate change ourselves? My own view is that we need both for positive outcomes to be achieved.
To help you deal with any concerns about work and Ramadan, I’ve come up with 5 top tips and advice:
1. Change your mindset about work – many people see their work as a hindrance to religious practice; but Islam is not limited to personal worship. We need to remember that with sincere intentions, our work can be an opportunity to do good deeds that will be of benefit in this life and the next inshaAllah.
2. Plan workload and schedule – before Ramadan starts, take the opportunity to sit down with your manager and look at flexible working hours, maybe re-arranging meetings if timings don’t suit. Initiate, where possible, alternatives if any meetings or activities involve food and drink.
3. Raise awareness through the right means – despite employers being more aware, there can still be some knowledge gaps (e.g. not everyone knows that we can’t drink water). Use this opportunity to inform everyone across the board. How you inform depends on the size of the organisation, so you may choose to do by email, post information on the staff intranet, or discuss in a team meeting. Make it clear you are willing to answer any questions about Islam and Ramadan.
4. Adopting sensible approach to night worship – we of course know of the importance of the prayers and extra worship in the night, but remember to try and get some sleep too in order to help you maintain energy levels during the day.
5. Make the most of work journeys and breaks – use this time to listen to or read the Qu’ran, beneficial audios, or read a book, especially if you have a long commute and are not driving!
About the Author:
Monira Ahmed is a UK based careers professional, blogger and recent winner of a national careers award. She has a passion for helping others, especially Muslim women, achieve their potential and career goals. You can follow her on her blog Everything Careers.