The Muslim holy month of Ramadan runs from May 17 to June 14 in 2008, which means that you may have co-workers who aren’t eating or drinking between sun up and sundown. Considering the days are quite long in the northern hemisphere this seems like it could be a long and miserable day. How should you act?
To be honest, I had no idea. I’ve traveled a bit in the Middle East, but never over Ramadan, and my Muslim co-workers have been few and far between. So, I asked an expert: Nehad (Neesy) Mohanna. Mohanna is an American-Egyptian Muslim who spent 20 years as an engineer in the corporate world, working in the US and Egypt, and now owns her own health and wellness business in Switzerland.
If You Don’t Know What to Do or Say, Just Ask!
“I don’t know any Muslim who isn’t happy to talk about Ramadan. Even my 11-year-old, who is fasting, is happy to answer questions!” Mohanna says she and other Muslims recognize that the whole idea of fasting for a month is completely foreign to non-Muslims, but asking questions isn’t rude. She appreciates the questions.
To keep reading, click here: Ramadan Etiquette in the Office
2 thoughts on “Ramadan Etiquette in the Office”
As more Muslims become part of the mainstream of modern society, it helps to know that it isn’t impolite to address an issue (like eating lunch). Like in the article, some handle the fasting better than others. I equate to personal ideas towards food—no one will starve if you don’t eat anything from sunrise to sunset. I equate the Ramadan fast to similar fast for Lent or special diet for Passover.
The only thing that an employer needs to know is there’s no effect on work performance.
For three years, 2001 to 2004, I lived and worked in Malaysia where Muslim people are the majority. There was no special etiquette for non-Muslims to follow during Ramadan. Naturally, non-Muslims didn’t do anything to annoy or tempt Muslims in disregard to their faith, and the Muslim employees reciprocated when the Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, and Christian employees were observing their special days. It was all very professional and mature.
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