What is it Like Working in a Media Agency During Ramadan?
Over the past four weeks, along with millions of other Muslims across the UK and world, I’ve been observing the holy month of Ramadan. During these 30 days, Muslims refrain from eating or drinking during daylight hours, participate in special night prayers and donate to charity, among many other practices and activities.
Although I’ve fasted during Ramadan since I was a child, I was initially nervous about doing it this year. This was my first Ramadan in a full time working environment. Would I feel sleep deprived from waking up in the early hours to eat? How would I cope without my energy-boosting morning coffee? Would I miss out on any team lunches or drinks events?
I’d be lying if I said the first few days weren’t tough. Fasting unsurprisingly changes your eating and sleeping patterns quite dramatically. But after a while you get used to it and it actually becomes rather enjoyable. Contrary to what you might think, for many Muslims Ramadan is their favourite time of year. It’s a month of reflection, togetherness and compassion, and an opportunity for Muslims and non-Muslims alike to learn more about Islam.
It was particularly nice to spend Ramadan with my colleagues here at TCS. Even though I made it my personal mission to go about my work as normal (to the point people wouldn’t even realise I was fasting), the company were very accommodating and put me completely at ease about any initial fears.
Although this was a new experience for me, there are 3 million Muslims in the UK and it’s now commonplace to find people in the workplace observing Ramadan. Like me, most that are fasting don’t want any particular special treatment. What is useful though is to have an open and understanding environment where employees are confident to talk about any issues related to faith. For example my colleagues are aware that I go to weekly prayers every Friday lunch time, and where possible we try not to organise any important meetings then.
Ramadan ended over the weekend, and this was marked with the festival of Eid. On Eid, Muslims wear their best clothes, spend quality time with family and eat lots of food (I feel like I made up for a whole month of reduced eating in just a day!). And in case that wasn’t enough for me, here at TCS we had a celebratory post-Ramadan cheeky Nandos! I guess all my Eids came at once…