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How to support Muslim colleagues and be inclusive during Ramadan

Khurram Hussain

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There are approximately 1.9 billion Muslims around the world (24.1% of the world’s population) and Muslims are the majority in 49 countries. It’s likely that you will interact and connect with a Muslim colleague, client, customer, shareholder, advisor or member of the community during Ramadan.

In brief:

  • Consider scheduling meetings in the morning and early afternoons for Muslim colleagues and clients when energy levels are typically higher.
  • Avoid meetings and events during the important time of sunset when Muslims stop fasting (around 6pm to 6:30pm until 31st March and then around 7:30pm to 8pm thereafter when the clocks go forward one hour).
  • How Muslims engage with Ramadan will vary for each individual because experiences of faith are very personal; do not make assumptions.
  • Be considerate around requests for flexible working.
  • Encourage any staff who are fasting to take regular breaks, especially late in the afternoon.
  • Productivity is not necessarily lower during Ramadan; Muslim clients and colleagues may choose to work to different (not necessarily less demanding) daily patterns and schedules.


Understanding and accommodating the needs of Muslim colleagues and clients during the important month of Ramadan (pronounced ra-ma-daan), the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, enhances workplace inclusivity and respect. Ramadan, a time of fasting, reflection, and community for Muslims, involves abstaining from food and drink from dawn to sunset and usually lasts for 29 to 30 days.


Key practices for workplace accommodation:

  • Schedule morning meetings accordingly: Avoid very early travel commitments as Muslims may sleep later than usual in Ramadan due to the night prayer and wake up for the pre-dawn meal. Also avoid booking meetings close to sunset when the fast is broken.
  • Be considerate: Many Muslims will not mind others eating and drinking in front of them however, where possible, avoid face to face meetings centred around food and drink such as lunches or coffee catch-ups. As an alternative, consider meetings at an office.
  • Flexible working hours: Recognise the need for flexibility in work schedules to accommodate fasting hours and additional prayers. Be inclusive and consider moving meetings, switching to virtual engagements, and asking individuals what works for them. Temporarily amending the ratio of hybrid working may also be a useful approach, allowing fasting employees more time working from home during Ramadan.
  • Encourage regular breaks: Support fasting colleagues by encouraging short breaks throughout the day for sustained productivity and well-being.
  • Understand individual needs: Acknowledge that engagement with Ramadan varies among individuals, reflecting a spectrum of personal faith experiences. It is important not to judge or compare individuals because of their responsibilities in and outside work.
  • Evening events: Dinners or events in the evening are not impossible. Consider delaying dinner until the fast opens and remember many Muslims will open the fast with the customary practice of consuming water and dates followed by the sunset (maghrib) prayer.

Insights into Ramadan:

  • Why Ramadan observances vary annually: The Islamic lunar calendar causes Ramadan to shift approximately 10 days earlier each year on the Gregorian calendar.
  • Not all Muslims will begin Ramadan on the same day: Ramadan in 2024 is beginning on two different dates owing to the determination of the lunar calendar. This is a complex issue due to variations in methods of moon sighting; both methods are considered valid in Islam.
  • The significance of fasting: Fasting from dawn to sunset is a profound spiritual discipline intended to foster a deeper connection with Allah (God), emphasising purification and self-reflection.
  • Increased worship and community activities: In addition to fasting, many Muslims will also observe the night prayer which lasts approximately an hour and increase charitable giving which holds special significance during Ramadan. It is believed that the rewards for good deeds are multiplied during the blessed month.
  • Avoid assumptions: Whilst fasting is generally hard, do not assume it is unpleasant. Muslims look forward to Ramadan with a deep sense of excitement and enthusiasm.
  • Ramadan anxiety: Muslims may feel anxious in juggling preparation for suhoor (the pre-fast meal) and iftar (the post-fast meal) especially when balancing childcare responsibilities and a demanding work schedule.


Creating an inclusive environment:

  • Support for energy management: Acknowledge potential declines in energy as the day progresses and consider staggering work assignments.
  • Awareness of significant periods: The last ten days of Ramadan hold special significance, possibly affecting work and leave requests.
  • Celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr: Anticipate requests for time off to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan, and show flexibility in accommodating these, as it is the equivalent of Christmas.
  • Not every Muslim will be fasting: Avoid asking why someone may not be fasting as it could get embarrassing. There are exceptions for people including for those who are sick, elderly, pregnant or menstruating women, or someone who is travelling.


Working with Muslim clients:

  • Tailor client interactions to account for altered schedules during Ramadan, especially in regions with significant Muslim populations observing shortened work hours.


Promoting inclusive language and attitudes:

  • Approach discussions about fasting with respect and admiration, recognising Ramadan as a period of spiritual importance and personal pride for Muslim colleagues. They feel gratitude that they can participate in this blessed month, so expressing sympathy for those fasting isn’t appropriate.


By incorporating these practices, businesses can nurture a respectful and inclusive workspace that honours the diverse experiences and traditions of all employees, including those observing Ramadan. A place where everyone feels seen, understood and valued.

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