As the holy month of Ramadan begins, it’s a time for reflection, self-improvement, and a heightened sense of community. For Muslims worldwide, this month-long fasting and prayer is a time to strengthen their faith, connect with loved ones, and give back to those in need. At Xalient, we’re fortunate to have colleagues from diverse backgrounds. We caught up with Imran Hussain, Network Team Lead, to learn more about his experience with Ramadan and his tips for supporting colleagues observing the fast.
What do you enjoy the most about Ramadan?
Ramadan is a time to reset mentally and physically, and I like fasting to detox from all the naughty foods I’ve eaten along the way.
It’s also a chance to think about myself – it’s a spiritual event as much as it’s about fasting, so I like to take the opportunity to reflect and continue with good practices from the month into the whole year.
What do you find challenging?
I find caffeine withdrawal hard, as I choose to give that up as part of Ramadan and go cold turkey! It isn’t easy at first, but after Ramadan, that first sip is like liquid gold!
How do you cope with going without food or drink at work all day?
I can switch off the feeling of hunger in Ramadan as I’ve been doing it for so long; I’m used to it! But I struggle with being cold on an empty stomach – so sometimes you might find me in the office with my coat on, even if it’s a really warm and sunny day!
What’s your go-to meal and drink after a day’s fasting?
That amazing Yorkshire delicacy is a ‘Chippy tea’ with a glass of coke! Whatever it is, it’s enjoyable as we’ve fasted all day, so we’re ready!
Can you explain what a typical fasting day is like for you?
It’s traditional to wake up and have an early morning meal, usually an hour before dawn. So around 4 am this year! I have a normal breakfast and ensure I’m hydrated for the day ahead – yes, it’s true, we don’t drink anything during the sunlight hours, which can sometimes be hard, especially if it is warm. From here, it’s a normal day at work or whatever I’m doing at the weekend (minus cutting the lawn ) up to the early evening, where I like to have a light workout to help pass the time before the sun sets. It’s time for us to eat again. There are special prayers every night through the month, which all fasting people will partake in as part of Ramadan.
Could you share tips to help your colleagues support you and others participating in Ramadan?
Don’t worry about eating in front of those participating in Ramadan – we’ll opt out of sitting at the lunch table if needed, so don’t feel you have to apologise about eating in front of those fasting. We enjoy the fact that we are fasting and look forward to it!
It’s always better to ask about each person’s experience rather than make assumptions. Of course, it’s hard; it’s not meant to be easy! It’s a time for Muslims to reflect on their lives and privileges and think deeply about what changes we can make to improve the world.
Sometimes we don’t fast – there’s no need to pry. If you notice a Muslim colleague or friend isn’t fasting, it’s best to leave them to it rather than pry. Many Muslims don’t fast for several reasons (including pregnancy, illness, old age, etc..).
Where possible, be conscious of scheduling meetings and calls in the evening, as this is when the person fasting is eating and enjoying time to reflect. It’s a time to spend with families and friends and enjoy communal meals, so be mindful of this and time zones.
Show solidarity – as part of Ramadan, we like to think and reflect on those who are less fortunate than us, and we do what we can to help out in our local communities and charities. You may not want to fast, but you might want to help out with charity work or support a friend or colleague this way instead.