Happy Ramadan! We caught up with our colleague Imran to find out what Ramadan means to him.

With the holy month of Ramadan starting this week, we caught up with Imran Hussain, Tier 2 Network Engineer at Xalient, to find out what Ramadan means to him and tips to support colleagues who are fasting.

What do you enjoy the most about Ramadan?

I find Ramadan is a time to reset both mentally and physically and I like to use fasting as a means 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 taken from the month into the whole year.

What do you find challenging?

I find  caffeine withdrawal really hard as I choose to give that up as part of Ramadan and go cold turkey! It’s difficult 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?

Personally, 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 one thing I do struggle with is 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 of choice after a day’s fasting?

That amazing Yorkshire delicacy that 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 for it!

Can you explain what a typical fasting day is like for you?

It’s traditional to wake up and have an early morning meal, which is usually an hour before dawn. So around 4am this year! I personally have a normal breakfast and make sure I’m hydrated for the day ahead – yes its true, we don’t drink anything at all 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 😉) all the way up to early evening, where I like to have a light work-out just to help pass the time before the sun sets and it’s time for us to eat again. There are special prayers every night through the month too, and this is something all people who are fasting will partake in as part of Ramadan.

Could you share a few tips to help your colleagues support you, and others who are participating in Ramadan?

  1. 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’te 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!
  2. 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, the privileges they hold, and to think deeply about what changes we can make to make the world a better place, etc.
  3. 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 just to leave them to it rather than pry. Lots of Muslims don’t fast and it could be for a number of reasons (including pregnancy, illness, old age, etc.).
  4. Where possible, be conscious of scheduling meetings and calls in the evening, as this is a time where the person fasting is eating and enjoying time to reflect. It’s a time for spending with families and friends and enjoying communal meals, so be mindful of this as well as time zones.
  5. 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.