Muslims may feel ill at ease if they are required to attend a lunch meeting. It’s better to schedule a work meeting at a different time than lunch, Hooper says. Or at least ask what your fasting colleague thinks.
It is even worse to urge your Muslim colleague to eat or drink anyway. But that, according to Hooper, rarely happens.
It is not wrong or insulting to wish your colleague a ‘happy Ramadan’, but Muslims themselves use the Arabic greeting ‘ramadan mubarak’.
You can also say ‘ramadan kareem’. That means ‘Have a blessed Ramadan’, just like ‘Ramadan mubarak’.
It’s not insulting to ask whether Muslims are “not allowed to drink even water,” but it is irritating, given that your colleague has no doubt been asked that question hundreds of times before. Just remember that Muslims do not eat and drink at all during the day.
As a manager, don’t be afraid to ask if you can lend a helping hand to your Muslim colleagues.
Most fasting colleagues don’t expect help, but a conversation about how you can support them can be very helpful.
As a manager, for example, you can offer Muslims the opportunity to go home an hour earlier, because they skip lunch. Or occasionally offer a working day from home if possible.
Writer Nashwa Khan offers a number of tips on Twitter on what more employers can do to give their Muslim colleagues a helping hand.
Do not ask whether a Muslim colleague has brushed his or her teeth in the morning.
One annoying side effect of fasting is bad breath. Brushing your teeth in the morning hardly prevents this. As the day progresses, many Muslims will keep more distance from colleagues or talk much less than usual to avoid harassing others, blogger Adham El Banhawy says.
“If you happen to smell that bad smell, try not to be critical of it. Also, don’t talk about it behind their backs with colleagues,” writes El Banhawy.
Don’t ask your female coworker why she isn’t fasting.
Muslim women do not fast when they have their period. And since menstruation isn’t exactly the best topic of conversation in the office, it’s better not to ask questions if you see your female colleague eating or drinking during Ramadan.
Muslims are also not required to fast while traveling or in case of illness.
Don’t be afraid to ask if you can dine with us in the evening.
Ramadan is a very social month. Muslims go to mosques more often and organize dinners with friends and family, called iftar.
Offering to come to an iftar dinner shows respect and can be a great way to get to know your coworker better.“Why not use an iftar to share a part of your life with colleagues?”
This article originally appeared in 2019.