Work Ethics for Muslims Fasting During Ramadan – The Islamic Workplace Blog
Note from Rafik Beekun
During the blessed month of Ramadan, many Muslims (especially in Muslim countries) slack off, showing up late at work (or not showing up at all), sleeping on the job, procrastinating, doing the least possible, and asking employers for shorter working days at the same wage rate. This type of behavior is inconsistent with the very spirit of Ramadan. As Abdul Rahman Osman, deputy mufti of Pahang, Malaysia’s third largest state, stated, Islam does not advocate a special working mode for Ramadan. Not only is this slacking against the spirit of Ramadan, but it is also expensive and damaging to employers and the national economy of these countries–with losses running in the billions of dollars.
The situation has become so bad in Saudi Arabia that inspectors from the Control andInvestigation Board are now conducting on-the-spot inspections to ensure that employees comply with the shortened five-hour (10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) Ramadan work schedule.
“Negligence in performing duties during Ramadan is not permissible and is against Ramadan teachings,” says Dr. Ali Bin Abbas Al-Hakami, a member of the Board of Senior Ulema and Higher Judicial Council. Many people have turned Ramadan into a month of eating, watching TV and staying up late, and these factors affect work in offices, which is not permissible in Islam, Dr. Al-Hakami added. [Source: Naeem Tamim Al-HakimOkaz/Saudi Gazette]
Finding God at Work
Muslims need to rethink the concept of work, especially during the month of Ramadan Many Muslims working during Ramadan tend to be worried about how to nurture their “spiritual” self while coping with a demanding work environment. They struggle during work hours waiting to get home or to a mosque to really ‘find God’ again.
As indicated by radicalmiddleway .co.uk, Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad sees things a bit differently. God isn’t only found in ‘sacred places’. We make our lives sacred by the intentions we make and the actions we do. After all, the Prophet – peace and blessings be upon him — invoked God’s Mercy on those who were involved in business transactions too. This excerpt is taken from the Shaykh’s keynote address at the launch of the “Let’s make this a Fairtrade Ramadan!” campaign. To learn more about the campaign and see more coverage from the event go to: ramadan.radicalmiddleway.co.uk
No slacking during Ramadan
Some quick tips for employees in Ramadan
- Establish when Ramadan is approaching and let your employer know that you will be fasting.
- Try to be disciplined about your eating and sleeping habits when you are not fasting. Don’t stay up late at night gorging yourself and watching TV/partying (which you should not be doing anyway). Your employer has a right on you–staying up all night and then falling asleep on the job the next day (putting yourself and others at risk in certain jobs) would violate these rights.
- Ask the employer if they will allow you to continue working during lunch time (or take a shorter lunch break for praying) so that you can leave earlier. Otherwise, ask if you can use part of your lunch break to take a short power nap.
- Hydrate well during the night and at suhour and after iftar so that you do not get dehydrated on the job. Severe dehydration can lead to people passing out on the job, etc. and hurting yourself.
- Discuss with your employer the possibility of not having power lunches.
- If your employer has a canteen, try and arrange for it [or another space] to be available for your and other Muslims wishing to break their fast. Invite your employer to break fast with you.
- Ask the employer if they can schedule very physically demanding tasks for you after Ramadan. If they cannot, and if the work is extremely physically demanding in very dire environments, consider the fatwa about not fasting for those days when you are scheduled for such types of work, and then replacing it later.
- If possible avoid committing yourself to evening functions or to travel away from home for business.
- If possible, don’t schedule yourself during night shifts–because of your need to perform extra prayers.
- Ask if you can schedule more volunteer, charitable work for your company during Ramadan. Many companies allow employees a certain number of paid hours during which they can volunteer to help out their community. Schedule yours during Ramadan for extra blessings.
- Let your employer understand that you may take between 1-3 days holiday at the end of Ramadan, but that you will make up for it when others are away for Christmas or New Year Holidays.
Fasting for Productivity
The Working Muslim in Ramadan
Some quick tips for employers in Ramadan (modified from “The Working Muslim in Ramadan”.
- Establish when Ramadan is approaching.
- Try and avoid ‘working lunches’. Reason: Muslims are not to be around others who are eating.
- Request other employees not to discuss food/drink in front of fasting employees.
- Make allowances for Muslims to take a break at sunset to break their fast and pray.
- Consider allowing Muslim staff to work a shorter lunch break in return for an earlier finish.
- If you cannot allow them to finish earlier, permit Muslims to take a power nap during their lunch break–since they won’t be eating during that time anyway.
- If you have a canteen, try and arrange for it [or another space] to be available for people wishing to break their fast with others.
- Do not ask Muslim staff to commit to evening functions or to travel away from home for business.
- If possible, don’t schedule Muslim staff during night shifts–because of their need to perform extra prayers.
- Be prepared for people to take between 1-3 days holiday at the end of Ramadan.
Work Ethics for Ramadan
Our Prophet Muhammad (s) said, narrating it from Allah: “Every deed of the son of Adam is for him except fasting; it is for me and I shall reward for it.” […]
[Thus, the] Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) has urged all Muslims to perform good deeds in the month of Ramadan, as the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) addressed us on the last day of Sha “baan and said: “O people, there has come to you a great month, a blessed month, a month in which there is a night that is better than a thousand months. Allah has made its fasting obligatory and spending its nights in prayer a voluntary act. Whoever draws close (to Allah) during this month by doing a good deed will be like one who did an obligatory deed in any other month, and the one who does an obligatory deed in it will be like the one who did seventy obligatory deeds in any other month. It is the month of patience, and the reward of patience is Paradise. It is the month of helping others. It is a month in which the believers’ provision is increased. Whoever gives a fasting person food with which to break his fast will have his sins forgiven and he will be ransomed from the Fire, and he will have a reward like his without it detracting from his reward in the slightest.”
From this perspective, Muslims over the centuries and since the beginning of Islam were required to fast this month and perform all its religious duties. However, there are some Muslims who might unintentionally behave during Ramadan in a way that contradicts the philosophy of fasting and its spirit.
These negative behaviors might be seen during or outside work hours. And since the employer has rights upon the Muslim worker, it is essential that Muslims do not violate the rights of others as they try to become closer to God. Thus, the balance between the rights of God and the rights of His servants is critical. Violating the rights of others is injustice to them, Prophet (PBUH) said, narrating it from Allah: “O my slaves, I have forbidden injustice to myself, and I have made it forbidden among you, so do not wrong one another.”
And all of us know that the prayer of the oppressed is always answered whether he was a believer or not, The Prophet (PBUH) said: “fear the prayer of the oppressed, even if a non-Muslim; there is no veil between him and Allah.”
Finally, we should all remember the words of the prophet (PBUH) when he said “All rights will be restored on the Day of Resurrection, until even the hornless sheep will settle its score with the one that has horns“. And cropping on the Day of Judgment is done by taking the good deeds of the unjust and removing the sins of the people he oppressed, as is reported in the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, who said that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “Do you know who is the bankrupt one?” They said: “Among us, the one a bankrupt is the one who has no dirhams and no goods.” He said: “Rather the one who is bankrupt amongst my ummah is the one who will come on the Day of Resurrection with prayer, fasting and zakaah, but he will come having insulted this one, slandered that one, consumed the wealth of this one, shed the blood of that one and beaten this one, all of whom will be given some of his hasanaat (good deeds), and if his hasanaat run out before the scores have been settled, some of their sins will be taken and thrown onto him, then he will be cast into the Fire.” Narrated by Muslim.
A Muslim Role Model during Ramadan: Superathlete Hakeem Olajuwon and Fasting
Hakeem Olajuwon, famous for his foot speed, spinning moves, fade away jump shot and his knee and elbow pads that he almost ever wore, was the biggest Rocket of Houston.
The city of Houston embraced him like no one else and he felt so eternally blessed for that.
He’ll forever stand as one of the 5 best basketball centers we’ll ever see (Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Shaquille O’neal). The word “Olajuwon” is a Yoruban word, meaning “always being on top”.
It’s really weird, but when you think about it, it’s not so weird, that he never touched a basketball until he was 15 years old. So for those of you who started later in this game, don’t forget, there’s always a hope:) But I say, when you think about it it’s not so weird because he was already good in table tennis, soccer and handball.
That gave him the uncanny agility on the basketball court and helped him develop his unique style of playing. Plus the fact that he was extremely disciplined thanks to his Muslim beliefs.
He had tremendous work ethics and was dedicated to the game. During Ramadan, he’d get up at 5:00 a.m. and have breakfast and fast for the rest of the day. No water, no Gatorade, nothing.
It’s amazing to think just how physically ready he was and the shape he was in. And from 5:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. he was devoted to basketball, often times in the gym and that didn’t affect him a bit. [more]