Work Ethics for Muslims Fasting During Ramadan – The Islamic Workplace Blog

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, 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:


No slacking during Ramadan

Some quick tips for employees in Ramadan

  1. Establish when Ramadan is approaching and let your employer know that you will be fasting.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Discuss with your employer the possibility of not having power lunches.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. If  possible avoid committing yourself to evening functions or to travel away from home for business.
  9. If possible, don’t schedule yourself during night shifts–because of your need to perform extra prayers.
  10. 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.
  11. 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”.

  1. Establish when Ramadan is approaching.
  2. Try and avoid ‘working lunches’.  Reason: Muslims are not to be around others who are eating.
  3. Request other employees not to discuss food/drink in front of fasting employees.
  4. Make allowances for Muslims to take a break at sunset to break their fast and pray.
  5. Consider allowing Muslim staff to work a shorter lunch break in return for an earlier finish.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Do not ask Muslim staff to commit to evening functions or to travel away from home for business.
  9. If possible, don’t schedule Muslim staff during night shifts–because of their need to perform extra prayers.
  10. Be prepared for people to take between 1-3 days holiday at the end of Ramadan.

Please click here to download this excellent brochure discussing how Muslims who are fasting should behave at work during 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]

How Do I Get Rid of Intense Hate Towards Someone in My Workplace?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: I work in proximity to an individual who is very selfish and spreads toxicity. He insists on micromanaging our work simply because of his prestige in the community. I am consumed by anger and hatred. How can I deal with this?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah lift this tribulation from you and fill your heart with tranquility.


`A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that, “The Prophet entered while [I] was angry. So he rubbed the tip of my nose and said, ‘My little `A’isha. Say, ‘O Allah, forgive my sin, remove the anger in my heart, and protect me from Satan.’ (Allahumma’ Ghfirli dhanbi, wa adhhib ghaydha qalbi, wa aajirni min ash-shaytan)” [Ibn al-Sunni, as mentioned in Barkawi’s Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya]

اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِي ذَنْبِي وَأَذْهِبْ غَيْظَ قَلْبِي وَآجِرْنِي مِنْ الشَّيْطَانِ

Excerpt from A Little Fiqh on Controlling One’s Anger by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Practical steps

1) Make continual istighfar.
2) Give in charity regularly, even if it’s a small amount and beg Allah to remove this tribulation from your life.
3) When you know you are going to be near this person, be in wudu and ask Allah to protect you from harm.
4) Give regular salawat upon the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace).
5) Perform The Prayer of Need and beg Allah to help.

Assertiveness training

Are you seeing a therapist to help treat your depression? If you have not seen a therapist, please consider doing so. You do not need to struggle through this alone.

In addition to learning how to cope with your severe depression, please ask your therapist to teach you how to be more assertive in the workplace. I can appreciate how difficult it can be to set boundaries in general, let alone with a well-known community elder. However, it sounds like your current approach is not working. I am not asking you to be rude, but I am suggesting that you think of tactful, respectful and firm ways to protect yourself.

It is also likely that this person has no idea how annoyed you and your colleagues are. If none of you say anything to him/her, then he/she will persist in behaving this way.

An example of a workplace boundary setting statement is: “Thank you for your advice, but my managers are happy with my performance. If you are not, then please take it up with them.”

Continue to repeat this, firmly and respectfully. However, try not to fret if you find it difficult to do this right now. Build up your courage first, role play with your therapist or close friends/family, then read Ayatul Kursi for ease. The first time you stand up for yourself, it’s natural to feel anxious and stressed, but it will get easier over time, inshaAllah.

Human resources

Does your workplace have a HR manager? It sounds like this toxic character is affecting the whole office. If direct interaction with this person does not bring about the desired outcome, then perhaps you and your colleagues need to lodge an official complaint about this person. If you do not have HR manager, then at least notify your bosses so they can look into it.


When you are in the midst of a difficult test, remember the One who is sending this test to you. Spend some time in nature and reflect on what you can learn from this. Let this person be a warning to you, about how not to behave. Reflect on how our Beloved Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) called upon us to improve our character.

Please refer to the following links:

A Little Fiqh on Controlling One’s Anger
What Are Some Prophetic Supplications That Can Help Me Deal With Trials in My Life?


Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

When faith and profession mix – The National

When faith and profession mix – The National
An interesting discussion on the intersection of Islam and the workplace

Last Updated: Jan 16, 2010

Religion and professional life can at times come into conflict.

At age 21, Farhan Syed, then a recent graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, started a new job at Accenture, the giant consulting firm. Almost immediately, he was confronted with an enviable problem. The enviable part: his superiors took him and his newly-hired colleagues out to lunch constantly over their orientation period. The problem: Mr Syed was fasting. His start date fell during Ramadan, and as a Muslim he could not partake of any of the lavish, corporate-sponsored meals.

“How was I going to explain this to the executive sitting next to me?” he remembers. “Here I was surrounded by people who not only didn’t share my faith, but most of them knew nothing about it whatsoever. I promised myself that if I made it, I wouldn’t let anyone else face that kind of awkwardness.” Now 34, Mr Syed has made it. He works in Palo Alto, California, as a consultant at Bain and Co., a top-tier management consulting firm that accepts few of the legions of pedigreed hopefuls who apply. To his Berkeley degree, Mr Syed has added an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League institution. And he has succeeded in helping younger Muslims navigate the worlds of high finance and consulting through his involvement with Muslim Urban Professionals, a service organisation with a two-pronged mission: to help Muslims maintain their religious identities in these heavily Judeo-Christian professional environments, and to provide advice about the fiercely competitive schools and firms to which all ambitious business types – Muslim and otherwise – aspire.

Known by its absurdly endearing nickname of Muppies, the organisation was founded in 2006 by three men scarcely out of school themselves. Faisal Ghori, now 27, Hassan Jaffar, 28, and Umair Khan, 28, formed the group after comparing notes on experiences such as that which Mr Syed describes. “When I started at an investment bank” – where hours are notoriously long and the workload Sisyphean – “I found the culture to be really homogenous,” recalls Mr Ghori, now an associate at Emerging Markets Management, an asset management firm based in the US capital. “Was I going to be able to leave in the middle of the day for Friday prayer?”

Mr Jaffar brings up another challenge, one he experienced as a young management consultant at McKinsey & Co. (he is now an associate at Seneca Capital, a hedge fund) “Drinking was a big deal,” he says. “Whenever there was a social event, or if people from work went out on Friday nights, it was always at a drinking venue. As a practicing Muslim, I can’t drink, and I can’t be in a place where people are drinking. I didn’t want to be antisocial, because I’m inherently friendly and I enjoy meeting people and going out.”

Mr Jaffar says his choice to forego the social outing led to alienation and exclusion from the camaraderie of his colleagues. Then, he says, it occurred to him to “step in and be an organiser”, and he started planning group brunches and daytime meet-ups in the park. Problem solved. These tactics, born of workplace anxiety, are just the kinds of solutions that Muppies offers its members, who now number more than 600. Mr Ghori points out that many Muslims in finance and consulting are the children of immigrants who have spent their careers in different professions. Parental guidance is therefore, he says, not helpful.

“My parents came to the US from Pakistan in the 1960s,” he explains. “A lot of Pakistanis in that wave of immigration were engineers and physicians; they weren’t in the professions that we are. If I were looking for a residency in dermatology, then I would be all set.” Mr Ghori and his Muppies associates believe that there is “perhaps a half-generation” of Muslims ahead of them in their fields, but that Muslims are essentially new to the finance and consulting professions. He is hard-pressed to identify any well-known role models for Muslims in these fields, mentioning “the head of quantitative trading at Citigroup, and the head of strategy at Merrill Lynch”, without naming them. Mr Syed self-deprecatingly calls himself “an elder statesman” at the age of 34. After cogitating, he does, however, nominate some Muslim stars on the US business scene: Omar Hamoui, the CEO and founder of AdMob (recently sold to Google for US$750 million), and Kamal Ahmed, a managing director of Morgan Stanley.

In addition to its US chapters, Muppies has recently launched a Gulf chapter in Dubai, a move Mr Jaffar, who is originally from Oman, attributes to the recent development of the United Arab Emirates as a business hub. “If you grew up Emirati, what do you or anyone in your family know about investment banking?” There is a similar lack of accumulated familial and cultural knowledge about finance and consulting in the Gulf as there is among Muslim families in the US, he maintains.

The Dubai chapter, which currently has between 20 and 30 members, will take its lead from the other chapters, says Mr Jaffar. “We have an informal presence in Dubai. However, we are planning on launching a formal chapter soon.” The last Muppies “event” was the TEDxDubai conference, which was organised, supported and attended by Muppies members. The primary modality in which Muppies works reflects its post-millennial date of origin. Many of the organisation’s activities take place virtually, either through its website and e-mail blasts, or on sprawling conference linking scores of members to a moderator who leads discussion. During a teleconference last year, the Muppies co-founder, Umair Khan, answered questions from young Muslims seeking admission to Harvard Business School (Mr Khan is a second-year MBA candidate at Harvard). Most queries could have come from believers of any faith: What is the best strategy for answering the essay questions on the application? How important is the interview portion of the screening process? But Mr Khan’s answers sometimes took a distinctly Islamic twist, peppered with insha’Allahs.

A moderator of another Muppies teleconference, also regarding admission to Harvard, advised listeners that they should not shy away from referencing their faith in their application essays “if it’s an important part of who you are as a person”. The moderator, Sofina Anne Qureshi, an American who is studying at the Harvard, then recounted her own admission essays, in which she told the committee of her work as a chairperson of Ramadan dinners at her undergraduate university. “Just be careful of the Arabic-to-English translations,” she cautioned.

“Give the essay to someone who isn’t Muslim, and let them read it through. If they say, ‘What the heck does that mean?’ then you know you need to explain better.” Although Muppies relies on female members such as Ms Qureshi to help conduct its operations, the founders concede that the leadership is, for now, entirely male. “At some of our events, the majority of participants are women,” Mr Jaffar says, explaining the absence of women at the top by saying that Muppies came about as a collaboration between friends. One of Muppies’ partner organisations, the Muslim Finance Professionals Association, is headed by a woman, Dahlia Mahmoud, and Mr Jaffar says that Muppies is actively seeking to place women in leadership positions.

As part of its goal to aid those seeking advice about professional opportunities, Muppies often visits universities, where the organisation is hosted by Muslim student associations. Information sessions offer students the chance to quiz accomplished bankers and consultants about their path to success. (All are welcome at these sessions, regardless of faith, Mr Ghori notes). Thus far Muppies has paid visits to Berkeley, Stanford University, the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, the University of Pennsylvania, MIT, Harvard, and the University of Texas.

In addition to the access to seminars, conference calls and job listings, Muppies members have a powerful tool at their fingertips – a database of all Muppies searchable by employer and alma mater. Mr Ghori encourages members interested in, say, Goldman Sachs to call up fellow Muslims with experience at the bank and ask for advice on applying. True to their ambitious natures, the founders of Muppies aren’t content to be idle. They have recently expanded the group’s outreach to include Muslim professionals in the governmental and non-profit sectors.

There is also talk of a Muppies capital fund, which Mr Jaffar says will take investment from interested members and channel it to community-level businesses relevant to the Islamic faith; he cites a start-up halal meat processing plant as an example. Investments would be sharia compliant, with investors seeking only their principal in return. That body would grant scholarships to Muslims seeking to study business and make a bid for success in the growing list of professions under Muppies’ remit.

Although many American Muslims may feel the need to educate non-Muslims about the realities of Islam, Muppies does not concern itself with that particular task, though their “experiences are very much framed by September 11,” Mr Ghori explains. He tells the story of one friend who was advised by an older Muslim to shave his beard when applying to an investment bank, while another used his middle name rather than his Muslim-sounding first name when seeking jobs. Mr Ghori himself was once asked in a job interview for his opinion about the Danish cartoon controversy. “Totally inappropriate,” he says, shaking his head.

Yet if Muppies seeks in any way to control stereotypes, it is by advising members to remain true to themselves and visibly succeed in their chosen fields. “Be communicative about the functional things like taking Eid as a holiday and fasting during Ramadan,” Mr Syed tells his patrons. “You don’t need to explain the entire faith of Islam.”

Keeping Appointments, Delays, and Cancellation – Excerpt from the book “Islamic Manners” by Shaykh Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah

The following excerpt is from the book “Islamic Manners” by Shaykh Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah (may Allah shower His mercy upon him). Although the book is short and concise, one can nonetheless acquire very deep meanings by reflecting upon its structure and themes. It is unlike other works of adab (etiquette) which often go into the particular details of the Sunnah.

Rather, “Islamic Manners” focuses on key principles and practices of the Sunnah and gives special attention to those that are often neglected by believers in the modern era. If each us were to live up to the lessons contained in this short work, we would witness remarkable transformations in ourselves, our families, our communities, and within broader society. This following section explains the spiritual importance of keeping appointments and the etiquette of dealing with delays and cancellations.


Keeping Appointments, Delays, and Cancellation

By Shaykh Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah

In the first verse of Surat Al-Mai’da, Allah called upon the believers “O you the Believers, fulfill your promises.” In Surat Maryam Allah also praised Prophet Ismail (may peace be upon him) “He was true to his promise. He was a Messenger and a Prophet.”

To keep an appointment is vital to our lives, since time is the most precious commodity, once wasted it could not be replaced. If you made an appointment, whether to a friend, colleague or for business you should do your utmost to keep this appointment. This is the right of the other person who gave you part of their time and may have declined other appointments. Not only have you disrupted their schedule but you have marred your image and personality.

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