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Balancing Work And Worship: Ramadan As A Senior Recruiter

2 months ago by Rose Hunt

Balancing Work And Worship: Ramadan As A Senior Recruiter

Dates And Water

​For millions of Muslims the world over, Ramadan marks the beginning of a month devoted to fasting, prayer, mindfulness, and personal introspection. Considered one of the holiest months in the Islamic calendar, many Muslims will be fasting from sunrise to sunset every day, which could be around 17 hours of not eating or drinking for 30 days. By doing so, many feel that they’re able to strengthen their devotion to their faith, as well as develop greater compassion for others.

While the religious significance of the holy month is paramount, for many, the daily routine of balancing work and fasting can be challenging and rewarding in equal measure. To learn more about how the festival of Ramadan intersects with working life, we spoke with Mubeen Shariff, a senior manager in workforce staffing for meal kit provider HelloFresh.

A Time For Peace And Reflection

Speaking of the personal significance the holy month of Ramadan holds for him, Mubeen explains, “Ramadan for me is wrapped up in pleasant nostalgia. It means reminiscing about times spent growing up, my mum fussing over my brother and me, and making us all our favourite foods. These days, it’s also a time of the year to reflect, reset, and to lay personal and spiritual foundations for the coming year. There’s also an important charitable aspect to Ramadan which I think people outside the faith sometimes forget about, with many Muslims seeking to help the less fortunate in any way they can.”

Naturally, the routine during Ramadan will vary for all Muslims, but the day will generally include certain milestones. The first prayer of the day marks the beginning of the fast, and is a time when those who are fasting will have a small meal known as Suhoor. Most people find it’s a good idea to eat healthy foods that will help maintain energy throughout the day. For example, Mubeen explains, “I usually have an omelette with a few different veggies, a bowl of mixed berries, and granola. Naturally, this is most often accompanied by a strong coffee, and as much water as possible! Because I’ll be getting up before the sun rises, if I have time, I’ll sometimes try to squeeze in a short nap afterwards. Then, it’s time to wake up again, head to the gym, and then into work!”

Of course, Ramadan isn’t all about fasting. Prayer is also an integral part of each day, with many Muslims praying upwards of five times per day as part of specific rituals. Fajr prayer, for example, is the first prayer of the day performed before sunrise, while Asr prayer is typically performed in the late afternoon. Mubeen tells us, “I’ve been making a real effort lately to reconnect with my faith, so I’ll try to complete as many of the five daily prayers as possible. I also usually listen to a few verses from the Quran.”

The Realities Of Fasting At Work

Mubeen’s job within recruitment can be full on. He’s required to speak with people all over the world, make decisions that have important consequences, and stay on top of targets and KPIs. Trying to combine this with fasting might seem impossible, but Mubeen insists that although it’s tough, it’s not as hard as people may imagine. “I won’t pretend that fasting is easy,” he says, “But it’s definitely not as bad as people seem to think it is. To be honest, during Ramadan, I sometimes even find that I’m more productive because I’ll throw myself into my work to keep my mind occupied. I do get tired more quickly, so I tend to work in 45-minute bursts, then give myself a little break. Sometimes I might start my day earlier so I can finish a little earlier. When I’m not fasting, I’ll often have breaks for snacks or a caffeine fix during the day, so going without that is probably the hardest part. However, I find the sacrifice to be gratifying – it helps to clear my mind, allows me to gain greater spiritual clarity, and makes me to feel closer to God.”

Speaking of the aspect of fasting he finds most challenging, Mubeen told us, “The lack of water is tough. However, most Muslims will have been fasting during Ramadan since they hit puberty, so you have plenty of time to become accustomed to it. The first fast of the Islamic calendar is always the toughest – once you get that out the way, the rest are easy!”

Mubeen’s employer, HelloFresh, is an organisation known for its strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, and for striving to create working environments that allow their team to embrace their authentic identities. Mubeen’s work environment is such a positive one, in fact, that he actually prefers to work from the office during Ramadan rather than at home. He notes, “HelloFresh is amazing, and such an inclusive employer. As a business globally, we have a Muslim forum with a dedicated lead, so we have our own ready-made community to interact with. Locally, we also have designated prayer rooms, and the company also provides dates – a traditional food consumed during Ramadan – to Muslims who are opening their fast.”

Being A Supportive Colleague During Ramadan

Speaking about the misconceptions that people outside the Islamic faith sometimes have about Ramadan, Mubeen says, “Ramadan is more than ‘The Hunger Games’! There’s a big social and family side to it as well. It’s a time of giving to others, reflecting on what’s important in life, and abstaining from human desires which allows you to gain greater mental clarity. I think non-Muslim colleagues sometimes assume that Ramadan is a time of suffering and hardship, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s a very joyous month, and one that I find fills me with a renewed sense of faith and appreciation for life.”

Mubeen makes the point that there are numerous things people can do to support their fasting colleagues throughout the month: “Be understanding. We will be praying a lot, and our schedules might look different to normal. Try to accommodate by moving meetings, or asking Muslim team members what they need from you to make life easier. Don’t feel bad about or apologise for eating in front of us, we understand! Remember that not every Muslim will be fasting during Ramadan, as there are numerous reasons people are advised to abstain, such as pregnancy, menstruation, or illness. People may not necessarily want to discuss these reasons with you, so allow people their privacy. Finally, don’t be afraid to join in! A lot of communities and even some employee resource groups offer group Iftaars (the meal which breaks the fast) so ask if you can get involved. It’s a great way to learn more about Ramadan and the Islamic faith.”