Junaid Sali is a member of insight agency Opinium’s Cape Town team and recently sent a note around to help his colleagues understand what a typical day in the month of Ramadan looks like. He also offers some advice to employers on how to help support their Muslim colleagues.
In South Africa the month of Ramadan officially begins on Friday the 24th March 2023. The month of Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic Calendar. This month a Muslim has to fast from dusk till dawn which is obligatory for all Muslims once they reach puberty. A normal day during the month of Ramadan in Cape Town is to wake up before sunrise and have a meal and once we hear the calling for the first prayer of the day on the radio we have to stop eating.
After the first prayer that’s when the fast begins for the day to make it easier we use the free time we can recite Quran or try and gain knowledge about our religion to try and get closer to Allah. When it comes to an hour before sunset we start getting excited and start smelling the food that’s in the kitchen. In this time a tradition in Cape Town is to take cake/savouries to the neighbours around you and they usually will return the favour this also ensures everyone in the neighbourhood has something to break their fast with.
Once the call to prayer is sounded on the radio you break your fast with a glass of water or a Date and after that we can eat and drink what ever is on the table but we learn not to stuff our faces with the food just because we fasted the whole day, but to eat with respect.
Finally at night after we have broken our fast we go to the Mosque and perform prayer in a group this is called Taraweeh – this is a night prayer performed in Ramadan and is usually quite long. This is not an obligatory thing to do but this month we try and do more. Rewards are increased and our sins get forgiven in this month of Ramadan its not just about staying away from eating and drinking. This month is also where we try and reconnect with family and friends. Also give to the less fortunate by making food parcels or buying clothes for them.
In terms of how employers can support their staff and colleagues? Be patient, when fasting fatigue kicks and and someone that is fasting usually gets tired really quick. I think flexibility as well especially in the winter time when sunset is really early, for them to perhaps work from home or adjust hours to accommodate for them to break their fast with their family and not on the road or at a work desk.