Hope is in the (Ramadan) air

Display at the recent No Added Sugar exhibition in Sydney

Of all the Ramadans past, it feels like this year the blessed Islamic month has received by far the most international mainstream media coverage to date.

I note this with much appreciation because coverage naturally leads to more widespread awareness, which (one would hope) then builds a healthier understanding of the diverse backgrounds that make up multicultural societies worldwide.

It also diminishes the likelihood of situations arising like the one identified in this blog post published on The Y Factor Radio program’s website as part of its Ramadan Chronicles series.

The piece recounts a Muslim employee’s altercation with his manager over the simple matter of break times. Rather than take a lunch break this employee takes his break after 5PM in Ramadan, allowing him to break his fast.

Much to his ill fortune, his manager found this to be an inconvenience that he was not willing to accommodate.

To read of such an incident in light of all the positive press and efforts at dialogue and interfaith events during Ramadan was rather disappointing.

But in line with the mercy that Allah graciously infuses into the holy month, I found myself today in a situation that lit my insides with hope for humanity’s progress in a world oft filled with dreary stories.

At the start of the month I’d made arrangements at work to start my day one hour early and thus leave an hour earlier than my usual finishing time, enabling me to be home for iftar (breaking fast). My supervisors were very kind about it and happily accommodated me.

Today, close to Ramadan leaving time, a supervisor assigned me a work task to do. I readily took it on and got started, only to find her rushing towards me ten minutes later looking slightly anxious.

“I’m sorry, I’d forgotten – don’t you usually need to leave around this time for the Ramadan/eating thing that you’d asked about? You can just leave all that and go now if you like.”

An incident so simple, but it touched me to the core.

I assured my supervisor that it was not a problem and I would happily complete the task before leaving. She continued to insist that I drop everything and leave if I had to. And while I did in fact finish the assigned work before leaving for the day, it was the loveliest feeling to find a non-Muslim so concerned with making a colleague or employee feel comfortable in practicing their religion.

We hear so often about Islamophobia and its rife, shameless exhibition worldwide. But as I was so timely reminded today, for every bigoted individual there are many more who are willing to co-exist in peace and respectful harmony.

‘Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again

– Cat Stevens (Aka Yusuf Islam)

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Filed under Community, Opinion, Religion

46 responses to “Hope is in the (Ramadan) air

  1. mkrayem

    So nice. I once worked in an office with two very lovely older (non-Muslim) ladies who would always remind me when it was time to pray and would make me stop in the middle of whatever I was doing to do so. Very sweet that people can be so understanding and accepting.

  2. thecrescentgirlingreen

    Beautifully written, and I wholeheartedly agree.!

  3. I work in a very diverse industry with many different cultures attending work. Mostly I find Islamic people in Birmingham and London, where I work in Northamptonshire it is mostly Polish, Macedonian and Russian people who attend. I have absolutely no issue with different cultures or religions and find great explorative joy in finding out about these different cultures work and think. They are so different from my Scottish mindset yet underneath we are all the same as human beings. We all want the same things from life.

    I think that the word “Islam” has been defiled by terrorism and extremists and unfortunately this has brought a negativity down on the ordinary Muslim. Also, we is the west are not very well enlightened or educated in what Islam is or what it actually represents so it is difficult for us to respect it when do not know anything about it.

    This is the Islamophobia you are talking about. There is a perception that the Islamic community are trying to impose their religion and beliefs onto western civilisation and that if we do not comply then they will terrorise us and treat us with contempt. When I see a muslim in the street I want to talk with them and get to know them but often I feel that they are closed to me.

    I wonder what we can do to increase understanding and decrease fear?

    • Thanks for your comment.

      The “closed off” attitude is understandable if you consider that they probably fear the attitude that the negativity you mention produces in people. I think for many it’s a bit of a reflex – a shield if you like. But there are many others just as willing to talk, and sometimes all it takes is for one person to breach that invisible barrier and simply say hello.

      One problem is that, even when interfaith events are held, I notice that it is certain types of people who attend. People already disposed to tolerance. But to reach the everyday person who wouldn’t ordinarily come into contact with Muslims… The only thing that pops to mind is the media. After all, it played a big part in linking Islam to terrorism and other violent or backwards associations. It’s only fair the institution plays a part in debunking misconceptions…

  4. Nice post, and well done for getting in on the freshly pressed page.

    I have a non-muslim colleague who regularly reminds me about Friday prayers if I am running slightly late. I also have another colleage who has joined in fasting with me, except that he likes to drink fluids to stay hydrated.

    May Allah guide these people that have good hearts towards others and make us be good exemplars of His religion – Ameen!

  5. I’m thrilled to hear that some people are respectful of the “Ramadan/eating thing” — that’s too funny! But yes, it was a kind gesture.

    My fiance supervises a man who observes Ramadan — strictly. He comes in early, breaks for prayers, leaves early. He finishes all of his work, despite being dehydrated in 100+ degree heat.

    Many religions have observances, and in American culture, we tend to accommodate them. Ramadan should be no exception.

    Thank you for a great post!

    • Thank you for reading it!

      I agree with you – and as with the example of the employee you mention, Ramadan in no way restricts Muslims from completing their work; so really, it shouldn’t be too difficult to accommodate!

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  7. 100% agree!!! perfectly stated
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  8. I really appreciate your sharing this event. It’s very comforting to know that all hope is not lost and Muslims are still respected.. :)

  9. Awesome post! as a Muslim who is also observing Ramadaan, it pleases me to hear of this.

    I have also requested leaving 45mins earlier than my usual time from work (with the agreement I come in earlier and make up for that time) to which my boss had no issues with. She messaged all our staff to ask who else would be observing the fast and that they are most willing to enjoy the same privilege as me. I felt so proud to be working with someone so considerate.

    A few minutes later I was bombarded with messages from people in my office asking questions about Ramadaan, well wishes, and how they simply cannot imagine not eating / drinking the entire day yet I will be doing so for an entire month. Even now, during Ramadaan, I’ve noticed my colleagues try their best not to eat around me despite me reassuring them that it does not bother me in the least.

    I am from South Africa, a diverse culture that constantly tries to put aside their differences to make ends meet. Although there have been instances of intolerance, we must concentrate on the good – people’s minds are opening up, they are becoming more patient and considerate which ultimately breeds a tolerant and pleasant atmosphere.

    • That was very sweet on the part of your boss and colleagues! I think ultimately there’s more to be gained in the way of acceptance and inclusion if we put ourselves out there and make our beliefs known, rather than shying away from expressing our Islam in fear of stereotyping or negative reactions. And that applies to any culture or religion, not just Islam!

  10. Reblogged this on husysweet and commented:
    I love this article.

  11. Ramadan Kareem..its almost over sadly. great post and congrats on getting freshly pressed!

  12. Lovely post! It was very touching of your co-worker to feel compelled to accommodate you. I am a non-Muslim observing Ramadan for the first time. I’m truly enjoying it and have learned so much about Islam in one month than I have my whole life. I cherish my Muslim brothers who have become my family and I totally respect them and Islam.
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  13. MA love this! please keep new posts coming, very informative!
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  14. Love it Miran! Its a lovely incident so beautifully written. It seems like your sunshine and goodness rubs off on everyone you meet, including your supervisor. This time last year, I was on placement at a hospital and really struggled to adapt to the new hospital environment and being on your feet the whole day whilst fasting. No excuse really, but I found that while most supervisors were a lot more accommodating in terms of working hours, there was one who was a lot less empathetic and made me work for longer, way past iftar time! Nevertheless, lesson learnt was expect nothing, so you cant be disappointed…Thanks for sharing this, restores my faith in humanity too.

  15. So happy to read your post. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  16. Born and to live in a muslim country as a non-muslim, somewhere in Southeast Asia :), I befriended a lot of muslims. There are differences in our way of life but to live so close to each other, we give and take. Learn and love each other as part of human race is not so hard to do. Earth is limited in space, to live peacefully and respectfully is to look into the heart. Religions and races, don’t make it a point to hate. Happy Ramadan to you and family. Happy Eid (hope I get that right), it’s just around the corner. A week more! :)

  17. aishabooch

    That’s lovely to hear. Unfortunately where I work, I was made to stay 15 minutes after work which meant I was 20 minutes late for Iftar despite explaining the situation. Not everyone is understanding about it, but we have to encourage the ignorant-minded.

  18. I like your article. actually I hope can feel Ramadan situation in other months :)

  19. Great post! Thanks for sharing! Glad you have a wonderful, understanding staff!

  20. nadzirahnasir

    Such a great post :)

  21. Moslimah

    How wonderful!

  22. sandyprab

    Wonderful post !
    Hope you had a blessed Ramadan
    And Eid Mubarak in advance ! :D

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