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)