As the world continues to work in a hybrid model, we are all starting to have a deeper understanding of everyone’s lives and the many different aspects they balance along with their work life – kids, studies, parents, faith. We asked our employees to share their insights around Ramadan with us.
Wasim El-Omari is a Security Solutions Architect and Technology Leader at Cisco. Based in Melbourne, Australia Wasim has been part of the Cisco team now collectively for 15 years. His work at Cisco has taken him all over the world from the Middle East, Europe, and now Australia, and allowed him to experience different cultures and practices around the world, one of them being Ramadan. Thank you for sharing your story with us Wasim.
By Wasim El-Omari
As a Muslim I observe Ramadan along with over 1.8 billion fellow Muslims all across the Globe. Ramadan is a month in the Islamic calendar in which there are two holy celebrations, The Celebration of Feasting, known as Eid Ul-Fitr, and the Celebration of Sacrifice, Eid Ul-Adha. In terms of their significance, it’s kind of like Easter and Christmas but for Muslims.
Ramadan is a month in which Muslims carry out fasting, and express their gratitude for the blessings they have and to congregate in prayer and spiritual improvement. You can find out more about Ramadan, here.
The fast itself is to abstain from food and water between sunrise and sunset each day in Ramadan, and become more grateful and humbled in the process. Many wellness experts talk about fasting and meditation as a means to understand and control oneself and I tend to agree with the meta-physical benefits of doing this.
What this time of year means for me
In my household Ramadan is a special occasion my family decorate the house and prepare lots of special dishes and desserts. During Ramadan we tend to eat at home as a family, invite extended family and friends over, and share food with our neighbours, no matter their faith.
Fasting is broken when the sun sets and dates, water, tea, coffee (especially if you’re a Melbourne coffee addict) are consumed first. This time is a moment to reflect on the blessings we have, including food. A simple sip of water is worth every drop when you have been without water all day.
Naturally when you first start fasting you experience headaches and lethargy, however by the third day you will find your energy levels will skyrocket and your body and mind begin to work so efficiently. For anyone that has fasted or has tried intermittent-fasting I am sure you can relate.
A time to reconnect, reflect and reset
It’s a special time to re-connect with loved ones, put differences aside and look within to try and be a better person. This includes all duties, such as work, learning and developing one’s personal skills. It’s great to set yourself some personal and spiritual goals, such as helping with some charitable project or cause. Feeding the homeless is something close to my heart and my family like to remind themselves of how fortunate they are by help those who are less fortunate.
More than anything, it’s about reflecting and looking forward to the future.
Supporting each other through a sense of community
Last year, especially with the restrictions in Melbourne, Ramadan changed. We could no longer leave our house or invite loved ones over for Iftar (breaking the fast). But as life teaches us, we need to adjust and find new ways to adapt.
This year we were fortunate in Australia to have enjoyed the communal feeling of Ramadan that we are used to. In fact, it has been so enjoyable that many people feel this has been the best Ramadan in their lives.
Working from home is something I cherish as it allows people like me to spend time with family and focus on preparing things for Ramadan whilst stil
l being engaged with my workplace. I personally operate more efficiently when I can focus on achieving so much is in so little time, without having to travel excessively.
I have come to terms with a hybrid working environment and the only challenges are when you need to meet customers, partners and colleagues face to face to socialise and address something that can easily be handled in a five-minute coffee break. I am also proud to work for a company that supports diversity, and people to be their full authentic selves. Little things like being consulted while setting up multi-faith rooms, and offering vegetarian options when catering are small ways to make the workplace inclusive for everyone.
The best way to support at this time is to be open
The best way that colleagues can support you is to just be themselves and be the great team they are. Please don’t feel sorry for us or try and hide your lunch from us. The great thing about living in Australia is that we are all different and free to express our beliefs. If you invite a Muslim to lunch during Ramadan, they may attend for the company but may refuse to eat. Some may not attend so please don’t take offence to that.
Sometimes your fasting colleague might be a little lethargic at first or tired or quiet this is physical manifestation of fasting taking place and not any silent treatment 🙂
I encourage you to ask questions, learn about different cultural practices and even try fasting yourself. If you are invited to a person’s house during Ramadan you may enjoy the experience.
My house is always open to friends and family and any excuse for me to cook and prepare something for guests is one of the many reasons I appreciate this time of year. Ramadan Kareem & Eid Mubarak To All!!
Cisco is a member of the Diversity Council of Australia, which offers a guide on helping workplaces to be inclusive of religious diversity.
Photos are from Wasim’s home.