Fasting for a month! Working as a Solicitor during Ramadan
- AuthorFarrah Harvey-Nawaz
You may have heard that it is the month of Ramadan for Muslims around the globe, but may not quite understand what it entails. This is not one of my usual legal blogs but it is one of practice – especially as I continue to work during Ramadan.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims. It is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is considered to be particularly holy because Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) initially received divine revelation. In a nutshell, it is a month that you dedicate yourself to God.
What do I/Muslims do in Ramadan?
The first and foremost is that I/we fast from sunrise to sunset. This will vary depending on the country and even region that you reside in. For me, it is approximately nil by mouth from 4.30am until 7.30pm. The time at which I can eat before sunrise is called “seher” and the time by which I break my fast is called “iftar”. These times change throughout the month but mosques kindly provide calendars to help keep up.
It should be noted that whilst fasting is mandatory, there are exceptions which means you are not required to fast if you are unable to or will put your health in danger.
Exceptions include but are not limited to
- requiring medication at a particular time
- travelling long distance
- medical grounds
In addition to fasting, I try to be more considerate of others, do not speak negatively, be more charitable/helpful and avoid the usual “sins” that most religions agree on such as lying, cursing, back-biting etc. I also try to pray more but at the very least, I try to keep up with my 5 prayers which are compulsory for Muslims.
When does Ramadan start and end?
The start of Ramadan is determined by the lunar calendar and so moves back a few weeks every year. I for one, love Ramadan in Winter as the period for fasting is significantly shorter!
This year, I started Ramadan on 2nd April 2022. It is expected to last no more than 30 days but like the start of Ramadan, the end of Ramadan is determined by the sighting of the moon.
This means, for some Muslims, only 29 fasts will be kept. The end of Ramadan is celebrated by Eid-ul-Fitr (festival of breaking fast). I have always considered Eid as a “Muslim Christmas” – without the religious references. You are not permitted to fast on Eid but are allowed to make up any missed fasts after.
On Eid, we meet up with friends and families. We dress nice, eat food, embrace each other, give presents and enjoy the festivities. With the Covid-19 lockdown over the last 2 years, no doubt this year will feel particularly special.
How do I work during Ramadan?
I have always been fortunate to work in diverse firms. At Birkett Long, my team is extremely thoughtful in that they will secretly eat (so I don’t hear the rustles of Walkers), avoid discussing lunch whereas I on the other hand, speak about what I will be having for dinner when I open my fast at iftar and occasionally hope that someone will let me inhale their coffee. A lawyer without coffee is more dangerous than a wild animal!
Praying can be difficult as you can have meetings throughout the day. Yet, again, my team is extremely understanding and will cover for me if I need to slip away for 5 minutes to pray. I find that this only makes me appreciate my firm even more. Praying gives me peace as like meditation, you switch off and simply focus on the positives.
Whilst I may read my letters a few times before sending and try to keep meetings mostly to mornings; I am still able to continue caring for my clients and be there for them when they need me to guide them during one of the most difficult times in their lives.
On a final note, whilst Islam (the religion of Muslims) is a recognised religion all over the world, it should be borne in mind that there are cultural differences and there are some who are more devout than others.
This is just my experience and if you have a colleague/friend who is fasting, please don’t be shy to ask them more about it. I personally have never been offended by someone asking me about my religion and I am sure your colleague/friend will also be the same!
If you would like to learn more on this topic please contact Farrah via firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 01245 453818