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Insights Reflecting on Ramadan: Life & Culture at AtkinsRéalis

23 May 2018

As Muslims around the world observe Ramadan as an integral part of their faith, many will be wondering about its significance and what it entails. Hamid Kawser from our Energy business talks about what it means to him and how his fellow AtkinsRéalis employees are helping him find work/life balance.

Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar as it commemorates the first revelation of the Quran to Prophet Muhammed. It's an important and solemn part of the Islamic faith, and this annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars in Islam. People will gather in mosques and homes, with family and friends to observe this month. For me and many Muslims across the globe, it’s a month of reflection and celebration. It is the one month in a year where we all take time out of our busy schedules to spend time with loved ones, and come together to serve a single purpose. Ramadan reminds us to take a step back and appreciate our many blessings, spare a thought of those who are less fortunate and put the needs of others before our own. It’s a time of empathy, where we put ourselves in the shoes of people who don't have enough food to eat nor enough water to drink, and experience a little of their situation. There are many in the world who survive without these basic needs, and Ramadan is a time for us to give thanks and reaffirm our commitment to helping those in need.

Muslims will fast during the hours of daylight – and yes, that means no water! Currently in the UK, we’re fasting for 18 hours, from dawn (3am) till dusk (9pm). But alongside this, it’s a period of self-reflection. We try to remove habits such as selfishness, greed and envy in order to encourage peace, compassion and humility. We’re reminded not to be wasteful, to refrain from cursing and give to charities providing to those who are less fortunate. This is considered to increase one's patience, closeness to God and generosity towards others. Ramadan is not only a period of physical restraint but also mental and emotional re-focus: a detox of the mind, body and soul.

My colleagues here in Warrington have been incredibly supportive, facilitating me to work flexibly so my productivity isn't impacted by fasting. Meetings planned to suit my hours, working from home and frequent breaks are some of the arrangements that have been put in place to aid my transition into this month. With some colleagues keen on keeping a fast or two, it’s a great way to get the office involved and provide them with a scrumptious Iftar (breaking of fast) to share with everyone. All this would have not been possible without the support of my business leads and managers.

My advice to others who need or want to request a similar kind of flexibility would be to speak up. With sleep patterns disrupted overnight and fasting during the longest days of the year, Ramadan is a challenging experience in the workplace. It’s encouraged to make your colleagues aware about Ramadan; create a dialogue with your managers regarding any adjustments you may need and tailor the hours suited to you.

As I look forward to the next three weeks of devotion and gratitude, I’d like to wish my colleagues Ramadan Mubarak from all of us!