Ramadan 2024: Maha Naeem

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Mar 8, 2024

With Ramadan expecting to begin on Sunday 10th March this year, Maha Naeem, Senior Consultant at NECS, tells us about the significance of Ramadan, what it involves and how NECS support their diverse workforce.

“This week marks the beginning of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is observed by Muslims as a month of fasting, reflection and community.

“Ramadan holds great significance for Muslims around the world. Fasting during this month is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. It is a form of self-discipline, empathy and spiritual reflection. Muslims fast from just before dawn to sunset, refraining from food, drink (even water) and bad behaviours. But it’s more than just abstaining from food and drink; it’s a holistic practice that encourages increased prayer, reflection and acts of kindness. 

“While it may seem challenging, the experience is incredibly rewarding, both spiritually and personally. Fasting allows us to practice patience and reflect on what we have and be grateful. People often use this time to also increase their prayers and get rid of any bad habits formed throughout the year. I find these impacts across all aspects of my life, including work, where I can bring across my practices of patience, mindfulness and gratitude.

“As we embark on this month, please be sensitive to those who may be observing Ramadan. People might need to adjust their schedules, take breaks for prayers and plan tasks that require high energy levels differently throughout the day. Ramadan can look slightly different for everyone, particularly for those who may have medical conditions or other exemptions.

“NECS has a variety of supportive measures such as flexible working options and hybrid working which help accommodate some of the unique needs of colleagues observing Ramadan. At NECS we pride ourselves on fostering an inclusive and supportive workplace environment that celebrates diversity in all its forms with an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion agenda that emphasizes the importance of a diverse and engaged team. Establishing an environment of awareness and respect leads to stronger relationships among colleagues, creating a workplace that values the richness of our diverse backgrounds, which is something we aim to embody within our Midlands Regional Consultancy Team.

“Although this month does challenge our bodies and minds, it’s a month Muslims look forward to all year long. Even though I am quite a foodie, one of my favourite things about Ramadan is the productivity from waking up earlier and taking out excess distractions in the day from thinking about food!

“Ramadan is also a time of celebration, family and communal joy. If you’re curious, feel free to ask questions or join in the festivities! It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn more about each other’s cultures and traditions. I often bring in dates to work meetings during Ramadan. Dates are a traditional food eaten to open the fast and are an excellent energy-rich food after a day of fasting.

“A very large aspect of Ramadan is also charity and community. This month is considered the most blessed in Islam and a time when good practices are extra rewarded. This is often observed by giving to those in need. While I am always incredibly grateful for experiencing this month with my family and friends, I think of those around the world going through hardships and great challenges. A combined focus on charity means as a community, we are often able to make a big impact.

“In regard to social activities during Ramadan, while some individuals may choose to attend social events, others might limit participation due to the fasting commitment. Muslims break their fast with a meal called Iftar which takes place at sunset each day.

“You can wish someone well for Ramadan by saying “Ramadan Kareem! Wishing you all a fantastic month ahead!”