News & Insights 13 April 2023

Ramadan and working in charity: Strong focus on helping others

The author is a Birmingham programme coordinator for Action Tutoring. The programme coordinator is present in partner schools to oversee the delivery of tutoring.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim year, during which fasting is observed from dawn to sunset.

One of my favourite memories of Ramadan is in the summer of 2015. The weather was extremely hot and I had to sit so many mock exams. Fasting was particularly hard during that period. Nonetheless, it felt more rewarding when Eid al-Fitr arrived – the festival of celebration which marks the end of the month-long fasting. I recall visiting numerous family members to eat the most delicious foods and spending time with people in our local community in the beautiful weather. These are highly nostalgic memories. 

To me, Ramadan is the time for true self-reflection, generosity, and gratitude. Observing this sacred time allows me to refocus on areas of my life that are of priority such as family, friends, and work.

Connecting with Muslim colleagues

My observation of Ramadan positively impacts my work with volunteers and pupils, as charity is such an important part of Islam, but even more so, Ramadan. As a programme coordinator for Action Tutoring in my city, I work with a primary school where a lot of Muslim students are fasting as well – many for the first time. 

Directly understanding the experience and the struggles Muslim pupils may be facing as they receive tutoring support at this time – such as fatigue, reduced concentration, and hunger – has helped me connect a lot more with them. The same experience applies to some of the Muslim tutors I’m overseeing. There’s a collective sense of solidarity and feeling that we are all in this together.

Parallels between Ramadan and charity work

There are definitely parallels in moral values between supporting young people facing disadvantage and the tenets of Ramadan. Charity is one of the five fundamental pillars of Islam and is considered one of the best deeds any human can perform. There is a particularly heightened focus on charity within Islam towards the most vulnerable sectors of society, such as children, orphans and people experiencing hardship. 

This perfectly aligns with the work that Action Tutoring does across the country to reduce the educational attainment gap for young people. During Ramadan, charitable acts are encouraged even more as it displays empathy and helps people to make a positive difference in their surroundings. By positively impacting the educational outcomes and welfare of young people, society can improve as a whole. 

Thus, supporting charities during Ramadan is extremely important, as the Prophet Muhammad said: ‘The best act of charity is carried out in the month of Ramadan’.

How to support Muslim colleagues at work

People can support their Muslim colleagues who are fasting during Ramadan in a plethora of ways:

  • Be aware your Muslim colleagues may be tired and have less energy during the workday. Show some level of empathy when making plans that include them. Having frequent rest breaks and more inclusive meeting hours, preferably earlier in the day, is a helpful solution. 
  • Raising awareness within the workplace about what Ramadan is and its importance is a great way to build an inclusive workplace and build positive team connections. For example, this can be done by inviting Muslim colleagues to share their experiences and educate others about their faith. 
  • Being respectful of their sacred tradition and choices is a good way to support Muslim colleagues during Ramadan. Some Muslims are exempt from fasting if they are pregnant, ill, menstruating or breastfeeding. It is important to never make assumptions and ask intrusive questions if you notice that your Muslim colleague is not fasting at any point.

Making a difference through Ramadan

As Muslims, we are charged to give back to our communities during Ramadan and beyond, I would appeal to other Muslims to find diverse ways of making an impact in the lives of people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Working with Action Tutoring helps me to fulfil my charity virtue as a Muslim and with the support of many more, we can change the lives of young children positively. By volunteering for an hour a week or donating to the cause of the charity, you can uplift the lives of pupils from low-income families and give them a better chance at life.