Is it OK for non-Muslims to be curious and ask questions about Ramadan?

Published Date
Mar 12, 2024
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How can I support my Muslim colleagues who are fasting during Ramadan? Is it OK to ask them questions?

Working with Muslim colleagues over the years, I have been inspired by the discipline and resilience of those who fast for lengthy periods as they continue to work in what can be demanding roles. But why and how do they do this?

Am I “othering” my colleagues?

I am curious and have not shied away from asking questions to find out more about the why and the how of fasting. Should I not eat lunch at my desk? Do I exclude them from the coffee-run by making an assumption that they are fasting? Am I doing the right thing being so curious? Did I “other” my colleagues by asking all these questions? 

So to my delight, A&O’s Muslim Network yesterday issued helpful guidance on supporting colleagues who may be fasting.

What does support look like?

  1. Learn about Ramadan – colleagues may be happy to share what Ramadan means to them, which has always been the case in my personal experience. Obviously, questions need to be asked respectfully. For example, “I hope you don’t mind me asking….” But move on if the colleague does not seem comfortable sharing.
  2. If you are working with, training, or managing a colleague who is fasting, try to take time to talk with them and understand if there are any ways in which you and your team could support them during Ramadan. For example, be prepared to receive, and where possible accept, holiday requests for certain periods of Ramadan and Eid.
  3. Schedule events considerately – while the social calendar shouldn’t stop for everyone during Ramadan, be mindful that Muslim colleagues may not be able to attend.
  4. Avoid making assumptions – some colleagues may not be fasting for a number of reasons, some of which may be private, so don’t ask why they are not fasting.
  5. Share your good wishes – you could say “Ramadan Kareem”, “Ramadan Mubarak” or even “Happy Ramadan”. 

So be curious – and be supportive.

Ramadan Kareem


Content Disclaimer
This content was originally published by Allen & Overy before the A&O Shearman merger