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This Ramadan fasting ...[title edited by MNHQ]

(396 Posts)
Wuldric Mon 05-Aug-13 22:38:48

I have a talented and lovely junior who happens to be Muslim. In the last month she has recorded 6 days off sick, and left work early on three additional occasions as she has fainted.

I don't have any personal bias against any form of religion. Well that's not actually true. Being an atheist, I am biased against all forms of religion, But I am balanced against all of them equally IYSWIM. Lest you all accuse me of xenophobia or something, I am not white and was not born in the UK. I am just impatient with this.

She has no weight to spare to start with. She cannot eat until after dusk. Dusk is pretty late in the UK in summertime. So in the evening she eats at 10. She is supposed to eat before dawn rises although my suspicion is that she is skipping this meal, because in her home it takes place at 3am. She is not allowed so much as a drink of water in between times. The offices are airconditioned, but her home and her journey to work are not.

This fasting tomfoolery is making my lovely junior ill. She looks like a famine victim - her face is just gaunt. It is not good for her. AIBU to think this is all nonsense?

Habbibu Mon 05-Aug-13 23:06:27

Might be a daft question, but do Muslims living within the artic circle have to take part? That'd be a nightmare.

jessieagain Mon 05-Aug-13 23:06:39

It does sound like it isn't healthy for her but it is her choice so nothing you can so about it.

I do think it would be nice to try it though for the experience, the gatherings at sunrise and sunset sound like a lovely thing to so with family and friends.

Although I do wonder how they cope up in Northern Europe, especially places like Norway surely they would have to modify it for the very long summer days?

Habbibu Mon 05-Aug-13 23:06:48

Arctic, dammit.

moffat Mon 05-Aug-13 23:07:00

Stayawayfromtheedge I do sympathise, there really is no need for people to fast if they are taking medication.

EhricLovesTeamQhuay Mon 05-Aug-13 23:07:05

Wuldric your colleague is not obliged to fast if it makes her ill. The whole point of ramadan is to carry out your daily life as normal. If she can't work then she is too unwell to fast.

TheRealFellatio Mon 05-Aug-13 23:07:24

I live in an islamic state in the Gulf.The whole flippin' country goes on a go-slow during Ramadan and no-one realistically respects anything to get done. It's a ghost town by day and party central by night. The working hours are made shorter - DH can go into work about an hour later to allow for the fact that they stay up all blinking night eating and drinking and socialising and making up for lost time. It's not really fasting is it? It's just going 'on nights' for a month.

The very conscientious will still come into work and try to function as normal, and of course it's much more difficult for them so loads of allowances are made re: performance and expectation. Ramadan is also notorious for awful car crashes, with people driving while dehydrated, tired and listless, or hurrying to get to Iftar buffets etc because they are on the verge of passing out. Then of course the young lads go silly in the middle of the night - there is a bit of a Christmas/New Year type atmosphere in the evenings, lots of celebration etc, and they get even more stupid behind the wheel.

Many people (especially the rich and lazy and entitled) just treat it like an unofficial month's leave where they can come in to work as late as they please, or not at all. They sleep half the day and then just eat and party half the night. It's a hypocritical pile of tosh if you ask me. They are not going without food and drink, they are merely following a topsy-turvy schedule for a few weeks. Easy if you don't have to go and do a proper day's work.

Funnily enough we were discussing this the other day, and wondering how Muslims in far northern European countries get on, with such protracted daylight hours in the summer, and no allowances made during the normal working day. It must be almost impossible to observe Ramadan properly without putting yourself at risk of huge harm.

joanofarchitrave Mon 05-Aug-13 23:07:25

If you are a caring manager, you should call her in after every sickness absence to find out what's going on with her and whether she needs support to do her job. She might decide, knowing that she had your support, to consult her conscience or her imam about relaxing her fast. That would be up to her.

I have to take carer's leave more often than I'd like due to my husband's ill health. I would regard anyone who referred to 'that family nonsense' when talking about emotional bonds as an offensive idiot. She has emotional bonds to her religion, presumably. (I'm an atheist too, btw). Humans are more than machines for work.

niminypiminy Mon 05-Aug-13 23:07:53

Ramadan is a very special time for most Muslims -- the communal meal that breaks the fast (iftar) is both solemn and joyful, and the fast itself is very important spiritually.

As Ehricloves says, even though fasting is never easy (nor is it meant to be), there shouldn't be any reason for people to become ill. And pregnant women, people who are ill and children are excused from the fast, contrary to what Sofiavaguera claims -- you can contribute (as an adult) in other ways, by giving alms, for example.

It could be that the woman in this case has an eating disorder? For people with anorexia the idea of fasting has a dangerous allure, far from the spiritual reasons why Muslims do it. If this is the case, there is a mental health issue.

In any case, OP, the best thing you could do in this situation is to learn a bit more about why Muslims fast at Ramadan, how they do it, about how the fast is broken at the end of the day, and about the festival the signals the end of Ramadan, Eid-ul-fitr -- and which, this year, will be celebrated on Thursday.

trice Mon 05-Aug-13 23:08:06

There are a lot of daft things done in the name of religion. There are folk who fervently believe that you have to chop off the foreskin from baby boys, that children can be possessed by devils, that certain foods are unclean or that animals need to be killed in a magical way. Fasting in daylight hours for a month seems mild in comparison.

TheRealFellatio Mon 05-Aug-13 23:08:12

expects, not respects. It's the autocorrect. confused

EhricLovesTeamQhuay Mon 05-Aug-13 23:08:28

Children are not supposed to fast, no.

People in countries with very little or no night a given dispensation to follow the times of sunrise and sunset in Mecca.

StayAwayFromTheEdge Mon 05-Aug-13 23:09:12

Fuzzy - I can only report what I am told from a mix of several Muslim staff. I will ask tomorrow if what they have been telling me is a load of rubbish! It sounds like it is! They also mentioned donating the 2% of their wealth.

Marshy Mon 05-Aug-13 23:09:17

The sun - I'm a bit confused re the issue over cutting people slack over religious observance. Last Christmas, I worked whilst some of my colleagues had time off. I guess you could say I cut them some slack. It will be my turn to be off this year. Which of us is wrong?

FreudiansSlipper Mon 05-Aug-13 23:10:12

fasting is a good way to appreciate what you have

i have fasted and it is hard, it takes discipline and determination and when you have fasted for a few days you feel good. i did not do the month (about 10 days though i did have a little water as i was not used to such heat)

all religions have some form of fasting, why is it such a bad thing especially in todays society where we are so greedy and expect to be satisfied at all times. it is not just about food it is about abstaining from things that bring us pleasure to clear and pure the mind, body and soul

i wish i was disciplined enough to fast occasionally

Gruntfuttocks Mon 05-Aug-13 23:11:06

Surely you can have a talk with her (in a non-judgemental manner) and point out that the fact that she is repeatedly fainting and becoming unwell means that she isn't coping with the fast and either needs to adjust her routine in some way or speak to her religious leader about getting a dispensation or relaxation of the rules.
As many others have said, there are perfectly reasonable grounds for fasting (which frankly are none of your business), but if it is seriously affecting her work, then it is not acceptable and it becomes your busines as her boss. You do need to be extremely careful in your handling of this situation in order not to find yourself accused of any nasty prejudices. Perhaps the best way forward would be to tough it out for this year, wait a few weeks and then have a meeting to discuss the impact of all this on her work. Perhaps then you can have some measures in place to avoid this situation arising again?

EhricLovesTeamQhuay Mon 05-Aug-13 23:11:23

Fellatio, I agree that type of fasting is a bit pointless and hypocritical. It must vary from country/culture to another because it's not like that everywhere. I mean there is a party atmosphere in the evenings but most people don't stay up all night and sleep all day my XH used to

StayAwayFromTheEdge Mon 05-Aug-13 23:11:27

Moffat - we have diabetic patients that are fasting despite the exemption, because they believe it is the right thing to do. I worry for them and the long term damage they may cause.

aldiwhore Mon 05-Aug-13 23:11:34

YABU to call it nonsense. YANBU to think she's doing it wrong.

I would worry if anyone visibly suffered for any reason or choice, I would not dismiss their reasons, but perhaps try to highlight that actually, done right, sickness should not occur.

I do think that there is a lot to be said for understanding the written timescale... (and I don't know if honest what that would have been when the idea was written) perhaps it didn't take into account BST? BUT... this is for the scholar and follower to understand and decide on.

My DH has worked with Muslim Police during Ramadan, and yes, sometimes it's tough, but they've always done their jobs well, never called in sick (probably utilised shift patterns if anything) so I know it shouldn't make you ILL.

I don't think the fasting is the problem, or the reasoning, but how the individual interprets it. As far as I know, pre-sunrise breakfast is rather important so from your viewpoint Wuldric I would say focus on guiding her towards another Muslim who manages rather than dismissing it completely.

For the record, I'm not anything much in the believer vein... I do think though that you need to do things correctly if you're going to do them at all.

Wuldric Mon 05-Aug-13 23:12:21

People in countries with very little or no night a given dispensation to follow the times of sunrise and sunset in Mecca.

Thank you, that is useful to know.

fuzzywuzzy Mon 05-Aug-13 23:13:55

I always cover colleagues during Christmas, I fully understand their desire to be with family the week of Christmas does not bother me at all.

colditz Mon 05-Aug-13 23:14:01

Disciplinary. If her chosen lifestyle is making her too ill to do her job, she needs to change either her lifestyle or her job.

And yes, what do Norwegian Muslims do?

Marshy Mon 05-Aug-13 23:14:40

Feeling a little bit depressed with some of the intolerant attitudes displayed on this thread. Off to bed and then getting up to a hearty breakfast, I'm delighted to say. May book my Christmas leave tomorrow, if my colleagues will cut me some slack wink

TheRealFellatio Mon 05-Aug-13 23:14:41

I agree Stay many people, especially men, will regard managing to observe Ramadan very strictly as some sort of badge of honour, and will lose face if they are not seen to be doing it - even if they have dispensation on health grounds. Very stupid.

LaurieFairyCake Mon 05-Aug-13 23:14:50

We're talking about one person clearly doing it wrong, suffering from disordered eating and looking like a famine victim.

For this we condemn a whole religion? Or interpret a religion wrongly ? Or use this to vent our xenophobia?

Ffs - get a grip.

colditz Mon 05-Aug-13 23:14:57

Cross posts - I see. And as we are a relatively northern country, could British Muslims not be keeping Mecca fasting hours?

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