As part of Ramadhan, Latifah discusses how she prepares for Ramadhan and her experiences of Ramadhan at work .

Date: 13.04.22

My name is Latifah & I’m a recruiter for Next Online. 

Ramadhan is here! And many of us at Next would have started preparing for this blessed month a couple of weeks before Ramadan. A week has already passed and I’m wondering where the time has gone. 

People always ask what it’s like working during Ramadhan?

Before becoming a recruiter I was a Team Manager at the Gedding Road contact centre in the evenings where over 50% of our staff observed the holy month. This meant iftar would take place during my shift. 

Pre-pandemic, we’d ensure all those observing Ramadhan had their breaks altered so they could go and break their fast as well as offer Maghrib prayers. I remember feeling such a sense of community when experiencing my first Ramadhan here.

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Some of the colleagues would buy a huge box of dates for the month. And every day at iftar someone would go round to all the desks with a trolley and offer everyone, even those not fasting, some dates and water. Then, as people went up for their breaks, the floor would start to fill with the smell of everyone's home cooked food. And there would be plenty to share too.

It was such an amazing feeling, that I didn’t mind not being home for iftar. Our staff created the best atmosphere and that’s what made it easy. We were all going about our day, doing the same thing, feeling the same tiredness and hunger and then come sunset we all got to break our fast, together. 

Now people are slowly coming back into the office and restrictions are a little lighter than they were, I hope this tradition can carry on at Gedding Road. I’m so grateful to have been a part of such a beautiful vibe and with amazing people that I would love for everyone to get to experience that same sense of community. Our staff lead this, they were passionate about being there for their colleagues and it’s one of the reasons why I’m proud to work for Next. Our people really come together. 

Working in the daytime is a completely different kind of togetherness. My colleagues in the Online HR & Recruitment team have been amazing. We’ve had open conversations about Ramadhan and I feel confident and comfortable to go into the office whilst fasting. And whilst I don’t have that same community I did at Gedding Road, I get to create a new one here at Phase 5. Last year we were all working from home, so this year will be a hybrid mix, which so far has been working wonders. When I am in the office I get to experience a little bit of what we had at Gedding when I go to offer my Zuhr prayers. I normally tend to bump into old colleagues who also worked with me in the evenings and we exchange our salaams, repeat the same phrase ‘It’s just like being back at Gedding’ and then continue with our day. It’s these small things that are so warming and give me another reason to go about my day with a smile.  

Ramadhan for me is a beautiful month, full of peace, tranquillity and reflection. It’s so much more than just fasting but also about discipline, helping others, charity and community.

You might be thinking, how do you prepare to fast? 

Well there are a couple things. First and foremost is getting the samosas & savouries prepared… correction, that’s my preferred priority! Most Muslims who observe Ramdhan around the world will have different savouries to prepare, based on their culture and ethnicity. For my family, homemade samosas, spring rolls & puff pastries are a must. See, no one wants to be making these from scratch whilst fasting. So we make sure to get these done prior, along with buying dates and other necessities we may need.

Secondly, many of us will prepare our homes. Starting Ramadhan with a clean, decluttered house will set the tone for the rest of the month. As we use this month to become more spiritual, it’s nice to prepare a little prayer space in your home. We usually pray salah 5 times a day but during Ramdhan, many find it beneficial to offer more prayers. Muslims will make the intention to pray the whole Quraan too. Whilst this is normally read in Arabic, this year I’ve decided to attempt to read it all in English, to better my understanding & knowledge of my faith. 

Finally, we prepare mentally. There are a number of things to mentally prepare for. Fasting for a month does wonders for your body, but in stages. Knowing a little about the journey your body is about to take will help you manage your symptoms better. Whilst we fast, we must also consciously make an effort to better our manners, patience & our closeness to God. That’s not to forget, our lives are not put on hold during this month! So we also need to focus on our normal daily routine, such as studying or working.