Ramadan and Eid. You’ve probably heard of them but do you know what they’re actually about and how you and your brand can be allies and get involved in an inclusive and respectful way? We’ve got you covered. Read on for our guide from our Head of Press Office, Humairaa Tedds, who’s been celebrating the occasions her whole life!
What is Ramadan and when is it celebrated?
Ramadan is the ninth month out of the 12 months in the Islamic calendar (also known as the Lunar or Hijri calendar) where more than 2 billion Muslims around the world observe fasting for 29 or 30 days, from dawn to dusk, which today (20th April 2022) in Birmingham would be from 3:41am to 8:19pm.
Fasting isn’t just about refraining from food and drink but exercising self-restraint, practicing spiritual discipline, and feeling empathy for the poor. A phrase I like that sums up the practice is ‘starve the body, feed the soul!’
As the lunar calendar starts with the sighting of the new moon every month, it’s shorter than the solar dating used by the Gregorian calendar which means Ramadan occurs about 10-11 days earlier every year.
What about Eid?
The first of the two Eids in the Islamic calendar, Eid al-Fitr, literally means Festival of Breaking the Fast and commemorates the end of the fasting month with special prayers and celebrations to reward each other for completing the testing month of Ramadan. The celebrations vary across the world but generally it includes dressing up in your best traditional or occasion outfit, family feasts, gifts, and there’s always the spirit of sharing and goodwill in the community too.
The second Eid of the year is Eid al-Adha, meaning the Festival of Sacrifice. It falls at the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage Muslims make to the holy sites including Makkah, Saudi Arabia. It commemorates the Prophet Ibrahim’s devotion to Allah (God) and his willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail at the command of God, who was replaced by a ram at the point of sacrifice. Muslims who have the means will sacrifice an animal at this time, often a sheep, cow, goat or camel with at least a third of this donated to the poor. Eid al-Adha will be in July this year.
So, how can you be an ally, get involved and be inclusive of your colleagues celebrating the occasions?
- Time off for Eid – first and foremost, accept that annual leave request when you get it! Your colleagues may request some time off during Ramadan to make the most of the occasion or it may be time off for Eid after an intense month of fasting, so they will really appreciate the quick approval!
- Be mindful of your colleagues that are fasting – going without food and drink all day can be really testing so it may be helpful to be mindful of who you’re eating and drinking in front of, or waiting to schedule that work lunch outing, or being flexible with the work from home policy so they can take much-needed breaks, observe daily prayers in privacy etc.
- Prayer room – offer your colleagues who’d like to observe their daily prayers a room or private space where they can observe their prayers that fall during the work day
- Fasting challenge or host an iftaar (meal to break the fast) – it’s a great opportunity to learn about each other’s beliefs and practices so maybe set up a fasting challenge or group iftaar or Eid feast to get a taste of what the fasting community is experiencing. Maybe theme your feast to cultures that typically celebrate Eid e.g. Middle Eastern, Indian, Pakistani or Turkish food
- Ramadan or Eid décor – a simple but nice touch to create an exciting Ramadan/Eid vibe at work. With two Eids every year there’s plenty of opportunities to reuse them too!
- Promotions and competitions – engage your Muslim audience with promotions related to the festivities, whether that’s in the style of a supermarket offering deals on go-to Ramadan/Eid/world foods or a beauty brand offering discounts on make up for Eid or a competition in time to celebrate the gift-giving at Eid
- Blogs/vlogs – plan content to reach your Muslim offers, whether that’s a blog on slow-burning food to fuel up on before starting your fast, sharing a piece similar to this one on your company intranet to create awareness or creating a TikTok on Eid outfit inspo
- Secret Eid – same concept as secret Santa but for Eid, some people like to call it Secret Sheikh, the festivities are all about gifting and sharing so it’s a fun way to mark the occasion
- Giving to charity – an important aspect of Eid is giving to charity, this is called Zakat al-Fitr or Fitrana and is obligatory on every Muslim who has food in excess of his/her needs to help those less fortunate celebrate Eid and it’s a great way to get involved. Organise a Eid fundraiser for a Muslim charity/country in conflict e.g. Humanity Without Borders – that has a 100% donation policy, operating worldwide in countries including Syria, Yemen and Malawi.
As a Muslim I appreciate it when brands recognise the festivities that are important to my community, but it’s important that the tone of marketing activity is appropriate and not misguided or ignorant, particularly if the organisation doesn’t have history celebrating the occasion. Brands should take care not to be culturally exploiting an occasion for their own gain and should make sure there is a genuine reason to be involved. Sending wishes of Happy Eid or Eid Mubarak, but then not taking any action in the organisation that delivers on this sentiment looks a little disingenuous, so our advice is to only use this platform if you are authentically supporting Ramadan or Eid in a meaningful way.
Before deciding how to get involved in celebrations I would also recommend canvassing the opinion of colleagues and customers who might be celebrating this occasion and asking them how it might be appropriate for the organisation to get involved.
Eid is just one of the many occasions featured in our Opportunity Spots content calendar that is a great tool when it comes to planning your PR and marketing activity. For your free copy we invite you to request a copy here.