14th March 2024

Reflections on Ramadan with Zakaria Al-Musrati and Shoaib Ali


Ahead of Ramadan, we caught up with our Engineers, Zakaria Al-Musrati and Shoaib Ali, to learn more about Ramadan and how they are hoping to help educate colleagues about the significance of the month to Muslims.


Ramadan holds significant importance in the Islamic calendar, symbolising a time of great joy for Muslims worldwide.

Zakaria explains: “For all Muslims, Ramadan is a time of self-reflection and appreciation for one’s daily blessings. It’s also the time for us to strengthen our faith, do more good deeds, additional prayers, revisiting the Qur’an (holy book for Muslims) and visiting the mosque.”

Operating on a lunar calendar, Ramadan’s timing shifts annually as it commences with the sighting of the first crescent moon. This year, it’s anticipated to begin on either March 10th or 11th.

Zakaria emphasises: “At the core of Ramadan is fasting (sawm), one of Islam’s five pillars.”

Fasting during Ramadan is obligatory for healthy adult Muslims, with exemptions for children, the elderly, those with physical or mental constraints and pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Zakaria said: “Fasting entails refraining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset”.

Shoaib added: “In addition to fasting, having time to pray throughout the month is extremely important for those observing Ramadan. I take time to reflect on how fortunate we are in comparison to the less fortunate around the world.” 

A typical day during Ramadan

A typical day of fasting during Ramadan consists of waking up very early in the morning, a time known as Suhoor: the meal before beginning your fast, followed by the Fajr prayer (morning prayer). 

Daily activities consist of the five daily prayers and reading the Qur’an.

Zakaria emphasised, “Iftar signifies the end of the day’s fast. Like Prophet Mohammed, I begin with three dates, a tradition among many Muslims.”

During the night, Muslims usually attend the mosque for a night-time prayer called Tarawih.

Shoaib mentioned: “The beginning of Ramadan is always the most difficult period as your body is slowly feeling the physical effects of not eating or drinking during the day. However, fasting gradually becomes easier. “

Zakaria adds: “The most demanding yet rewarding aspect is pushing yourself to be a better individual, both physically and mentally.”

Supportive colleagues

As they embark on their second Ramadan as members of the Van Elle team, they are grateful for the positive experiences they’ve encountered so far.

Shoaib said: “Van Elle has a dedicated prayer facility that allows me to conduct all my prayers on time and take the time for reflection where needed, so I have been able to perform the essential aspects of Ramadan effectively and manage work responsibilities.”

While they don’t expect colleagues to change their behaviour during Ramadan, they both value the supportive environment and acknowledge the flexibility in adjusting work hours and granting leave for religious observances.

Zakaria said: “Typically, the last few days of Ramadan are booked off to visit the mosque more frequently and to also celebrate Eid Ul Fitr. Our line manager has been incredibly supportive in granting us this leave.”

Shoaib adds: “In terms of supporting colleagues, we personally don’t want anyone to avoid eating or drinking in our presence or apologising because Ramadan is about exerting self-control and having the willpower to fast in all circumstances.”

Educating colleagues

When asked about educating the wider business on Ramadan Zakaria mentioned he’s looking to join the EDI network, an employee-led group driving Inclusion and Diversity across the company.

He said: “I was recently invited to attend my first meeting with the EDI network, and I’d like the opportunity to present the importance of Ramadan, raise awareness and let other employees observing Ramadan know that they have the support they need.”

Eid Ul Fitr

The month of Ramadan ends with a community celebration known as Eid ul-Fitr (Festival of Breaking fast). Eid is marked by great feasts, exchanging gifts and spending time with family.

However, before performing the Eid prayer, Muslims engage in acts of charity, exemplifying compassion and solidarity within the community.

Zak and Shoaib describe Eid as a time of joyful celebration, where “Eid Mubarak” conveys blessings and peace to loved ones.