Muslim lawyers share advice this Ramadan

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By Aishah Hussain on


Fasting from dawn until dusk comes with a unique set of challenges — we speak to four practising Muslim lawyers for their tips to those observing the Holy Month

Fasting from dawn until dusk comes with a unique set of challenges for practising Muslim lawyers. Forgoing food and water for hours each day whilst balancing a busy workload can prove taxing, so we spoke to four lawyers for their tips on how to observe a healthy Ramadan and what more firms can do to support Muslim colleagues.

Maintain yourself physically, spiritually and mentally — Sofia Aslam, associate in the London international projects group at Ashurst

Sofia Aslam

“To maximise the benefits that you can get from Ramadan, it is so important to take care of yourself; physically, spiritually, and mentally.

Physically, focus on eating healthier foods (and take it easy on fried foods such as samosas and spring rolls that have become a staple of Ramadan in many homes!). Try to keep hydrated (ideally with water) in the hours between suhoor [meal before sunrise] and iftaar [meal after sunset to break the fast] — this is particularly important if you are working late into the night, as dehydration can lead to tiredness and headaches which will inevitably impact your ability to focus. Keep people updated on your capacity, and don’t be afraid to express if you need a little extra rest.

Spirituality really is the essence of Ramadan and so blocking out some time in your day (and possibly also in your diary) can help you to prioritise worship which means that you will feel connected with the spirit of Ramadan. When I was a trainee, I found that adding prayer times to my calendar made it easier to remain consistent with daily prayers as I treated those slots of time with as much priority as any other meeting in my diary. Speaking to your supervisors and deal teams about iftaar timings is also a great idea — let people know that you will need a few hours to eat, pray and spend time with loved ones.

On the mental health side of things, family, community and togetherness is a big part of Ramadan across many cultures and I think it can really impact your mental health if you are going through Ramadan and missing out on that. This is especially significant if you are living alone. I would recommend perhaps joining an iftaar at the masjid, in your community, or indeed with colleagues in your workplace! Ramadan looks different for everyone and so you are the only person who knows what support you need during the month. Amongst other things you may wish to log on a little later in the mornings, log back on after iftaar to finish up work, or indeed work from home more regularly. Communicating these things to the teams that you work with can ease the pressure on you so I would really encourage this.”

Firms should educate employees and offer flexibility — Farzana Abdullah, future Clyde & Co trainee solicitor and founder of the Muslim Lawyers’ Hub

Farzana Abdullah

“During Ramadan, comments like ‘I feel sorry for you’ or ‘you poor thing’ can be insensitive to Muslim colleagues as it suggests that fasting is viewed as a burden. Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection, and firms can educate employees about what it truly means to Muslims to avoid such comments. Additionally, offering flexibility in working hours, allowing Muslims to adjust their schedule to accommodate fasting, and providing a designated area for prayer ensures that Muslim colleagues can practise their faith throughout the day.”

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Be creative with your lunch break — Maab Saifeldin, trainee solicitor on secondment at BMW

Maab Saifeldin

“The best way for law firms to help practising Muslims during the Ramadan period is by being accommodating and understanding how important this month is for Muslims. Time is supposed to be spent focusing on improving our spirituality and improving our relationship with God. It can be hard to balance work responsibilities and religious ambition to make the most out of the blessed month. Therefore flexibility in terms of allowing colleagues to work from home for the full month or changing our start and end times is much appreciated.

Muslims can spend their lunch breaks during Ramadan in ibadah [worship] such as reading Quran, listening to Quran while taking a walk during lunch, reading an islamic book or even sleeping. I tend to use half of my lunch to nap and get energy because I usually rely on caffeine for my energy hit. I use the other half working on my Ramadan goals and increasing in reading Quran.”

Not all Muslims can fast so we celebrate in our own way — Fahrid Chishty, criminal law barrister at Libertas Chambers

Fahrid Chishty

“As a diabetic, I am exempted from fasting. However, Ramadan is still a critical part of my spiritual calendar. During this month, we participate in family feasts, night vigils, supererogatory prayers and charitable initiatives.

Whilst deeply fulfilling, these are naturally fatiguing and time-intensive. Therefore, it is important as a barrister to manage one’s practice thoughtfully during this period. For me, this means carrying out my case preparation as soon as reasonably practicable and remaining mindful of the impact of the Holy Month on clients, colleagues, witnesses, jurors and judges. Personally, I appreciate the focus on introspection, reflection and personal development during this time. Re-reading our scriptures reminds me of the divine imperative to serve the cause of justice, act with impartiality and carry oneself with integrity: values which I believe go hand-in-hand with the professional code of the bar and the day-to-day work of an advocate.”

Ramadan Mubarak! 🌙✨

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