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Ramadan Reflections: Our Commitment to Supporting You

by PS Colin Thapar

As Police Officers, we often have to work long and demanding shifts without even a moment to rest or eat. But can you imagine starting one of those shifts without having had anything to eat or drink beforehand?

As a Sergeant, I had the honour of managing an officer fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. It was my responsibility to provide guidance and support during this critical time. I was incredibly impressed and proud to see the officer continue to carry out their duties with the same level of professionalism and dedication while still observing their religious obligations.

During Ramadan, we needed to understand and acknowledge the impact that fasting would have on our officers. We needed to be flexible by making reasonable accommodations and adjusting their work schedule and environment to provide the best support during this challenging time. By doing so, we created an environment that supported the officer's physical and spiritual needs.

We also took advantage of the opportunity for the officer to share their experiences with us, which greatly enhanced our team's understanding of the significance of Ramadan and the challenges faced by those who observe the fast. Listening to their perspective and insights allowed us to provide better support and guidance to the officer and other officers who may have been experiencing similar challenges during that time. It also allowed us to foster a greater sense of empathy and respect for each other's cultures and practices, strengthening the bond within our team.

I was inspired to hear that the officer's colleagues offered to take on the driving responsibilities during Ramadan, recognising the possible impact fasting could have on their colleague’s energy levels and concentration. Small gestures like these can make a significant difference in an officer's life while fasting.

As a token of their appreciation, the officer arrived at our office in their traditional attire, accompanied by a delectable spread of food to break their fast. This act expressed their gratitude and provided our team with a rich cultural experience, fostering a sense of inclusivity and respect within our workplace.

One of the most valuable aspects of any workplace is the opportunity for mutual learning. When individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives come together, they can learn from one another and expand their knowledge and understanding of the world. This kind of learning is beneficial on a personal level and can lead to better problem-solving, innovation, and collaboration within the workplace. 

As Police Officers, it is important to understand the cultures and practices of the communities we serve. Observing Ramadan can offer insights into the experiences and challenges faced by those who observe the fast. By learning about and respecting different cultures and practices, we can better serve our communities and foster a greater sense of unity and inclusivity within our workplaces and beyond.

We are sometimes so set in our own ways and often curiosity gets the better of us. It can lead to some questions that our Muslim colleagues are asked all of the time but food for thought - why don’t you go research it yourselves as well? 

Here are some commonly asked questions: 

“Are you fasting?”: While it might seem innocent, this question can be uncomfortable for someone who is not fasting due to personal reasons. Some individuals may have valid reasons for not fasting, such as health conditions or other circumstances. It’s best not to assume or inquire directly.

“Why are you fasting?”: The reasons behind fasting can be deeply personal and spiritual. Some people may choose not to share these details, so it’s better to respect their privacy.

“Aren’t you hungry?”: Fasting during Ramadan is a spiritual practice, and Muslims see it as a privilege. They willingly abstain from food and drink during daylight hours. Asking about hunger can unintentionally trivialize their commitment.

“Can you drink water?”: During fasting hours, Muslims refrain from both eating and drinking.

“When does your fast end?”: The exact time for breaking the fast (iftar) varies each day. Instead of asking about the specific time, consider expressing good wishes for their iftar.

“Can I eat in front of you?”: While it’s considerate to be mindful of your actions, you don’t need to ask permission. Simply be discreet and avoid eating or drinking in front of your fasting colleague.

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