Five Minutes With…Ramadan Special

20 Apr 2022

In our special edition of Five Minutes With… We speak to Sajid Khan who is currently helping General Practices improve the way they work, while he is observing fasts, during the most holy month in the Islamic calendar, Ramadan.

Healthcare consultant Develop Consulting UK

Many of the practices he is supporting on the Productive General Practice Quick Start Programme also have patients or staff who are observing this religious month. We discuss the importance of having and raising awareness of this religious month and the impact that this can sometimes have on our staff and colleagues.

With just under two weeks to go, can you tell us how the first part of the month has gone so far?

I am starting to get into the swing of things, and my body is getting used to the fast and daily routine. It was slightly challenging at the beginning, as the days are getting slightly longer. However, it is a really good time reflect, build spiritual discipline and encourage us to think about things that we take for granted (like food and water), and an opportunity to build on good habits such as being be kind and charitable.

My typical day during this month, is to fast from dawn until sunset. Some of the key rules regarding this are to abstain from all forms of food and drink (including water). This usually means getting up between 3.30 – 4.00 am and having a meal before the start of the fast, and then breaking my fast around 8.00 pm or just after sunset.

Previously when I have been delivering to practices away from home it has been more challenging, especially when you are breaking your fast on your own or in hotels, or trying to order breakfast at very unusual times.  This is because Ramadan is a family orientated time where family members break fast together.

Fortunately, this year I have been able to travel back home most evenings and hence have been able to break my fast with my family, friends and neighbours etc. The great thing about Ramadan is that it gets the whole community together. It’s important that we share with the local community and send food to our neighbours and friends. So, despite trying to eat clean, or thinking that you’ll lose weight, the temptation to eat a variety of delicious food is very real.

Tell us more about working during Ramadan and delivering the Quick Start Programme in face-to-face sessions:

One of the benefits of being a Muslim is that when Ramadan arrives I am able to raise awareness within my team, so that they can consider their actions when working with practices that may have staff, who are also observing the fast.

Being aware allows us adapt our delivery and introduce more breaks if staff are struggling, don’t openly share or offer food around those who may be fasting and plan to tackle major or intense issues early on in the sessions. Leaving some of the quick and easy wins towards the end of the session.

I also make a point of not bringing biscuits to the sessions and of course avoiding the cake corner in practices at all costs! Generally, people are a lot more aware of Ramadan now, and many staff and colleagues choose not to eat or drink in front of me as they respect what I am doing and want to offer their support by being mindful and considerate.

But I have to say not having fluids during the day is always challenging in a profession when you are talking 80% of the time! I also always get asked questions about why I fast and what is the purpose and intention for fasting. Which is something I welcome as it allows us to break down barriers and educate others.

 And how do you find working with Develop Consulting during this period?

 When I’m not delivering the sessions, the business allows me to work flexibly, allowing me to either start a bit earlier, or later and work through my lunch – and where appropriate finish a little earlier. The business is very considerate and allows a lot more flexibility during this month.

I do get a lot of encouragement and support from my colleagues, informing them about ramadan and raising awareness I think is really important. At the start of the month I discussed with my  team ‘What Ramadan is’, ‘What are the goals’, explaining to them about what a typical day is like and what our foods are, when we break the fast in the evenings.

It’s great to have such conversations and raise awareness within the team, with 1.9 billion Muslims in the world. I am sure that everybody, will know somebody who is fasting during this month, as a friend, neighbour or colleague who will also be observing Ramadan.

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