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Ramadan in the Times of a Global Pandemic

IntuitLife, Social Responsibility Ramadan

At Intuit, maker of TurboTax, QuickBooks and Mint, we celebrate the diversity of our customers and our employees. During Ramadan, many of the world’s estimated 1.6 billion Muslims fast every day, abstaining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset for 30 days as an act of worship. It’s a month to practice self-control, gratitude and compassion for those less fortunate.

This year, Ramadan began on April 23 and is expected to end May 23, at which point Muslims will celebrate Eid-al-Fitr, the “festival of breaking the fast” after the sighting of the new crescent moon.

But this Ramadan, unlike any other year, has been completely different.

Everything about Ramadan traditionally has an aspect of gathering – from eating together, worshiping together, and doing charity together, communal gathering plays an important role in how Ramadan is observed, shared and celebrated.

As Muslims around the world played their part in flattening the curve, the normally packed mosques and smaller places of worship stood empty, the overbooked restaurants kept their doors closed, and communal meals were only shared with immediate family members.

Earlier this month, we talked with our employees who are part of our Intuit Muslim Awareness Network to see how they planned on celebrating during this unique time of year and here’s what they shared.

  • “This year has given me the opportunity to share the experience of Ramadan and spend time with my family, to an even greater extent than before. My goal this month is to reconnect with my spirituality, be virtually motivating to my colleagues and volunteer my digital skills to help the vulnerable. I am planning on observing and participating in online community sermons, prayers and activities.” – Hamza Paracha, Mississauga
  • “Since my husband and I are working from home and our kids are taking their classes online and don’t have sports activities, we have more time to connect as a family and get creative. We replaced our social events with friends by cooking our favorite dishes together. We decorated our house and are focused on staying in the moment and enjoying our special month during an unprecedented situation.” – Maaly Mohamed, San Diego, Global IMAN leader
  • “Despite missing my family, the group prayers in the mosque and fasting with my colleagues in the office (muslims and non muslims), I always remember the basic of our teachings of seeking the blessings in any situation: Verily, with hardship there is relief” (Qur’an 94:6). This year I decided to revisit my Ramadan and take the opportunity to do things I never had the TIME to do– reconnect with our creator, reflect, pray, learn more and also do simple things like cooking new recipes (+10 cakes so far) or share meals with my friends on Zoom (with funny backgrounds).” – Ilham Benlamlih, Paris

In the shadow of COVID-19, many of our Intuit Muslim Awareness Network members looked forward to an extra special Ramadan; one with a greater emphasis on charitable acts, a much deeper spiritual experience as we all spent more time at home in prayer and self-reflection, and an eagerness to spread more good around our neighborhoods and communities.

While those who observe Ramadan by fasting look to strengthen their relationship with God, there are ways that everyone, no matter their faith, can embrace some of what makes Ramadan special — practicing self-discipline, increasing empathy for those who are less fortunate, rekindling relationships with friends and family, and spreading kindness to others.

At Intuit, instead of site socials to celebrate Ramadan, IMAN hosted virtual events that were open to all Intuit employees including a webinar all about fasting and the creation of a Ramadan Slack group. IMAN also found fun ways to connect with one another and introduced elements of their culture to other employees.

“One of the things that is different at work this year is being able to share the spirit of Ramadan with others as it comes up naturally when you refrain from getting lunch or going out for coffee,” says IMAN executive sponsor Humera Shahid, “These small opportunities build empathy and inspire inclusion. Connecting with our colleagues virtually is our new normal, take a moment to check in with each other personally.”

At Intuit, we believe the ability to power prosperity starts with our belief that every employee should be able to bring their whole self to work. Diversity isn’t something we do — it’s who we are.