Navy members have paused to mark the end of a fasting day during Ramadan - one of the world’s most significant religious events. Some personnel have fasted in support of their Muslim teammate, signifying the importance of forging an inclusive workplace in the name of Navy’s future capability.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and is observed by Muslims across Asia and worldwide as a month of fasting. Muslims offer alms and donations to charitable organisations during Ramadan. They also volunteer their time in various ways, such as organising iftar dinners for thousands of people at mosques or other institutions, where iftars are provided daily for anyone who wishes to join. One of these functions was hosted at Brindabella Business Park Offices in Canberra by CPO Zulkarnain Naim.
‘What makes Ramadan special to many Muslims is the emphasis on being together with the community,’ CPO Naim said. ‘Joining together with other Muslims at the iftar table increases feelings of inclusiveness and belonging. That is also why Ramadan is an ideal time for Muslims and non-Muslims to come together and learn about one another.’
As he shared his meal with workmates, CPO Naim was also mindful of other Navy Muslims who are currently deployed. ‘Fasting and working concurrently presents many challenges at the best of times, especially in the maritime environment,’ he said. ‘These challenges can range from members in the workplace talking about how awesome the coffees are at the local brewster to the gentle wafting of a co-worker's delicious lunch. But these minor challenges are purely challenging your own self-discipline and resilience.’
CPO Naim, who is also Navy’s Intercultural Advisor, says the response from his workmates has been very positive. ‘It’s important for me to demonstrate the significance of Ramadan to my workmates because it allows me to be me at work,’ CPO Naim said. ‘It allows me to share my experience, educate those who want to know more about my culture and it raises the departments overall awareness about how diverse we all are.’
‘All in all, it makes me feel more included and valued as a sailor and as a person. It also increases my sense of belonging to an organisation that has now the ability to understand me for me.'