On behalf of the Muslim Bar Association of New York (MuBANY), I am happy to inform you that this year June 29 marks the start of Ramadan, a holy month that affects the lives of many of Muslim lawyers. During this month, Muslim lawyers and law students across the United States will be observing the fast, reflecting in prayer, and trying to do more to better our communities and families. We hope this letter can lend a helping hand in informing legal employers about Ramadan and what it means for their Muslim colleagues.

During Ramadan, which this year will run from on or about June 29 to July 28, Muslims who observe the Ramadan fast from dawn to dusk will abstain from eating and drinking, among other things. Typically, Muslim legal professionals will strive to perform their prayers at five prescribed times during the day and will break their fast and have something to eat at sunset.

Such observances rarely take more than five to 10 minutes but they can occur during business hours. That said, Muslims across America have been fulfilling their Ramadan obligations for years and rarely has it disrupted their professional responsibilities.

We believe that many law firms, corporate legal departments, government entities, judicial chambers and other organizations may not be aware of the religious observances followed by many Muslim lawyers during Ramadan. We are confident that if informed, legal employers would be more than willing to provide whatever minimal accommodations might be necessary to assist their Muslim colleagues. While each person’s needs are unique, such accommodations are often as simple as briefly excusing a colleague from a meeting so that he or she may break their fast or offer prayers.

In addition, the end of Ramadan is marked by the joyous holiday of Eid ul Fitr, and many Muslim lawyers may seek to take the day off to attend services and spend the day in celebration with family and friends.

Through this letter, we would like to educate legal employers, particularly those in management positions, so that they are properly informed about the needs of those lawyers, law students and legal professionals observing Ramadan. We will likewise be asking Muslim lawyers nationwide to talk to their employers about Ramadan so that there is an open and informed channel of communication.

The Muslim bar of New York has also published “A Legal Employer’s Guide to Islam in the Workplace.” The guide provides an introduction to the religious practices and expressions of Muslims and is meant to serve as a reference tool for law firms, law departments, and other legal employers when responding to the needs of Muslim employees. You can request a copy of the guide through our website www.mubany.org or by contacting me directly at muslimbarny@gmail.com if you have any questions.

We hope that we will have your organizations support on this issue, and we wish you a warm “Ramadan Mubarak!” (Happy Ramadan!).

Atif Rehman
The author is president of the Muslim Bar Association of New York