Virtual Teams

October 2013: Eid al-Adha

Abstract religious eid backgroundEid is getting close, and if you work with people who are Muslim or live in an Islamic culture, for them this is an important festival – it won’t be ‘business as usual’.

The important religious ‘festival of the sacrifice’ – known as Eid al-Adha, the Greater Eid, Kurban Bayram), Eid-e-Qurban or  Bakr Eid  and variations therein depending upon where you are in the World –  is celebrated to mark the prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son – and his son’s acceptance of this – as a sign of submission to God (before God provided a sheep to sacrifice in his place).

Eid al-Adha falls on varying dates each year (based on a moon calendar), and this year on around October 15 depending on location.

It’s a major four day celebration, rthe second most important in the Islam calendar, marked by prayer and visiting mosques, being with family, wearing new clothes, sharing food and charitable acts.

If your colleagues are Muslim, this is a really important time of year, akin to Christmas for Christians or Diwali (next month) for Hindus. And it will have an impact on the workplace. Expect people to be away from their desks for at least part of the time, meaning that any projects need to take the absence into consideration.

If you are Muslim and work colleagues aren’t, they may not know how important this festival is to you – or even that the festival is happening. If you can broach the subject now, it will give them time to prepare for your absence. Maybe you could invite non-Muslim colleagues to Eid celebrations to help them understand your culture. If you find that hard, could the giving of small Eid gifts to children this year be extended to include your work colleagues as a conversation opener.

Of course, these things may not be possible if you work remotely or with people in other countries, making it all the more important to let them know. And don’t forget that just because the festival happens on a particular day in a particular way in your own country it may be slightly different elsewhere. (You could even share this article with them as an ‘ice breaker’

Why not…?

  • If you’re Muslim, we’d love to hear how you plan to celebrate if you’re Muslim. What are your own regional/family traditions? How do you juggle work?
  • If you’re not Muslim, why not ask colleagues you know are Muslim how they’ll be celebrating? Especially if you don’t work in the same office, it’s a good way to get to know each other better, and you may learn something that helps you work better together or helps schedule better going forward.
  • Find out more about our training for  cross-cultural workplaces and working on virtual teams.

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