Happy Islamic New Year to all that celebrate!

Stephanie Thomas

Written By Reem Al Kalbani

18th July 2023

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As organisations strive to create inclusive and diverse work environments, it is essential to recognise and respect the cultural and religious observances of employees. One such significant event is the Islamic New Year, also known as the Hijri New Year, which holds great importance in the Muslim calendar.

For this blog we asked our colleague, Reem Al Kabani, to explain the differences between the Islamic calendar and the widely used Gregorian calendar, how Muslim’s celebrate this special time of year and how employers can support Muslim employees during this time of reflection and renewal.

Recognising the differences between the Gregorian calendar and Islamic calendar

The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western or Christian calendar, was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. It is a solar calendar with 12 months of varying lengths. It has 365 days (366 in a leap year) and is used in the Western world. In contrast, the Islamic calendar, known as the Hijri calendar, is a lunar calendar with 12 months alternating between 29 and 30 days. A Hijri year is about 11 days shorter than a Gregorian year, comprising 354-355 days. The Islamic calendar follows the different phases of the moon’s cycle, starting with the crescent moon, progressing to a full moon (representing the midpoint of the month), and concluding with another crescent moon, marking the end of one month and the beginning of another.

This year, the Islamic New Year, which marks the beginning of the Muslim year, will fall on the 18th of July in the Gregorian calendar. It coincides with the journey of the Prophet Mohammed from Mecca to Medina in Saudi Arabia in 622 CE, known as the “Hijra” or “Hegira.” This historical event holds immense significance for Muslims worldwide. While Islamic New Year celebrations vary among individuals and families, they are often characterised by quiet introspection, intimate gatherings, and personal reflection. Some individuals prefer to celebrate alone, reflecting upon the past year, setting goals for the future, and engaging in acts of charity or attending community events.

How employers can actively support their Muslim employees during this meaningful time of the year and ensure an inclusive work environment.

  1. Raise awareness and foster understanding. 

Many individuals may not be familiar with the Islamic New Year and its significance, so encourage dialogue and understanding within the workplace by sharing information about the Islamic New Year. By fostering awareness and understanding, employers can create an environment of respect and inclusivity.

Organisations should be prioritising Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) strategies. EDI is not just a nice-to-have, but an essential investment in organisational health and success, especially when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent, boosting innovation, and improving bottom-line results.

  1. Be flexible and considerate. 

In many Muslim-majority countries, the Islamic New Year is a public holiday. As an employer in the UK, be mindful of this and provide flexibility when considering time-off requests from Muslim employees. Accommodating people’s needs demonstrates your commitment to inclusivity and religious diversity.

  1. Accommodate religious observance. 

Foster an inclusive workplace culture by promoting mutual respect, understanding, and acceptance of diverse religious practices. Muslim employees need to pray five times a day, and it is important to provide them with a space to do so. This could be a designated prayer room, a quiet area, or even a private office.

If you are looking to make your organisation more inclusive by updating your policies or adding new polices, AdviserPlus provide progressive policy bundles, including a religious observance policy that can be easily implemented into your existing policy set.

  1. Encourage volunteering and giving back.

Islamic New Year is a time for reflection and setting goals for the upcoming year. To show support as an employer, you can encourage employees to engage in acts of charity and community service, organise team volunteering opportunities or support employee-led initiatives that contribute to the greater good. By encouraging philanthropy and community involvement, employers can create a positive impact while honouring the spirit of Islamic New Year.

As employers, embracing and supporting cultural and religious diversity is crucial for fostering an inclusive workplace. By acknowledging and celebrating events like the Islamic New Year, organisations can create an environment where employees feel valued, respected, and able to freely express their religious beliefs.

Is your organisation inclusive?

A truly inclusive workplace is one where all employees feel valued, respected, and supported, regardless of their background, identity, or beliefs. It is a place where everyone feels like they belong and can contribute to their full potential.

Take this assessment to evaluate how inclusive your organisation is.

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