Welcome to “From our Team,” where different employees of Ubisoft Toronto share a little behind the scenes of the culture and community of our studio. Today we’re excited to hear from Kareem El-Baradie, Production Coordinator on Far Cry 6, and member of The SAME Pros (South Asian & Middle Eastern) Employee Resource Group at Ubisoft.
Happy Ramadan! But what is Ramadan?
Ramadan is upon us! But what is Ramadan? My name is Kareem El-Baradie, Production Coordinator on Far Cry 6. With the support of the South Asian & Middle Eastern Professionals Employee Resource Group (ERG), or the SAME Pros, it will be my honor to share how valuable and important this religious month is for almost 2 billion people celebrating it over the next 30 days (April 13-May 13th). The SAME Pros believe that through sharing our cultures and experiences we grow closer as a community. We hope that through providing this information we collectively gain a greater understanding and respect for all faiths, and come together to appreciate their similarities and what make them unique.
To share more about Ramadan, I will be answering some commonly asked questions:
What is Ramadan and why is it important to Muslims?
Ramadan is the name of the month in the Islamic calendar in which Muslims believe the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohamad, peace be upon him (PBUH). As one of the holiest months in the year Ramadan is also tied to one of the core beliefs of the Islamic faith in which Muslims, if able to, are required to fast each day of the month. When I mention fasting, I’m not talking about the trendy diet, but the grueling act of not eating or drinking anything from sunrise to sunset (that includes no water). If anything, many Muslims end up gaining weight during Ramadan because of how much they eat before and after fasting to make sure they “don’t starve.” 😛
What is the Quran?
The Quran is our religious scripture – similar to the Bible and Torah – written and collected during the time of the Prophet Mohamad (PBUH). Islam, like Christianity and Judaism, is an Abrahamic religion, and large portions of the scripture are dedicated to the stories of our shared Prophets like Jesus, Moses, and Abraham, and with it many of the same teachings and philosophy.
Why do Muslims fast?
There are many reasons why we fast, but the most important one is spiritual reflection and heightened religious devotion. By choosing to not eat or drink, you are actively reaffirming your commitment to your faith. With the busyness of our lives, spirituality often falls by the wayside, but trust me, having an empty stomach makes it the first thing on your mind.
The second reason is for self-improvement. The goal of Ramadan is to not only abstain from food or drink through the day, but all “impurities” – it’s a process to cleanse the soul. Sinful speech such as swearing, and harmful action against others, are some of the things Muslims must refrain from to not risk breaking their fast. The goal is to take that energy and channel it into kind actions and donations.
The third reason why we fast ties into a very important component of Ramadan – charitable action and donation. Without food or water, the gift of its availability becomes clear. The knowledge that at any time you can run to the kitchen to eat or drink makes you appreciate that millions around the world do not have that privilege. For that reason, a dedicated charity during Ramadan is made and promoted with the reward of more good deeds if made during the month.
Given the rigorous nature of Ramadan, fasting isn’t compulsory for those who are physically unable to do so. Those who are elderly, pregnant, menstruating, travelling long distance, or have health needs are exempt from fasting.
Why is it starting in the middle of the month? What comes after Ramadan?
Ramadan is based on the Islamic calendar, which follows the lunar cycle. The year is also split into 12 months, but because the lunar months are shorter, it doesn’t correspond with the Gregorian calendar and moves up 11 days every year. That means next year’s Ramadan will start around approximately 2nd of April.
The end of Ramadan is celebrated through Eid Al-fitr, which translates to “Celebration of Breaking Fast”, one of two major Islamic Holidays. Many Muslims equate it to Christmas, and when I was a kid Ramadan was right around the same time. Eid Al-fitr and Christmas share many traditions. Gifts are given out, families come together to share a meal, and there are plenty of sweets to go around… but no tree, unfortunately (I was always jealous of that part). Growing up in the U.S and having Ramadan in the winter was a special experience as it felt like the whole world shared in the Holiday Spirit.
Ramadan at Ubisoft
One benefit of working from home is that Ramadan has become a lot easier to practice without people walking around with food or standing by the water fountain, but please do not feel like you have to tiptoe around those who are fasting! It is a commitment we make with ourselves and working through its unique challenges is part of what makes this month special.
And that about does it. If you’ve made it this far in the article, I am happy to say you’ve just completed a crash course in Ramadan! Thank you for giving your time to learn more about our traditions and culture.
Follow the SAME Pros Twitter account, dedicated to promoting the visibility and inclusion of South Asian and Middle Eastern identifying professionals in the games industry, for more resources.
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