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Creating a welcoming environment for Muslim People

Group of five people, with a woman in hijab, with title: Creating a welcoming environment for Muslim people

  • When Nura and her family immigrated from Libya and arrived in Greeley, Colorado, they soon realized it was not an easy place to be Muslim. Nura struggled in finding her identity and fitting in. Not feeling like she belonged anywhere had a strong impact on her identity. Now as a fiercely independent, highly educated woman who wears the chador and hijab, Nura has dedicated much of her life to creating a welcoming experience for immigrants…the kind of welcome she did not receive.

  • Farheen clearly remembers 9/11, when all three of the planes taken over by terrorists flew out of Logan Airport. Farheen remembers feeling unsafe and her college assigning a police officer to protect her when the anti-Muslim frenzy began simmering. She uses her experience to advocate for a ceasefire in Palestine and show the world that there’s many ways to be Muslim through her podcast, “Authentic and Unfiltered.”

  • Issam is from Morocco but had grown up living all over the world, so he thought he would adapt to life here easily. In the corporate world, he found it challenging to integrate his Arab identity, especially during Ramadan and Eid, as he often felt isolated in his observance of these holidays. So he started one of the first employee affinity groups for employees of Arab descent in the country Marhaba (Arabic for “hello”). He reminds people that most Arabs are Muslim, but most Muslims are not Arabs.

Listen to these fascinating people on my podcasts (linked to each person’s name).

Is your workplace or environment welcoming to people of all faiths? If not, Issam Kaisse says, “If you want to be part of the change, you have to speak up.”

Creating a welcoming environment is not only about inclusivity but also about fostering respect and understanding. You can create a workplace where everyone feels valued and respected.

Here are 12 key strategies to consider:

  • Educate yourself: Learn about Islam, its practices, and common misconceptions. Understand your own biases and correct yourself. Read books written by and about Muslim people, and follow Muslim influencers on social media.

  • Accommodate prayer needs: Devout Muslims pray five times a day at specific times. Providing a clean, quiet space for prayer and flexible break times can make a big difference.

  • Respect and learn about Ramadan: During Ramadan (March 10-April 9, 2024), devout Muslims fast from food and water from sunrise to sunset. Be mindful of this and avoid scheduling important meetings or events during fasting hours. Offering a private space for breaking fast can also be appreciated.

List of inclusive language suggestions during Ramadan
Mita Mallick shared this excellent graphic from Ash Ahmad on LinkedIn

  • Be mindful of dietary restrictions: Many Muslims adhere to halal dietary laws and avoid alcohol. Consider offering halal food and nonalcoholic options in group settings or when ordering for group meals.

  • Respect dress code: Some Muslim women choose to wear a headscarf (hijab) or modest clothing. Respect their choice and avoid making assumptions or comments about their attire.

  • Include Islamic holidays: Recognize Islamic holidays such as Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Acknowledge these celebrations, similar to how other religious holidays are acknowledged.

  • Advocate for justice in Palestine. Speak out against what’s happening in Gaza and be aware that 99 percent of people in Gaza are Muslim. It’s not anti-Semitic to condemn the genocide. As of this writing, more than 32,000 Palestines have been killed, with 74,694 more injured.

  • Avoid assumptions: Not all Muslims speak Arabic or come from the Middle East. Islam is a global religion, and Muslims come from diverse backgrounds.

  • Promote inclusivity: Encourage open dialogue and create a culture where everyone feels comfortable sharing their perspectives and experiences. Offer resources or training about Islamophobia and unconscious bias.

  • Address microaggressions: Try to avoid asking questions that make Muslim people feel othered. Be vigilant about and address any discriminatory comments or behaviors. Educate and foster a culture of respect.

  • Celebrate diversity: Organize events or initiatives that celebrate diversity. This can include cultural exchange days, where people can share aspects of their culture, including food, music, and traditions.

  • Lead by example: As a leader, demonstrate inclusivity in your actions and decision-making. Encourage your team to do the same.

By implementing these strategies, you can help create an environment where Muslim people feel respected, valued, and included. Building a culture of inclusivity benefits everyone and builds a more harmonious and productive work environment.

These tips are not just for workplaces…they can be implemented anywhere. I attended a storytelling event during Ramadan with The Immigrant Story. We took an extended break for Muslims in the audience to break their fast. They were also offered a space and snacks to do so.

What can you do to create welcoming spaces for Muslim people wherever you go?

Let me know if you can use help with communications, marketing, or leadership.

I help purpose-driven professional services firms and organizations avoid BORING and boost employee engagement, productivity, and readership. I translate technical, complex, and lackluster language into accessible, dynamic, story-driven text.

Fertile Ground Communications LLC is a certified woman-owned business enterprise, disadvantaged business enterprise, and emerging small business.


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