Published Friday 21 Apr 2023

Hutt Hospital Cardiac Clinical Nurse Specialist Naila Rahman shares how she celebrates Ramadan and Eid-Al-Fitr

Muslims celebrate the holy month of Ramadan across the world. Ramadan is the most sacred month of the Islamic calendar and is a month of fasting, prayer, forgiveness, reflection and community.

Our staff and the people we serve are diverse. Some of us may either be observing Ramadan or know people who are. We spoke with Naila to learn more about Ramadan, how we can support our Muslim colleagues, and the upcoming celebration of the end of fasting, Eid-Al-Fitr.

In New Zealand, Ramadan is from 24 March, 2023 to the evening of Friday 21 April, 2023, dependent on the lunar calendar.

What is your role and what you enjoy the most about it?

“I am a Cardiac Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) and I work with an amazing team of CNSs and SMOs. I work autonomously but have the clinical support of the Cardiologist to manage the health, mediation and rehabilitation of patients who have had a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack, Coronary artery bypass and/or valve surgery, heart failure and/or atrial fibrillation.

“What I love about my work is the ability to build a therapeutic relationship with my patients and their whanau to help them make positive health changes in their lives and walk their journey with them. One of the highlights is telling people that their heart function has improved due to their lifestyle changes and medication!”

How do you help patients who are Muslim to feel comfortable in our care?

“I always greet them with ‘Asalama Alaikum’ (peace be upon you) and they respond ‘Wailekum Asalam’ (and upon you be peace) as this helps them to feel safe comfortable and at ease. As brothers and sister in Islam, we always acknowledge each other even if we haven’t met before.”

Tell us about Ramadan, why you fast and the significance behind it.

“Ramadan is a holy month and one of the five pillars of Islam, which makes it an obligation for all Muslims. Pregnant women, young children and those with health issues requiring medications are exempt.  It is also when the first verse of the Quran was revealed to prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him).

“It lasts for 29 or 30 days dependent on the lunar calendar and is observed by fasting (no food, water, smoking or sexual activity) from dawn to sunset. We wake up before dawn (suhoor) to eat food, break the fast at sunset (iftar), and pray with our families, friends or community. The significance is to reflect, ask for forgiveness, devote ourselves to our faith and get closer to Allah (God).

“It is also important to give more to charity (sadaqah) and to be kind and caring to others.”

Please share a Ramadan etiquette guide /courtesy tips for others?

“You can acknowledge it is Ramadan by saying ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ (Happy Ramadan) to your colleagues who will appreciate your thoughtfulness. We are happy to answer any questions you have. Just so you know – we don’t do it to lose weight or even think about that.

“You don’t have to apologise for eating in front of us, it’s not disrespectful and we can remove ourselves if the delicious smells are tormenting us! It would be helpful if you avoided scheduling work lunch meetings and meetings later in the afternoon as our concentration may be a little less (especially at the start of Ramadan - as our bodies are adjusting to the new cycle).

“We can also be more tired during the last 10 days of Ramadan as these days and night are filled with more prayers. So be patient with us if we are not as energetic or chirpy as we usually are. Most of the time we just get on with our work and you wouldn’t even know we are fasting.”

What is Eid-Al-Fitr (festival for breaking the fast)?

“The end of Ramadan is dependent on the sighting of the crescent moon, so we only know the night before. It is celebrated with Eid-al-Fitr (festival for breaking the fast). We all get dressed in our best/new clothes and begin the day with a morning Eid prayer for the whole community, followed by visiting friends and family to enjoy good food and good company.

“We greet each other with ‘Eid Mubarak’ (Happy Eid), so feel free to extend these good wishes to your Muslim colleagues on Eid (pronounced ‘’eed’) as they will really appreciate it!”