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Celebrating Ramadan 2021: Ramadan, Eid, and an unexpected connection to UX design

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The Muslim holy month of Ramadan ends May 12,and we invite you to join us in the celebrating, fasting, and other activities that are unique to the holiest month in Islam.

We are all invited to join our Muslim employees for a day of Ramadan observance on May 6. You can participate in a half or full-day fast, join the group for a presentation, “How UX Principles are Aligned with Ramadan” and iftar (breaking of the fast) celebration, beginning at 7:15 PM PST.

So. What is Ramadan, exactly? What’s the deal with fasting? And how on earth is Ramadan like UX? We sat down with the group to get a brief overview of Ramadan, and a peek into the UX team’s presentation. 

Mudassir Azeemi – Sr. UX Interaction Designer | Design System Governance

Anam Barakzai, Ph.D – UX Researcher

Omer Malik – UX Interaction Designer

Shazeeye Kirmani – Lead UX Researcher

Moomal Qadir – Sr. Customer Success Manager

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year in Islam — Muslims believe it was during this month that God revealed the first verses of the Quran to Mohammed.

Ramadan is a time of spiritual discipline — of deep contemplation of one’s relationship with God, extra prayer, increased charity and generosity, and intense study of the Quran. It’s also a time of celebration and joy, meant to be spent with loved ones (when there’s not a global pandemic.) During the entire month, Muslims fast every day from dawn to sunset, and

Ramadan ends with a three-day celebration called Eid al-Fitr, or the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast, where family and friends gather for meals and exchange presents.

“The word “Ramadan” is derived from the Arabic root word “Ramidha,” says Omer, meaning “intensely hot.” It’s a symbolic reference  – think of the observance as a process that “burns away” one’s misdeeds.” 

According to Qadir, the intentions behind Ramadan are to “reflect and strengthen our spirituality, empathize with the less fortunate, reflect on our blessings and take the time to be a charitable individual.”

The Ramadan Fast

Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars — or duties — of Islam, along with the testimony of faith, prayer, charitable giving, and making a pilgrimage to Mecca.

During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating any food, drinking any liquids, engaging in sexual activity, smoking cigarettes, or chewing gum, from dawn to sunset. 

It’s a rigorous practice, but one that’s well worth it, says Qadir. “My hope is that people take away the idea that Ramadan is more than just fasting/abstaining from eating. It is a time where Muslims work to remove additional distractions, so we can focus on the humanity around us. Whether it’s through charitable causes, being a better neighbor, getting in tune with our spirituality, or reflecting on the past year, Ramadan is a time that can be shared with the community when we all sit down to break our fasts, together.”

Ramadan and…UX? 

VP of UX Michael Peachey was engaging with Azeemi in a weekly 1-on-1 meeting, when they hit upon the idea that there are distinct parallels between the ideas that drive a successful UX process and the ideas behind Ramadan.  “I was learning about how Mudassir and his family observe iftar, and the more we talked, the more parallels we drew. I’m excited to see the team’s presentation.” 

Without giving away too much, we asked the team for a few highlights. 

“Lesson one is simple,” says Barazkai. “Ramadan and the fast are about intention. UX design is, too. Every single decision we make, we should be intentional about.” 

“Empathy is a critical element of UX,” says Malik. “and that’s exactly what Ramadan asks us to focus on. In design, we’re asked to step into the user’s shoes. Ramadan is the same, only it asks us to do so across every aspect of our interactions with others.” 

“Biases, conscious and unconscious, play a big role in design decisions,” says Azeemi. “The reflection we do during Ramadan gives us a chance to really think about how biases manifest in our lives – including the UX design part of our lives.”

If you’re interested in seeing the full presentation, join the team on May 6. We wish you all Ramadan kareem and Eid mubarak! 

#strongertogether 

Originally published May 04, 2021

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