Sixteen cultures in a single organisation: Naiem Iqbal talks about Ramadan

16 cultures in a single organisation: Naiem Iqbal about Ramadan

Published on: Category: News

Qualogy is a multicultural organisation, and diversity and inclusion are very important to us. Having the opportunity to be who you are and what you stand for. We are proud that we bring together colleagues from over sixteen different cultures. We enjoy learning about one another’s backgrounds and traditions. At the moment, our Muslim colleagues are coming to the end of what for them is the most important month in Islam, the Ramadan. Ramadan is often associated only with fasting – not eating or drinking. But what exactly does the Ramadan represent? And how do you combine fasting with a fulltime job, for example? Mendix colleague Naiem Iqbal talks about what Ramadan means to him and how he combines this period with his work.


Two years ago, Naiem transitioned to Qualogy from a large IT company. Selecting a smaller, more multicultural IT organisation was a very conscious choice. “More personal attention and colleagues with a range of backgrounds are important to me. We all have the same ‘baseline’, such as almost all of us speak Dutch. But we grew up in different places and in different ways. This diversity leads to good dynamics and strengthens a team and organisation.”

“Ramadan is a month of contemplation and self-reflection.”

Ramadan is so much more than just fasting

As a Muslim, the Islamic faith has a very important place in Naiem’s life. “As Muslims, the Ramadan is the most important month in Islam. Lots of people just see the Ramadan as a month of fasting in which you don’t eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. But Ramadan is so much more. It is a month of contemplation and of self-reflection. This period is about creating an even stronger bond with God, Allah.” 

“During Ramadan you pray more than usual and read more verses from the Koran that you would normally. Moreover, everything is about improving yourself. Charity is extremely important here – giving and sharing with others who have less than you do or who are seriously ill. Better self-control - improving your language and behaviour – are also key. Normally we’re all absorbed by the issues of the day. You’re busy with your work, hobbies, and other run-of-the-mill things. During Ramadan you get an annual wakeup call. Ultimately, everyone’s life comes to an end. At that stage, the only things that matter are those that you have done well, and that you have committed as few sins as possible. This conviction is very strong with us.”

“Before Ramadan I always take some time for self-reflection and , together with my wife, set personal goals for the period. What do I want to achieve, and what do I want to improve?”

“I actually end up having more time to work during Ramadan.”

Work and energy levels

“Via Qualogy, I am working at the City of Rotterdam as Mendix Business Engineer on the Thomas Project. We are building a huge platform where people can easily apply for benefits. In the end, we want to offer easy access to all the possible (income) schemes, based on the individual’s profile. Our team now consists of a Product Owner, five Mendix Developers, two Functional Managers, a Scrum Master and 5 Testers. We are also supported by a UX Designer, Business Analysts and Architects. The fact that we have almost as much test capacity as development capacity shows the speed at which we are developing at Mendix.”

“Anyone who knows me knows that I love food. I talk about food constantly and love cooking. We don’t often reflect on the huge impact eating and drinking has on our daily life. Breakfast, getting coffee, lunch and preparing the evening meal. It actually takes up quite a bit of time, and in fact I end up having more time to work during Ramadan. Since I can only eat as of 9 PM, I am totally free to work beforehand. We work pretty long hours in the Netherlands, so it is important to manage your energy well. The fact that since Corona we have worked from home more means there is more flexibility too. During Ramadan, evening prayers in the mosque last longer. I can now rest for an hour or so during the day and catch up on that hour at the end of the day or early evening.”

“As mentioned, as a Muslim you pray more often than usual during Ramadan. We stick strictly to the rule of praying five times per day. At the City of Rotterdam there is a general area that anyone can use and relax. I have my prayer rug there, and I can pray. When I started at the City of Rotterdam, I went to security and asked whether there was somewhere I could pray. Before I even uttered the question, he asked: ‘I am guessing you need a prayer area, right?’ They are very helpful with this sort of thing.”

Colleagues together

“My colleagues know that I do Ramadan, take it into account and regularly ask me how I’m doing. I always like that anyway, also outside of Ramadan. Even though treating me differently isn’t necessary as far as I am concerned. The first day of fasting always takes some getting used to again, but I don’t know any differently. As a Muslim you take part in Ramadan as of puberty. In principle, this applies to everyone, although there are exceptions. The elderly, for example, or people who are chronically ill and therefore cannot make up for the Ramadan period. Pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding can also choose whether they want to take part. They make up for it at a later stage.”

“You would expect that by eating less one is more tired and grumpy. And that’s true to a certain degree as you have less energy. But it’s precisely in this period that you pay attention to being friendlier, and more helpful than usual.”

“I would enjoy sharing such an important part of my life with my colleagues.”

Eid al-Fitr

“Depending on moon views and calculations in Saudi-Arabia, Eid al-Fitr is celebrated on Sunday 1st or Monday 2nd of May. We know for sure on the Saturday evening previously on which day. On that day, we celebrate the end of Ramadan. Eid al-Fitr is a day of joy and the reward for the battle you fought during Ramadan. The whole family starts the day with morning prayer in the mosque. Then we have breakfast with the whole family, in-laws, grandmas and grandpas. During Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr, family bonds are strengthened. It’s important to spend more time with your family and there’s still a strong focus on the poor and ill during Eid al-Fitr.”


“Increasing numbers of companies and institutions are focusing on Ramadan. By organising iftars, for example. The iftar is the meal eaten by Muslims during Ramadan directly after sundown. Eating and drinking together creates a bond. Iftars are also used to let non-Muslims participate in the ritual. Next year I would like to organise iftars at Qualogy for my colleagues. I would enjoy sharing such an important part of my life with my colleagues.”

Team Communication
About the author Team Communication

Innovative projects for great customers, inspiring interviews with colleagues and the latest news. Team Communication brings the Qualogy story to life and shares it with (business) relations, IT professionals and job applicants.

More posts by Team Communication