Islam is arguably the fastest growing religion around the world right now with the number of Muslims growing by millions each year. This is not to say that there were not already a great number of Muslims around the world, but globalization in this past decade has promoted more inclusivity and religious tolerance in every space.
As a result, various entities and groups are working together to build stronger platforms for the Islam community including Muslim Pro who develop simple tools made for integration into their daily lives.
In line with these movements, many workplaces are striving to train their employees to be more inclusive and accepting of colleagues from all spiritual leanings, especially for unity during meetings. To foster this kind of healthy environment, professionals may want to take note of a few tips of holding meetings with a team of varying faiths.
Know Your Colleagues
As the one managing the team or organizing the meeting, you should at least know the people with you are working. If you have not met everyone involved in this meeting, this does not mean having to take extreme measures, but it is likely in a professional setting that you have some access to basic data, specifically their religious affiliations.
With these in mind, it is a good idea to do a little research on some of these sensitivities and things to avoid with respect to each religion that is present in the team. This must be done with an absolutely open mind without any bias to specific beliefs or cultures since the whole point is for everyone to feel equally welcome.
As a sidenote, you may want to inform the entire team that there is absolutely no problem with wearing any religious attire or garments to the meeting if necessary. If possible, the meeting could also be held in a place that provides a prayer room nearby, although this may be a bit difficult to find.
Be Considerate of Differences
Having everyone’s information is not meant to provoke any peculiar action in response to who believes in what. Instead, it helps to keep in mind certain degrees of sensitivity—particularly in word choices and behavior—when communicating with people. This will also help for briefing everyone at the start of the meeting to be equally considerate of each other’s differences, religious or not.
Although it is rude to outwardly point out people’s religious affiliations, what can be done instead is to begin a meeting by setting ground rules and communication guidelines. These should be based on what has been researched on the religious sensitivities, but it should be announce without singling anyone out for their religion.
Don’t try too hard
On the other end of the spectrum, some people make the mistake of giving too much attention to their colleagues of a different faith. They can be showing too much interest in their culture to seemingly dishonest extent, while providing too many considerations that these colleagues are set apart from the rest.
Overtly treating certain individuals for their faith can be just as bad as mistreating them. This can make these persons feel not only uncomfortable but stereotyped for being extensively associated with their difference. Nobody wants to be treated differently in any way, especially in a meeting where everyone’s input should have equal bearing.
Create Opportunities to Bond
This can come in the form of simple yet fun icebreakers rather than the basic introductions that keep people stiff and awkward. This also helps to humanize everyone to each other rather than blank faces and work titles.
A common but great way to get everyone comfortable and unified is to commune for a meal together. There can either be food or snacks for sharing at the meeting itself, or the team can eat out for lunch or dinner, depending on what time the meeting is set.
In case some members are going through a religious fast, perhaps it is better to prepare non-caloric drinks—namely water, tea, and coffee—instead of food for everyone. Being mindful of these. Individuals, it would be rude to have good food for the others and allowing them to eat in front of those fasting. For equality’s sake, drinks should do for everyone.
Again, some people may double down on these tips, and this only poses more problems in the end. Following through with any of these, it is important to remember that the hope is for nobody in the room to feel different. After all, religion is only one aspect of any individual, and what they provide for the team during a meeting is not determined by their spirituality alone.
It might not be a bad idea either to want to help your friends in small ways without being intrusive. If you have a Muslim colleague, you may want to recommend mobile applications that can assist in their religious routines and traditions such as the Muslim Pro app. It offers countless useful features in one place, including a Qur’an and prayer reminders throughout the day.