Ramadan at work: skipping lunch, no coffee breaks and lots of curious questions

These days, Jamal Afridi eats dinner around 8:30 p.m., well after his workday ends and more than 16 hours since he last had food or drink. Most nights, he cooks for himself or picks up Chipotle on his way home from work at 1871 as a product developer at online brokerage MortgageHippo.

Afridi is one of the estimated 400,000 Chicago-area Muslims observing Ramadan, the holy month during which many Muslims abstain from food, drink and sex during daylight hours.

While fasting offers personal and spiritual benefits, the workday presents unique hurdles: The need to schedule business lunches when one can’t eat, low energy without coffee breaks and curious questions — if not outright disbelief — from co-workers.

The ability to work from home a couple days a week gives Afridi respite, especially given that the fast, set by the Islamic calendar, falls in a month of long, warm days this year.

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