On June 26, 2014, I read the following by Hendrick Simoes of Stars & Stripes Magazine:

“U.S. personnel accustomed to drinking their coffee on the drive to work will have to put that habit on hold for about a month. It’s one of a few lifestyle changes Americans will have to make during the holy month of Ramadan.” (Click above link for full article)

I was intrigued by this, and how government agencies may react to this holiday, and if they were instructed to do anything different. After nearly two years, I finally received a response to my FOIA request to the National Security Agency (NSA) and their observance of Ramadan.

The documents obtained were of a June 19, 2015, internal NSA Newsletter entitled, “The Daily Enterprise.” The headline reads, “Reflecting on Ramadan” and outlined instructions for how all NSA employees were to respect and observe Ramadan.

Simply put by this NSA newsletter:

“Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic year– the month in which the Quran, Islam’s holy book, was revealed by God.

During this time, Muslim people around the world fast from sunrise to sunset for the entire month. This requires that they abstain from drinking, eating and intimacy during those hours each day. Since fasting is one of the five Pillars of Islam, Muslims around the world take the month of Ramadan very seriously. For Muslims, fasting is the required way of worshiping prescribed in the Quran.

Before we take a more detailed look at how Ramadan is observed, let’s first take note of some of the ways that Ramadan
will manifest itself here at NSA.”

Here are some excerpts of the newsletter, as sent to all NSA personnel:

  • To start, throughout the month of Ramadan, please be mindfu I that the person working right next to you could be observing Ramadan. As an Equal Opportunity Employer, NSAI CSS has a significant number of Muslim employees.
  • Because they will be fasting from both food and beverages during daylight hours , most Muslims will be thirsty, hungry, and sleep-deprived at some point during this strenuous month. As a result, managers may see some behavioral changes and an increase in time-off requests throughout th is timeframe. The majority of Muslims will ask for time off during the last 10 days of Ramadan and the first 3 days of the following month (the Eid ai-Fitr celebration). While everyone working at NSA is professional and adheres to high standards, if a Muslim employee seems to have a little less patience or endurance during the month of Ramadan, this may be a temporary effect of the daily fasting.
  • Everyone knows it is summer, which means that most offices will be planning their annual picnic/ morale-building activity (MBA) during this time. To be inclusive and to ensure maximum employee participation– since most Muslims wi ll be fasting during this month — please refrain from planning these types of MBA events during Ramadan.

To see more of this newsletter, it is published below.

Declassified Documents

Download the .pdf [4 Pages, 0.6MB]

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