Productivity in Ramadan Study: Methodology & Profile

Methodology & Respondent Profile:

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Productivity in Ramadan 2011 Report

Data Collection: The 2011 Productivity in Ramadan survey was conducted between June 28, 2011 and July 10, 2011, ending before the start of Ramadan 2011.  The survey was conducted online in the English language only and marketed to Muslims in five key Muslim-majority countries (Malaysia, Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and UAE) and five countries with sizeable Muslim minorities (USA, UK, India, Canada, and Australia) through ProductiveMuslim Ltd and’s network of readers and followers (estimated reach of over 90,000).

Fifteen questions were asked, which fell under the following categories:

Scoring: The survey was designed to ensure that respondents could answer all questions as easily as possible.  This was done by asking a limited set of questions with most questions being ‘multiple select’ options.  In all such questions, and any binary (YES/NO) questions, participants were given the option to select OTHER as an option and provide their open-ended answers.

Respondent Countries & OIC/ Non-OIC Country breakdown
Respondent Countries & OIC/ Non-OIC Country breakdown

Respondent Profile:

The survey received a total of 1524 valid responses.  Valid responses were those with complete demographic information submitted.  This response rate represents 99% confidence level with a +/- 4% margin of error.

46% of the responses were from Muslim majority OIC member countries, while 54% of the responses were from non-OIC countries (See Chart).  The number of respondents from both OIC and non-OIC countries is fairly evenly distributed and allows us to show differences in spiritual and work experience, productivity, and expectation among these two environments.

The Chart below also shows percentage of responses from each country and shows a varied geographic distribution across non-OIC and OIC markets.

Within OIC member countries, the largest number of responses were from Malaysia (28%), Pakistan (14%), Egypt (13%), Saudi Arabia (8%), and United Arab Emirates (UAE) (7%).  Among non-OIC countries, most responses were from United States (USA) (26%), United Kingdom (UK) (23%), India (16%), Canada (10%), and Australia (5%).   Given the low number of per country responses, much of the analysis is done at the OIC and non-OIC aggregate country levels.  For the purposes of the survey, the sample size and distribution are within acceptable limits and therefore enable us to make valid inferences about the Muslim population.

Gender distribution of the survey respondents is 59% female and 41% male.  53% of the responses are from working professionals (any employed person), 38% from students, and 9% are unemployed.

63% of the respondents have completed college (40% graduate, 23% post graduate).  The income of 66% of respondents is less than $45,000/year, and 17% earn above $66,000/year.

Survey Limitations: This survey has a few limitations which may affect the accuracy of the results:

There is a response bias element to the participant profile of this survey.  First, an assumption can be made that those who participate and respond to the survey are predisposed to Islam.   Second, the survey is reflective of English-speaking Muslims across the world.  Finally, the survey presents an employee assessment of work productivity impact and does not take the employer view into account.  These factors limit the survey’s ability to truly represent the wide diversity of Muslim views even from the targeted markets.

In addition, the survey questions did not offer a scale for potential responses (e.g. 1,2,3,4,5), which would have provided the respondent with some degree of latitude to answer the question in a case where he or she might not be sure of the answer. As a result, the respondent may have, if in doubt, ticked off a selection, though the activity may not be fully carried out by the respondent or the employer.

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Productivity in Ramadan: 2011 Survey Based Report

Productivity in Ramadan Report 2011
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Purpose of study
:  Develop a fact-based assessment of the state of productivity during Ramadan across the Muslim world and offer a framework for improving productivity  for individuals, businesses and government institutions. For the estimated 700+ million Muslim workforce globally,  the sacred month of Ramadan has tremendous impact on their work-life balance as well as their spiritual life.   A variety of productivity challenges are faced by the modern Muslim worker during Ramadan in striking the right balance between maximizing the spiritual focus as well as maintaining the work-life balance. As a result, businesses and government agencies face many challenges during Ramadan to adapt to the modern Muslim workers’ demands and ensure consistent productive output during the month.

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Relief Agency Marketing Campaigns


The current crisis in Somalia and urgent appeals by aid agencies leads me to examine the nature of marketing campaigns launched by those agencies and how they resemble or differ from campaigns for products and services. Some non-profits believe that because they’re not in the business of selling products and services that they’re not required to conduct full-fledged marketing campaigns, but the reality is, to achieve their goals and raise the funds required to help others, they need to have a well thought-out marketing strategy and run full marketing campaigns. Islamic Relief is an example of a non-profit who does it right.

I took Islamic Relief as a model because they are one of the most popular as well as most active Muslim aid agencies worldwide.  Their campaign includes Live TV appeals; fundraising events worldwide; online fundraisers in the form of webinars; social media, including Facebook, Twitter, blogging, videos; print ads; direct mail and email campaigns; PR; paid search ads; flyers; calendars and other print pieces; as well as outdoor advertising.

As with most aid agencies, there is an emotional appeal, usually featuring a specific humanitarian case, rather than numbers and statics, as in this video entitled “The Reality of Famine”;  a strong call to action that is easy to implement; and a description of the value of an individual’s contribution – “$75 can feed a family for a month”.

Now that the East Africa crisis coincides with Ramadan, Islamic Relief is tying its campaign with Ramadan values of giving generously to the needy, as Muslims are more likely to give to charitable causes knowing they will receive increased rewards, and especially that in fasting, we get a taste of others pain, and also points out that contributions are zakat eligible.  All this is done through an integrated campaign using a variety of media channels.

With such noble goals, of providing much needed assistance to people in dire conditions, relief agencies need to carefully plan and implement their marketing campaigns to achieve maximum impact. What are some examples of other Relief Agencies that are do it right, and others that do not?


Riots, consumerism, hyper-communication and a moral compass

In my last post, when I wrote that some people were unhappy in London and were looking forward to further consumerism, little did I know how far they would go! England has been hit by a terrible spate of riots and my fear is that this is an evolutionary form of behavior, which is the new sports hooliganism. Will fluid flashmob groups form and be egged on by partisan and territorial rivalry?



The more information that emerges, the more it appears that establishing causalities remains problematic. My position on the riots is that whilst the outcomes are apparent, the root causes are non-reducible. In short, this is all very complicated. Instead, it’s perhaps easier to understand the causes as coming from a large series of factors, under ‘drop-down menus’ – which when put together then lead to the same endgame. However, these choices are dynamic, time specific and perishable. Unfortunately, I think it’s also safe to say that as it has happened now, it can happen again.

These events also reminded me of the novel, manga and one of my favourite movies, Battle Royale. The prologue to the Japanese movie, released in 2000, reads as follows:

“At the dawn of the millennium, the nation collapsed. At fifteen percent unemployment, ten million were out of work. 800,000 students boycotted school. The adults lost confidence and, fearing the youth, eventually passed the Millennium Educational Reform Act, AKA the BR Act…”


The most obvious conclusion from recent events, is that with this phenomenon and others like the Arab Spring, hyper-communication and social media has two effects. Firstly, the great levelling of the digital revolution gifts access to knowledge capital. This information is consumed by more and more ‘collective individuals’ and is available in a format where ranking is less about quality and more about conspicuousness. Qualifiers are often based upon notoriety and number of hits. Therefore: ‘whose view is right?’ and ‘is there something to be said for being able to consume information in a real, rather than a virtual context?’ are being processed in more self-regulated ways. Secondly, social media shows that its stakeholders react quickly and spread information amongst their networks. As I watched the news stories unfold on my television, I reached for my phone to check on Twitter, in order to see how close to my area the riots were and where they would spread next. Twitter gave me a faster response that rolling news teams.

As a side issue, I can’t help thinking that concerns over hoodies and face-covering may indirectly lead to courses of action which have a knock-on effect on Muslim women, who wear the hijab or niqab. I didn’t see any hijabis or niqabis looting in various pieces of news footage, but as with debates concerning terrorism, there always appears to be calls to tighten definitions of freedom – using a blend of soft and hard power. For rioting and terrorism, tenuous links to dress codes have already been made. Will England lose faith and go down the same route that France has, in passing laws to ban additional items of clothing in public places?

Will England lose faith and go down the same route that France has, in passing laws to ban additional items of clothing in public places?

Will marketers driving consumerism have to shoulder some accountability?

Will role of religion in society be seen as positive?

At some stage I am sure that some will point the finger at marketers driving consumerism and therefore having to shoulder some accountability. The usual suspects violent video games and rap music have already been brought into question. However, for a change religion is in the spotlight for a different reason. The media has run numerous pieces showing religious groups rallying to heal wounds. Many former gang members featured have also reported that, religion and the support of religious institutions have been instrumental in their rehabilitation.

Therefore, is this a good time to re-open the debate about the role of religion in society, in a positive way? Can religion provide the necessary moral compass, which helps individuals to:  become self disciplined, forgive, trust that justice will prevail, and believe in recompense beyond temporal human existence? A few days ago during the Birmingham riots, Tariq Jahan saw his son Haroon die in his arms, after he was mown down by a car – whilst Harroon attempted to protect businesses and the local mosque. Tariq asserted that he was a Muslim, he called for a calm amidst racial tensions, and that his faith teaches him to accept that everyone’s time to go is fixed by God. My condolences and utmost respect go out to the family.


Productivity in Ramadan Study: Exec Summary


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Productivity in Ramadan 2011 Report

This groundbreaking study presents a fact-based assessment of the state of productivity during Ramadan across the world and offers recommendations for improving productivity of individuals, businesses and government institutions.  The study includes 1), a survey that benchmarks actual Ramadan practices and Muslims’ expectations, and 2) an assessment of governmental policy implications on work-hour differences in various Muslim majority countries and their resulting economic impact.

The survey was conducted online between June 28, 2011 and July 10, 2011, prior to Ramadan 2011, and marketed to Muslims in five key Muslim-majority countries (Malaysia, Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and UAE) as well as five countries with sizeable Muslim minorities (USA, UK, India, Canada, and Australia).  A total of 1524 responses were received, representing a 99% confidence level with a +/- 4% margin of error.

Select insights & recommendations for Individuals

  • Key areas of spiritual activities that most Muslims struggle with were highlighted (reading Qur’an regularly 66%, focusing during worship 53%, Taraweeh attendance 47%, others), suggesting a need for Muslims to better prepare for Ramadan.
  • 77% of fasting Muslims would like to keep their work productivity the same.  However, the reality is that they undertake added spiritual activities during Ramadan (attend Taraweeh prayers 52%, others) and physical energy levels are low.  This again supports the need to prepare for Ramadan as well as to reprioritize regular activities in order to accommodate one’s Ramadan needs.

Insights & recommendations for Employers

  • 77% of survey respondents said they try to maintain the same level of work productivity during Ramadan and feel that work should continue uninterrupted.   However, increased spiritual activity is to be expected and should be accommodated, especially for work that requires a severe physical demand.
  • For OIC[1] (Muslim majority countries) based employers, the survey highlights areas in which they can improve efforts to support employees during Ramadan and productivity (e.g. arranging  Iftar gatherings, Eid gatherings, and Eid gift-giving and arranging for special Ramadan working hours, prayer times and facilities.)
  • Although commendable, non-OIC[2] based employees were less happy with their employers’ flexibility during Ramadan compared to OIC based employees (48% vs. 74%).  Area in which Non-OIC based employers can improve their efforts included setting special Ramadan working hours.

Insights & recommendations for OIC member governments

  • Although a detailed analysis of economic impact should be undertaken by each government, the economic impact assessment in this study shows that the economies suffer roughly 4% in monthly GDP per hour of work reduction per day.
  • Some key questions for governments to evaluate:
    • Is a two hour reduction necessary?
    • Is a mix of one hour reduction and one hour adjustment optimal, as generally practiced in Indonesia and Malaysia?
    • Do hour reductions generate the desired increase in spiritual connectivity, or do they have an adverse effect (e.g. laziness, apathy, etc.)?
    • Does a segmented approach need to be considered, i.e., work flexibility, for certain type of physical labor?

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[1] OIC = Organization of Islamic Conference 57 mostly Muslim majority countries

[2] Countries with minority Muslim populations

Productivity in Ramadan Study: Recommendations (for Governments)

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Productivity in Ramadan 2011 Report

Insights & recommendations for governments:

  • Governments in many OIC countries set the tone for productivity across all institutions within their countries.
  • Our work-hour analysis shows a few different approaches of some OIC countries, which opens the question as to which models are most effective in delivering the right balance of work productivity and employee satisfaction.
  • Although a much detailed analysis of economic impact would have to be undertaken to fully understand the complexities of Ramadan work reduction and adjustment, the economic impact assessment in this study shows that the economies suffer roughly 4% in monthly GDP per hour per day of work reduction.
  • Undoubtedly, no dollar value can be placed on spiritual gains and divine blessings of increased worship during Ramadan, but the fact that there are different approaches to work-hour reduction and adjustment does suggest that governments should evaluate whether their Ramadan policies maintain the right balance of work responsibility and spiritual flexibility during Ramadan.
  • Some key question for governments to evaluate:
    • Is a two hour reduction necessary?
    • Is a mix of one hour reduction and one hour adjustment optimal (as practiced generally in Indonesia and Malaysia)?
    • Do hour reductions generate the desired increase in spiritual connectivity, or do they have an adverse effect (e.g. laziness, apathy, etc.)?
    • Should a segmented or other flexible approach be considered, for example, for certain types of hard labor?

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  1. Conducted a survey to determine actual Ramadan practices and expectations of Muslim workers, and
  2. Looked at Ramadan work-hour differences in various Muslim majority countries and its resulting economic impact, and to suggest areas of Ramadan productivity improvements.