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What is the most appropriate way to enable users integrate religious calendars and prayer times (Islamic Hijrah or Thai Solar for example) with the Gregorian calendars that might all can be shared across users in other locales?

I was thinking of a Google Calendar approach of providing calendar types as 'layers' in a drop list enabled by checkbox and then using colors to show which is which.

But is there a way to indicate to global users that a type of calendar is religious or cultural? The context is for business applications running in multilingual environment. Perhaps "non-working times" or "non-working days" for prayer or other events in the most sensible. A bit generic though...

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What do you need that for? Is it for the religious employee himself to be reminded to pray? Or is this for his colleagues to see that he/she is not available? In case 1 I don't think someone really religious needs to be reminded and in case 2 I think that not everyone want's to share his belief, so why not just tell the fact of not being available instead of giving so much detail? –  Michael Feb 10 '13 at 13:28
    
+1 Very good question! –  Benny Skogberg Feb 15 '13 at 7:54

2 Answers 2

I'm going to be blunt, and I apologize for that. No offense intended.

Never ever blend business with religion. It is one of the first rules you learn in business school, at least the real life business school. The second is never blend politics with business. Those are the two things you shouldn't mention to your customers or your suppliers. Never chit chat about, so please leave religion and politics out of the equation.

The reason is that religion and politics are based on beliefs and feelings rather than facts. You could end up in a fierce discussion going nowhere since we're talking beliefs here. There is no wrong and right, no truth and often no facts.

Keep business life calendar and religious life calendar separated, and never intervening. If that's not possible - you're gonna have to make a choice - is life going to be controlled by religion or by business? Beliefs or food on the table?

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while I agree with the thought of leaving religion and work seperate, there are some places where you cannot avoid doing that. You need to ensure that you are aware of their religious connations for that particular day and respect that. Having a religious calender to overlay to know when to contact and when not to contact will be very helpful while working with people with different religions –  Mervin Johnsingh Feb 16 '13 at 16:28
    
@Mervin Sure, but that's not the question here. Respect for other cultures/religious beliefs isn't mention as a prerequisite which would put the question in a totally different context. My answer address the "five times a day" praier, which cannot be combined with business. –  Benny Skogberg Feb 16 '13 at 17:14
    
@bennyskoberg Maybe so,but just take an example of you working with an islamic client for a huge project and you want to reach out to him for an important clarification. If you knew the fact that he would not be available during these times due to prayer (lets not get into the discussion of whether he prays five times a day or not), would you not appreciate a calender like this. I personally would think it would be very helpful rather than going ahead and scheduling a meeting and finding out later he cannot attend –  Mervin Johnsingh Feb 16 '13 at 17:16
    
@Mervin No, I'd get to know the person and hers/his habits rather than a religious calendar. If it's important for the client the phone would be off at praying hours. No harm done whatever the religion. –  Benny Skogberg Feb 16 '13 at 17:22
    
@Bennyskoberg, possible but that can be tricky information to get hold of. we can continue this discussion in chat if you want to –  Mervin Johnsingh Feb 16 '13 at 17:25

I would recommend going with the Google calender approach as it gives the user the flexibility to add additional calenders as needed. However the design change I would make is to ensure that you explicitly call out the holiday or religious occasion of which country it is or which religion so that you dont require users to go and compare the calender overlay color with the legend to determine which country\religion it belongs to. Take the example below where Google calender tells me 26th January is the republic day, but I cant be sure which country it refers to until I check the legend.

I also would like to call out the way Google has seperated the calender task schedule with the generic holiday announcement by keeping the holiday notification at the top.

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With regards to prayer times, since they can vary across regions, I would recommend the overlay approach to show the different times at which prayer might happen.

With regards to specifying if a holiday is religious or cultural, I recommend just specifying the name the holiday and keeping it at that. Some holidays are cultural and religious while some holidays are religious but can also be cultural in some parts of the country. Hence instead of trying to come up with a design to determine what is what, keep it simple and just communicate the information.

Lastly, show only the user calender as a default view and dont overlay the religious calender by default and let users enable it as needed.

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