A Muslim man praying during Jummah on Friday
Unlike other daily prayers, Jummah requires Muslims to gather together at a mosque.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA’s campaign to promote the importance of Islam’s weekly prayer service to American believers is officially going national. The group is pushing for time off work every Friday for Muslims to attend Jummah, an afternoon of weekly congregational worship held every Friday and considered obligatory for adult Muslim men who are not sick or traveling.

Some Muslims feel that they’ve forgotten their religious obligations. “Some weeks Friday passes and we don’t even realize it was the day of Jummah,” declared lead missionary Imam Azhar Haneef, who announced the initiative during his Friday sermon before some 9,000 Muslims at the Jalsa Salana USA convention, the longest-running Muslim convention in America. He hopes the renewed focus will bring the days of Fridays without Jummah to an end.

While it is often compared to the Christian or Jewish Sabbath, Jummah is not an official Muslim day of rest. Campaign head Faheem Younus explains the Quran actually encourages worshippers to return to work after prayers are done “so they are not a burden on the economy.” And in most Muslim countries, Friday is considered the start of the weekend, making it easier for devotees to attend Jummah and then spend time with the family. 

Jummah Prayers: A Hard Sell?

While some Muslims have successfully negotiated to leave work early on Fridays, take longer lunch breaks or work extra hours to fill in the gaps, most have not been so lucky. 

American Muslims continue to struggle to negotiate time off from school or work. Religious discrimination complaints filed against Amazon, Hertz and Wisconsin manufacturing plant Ariens Co demonstrate how some employers have prevented Muslims from taking prayer breaks throughout their workday.

The Ariens employment dispute shows the difficult nuance of the situation. The Ariens plant hired 53 Somali immigrants to work on their factory line. The 53 Muslims were all regarded by management and co-workers as good employees, but conflict arose when non-Muslim employees complained that the Somali Muslim workers were leaving the line to take prayer breaks. The non-Muslim employees felt slighted, thinking that, prayers or not, the Muslim employees were getting additional privileges they weren’t in the form of an additional break. The situation escalated quickly: The Muslim employees walked off the job in protest, then Amens let them go. Ultimately, the employees were able to return to the company, and a majority stayed on with Ariens Co.

If a prayer break lasting a few minutes can cause that kind of response, what will attempting to take off an entire afternoon every week do?

Reasonable Accommodations

Perhaps that is why when it comes to Jummah, most employees simply never ask. “They feel intimidated or embarrassed or ashamed,” insists campaign organizer Younus. “It’s shocking to me how we have simply caved in to something which we should not be embarrassed about.”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that employers must reasonably accommodate the religious practices of employees, unless doing so would cause “undue hardship” to the company by dramatically decreasing workplace efficiency.

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA is planning to publish a letter that Muslim students and employees can show their respective teachers and employers, outlining the reasons why Jummah is important and worth the time off. But in the larger sense, do American bosses have an obligation to respect the religious leanings and obligations of all their employees? And is it fair that non-Muslim workers pick up the slack in their absence?

One could argue many American Jews and Christians have begun to violate the Sabbath, not because of work, but simply because this is the way religions tend to change in secular societies. Does it make sense for Islamic leaders to fight this trend?

40 comments

  1. Dan Anderson says:

    As long as time is compensated, I see no problem with it. They, like anyone else, have the right to attend prayers. I know of a number of companies who will not make someone work on Sundays, for example, if they attend church on those days or feel that Sunday is their Sabbath.

  2. Kim says:

    They should do what Seventh Day Adventists do…..don’t take a job that requires work on the day of rest. Employers need not accomadate religious practices. The people they hire regardless of religion need to do the job they are hired to do. This has been the practice of business for decades. There need be no exception for non-christians. Attending prayers is NOT a right.

  3. Lionheart says:

    Yes, if they want time off to speak to their imaginary friend, or nod at a stone wall, or put their forehead on the ground and speak to the dirt, let them do it. As long as they can meet their terms of employment of 40 hours, or whatever it is.

    🦁♥️

    1. kimberly says:

      When I was growing up, I kept the Saturday Sabbath. When I interviewed I had to tell them I couldn’t work then. Many said sorry..can’t use you. Most of the people in such organizations start their own businesses to keep their own hours. Let the rag heads do the same.

  4. Rev. Brien says:

    Same argument, different day. If an employer makes allowances for one religion, than that employer MUST make allowances for all religions. Religions need to be kept at home and in your heart. They do not mix well on the job.

  5. JASON D BENDER says:

    This is America! Everyone is free to worship Jesus in whatever manner they choose!

    1. Lionheart says:

      …or not at all!

      🦁❤️

      1. Rev. Gary Shade says:

        Free to worship does not mean your employer has to accommodate a time for your prayers. I had an employee once who insisted that he could say whatever he wanted to vendors because he a “right of free speech” I told him did indeed have that right. But NOT on company time.

        1. Dan Anderson says:

          Gary – It us up to the employer. If value is seen in the employee, many companies will make exception to keep ALL employees happy, including allowing certain days off for religious reasons.

      2. kimberly says:

        Jesus has a say in how he is worshipped according to the Bible. Not America. For someone to say “I can worship Jesus how I choose” means they have no clue who Jesus was/is.

        1. Lionheart says:

          …and that’s if Jesus really existed. If he did, who really knows what he ever said, it was all recorded and written by someone else. A bit like fake news CNN! Does anyone believe what CNN says? If you do, you more than likely believe everything written in the Bible.

          🦁♥️

          1. kimberly says:

            and therein lies the crux of the matter Lion. The four gospels were EYEwitnesses legally admissible in a court of law. Testifying to Jesus being Messiah. There were 12 eyewitnesses to Israel and 1 to the rest of the world (gentiles…Paul). This wasn’t fake news at all. It was a testimonial prepared for that great day in court…Judgment day. Not just hearsay.

          2. Lionheart says:

            ….And yet none of those eye witnesses wrote anything, perhaps because they couldn’t read or write, though one would assume Matthew could write. For some very weird reason their hearsay stories were written decades later. How much of that was truth we will never know.

            🦁❤️

          3. atatakaidanjp says:

            kimberly – I am not even going to get into the argument of who wrote the gospels, as most theologians will state that those attributed to them are most likely not the authors.

            Can you name of any actual non-biblical contemporaries who wrote about Jesus and the events which are claimed in the Bible? I have been studying the world’s religions as an adult for almost 50 years now as an adult and regarding this issue, I have found absolutely NO non-biblical contemporaries of Jesus who wrote about him.

          4. Kim says:

            Lion…an eyewitness is not hearsay. The bible was written by those eyewitnesses. And scribes were used when needed. That does NOT negated the validity of those writings. And there were multiple eyewitness reports. All part of a single record. Ready for court and humanity is the defendant.

          5. Kim says:

            Danjp……look to the Jews and muslims for proof Jesus existed. Hate is as good as love in this case.

          6. atatakaidanjp says:

            Kim, ALL three Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) base the concepts of Jesus on faith-based beliefs. None of the writings say anything about any non-biblical contemporaries during that time attesting to Jesus.

            P.S. Why would the Jews have any concepts of Jesus, given that they do not believe he is the messiah (Unless you are talking about the Messianic Jewish faith). They still wait for the messiah.

          7. Lionheart says:

            You are deluded Kim. None of the first 4 books of the New Testament were written by Matthew. Mark, Luke or John, so those accounts were indeed hearsay.

            🦁♥️

          8. kimberly says:

            Lion….the gospels were valid eyewitness accounts of Jesus. They were not “written” by the authors as we see them today. Their actual recorded writings by the authors are lost to time but those writings were transcribed into what we have today by anonymous scribes. And if you don’t know, scribes were men of letters whose business it was to copy royal and sacred manuscripts.

          9. atatakaidanjp says:

            Kim – Again, what hate are you talking about? Are you claiming that Jews and Muslims hate Jesus? Maybe you mean Atheists? That would not make sense, given that Atheists merely do not hold a belief in a deity.

            You stated,

            “Belief is irrelevant and has no validity in a court of law nor should it have validity with regard to God. To think otherwise, one creates one’s own deity.”

            Precisely! This is why one can NOT condemn a belief which does not align with your particular belief system. As there is no empirical evidence or “facts” to substantiate God, but only faith-based beliefs, how can one make a personal belief valid in an objective manner?

          10. kimberly says:

            atatat………….Jews and Muslims hate Christians. However, they do not deny the existence of Jesus even though they deny who he was.

            With belief, one makes one’s own god. However, that is not the same as a voluntary and intuitive acknowledgement that God exists. In the latter, the conclusion is arrived at from the standpoint that existence is the more logical choice over non-existence in the same way one intuitively acknowledges that Truth, Reality and Infinity exist far beyond what one can physically and/or psychologically establish. All three are incomprehensible in their entirety in that it is impossible to understand with our limited intellect the absence of beginning or ending since either involves the mathematical paradox that if one exists forever in either direction then one has always existed. That is just the intuition of the issue. There is also the record of God. No civilization has ever been without some form of deity from the beginning of Man. And, there is evidence in the Cosmos of the anomaly related to an abundance of life on a single planet surrounded by nothing but lifelessness. All this adds up to the validity in acknowledging the existence of God. However, religion has taken that intuitive acknowledgement and attempted to define and describe God and in so doing have (as with belief) contrived a god of their own agenda.

          11. Carl Elfstrom says:

            The Bible doesn’t say anything about Jesus ever having a job. I mean like working for someone for wages, so he never had to follow an employer’s rules. He and his apostles just number around the country, and did a lot of praying whenever they wanted to.

          12. Kim says:

            Carl…he worked as a carpenter with his dad

          13. Lionheart says:

            Sorry Kim, you are wrong. I don’t see that they are valid eyewitness accounts at all with the amount of errors in them.

            Doesn’t it seem very strange to you that if there really was a virgin birth this would have been so monumental that everyone would have been talking about it, but……only Matthew and Luke mention it. Had something as miraculous as the virgin birth actually occurred, one would expect that Mark and John would have at least mentioned it in their efforts to convince the world that Jesus was who they were claiming him to be.

            Even the supposed apostle Paul never mentions a virgin birth, even though it would have strengthened his argument if he had.

            In Matthew, the angel appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him that Mary’s child will save his people from their sins. In Luke, the angel appears to Mary and tells her that her son will be great. They don’t seem to be able to get their stories straight.

            Matthew has Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem riding on two donkeys (“On them he sat”), but if you want to believe Mark. Luke and John he rode in using one donkey.

            There are many more discrepancies from supposed eyewitness accounts Kim. Again, you are being delusional and cannot see the wood for the trees.

            All these tales would fail in a court of law.

            🦁♥️

        2. atatakaidanjp says:

          Kimberly – you are going on what you believe through your particular faith. Muslims worship Jesus as the greatest prophet of God, even more than Muhammad. Muhammad just happened, by their faith, to be the last prophet.

          Why can’t people worship Jesus in the way they believe to be the “right way”? Your perception of Jesus is not identical to all other Christians, but by how you perceive the verbiage in the Bible.

          Again, remember that what you are claiming here is faith-based belief. It is just as valid as anyone else’s faith-based belief, even if it conflicts with yours.

          Please learn another’s way of thinking before making any kinds of assertions.

          1. Kim says:

            Belief is irrelevant and has no validity in a court of law nor should it have validity with regard to God. To think otherwise, one creates one’s own deity.

          2. Carl Elfstrom says:

            In the last sentence of my comment above the word number mysteriously appeared in place of the word bumbed.

        3. kimberly says:

          atata…………The Jews regard Jesus as a false Messiah. They don’t deny he existed.

          1. atatakaidanjp says:

            kimberly – So again, what evidence do you have from extra-biblical contemporary writings during the apparent time of Jesus, that he existed?

            Also, because others may think he may or may not have existed, why do you demand everyone else is wrong if they do not agree with you? I do not understand your demands.

          2. kimberly says:

            atatat……….why would I rely on contemporary writings? That would be hearsay and nothing more.

            I demand nothing. That is your presumption of me and it is incorrect. What others think is of no concern of mine other than to note their illogic and stupidity which at times is quite evident.

      3. Carl Elfstrom says:

        We’re also free not to work. I haven’t had a paying job since 1992, and pray whenever I want to.

  6. Alicia says:

    If a Christian were to move to a Muslim country, would there be accommodations for prayers during lent? How about accommodations for Jews for the high holy days? Why must we cater to religious groups when Christian/Judeo groups wouldn’t be given the same considerations when in their countries?

    1. atatakaidanjp says:

      Alicia – Many countries, including Muslim countries (like Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population in the world), do make accommodations for those of different religions, including Christianity and Judaism. This is especially true given that Islam, Christianity and Judaism all worship the same deity – the God of Abraham. Yes, Christians ARE given the same considerations. This includes countries like Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, etc.

      What do you mean “Why MUST we cater”? If you were an employer and had employees of different religions, all good workers, would you not take one step out of the way to assist them in their religious practices?

    2. kimberly says:

      an apt analogy.

    3. T'Keren Valmaz says:

      Muhammad’s Promise to the Monks of St. Catherine’s Monastery Until the End of Days :

      “This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.

      Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them.

      No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses.

      Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.

      No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants.

      No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).”

      This is quoted from a document signed with their prophets own hand print.

  7. tom b says:

    Respectfully…businesses should not be mandated to allow time for the practice of religions…Peace… Tom B

  8. Carl Elfstrom says:

    Or quit their jobs, and be bumbs like Jesus, and never answer to anyone other than the gods and goddesses of their religions, or/and personal belief systems, of which originally were contrived and given power by those who believe in them. Only the deities of old who are no longer believed in or even remembered have ceased to exist.

  9. Carl Elfstrom says:

    However, beyond deities and religions, according to Hermetic philosophy, is The All. Everything exists within The All, including all deities and all religions. The universe and all it contains are merely thought forms in the mind of The All.

  10. Carl Elfstrom says:

    And The All is unknowable, and can never be known by our finite minds.

  11. T'Keren Valmaz says:

    I would simply say each case should be based on the merit of the employee and the humanity of the employer. Traditions from archaic times must adapt or be abandoned. I say this about all traditions.

Leave a Comment