Navigating Prayer On The Job

grayscale photography of woman kneeling on area rug

What do you do when you’re starting a new Job and haven’t informed your employer that you pray 5 times a day? If you’re anything like me when I first became Muslim, you feel anxious and start over thinking it…

 “Should I keep it to myself and pray during my lunch break – but where will I pray? Should I wait until I get home and pray them all together? What if they think I’m being a nuisance and take back the job offer?”

Sound familiar? Over thinking breed’s irrational thoughts, to help keep them at bay here are 3 practical suggestions to help you feel confident rather than stressed on your first day.

1.    Honesty is the best policy

This age-old adage although cliche, will never steer you wrong. The best time to discuss the matter of prayer is on your first day during your induction.  Be very clear and direct in letting them know at certain points of the day you will need to take 5 minutes to pray, state you are happy to do this during your allocated break times so as not to cause disruption to the business. Your candour will be appreciated as well as your efforts to be flexible. Contrary to our own preconceived ideas most non-Muslims are fully aware of the obligations of prayer and may even surprise you by offering you a suitable place to pray. Employers are not required by law to allocate you time to pray although; in my experience many employers are more than willing to accommodate your needs.

2.    Plan your schedule around the prayer time

Depending on your occupation planning your schedule around your prayers may be no problem, or it may be very challenging. The key here is to think outside the box and plan ahead. Generally speaking a work day is typically between 9am – 5pm. In the summer months this means you will only have to pray Dhuhr while at work. An easy solution is to schedule your lunch break within the time span of Dhuhr. On the contrary the winter months are a little trickier as you may have to pray Dhuhr, Asr and Maghrib in one shift! Joining your prayers is not an option as Allah has informed us

“…keep up regular prayer, for prayer is obligatory for the believers at prescribed times.”          (Quran 3:103)

Don’t panic! This is where organisation skills and thinking ahead comes in. A quick fix may be to delay your lunch break 15 minutes before the Asr prayer begins to pray Dhuhr, wait 10 minutes and pray Asr. Depending on the time your shift finishes you can pray Maghrib before you go home or during a tea break.

3.    The Entire Earth Has Been Made A Place Of Prayer

So you know when you are going to pray, but where are going to do it? Nowadays many businesses have a designated multi-faith prayer room – problem solved! If you don’t have that luxury or your own private office you will need to be a little more creative.  Allah has made it easy upon us by allowing us to pray anywhere on earth as long as it is clean, not in a toilet or a graveyard. Communication is the key! Speak with your supervisor and ask if there is an empty room, stock cupboard or corner of the office that you can use to pray. In my experience my colleagues were always more than happy to assist me with suggestions on private spaces to pray. Lastly, don’t forget to network and utilise everyone in the building. There are over a billion Muslims in the world so odds are you are not the only one navigating prayer on the job! 

I would love to hear your thoughts! What are some of the challenges you have faced with prayer in the workplace? How did you overcome them?

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