The Right to Pray at Work: A Guide to Supporting Muslim Employees

Written by Calvin
Last updated July 27, 2022

According to recent statistics, there are over 3 million Muslim people living in the U.K. While this is by no means the biggest religious demographic in the U.K. by numbers, Islam is a prominent religion in the country and it appears to be a growing community too. While Islam is so prominent in the U.K., it is still a religion largely misunderstood and mishandled. 

Reports have shown that Muslim communities are amongst those most discriminated against in the U.K. A shocking 25% of the British public harbour discriminatory views against Muslims. Another interesting but upsetting statistic is that Muslims lost their jobs at a rate 6 times greater than the rest of the country throughout the pandemic. Covid-19 hit Muslim communities hard, especially in regard to work.

Islamophobia 

Islamophobia is unfortunately more rife in our systems than we like to think. Muslim people have to deal with all the types of discrimination (direct, indirect, harassment, and victimisation) on a regular basis. This can happen for many reasons, including:

  • Lack of education and knowledge about Islam
  • Stereotyping and racial profiling
  • Associating Islam with extremist groups
  • Fear of unknown and different cultural practices

Muslim people are often discriminated against in work specifically because of these different cultural practices mentioned above. Examples include wearing traditional dress such as the hijab, fasting during Ramadan, and praying. When Muslim people are treated any differently in the workplace because of these practices, this is discrimination. It is harmful and has negative results for everyone involved.  

To help you educate yourself as an employer, we have created this blog to talk specifically about the Islam prayer at work. We will discuss what it is, how it works, and how you can support your Muslim employees. 

Muslim Prayer (Salah) 

Practising Muslims pray five times per day. This includes a sunrise prayer, noon prayer, afternoon prayer, sunset prayer, and night prayer. Prayer or “Salah” is the second pillar of Islam and it is hugely important to Muslim people. Whilst praying, Muslims must face Mecca and complete recitations and movements. Before praying, they must perform “wudu”, an act of pre-prayer washing. They must wash their hands, face, arms, head, and feet before approaching Allah in prayer. Muslims must also pray in a clean space, such as on a prayer mat, and cover certain parts of their body while they pray. 

The Muslim prayer is a solitary and private activity. Muslim people prefer to have designated places in which to pray, including Mosques and prayer rooms. A private, quiet space is the bare minimum for prayer. It is a sacred act that requires respect and dignity. 

Prayer might increase during the month of Ramadan. This is a period of time when Muslims really focus on their worship and self-reflection. Alongside fasting, they are working on reflection, community and charity. It is a month to grow closer to Allah and to actively work on faith. 

How You Can Support Your Muslim Employees With Praying at Work

Now that you know a little more about prayer in Islam, it is key to turn that knowledge into active support for your employees. 

Here are some ways you can do so:

  • Allow use of a separate, private room for prayer in the office
  • Allow flexible break times to account for prayer
  • Provide prayer mats and Wudu facilities for Muslim employees
  • Encourage training and learning in other members of staff
  • Have very firm policies around how prayer must be respected by everyone in the workplace
  • Keep all prayer areas clean and tidy
  • Have a 100% policy on negative comments and offensive “jokes” made about prayer 
  • Put signs up around prayer areas and prayer rooms for awareness 
  • Encourage Ramadan events and bring culture into the office
  • Involve Muslim members of staff with all decisions you make on this matter
  • Listen to Muslim colleagues and employees and encourage feedback

When you behave this way around prayer in the office, you reduce the likelihood of any Islamaphobia taking place. You help to create a safe and inclusive environment at work. 

One where Muslim people can thrive. 

To start your journey as an inclusive, Diversity-Positive employer, take a look at the rest of the information on Aspiring to Include. We can help you connect with a diverse pool of candidates across the U.K. And we can support you in building the best work environment for them. Check out the services we offer employers, right here

No more hatred and no more judgement at work. Let’s work together for a better future for everyone. 

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Last Updated: Tuesday August 2 2022
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