Faithful Muslims believe Friday was chosen by God as a dedicated day of worship. Known as Jummah, or the day of gathering, it is a form of congregational worship held in the early afternoon every Friday and is considered obligatory for adult Muslim men who are not sick or traveling. After the prayers are complete, worshipers are encouraged to return to their usual business “so they are not a burden on the economy,” says Faheem Younus.
Mr. Younus has recently launched a campaign to promote the importance of attending Jummah. Many mosques have also begun to promote the importance of attending Friday prayer, leading some Muslims to approach their workplace and children’s schools to request time off. Initiated by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, the campaign was announced this month at the group’s 71st annual convention, Jalsa Salana USA. The event was attended by more than 9,000 Muslims, all part of the Ahmadiyya sect.
The initiative’s leaders acknowledge that it is often difficult to ask for religious accommodations at ones workplace or school. In many Muslim countries, Friday is part of the weekend, in recognition of Muslims who want to attend Jummah. But in the United States, many Muslims struggle to negotiate for time off.
“I’ve been very lucky and haven’t had much of an issue when I brought this up with my bosses,” says Harris Zafar. “And for my kids, when we sit them down and explain why we’re doing this, I believe they start to understand that Friday prayer is a very important Islamic institution and that no matter what we’re doing in life, this has to come first.”