Why And How to Ask for a Prayer Room at work place

It’s easy to pray in an environment where everyone does so. However, trying to pray in an environment where no one else is -like work sometimes- can seem like a challenge.

Why is prayer very important?

1. It teaches commitment and accountability since it’s the first deed to be asked about on the Day of Judgement.

The importance of establishing the 5 daily prayers in Islam is demonstrated strongly and clearly in the Qur’an and many of the Prophet’s sayings. For example, the Prophet

“The first matter that the slave will be brought to account for on the Day of Judgment is the prayer. If it is sound, then the rest of his deeds will be sound. And if it is bad, then the rest of his deeds will be bad.” [Hasan]

So, prayer (salah) as taught to us by the Prophet will be the first of our deeds we get accounted for. This helps us develop a sense of seriousness, commitment and urge to avoid slacking behind in faith and connection with the Creator.

2. Prayer is linked to success.

Around 10 times a day the phrase “come to prayer, come to success” is uttered during the athan (call to prayer).

This success is referring to both worlds, so I realised I cannot separate salah from my daily life worried about ‘if I don’t mingle during lunch I won’t get that contract/ promotion etc.’ so re-evaluate your priorities and give salah the worth it deserved.

3. It helps people learn more about your beliefs.

Often, we feel that if we pray or ask for a room to pray at work our managers/ colleagues will think we are ‘extreme’ but that’s just a thought. You see, a thought is only as great as you entertain it.

4. Exclusive, therapeutic private talk with the Creator

Salah is a space where no one or nothing gets to come between you and your Lord. It’s the only exclusive conversation you get to have, where along with all your troubles you get to put down your head and your heart to The One who created them; and He’s the best to mend what life breaks.

Physiological benefits of Prayer

You might have noticed that the positions of salah are somewhat like Yoga.

Yoga is celebrated and believed to be beneficial holistically. And if you think of the 5 daily prayers, just the position of sujood (prostration) alone, which is like the Balasana (child pose) in Yoga, allows the heart to be above the head hence increasing blood flow to the brain, this position also strengthens the abdominal muscles.

Research conducted by Raof Ahmad Bhat, titled “Unity of Health through Yoga and Islamic Prayer Salah” covers the similarities between Yoga and salah and how one rak’ah (unit of prayer) can activate the chakras which yogis believe to be the energy fields in our body. If the positions of prayer are performed correctly you can have a full body workout.

But prayer takes benefits to a much deeper level and it has a much deeper meaning.

The scientific benefits are only proven recently, but for believers, our reason for prayer is simple and straightforward:

“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” [Qur’an: Chapter 51, Verse 56]

“And I have chosen you, so listen to what is revealed [to you]. Indeed, I am Allah. There is no deity except me, so worship Me and establish prayer for My remembrance.” [Qur’an: Chapter 20, Verses 13-14]

Prayer and productivity at work

The positions of salah combined with the recitation in it are means for you to unplug from the busy world to a place of serenity. This helps regain your peace, gives you focus and more energy.

The important thing to remember is quality over quantity. If you are short on time and want to be able to maximise the benefits of salah at work, here are 3 key points to remember:

1. Keep it short and sweet: focus on the fardh (obligatory prayer) and recite the shorter surahs in your qiyaam (standing position of prayer). Allah
wants ease for you so go easy on yourself.

2. Try to read the translation and/ or commentary:on the surahs you choose to recite which will help you gain a deeper understanding and help you concentrate. When you try to connect with the words you recite, it brings a new meaning to your salah.

3. Be present: this is vital to maximising the benefits, by understanding who you are meeting with and cutting off from the outside world for just a few minutes, it rejuvenates your body and soul.

But How to Ask for Prayer Room at Work

If you’re someone who works in a non-Muslim environment and is struggling to secure a prayer room, here are some means that you can follow:

If you don’t ask you don’t get

I noticed that there is always provision for people at work to take smoking breaks; asking for time to pray does not take longer than the smoking break your colleagues get. Those few minutes to fulfil your obligation of salah reset your mind, and give clarity and rejuvenation which helps at work.

Compromise and be grateful

If the space you are given is not up to your standards, remember that Allah
 wants only ease for you. When we look at the story of Ibrahim he was never concerned with comfort, he just kept moving forward.

A small step by you may open doors for others to pray as well.

Food for body and food for soul

salah is food for our soul. The signals for your hungry soul are the feelings of unrest pent up inside you that you are unable to make sense of.

Just as you feed your body to be energised to go about your work, your soul also needs to be nourished.

Employers look for loyalty, integrity and discipline in their employees. By showing them that you attend to your prayers punctually without intervention will show them that you are trustworthy and loyal. Salah was ordained for you to increase you; in spirituality, sustenance and in a commodity we are all in need of: time. It puts barakah (blessing and prosperity) in your time.

Calculate and make the most of your time

Plan ypur day around salah. If you’re fortunate enough to have a mosque within a few minutes walk from your workplace, you can manage to incorporate prayer into one’s lunch break. However, if you need room to pray in your workplace and/ or the prayer time comes in between working hours that can be a little tricky depending on your employer.

But what happens if my employer says ‘no’?

If you are made to feel uncomfortable by your employer for requesting a room for prayer, it might have more impact if you are able to get together with other Muslims in the workplace to request one.

The request is not unreasonable, but asking with a diplomatic manner and confidence can make the difference. Rather than impose yourself, find a way to compromise, and pick your battles wisely.

May Allah help us all.

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