Answered by Abdullah Anik Misra
Question: I had a question about work and prayer. At work, sometimes I am able to pray and sometimes I am not. For an 11-5 schedule, I occasionally do not get breaks, so what can I do about this? I’ve heard that praying early is not allowed and that missing prayer, which I rarely do is not accepted. I follow Shafi`i fiqh and was wondering what the ruling for this was, or any exceptions to it?
Answer: Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
Thank you for your question. Firstly, it is very commendable that you are striving to uphold the commandment of Allah Most High to perform the obligatory prayer despite a demanding work schedule. The obligatory prayers are the first of works that a Believer will be questioned about on the Day of Judgment, after faith itself. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) has said:
“The person who guards the five obligatory prayers, its wudhu, its prescribed time, its proper bowing and prostration, while considering it to be the right of Allah upon them, the will be Fire forbidden upon that person.” (Ahmad)
You are correct when you say that missing an obligatory prayer is not allowed, rather, it is from amongst the major sins to do so without a valid excuse. You are also correct in saying that praying before the time enters is not permitted, except in very specific circumstances that do not obtain here [see answers on the prayer of a traveler in the Shafi’i school for an example]. The only recourse will be to obtain approval for one short break during the work shift, and perform the prayer during that time. By the grace of Allah, persistent requests from more and more Muslims in the West over the years who are keen to uphold their prayers while at work, have made many employers familiar with accommodating Muslim religious observances in ways that do not hinder productivity. It is expected that if the request is put forward respectfully yet firmly, it will be granted, insha Allah. Making this request, in the interest of preserving your prayer, would be a duty on your part. The fact that Ramadan is coming around is also very helpful to mention if one is worried that the employer might wonder why the request wasn’t made from before, since many employers know that Muslims tend to “gear up” on their prayers in anticipation of the holy month; this can also be a way of getting a “foot-in-the-door” to permanently obtaining approval for a prayer break thereafter.
To make your request easier on others, ask your employer where the ideal place to pray would be in advance, so no one feels disturbed, and to pre-plan things such as where and when to make wudhu so that you stay within your allotted break time. Of course, make du’aa to Allah, asking Him to make the matter easy for you. In the end, although there is some struggle and sacrifice involved with praying on the job, you will be commensurately rewarded for striving to uphold your prayers despite obstacles, and needless to say, stopping to be with your Lord during your work day will be the source of much blessings and ease. May Allah Most High make each one of us consistent on our prayers in all situations, Ameen!
Abdullah Anik Misra
Checked and Approved by Faraz Rabbani
* Abdullah Anik Misra was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, and converted to Islam in 2001. After completing a degree in Business Administration at the University of Toronto, in 2005, he left Canada to pursue studies in Arabic and the Islamic Sciences. Currently, he lives in Amman, Jordan, with his wife and two daughters, working at the Qasid Institute and studying various subjects in the Islamic Sciences.