Christians have Sunday service, Jews have Shabbat. But for observant Muslims, it’s TGIF all the way.
Friday afternoons are blocked off for weekly congregational prayers — you know, just to truly maximize the inconvenience for working Muslims around the world. (Except in some Muslim countries. Their weekends are Friday-Saturday. So that’s cool.)
The rest of us observant, and occasionally observant, Muslims have to shlep to the nearest Friday prayer (called jumah — ‘joo-maah’) on our lunch hour. Not that I’m complaining — jumah can be prayed nearly anywhere, though ideally in a mosque and ideally among others. Like other religious services, the point of jumah is to worship in a group.
It doesn’t take too long, either. There is a short sermon that lasts about 30 minutes, followed by a five-minute formal prayer. When he’s really busy, my husband attends what he calls the “express jumah” at a nearby mosque — the whole thing is done in less than 15 minutes — shorter than a smoke break.
Like other faith groups, Muslims are accustomed to marrying their spiritual identity with the obligations of daily life. Choose to wear hijab? Pick a brightly coloured one and tie it in the most on-fleek way possible. Fasting in Ramadan? Adjust your working hours! Need to pray during the day? Find a corner and start meditating.
For most of the year, jumah is a weekly lunch-hour appointment. Head to the mosque (or conference room, or classroom, or gymnasium) for the prayer, pick up some shawarma on the way back. Quick and easy, if not entirely satisfying.
Except for one day each year — the one day that the Muslim tradition of jumah and one of Christianity’s most holy days coincide: Good Friday.