Guide to Religious Beliefs in the Workplace

Posted on December 16, 2009

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PersonnelToday.com, edited by the Islamic Workplace

[…]

Christianity

There are a wide variety of Christian churches and organisations.

Festivals:

– Christmas Day December 25th
– Easter Sunday March/April (date set by lunar calendar)
– A festival starting on Maundy Thursday and finishing on Easter Sunday

In addition there are a number of ‘holy days of obligation’ when Christians may wish to attend a church service and request a late start to the working day, or early finish in order that they can attend their local church. Many practicing Christians will wish to attend their Church on Sundays throughout the year.

– Ash Wednesday Feb/March (date set by lunar calendar) this is a day of fasting/abstinence for many Christians.
– Maundy Thursday 3 days before Easter
– Good Friday 2 days before Easter
– All Saints Day 1 November
– Christmas Eve 24 December

Food

Some Christian churches avoid alcohol.

Clothing

Some Christian churches forbid the use of cosmetics and require their female members to dress modestly.

Bereavement

No special requirements beyond normal compassionate leave. […]

Islam (Muslims)

Observant Muslims are required to pray five times a day. Each prayer time takes about 10 minutes and can take place anywhere clean and quiet. Prayer times vary depending on world location and season, but generally are:-

– At dawn (Fajr)
– At midday (Zuhr) in Winter sometime between 12.00-13.00 and in summer between 13.00-14.30.
– Late Afternoon (Asr) in Winter 14.30-15.30
– After Sunset (Maghrib)
– Late Evening (Isha)

Friday midday prayers are particularly important to Muslims and may take a little longer than other prayer times. Friday prayers must be said in congregation and may require Muslims to travel to the nearest mosque or prayer gathering. Muslims cannot miss two Friday prayers in a row without a very good reason.

Before prayers, observant Muslims undertake a ritual act of purification called the ablution or wudhu. This involves the use of running water to wash hands, face, mouth, nose, arms up to the elbows and feet up to the ankles, although often the washing of the feet will be performed symbolically.

Festivals

The dates of festivals are reliant on a sighting of the new moon and will therefore vary from year to year. While approximate dates will be know well in advance, it is not always possible to give a definitive date until much nearer the time.

Ramadan, which takes place in the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar, is a particularly significant time for Muslims. Fasting is required between dawn and sunset. Most Muslims will attend work in the normal way but in the winter they may wish to break fast with other Muslims at sunset. This could be seen as a delayed lunch break. For those working evening or night shifts, the opportunity to heat food at sunset and/or sunrise will be appreciated.

– Eid Al-Fitr – three days to mark the end of Ramadan – most Muslims will only seek annual leave for the first of the three days.
– Eid al-Adha takes place two months and 10 days after Eid Al-Fitr and is a three-day festival. Again, most Muslims will usually only seek leave for the first of the three days.

All Muslims are required to make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in their lifetime. Muslims may therefore seek one extended leave period in which to make such a pilgrimage.

Clothing

Muslims are required to cover the body. Men may therefore be unwilling to wear shorts. Women [are enjoined] (Islamic Workplace’s editing) to cover their whole body, except their face, hands and feet.

Food

Muslims are forbidden to eat any food which is derived from the pig, this includes lard which may be present in bread or even ice cream. In addition they are forbidden to eat any food which is derived from a carnivorous animal. Meat that may be consumed must be slaughtered by the Halal method. Islam also forbids the consumption of alcohol which includes its presence in dishes such as risotto or fruit salad.

Bereavement

Burial must take place as soon as possible following death and may therefore occur at short notice.

Other

1. Any form of gambling or investment/financing involving interest  is forbidden under Islam.
2. Observant Muslims are required to wash their genitals following use of the toilet and will therefore appreciate access to water in the toilet cubicle, often Muslims will carry a small container of water into the cubicle for this purpose. By agreement with other staff and cleaners, these containers could be kept in the cubicle.
3. Physical contact between the sexes is discouraged and some Muslims may politely refuse to shake hands with the opposite sex. This should not be viewed negatively. […]

Judaism (Jews)

Observant Jews are required to refrain from work on the Sabbath and Festivals, except where life is at risk. This includes travelling (except on foot), writing, carrying, switching on and off electricity, using a telephone and transactions of a commercial nature (that is buying and selling) The Sabbath and all other Festivals begin one hour before dusk and so practising Jews need to be home by then. Sabbath begins one hour before dusk on Friday.

Festival Days

– Passover March/April two sets of two days
– Pentecost (Shavuoth) May/June two days
– New Year Sept/Oct two days
– Day of Atonement Sept/Oct – one day fasting
– Tabernacles (Sukkot) Sept/Oct two sets of two days

Clothing

Orthodox Jewish men keep their head covered at all times. Orthodox Jewish women will wish to dress modestly and may not want to wear trousers, short skirts or short sleeves; some may wish to keep their heads covered by a scarf or beret.

Food

Jews are required to eat only kosher food (which has been treated and prepared in a particular manner).

Bereavement

Funerals must take place as soon as possible following the death – the same day where possible – and therefore take place at short notice. Following a death, the immediate family must stay at home and mourn for 7 days (Shiva).

Following the death of a Father or Mother, an observant Jewish man will be required to go to a Synagogue to pray morning, afternoon and evening for 11 months of the Jewish calendar. […]

For the religious beliefs in the workplace of other faith-based communities, please click here.

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