So many of us, myself included, have asked ourselves this question. Being present at Jummuah prayers, beyond being a religious obligation, is a source of joy and peace that recharges us through the week.
Akili Ujima works as a Special Learning Needs coordinator for the Bureau of Prisons in Georgia. This is what he says about his work: “My job is important to me. I am trying my best to make sure our inmates are prepared to go out into society and not return back to prison because of not being prepared adequately.”
Mr. Ujima requested permission to attend Jummuah prayers during his lunch break at the mosque across the street from his place of employment. In response, his employer “just said no”, as Christina Jump, his CLCMA lawyer, stated on his behalf. The wardens “didn’t speak to Mr.
Ujima, didn’t consult with Human Resources, or Legal, or Chaplaincy services. They just said no. Mr. Ujima asked again. He was denied again. The agency cannot point to a single accommodation that it ever presented during the relevant time frame. No accommodation has been offered, and that is a violation of the law.”
When CLCMA and MLFA accept a case, they fight for you, fearlessly and tirelessly. They will continue to the Supreme Court if need be. In this case, Mr. Ujima was awarded monetary damages and had hundreds of hours of paid time off restored. Disciplinary documentation was removed from his employment file. Although this is a partial success and a recognition of the injustice he suffered, CLCMA and MLFA continue to fight so that Mr. Ujima (and likely many, many others like him) can attend Friday prayers in peace.
Muslim Legal Fund of America stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in all kinds of tough situations. Insha Allah when MLFA and CLCMA make sure that Mr. Ujima can attend Jummuah prayers, this will blaze the trail for many more of us who may struggle to balance religious and work obligations.
I want to stand with Mr. Ujima and anyone else who wants to practice their religion.
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