Friday, October 15, 2010

Overcoming workplace restrictions

I came across this well-written article about overcoming workplace restrictions and thought of sharing with you all. Though, this is written in the context of Muslims, I think this is valid for people of all religions.


At the workplace (i.e. in non-Muslim environments), we sometimes feel we need to compromise and maybe even do things which may go against the Islamic teachings. These dilemmas arise and are encountered by Muslims daily: when one is going for a job, when asked to do something that conflicts with the deen, to please others, or even to a crude extent, to show others that we are not ‘extremists’. Some amongst us even fear we may lose our jobs if we do not ‘go with the flow’, using necessity as an excuse and “Oh, Allah knows my heart!” as a trump card. The worst case scenario, sad to say is that some of our brothers and sisters do not even pray due to weakness of emaan and out of embarrassment – in reality meaning embarrassment of their deen, the very deen, that has given them honour, dignity and the legacy of past civilisations and prophets! They have to ask themselves why?

When faced with such a dilemma, the most important thing is to stay strong towards your deen and not to compromise in clear cut matters and to do the right thing in Islam. Why please the people, when it will displease your Lord? Why be shy of the people when you should be wary of your Lord? Why choose to be punished and risk entry to Paradise for the sake of others at the expense of your own self? We forget easily, brothers, sisters, we really do, we forget…

The Quran:

Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, “We believe”, and that they will not be tested? We did test those before them, and Allah will certainly know those who are true from those who are false. (29:2-3)

When you have the strength of emaan, have sufficient knowledge to impart some the wisdom behind Islamic teachings and most importantly to please your Lord, surely Allah will be on your side. If a job was meant to be for you, then no matter what obstacles you may have, if Allaah wants you to get that job – you will get it, conversely, if the job was not meant for you, then you will not get it. This is one’s fate that Allah willed, which one must believe in, whether it be good or bad. Allah is the Most Wise and he knows what is best for you. The following hadith is conclusive proof that we should follow our deen and not to compromise …

An-Nawawi Hadith 19

On the authority of Abdullah bin Abbas, who said: One day I was behind the Prophet and he said to me: “Young man, I shall teach you some words [of advice]: Be mindful of Allah, and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah, and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask of Allah; if you seek help, seek help of Allah. Know that if a nation were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that Allah had already prescribed for you, and that if they gather together to harm you with anything, they would harm you only with something Allah had already prescribed for you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried.”

Most importantly if one sets their stall from the outset, then practicing your Islam in your workplace will be unhindered Insh’Allah. Not only that, they (non-Muslims) will respect your deen/choice and will endeavour to cater for your needs and not put any barriers for you. Here are some true tales to illustrate how sticking to yourdeen paves the way to happiness and the real success…

By brother S.H

This is a summary of my recent interviewing experience. I applied to a large global media company. I had a telephone interview with a lady called Jane who was to be my senior in the role. We discussed my experience and suitability and then chatted about what it was like to work there. At the end, she asked if there was anything else and I mentioned that for interview purposes and to avoid any embarrassment I wanted her to know that as a strict Muslim I didn’t make physical contact with women i.e. I don’t shake hands. She was intrigued and asked more so we discussed it further and then the call ended.

At the interview, I was interviewed by three women in three roles related to my future role. All very different and very strong personalities with a significant vested interest in the success of the person in the role as they were all going to be depending on me in one way or another. None went to shake my hand when they met or left and all were extremely courteous and polite. I was later offered the job.

Some time later, I applied for a position at one of the world’s biggest charities. The first stage interview was with two men. I was informed that the second stage interview would involve a range of people including one woman. I emailed the recruiter to let him know that as a strict Muslim, I avoided shaking hands with women so would he please inform the interviewers to avoid any potential awkwardness. I called the recruiter to check he’d got the email and understood it and he said that was perfectly fine and had passed the message on. At the next interview, the first part was with a man and then when he was bringing in the next interviewer he asked if there was anything else about the situation that I wouldn’t be comfortable with and I mentioned that because the office was open and not secluded there was no problem with the interview going ahead between just me and her.

Several interviews later at the same organisation, including one with an extremely senior female employee where the same ‘etiquette’ was adhered to, I was then also offered the job. Which I accepted!

At each point where I made a request or made my feelings known, there was a slight embarrassment and insecurity and the feel of making myself vulnerable to criticism or ridicule. I was clear and up-front about my requirements which made the whole process very straightforward! Afterward, the overwhelming thought was why was I so worried!

By brother A.Z

I prayed my Istikhara prayer and went to my job interview. After being successful at the interview, the job was offered to me. I took the opportunity to tell them that I am a Muslim and I need to have Fridays 1pm to 2pm free to go the mosque, could they cater for my need? The Deputy Head teacher without hesitation affirmed with “OK, no problem” – Alhamdulillah. When I started my job, my timetable for teaching had no lesson for me between 1pm to 2pm, this was protected time for me, meaning nobody could disturb me, thus I was free to go to Jumuah prayers.

By brother M.S

Recently, my boss at work wanted to take our team out for a ‘thank you’ for the hard work we had completed. He approached me asking if I would go with them to a pub-restaurant. I explained that I would go if we were in the restaurant area only and there was no drinking involved where I was sitting. I went on to explain, “Alcohol is something that has issues, it is not regarded favourably in my religion and even to the extent I cannot sit at a place where people are drinking alcohol. You can drink anything you want, eat anything you want, even pork. I can go anywhere with you, like McDonald’s or Burger King, but only thing is, if alcohol is at the table, then I cannot go – I am sorry!

Later on my boss came back and said to me, “Look, we want to go to that restaurant because they have good food and I want you to be there with us and there won’t be any alcohol.” I replied, “Thanks, that’s nice. However, I can’t tell other people not to drink or to stop them because of my beliefs. You guys go ahead I’ll be OK with that. He replied, “No we want you to be there and I can assure you, nobody will be drinking alcohol.”

I did go, I had some seafood, whilst others from my team had their steaks and chicken and guess what – nobody had alcohol!

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