Muslims in the Workplace

Bismillahir rahmenir raheem

From my own personal experience, I have never really been able to spot Muslims in the workplace. it wasn’t until I got my first job after my Masters degree that I even realised that there we Muslims in my workplace. The office I work in is quite small but I still found it hard to identify the Muslims that did work there. When I started there were 2, one brother and one sister but now there’s only me. Being the only Muslim in the office can have its downsides but alhamdulillah, there are a lot of brothers and sisters in this situation.

Here are my tips on being the “only Muslim in the workplace”:

You can still look like a Muslim and be taken seriously

When I started my current job, I had only been Muslim for a year and covering for around 9 months. It was my first ever job interview that I had dressed like a Muslim and I was sure that I wouldn’t get the job because of it. I distinctly remember wearing a black hijab, black blazer, red shirt and loose black trousers.

It is possible to look good in the workplace and still preserve your modesty. Pencil skirts and short sleeved shirts are not a necessity. Long sleeve shirts, maxi skirts, loose trousers, maxi dresses/ abayas and blazers are staples in any working Muslim woman’s wardrobe.

Avoid the inappropriate banter

“If they pass by some vain speech or play, they pass by it with dignity.” (Qur’an, 25:72)

I’ve worked in an office long enough to know that sometimes the “banter” can get a bit out of hand. Hijab is not just about the way you dress, it’s also about how you carry yourself and how you speak as well.

“The believer does not defame, abuse, disparage, nor vilify.” [Tirmidhi]

It may seem entertaining at the time to be involved with the group and laugh along with the inappropriate jokes but your scale of bad deeds could be filling up subhanAllah. Remember, anything you say will be interpreted through the filter of you being a Muslim. Your words should be like perfume, the physical spray may  disappear but the sweet smell remains.

Keep your prayers

“Verily, As-Salaah (the prayer) is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours” [al-Nisa’ 4:103]

Prayer is the first thing Allah swt will ask you about on the Day of Judgement and is the second pillar of Islam after the shahadah (testimony of faith). Don’t sell your akhirah for the duniya, this life is not permanent but your afterlife is, subhanAllah.

When I first started working in an office, I found it hard to raise the issue of the prayer but when I really thought about it, it wasn’t such a big deal. Like most offices, we have smokers. If people are allowed to leave their desks to smoke, your employer will most likely not have a problem with you taking 5 minutes from your desk to pray. Most offices have spare rooms, cleaning closets or a car park. Simply buy yourself a small prayer mat and get down to the salah inshaAllah.

Give gifts

The Prophet (saw) said exchange gifts, as that will lead to increasing your love to one another. [Bukhari]

Doing something small and simple like bringing in a box of donuts, baking cookies or brownies for the office can be a nice gesture. But, it also let’s people get a glimpse into the generosity of the Muslims, inshaAllah.

If baking isn’t your strong suit, then you could get crafty and make bookmarks, personalised notebooks or maybe personalised hot chocolate recipes for co-workers and their spouses.

Pinterest has some great ideas for DIYs that you can try.

Don’t be afraid to talk about Islam

One of the things I’ve noticed working around non-Muslims, is that they really don’t know a lot about Islam. Even simple things like the prayer, giving charity and wearing proper hijab are issues that they never really have to think about in their daily lives. From my expereince, non-Muslims are curious about Islam and most are open-minded about learning more about the religion. I love talking to non-Muslims about Islam and they almost always learn something new inshaAllah.

Do you work in a non-Muslim workplace? What tips would you give to other Muslims?

Wasalaam – Peace Be With You

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