Friday, 13 February 2009

New Colleague at Work

I’m very lucky in that I work with a group of generally very nice people. It’s still always nice though when a Muslim sister joins the workplace, which was what happened this week. A fellow hijabi, she seems very competent and confident and also a chatter-box like me, so it wasn’t long before we got talking.

We went through arrangements for wudhu and salah (prayer) and had a good old chinwag about how difficult it is to make wudhu at work and getting socks and scarves on and off and matters of privacy (neither of us were too fussed if others saw us praying).

One lunch time we both went off to get some take-out to bring back (kebab-roll with everything – very nice) and while we waited got chatting. She explained that she was more religious in the past, but some rather strident sisters had put her off a little. We agreed that our iman (faith) can fluctuate over time and that it was shame about how pushy some people could be.

I didn’t pursue this because it can go into the territory of bad-mouthing sisters, but she had a point. Some people disagree with you, others tell you that you are wrong, they are right and that’s that. I’ve had this with the way I pray, with the madhab (school of law) I follow, with the fact I work and there is no discussion or scope for exploration – just judgement.

It is a shame that sisters feel that they are moving away from their deen because of this behaviour. I recall one very nice lady I used to work with who told me she used to be Muslim, she even wore hijab, but different people told her so many things and confused her so much, she decided not to be Muslim anymore. Of course Allah (SWT) chooses whose heart He enlightens with the beauty of Islam, but do we have to be the ones that make it harder? This is why I always encourage new Muslimah sisters to do their own research, and find people of knowledge to go to and also to use their own reason.

Anyway, she spoke some more about how she felt that a lot of the religious sisters were not very approving of Muslim women working and how it was mostly the young well-educated ones, rather than older Muslimah’s or sisters who have come here from abroad – perhaps because both have often not had the choice to be able to work and have felt a loss of independence because of it.

Another matter we touched on was how a lot of the judgemental sisters didn’t seem quite right. That sounds like a horrible thing to say, but I was shocked when she said it, because I had thought this in the past too. I have often come across very strict religious sisters who act slightly strangely – they can be defensive, shifty, or secretive or just not “open” and comfortable in the way healthy, happy, friendly people tend to be. The sister even went as far as to say they sometimes seem as if they are not mentally quite okay, I’m not sure about this, but they do scare me sometimes.

We chatted more about our children and then got lunch. She agreed that we should remind each other to go pray at salah time and encourage each other which was really nice, so I am pleased to have met her.


  1. That's awesome to have a fellow hijabi/muslimah at work! I work in a HUGE place, and Ive not met another muslim there yet.

    My very first trip to a masjid (alone) just after i took shahadah was a royal mixed bag of goodies! I was so happy to meet muslims, but they were over eager with naseehah, to the point where I felt I was being pressured to be something or someone I wasnt. It sent me into panic.

    It scared me wuite a bit, and although I will always be grateful to Allah for their initial kindness (they truly were), I completely disconnected from them. I panicked and thought I made a huge mistake by reverting to Islam. I thought I had to give up my internal character and idnetity. I thought I was going to loose my sense of being of an individual. That feeling didn't last very long once I calmed down, and truly reflected on my reasons for becoming muslim in the first place. A little logic goes a long way.

    I felt very isolated because I could not find a sister that I felt I indentified with, and turned to the internet (cautiously) for information and sister-hood.

    I learned quite a bit,met some very nice sisters and soon after met my husband, who has been a tremendous source of knowledge, comfort and education.

    My husband comes from a HUGE family, and I now have at least a dozen sisters-in-law, and it is truly a gift mashAllah.

    They are my peeps and I long to meet them in person soon inshaallah.

  2. I agree that it's great to have a fellow hijabi at work. I'm one of only 2 muslimahs at work alhamdulillah; and now that I've read your post, I have to admit she is kinda peculiar...although I say this with love 'cos she's kinda scary too :-D

  3. masha'allah.. always nice to work with hijabs.. Ive never had the pleasure but cant wait for it in the future insha'allah

  4. Assalam-alaikam,

    Sis iMuslimah,
    I keep hearing stories like yours - it's quite fruatrating to think that sisters are scaring other sisters away through their thoughtlessness.

    Sis Washi,
    I know what you mean. I have worked with scores of hijabi's (London is full of them) - some open and gregarious, some shifty, some with real issue's - although virtually all have been very bright women (I used to think you have to be twice as good to find work and progress a s a hijabi). I've made so many friends this way, including finding my best friend.

    Sis Ammena,
    it's only a matter of time.