In this counseling answer:
“A healthy and sound marriage cannot be built on this level of distrust, control, and abuse. Learn about Islam and you’ll find that what he is attempting to each you are based on his insecurities and not Islam itself. ”
Thank you for your question.
You are a convert from Australia and the country of Australia has cultural norms when it comes to greeting. Everyone asks “how are you doing” as a kind point of formality. At the grocery store or at a restaurant casual and polite conversations like this are the basic manners of the people or, as one would say in Arabic, the adab.
That being said, any local imam or female scholar or male scholar would let you know that you are not sinning by responding to these general comments. This is an established norm and understanding for the Muslim community across the west.
On the contrary, as you have stated, attempting to avoid things of this nature would be extremely offensive to co-workers, family members, and people in the community in general.
Customs and culture are different from place to place and there is a general understanding of what is crossing the boundaries of necessity or professional behavior.
This is why there are human resources departments in companies in order to maintain a professional working environment.
The “how are you this morning” with the “good, how are you,” and the “fine thank you” is not a personal dialogue between a man and a woman that is out of the norm. It’s also done publicly, around other people, and is not intended to be personal in nature.
What is crossing the line as a Muslim woman is sitting down to have a private and personal conversation where something special is being shared with you and only you. Or you are sharing something private with another man that you aren’t sharing with your husband.
This is the beginning of an emotional affair.
Otherwise, men and women co-exist in the same space with kindness, respect, modesty, and professionalism.
You can stop feeling like a major sinner in Islam now. You are doing nothing wrong.
What your husband is bringing to you is one or both of the following:
1) A cultural understanding of Islam based on a location he is from where things are done differently.
2) Possessiveness and emotional abuse.
If he is from another culture where men and women never interact, then one might be able to have some understanding of the way he thinks for a moment.
Attempting to impose a cultural system in a foreign location results in the inability to live as a Muslim and causes major hardships. You losing your job is not acceptable nor is the fact that you are feeling paranoid every single time a man comes in your presence.
Did you know that Muslim women spoke directly to the Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him?
I imagine that at this point you are under immense stress at your job because you are constantly afraid of having to speak to a man. This is not healthy nor the way things are supposed to be.
Which brings me to the point which is extremely important for you to hear.
Check out this counseling video:
Your husband forcing you to swear over and over again and say things like “wallahi” or “I swear by Allah” or “I swear to God” in order to make you terrified of speaking to a man is unacceptable and entirely wrong and abusive. It’s also a level of spiritual abuse which should not be tolerated any further.
If he has jealousy and insecurity issues that is for him to deal with. Unless you have cheated on him before, giving him a reason to panic when you walk out the door, he has no right to question your integrity, your character, or your behavior at work. Even if that was the case, he still can’t persist in such behavior.
A healthy and sound marriage cannot be built on this level of distrust, control, and abuse. Learn about Islam and you’ll find that what he is attempting to each you are based on his insecurities and not Islam itself.
In fact, Islam is based on common sense.
Here is an example from The Qur’an to clarify things a bit:
“O wives of the Prophet, you are not like anyone among women. If you fear Allah, then do not be soft in speech [to men], lest he in whose heart is disease should covet, but speak with appropriate speech.” (33:32)
This verse in The Qur’an is addressing the wives of the Prophet Muhammad directly, but even so we can all follow the reminder which was being given to them. And that reminder is that when you are speaking to avoid being soft in speech.
In other words, be careful to not speak in a way that has the intention to attract a man.
All women know that voice, right? The voice that’s a little cuter, a little sweeter, a little more playful? Islam asks us to be articulate and heard but straightforward. Straightforward can still be friendly and kind.
Seeing this, it’s clear that women aren’t being told not to speak with men. Just to be mindful of how they speak. Again, a common sense reminder.
Please find some local Muslim converts to speak with about Islam and also a local teacher to help you out. I can also recommend some online convert groups for you – so message us back if you’d like me to get in touch with you about that directly.
Islam is meant to make us better people. We learn the true reality of God and who the final Prophet was. We pray five times a day to remember God and turn to Him. We become more charitable people and those who seek to do good in the world. But becoming Muslim should never make you feel like you have to become a shell of yourself.
Be yourself and just tweak all the beautiful parts of you who you are with Islam and you should find the guidelines generally easy to follow not hard, insha’Allah.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out again.
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.