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My Male Colleague Likes Me; How to Handle the Situation?

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Apr 24, 2017

Question

Salaam. Thanks a lot for your services. I am in a difficult situation at work. Apart from the work stress, now I am in charge of a male employee I regularly have to discuss work with. However, often times, I don't feel at ease with him. Especially when I am already overwhelmed with stress, and I don't feel well dealing with him costs me a lot of energy. Just last week, it became clear to me that he is attracted to me as is shown by the way he looks at me and his nervous behavior around me. I am trying to stay professional but the situation is tense. How can I cope with the situation for it to not get out of hand?

Counselor

Answer


My Male Colleague Likes Me; How to Handle the Situation?

Answer:

As-Salaamu ‘Alalikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh,

Are you married? Do you like him, too? Are you worried about this being wrong in Islam or “on the job”, or both?

If you are not married, then there is nothing wrong with him feeling something for you, or vice versa. Actually, there is nothing “wrong” with either of you feeling whatever you feel, even if you are married. We can’t control our feelings. We can only not express it, especially when they are for people of the opposite gender when we are married. In this case, to express our feelings is wrong.

This world throws us (males and females) together in the workplace, at school, in the mall, in taxis, etc. The fact that we feel things for each other is the very reason why, in Islam, we separate the genders—so that they are not constantly under the threat of temptation, especially when they are married. But we live in a world that is not ruled by the wisdom of Islam, so we have to figure out how to deal with it. Thinking that the feelings are wrong or the problem is not the right way of dealing with the issue because these feelings and situations are inescapable. A problem arises only when people act inappropriately on their feelings, in response to their feelings. That is when feelings become “wrong”.

How Are Men and Women Supposed to Interact?

Man and Women Working Together: Permissible?

Men and Women in Mosque: How Islam Dealt with Violations

Now, you may think that the feelings are inappropriate because your culture has taught you that. But, I say that it is only a cultural thing and not Islam. Feelings are never inappropriate because we can’t escape them – just what we do with them is the thing that can be inappropriate.

It sounds like this poor guy is trying to hide his feelings but he can’t. Please give him some credit for that. The way you made it sound in your question is that he was doing something “wrong” with his feelings. He can’t help feeling! He can help acting on them. If he does something inappropriate, that would be a very different discussion altogether.

If he behaves inappropriately, take action to protect yourself. However, if he is just suffering from his own feelings, have mercy on him. If you feel something for him too (and you are not married), there is nothing wrong with advancing both your interests. Just do it in the right way according to Islamic law. If you are married, can you rearrange things so that he does not have to be around you? Or let him know, somehow tactful, that you are married (if he does not know already). That should help him cool his emotions, in Sha’ Allah.

My dear sister, culture has poisoned Islam, so please try to figure out what is culture and what is Islam. Also, culture can be the enemy of Islam (like that you have to work around men), so please try to figure out how to deal with it without blaming the victim.

May Allah (swt) make it easy for you,

Salam,

***

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About Nasira S. Abdul-Aleem

Nasira S. Abdul-Aleem, an American, has a BA in English from UC Berkeley and is about to receive an MS degree in counseling psychology (Marriage and Family Therapy - MFT) from the Western Institute for Social Research. For over ten years, Nasira worked as a psychotherapist with the general public and in addiction recovery. For the last few years, she has been a life coach specializing in interpersonal relations. Nasira also consults with her many family members who studied Islam overseas and returned to America to be Imams and teachers of Islam. Muslims often ask Nasira what psychology has to do with Islam. To this, she replies that Islam is the manifestation of a correct understanding of our psychology. Therapists and life coaches help clients figure out how to traverse the path of life as a Believer, i.e., "from darkness into light", based on Islam and given that that path is an obstacle course, according to Allah.

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