This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion. But whoever is forced by severe hunger with no inclination to sin – then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (Quran 5:3)
It is an exhilarating experience to step into the Islamic faith! Your journey to Islam was most assuredly paved with many questions and, perhaps even, inspirational people you met along the way.
The moment you took your shahadah, or ‘declaration of faith’, you undoubtedly experienced a combination of joy and relief that was the culmination of much soul-searching.
Once someone embraces Islam, however, he or she can face many obstacles in re-entering their previous life as a new Muslim. This is especially true in the workplace. It can be very daunting to anticipate your return to work, especially if you are a woman and your headscarf easily identifies your new faith.
However, nothing should come in the way of your new life as a Muslim. With diligence and trust in God Almighty, you can overcome some of the most common problems many Muslims face in the workplace.
Fasting in the Workplace
Fasting is a prescription for success in this life and the next! Muslims fast in Ramadan and at other times during the calendar year whether it is in fulfillment of the Sunnah or is an optional fast. As God Almighty revealed in the Noble Quran:
Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain taqwa. (Quran 2:183)
It can be difficult to fast when you’re working in a non-Muslim environment. The workplace is often rife with temptations like donuts, coffee and other breakfast fare. And when the scent of food is abound and your co-workers are happily noshing around you, it can make your fast all the more difficult.
In a situation like this, it’s important to distract yourself from the temptation of food and remind yourself that you’re engaging in this deed as a means of worshiping God and the reward is with Him. And no donuts or cup of coffee can compare to that!
Wearing the Headscarf
The decision to wear the headscarf (hijab), as a new Muslim, is one of the toughest yet the most rewarding.
You’re a Muslim! You have every reason to be proud of your decision and wearing the headscarf is an easy way to identify yourself as a Muslim.
However, entering the workplace wearing it for the very first time can be a bit of a shock for your co-workers. Most likely, it will give you a jolt as well depending on their reactions. Undoubtedly, many co-workers will tell you how beautiful your scarf is. Most likely, there will be some confusion or even disdain directed right at you.
The best course of action is to be calm and patient. You’ll be bombarded with questions and even stares. Do your best to answer them without losing your cool. And remember, you don’t owe anyone an explanation! It’s up to you if you want to field these questions or simply ignore them.
Whenever you face adversity, when it comes to your newfound religion, look back towards the hardships faced by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to gain insight.
Praying During Work Hours
For most Muslims, praying during the work day is not an issue. First and foremost, religious discrimination is illegal in the West and there are legal ramifications for any employer that prevents an employee from worshiping.
However, it can still be difficult to pray at work. Talk to your office manager or supervisor to clarify the times you will be praying and the allocation of time, even if that means your lunch break is shortened a bit. Never sacrifice your prayer in favor of work.
As the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
The first matter that the slave will be brought to account for on the Day of Judgment is the prayer. If it is sound, then the rest of his deeds will be sound. And if it is bad, then the rest of his deeds will be bad.
You also need to find an adequate place to pray which could be right next to your desk, in your cubicle or even in the office store room.
The Islamic prayer is a right that Allah has upon us. It is also medicinal for the soul. Performing it at work is a blessing and will make your work day all the more easy!
Broaden Your Horizons
For most new Muslims, returning to the workplace following your acceptance of Islam will not be a major issue. Your relationships with co-workers and your track-record will stand out more so than your faith.
However, some new Muslims might be met with an overwhelming amount of contempt from co-workers or may even be made to feel like an outcast. In this event, remember that your Islam must always come first.
If you can withstand the barrage and still perform your job well, then continue as usual. However, if you feel that your work ethic will be sacrificed or that the negative work environment will otherwise harm your faith, you might consider broadening your horizons with a new job.
You are blessed to be counted amongst the Muslims. You have every right to be happy and proud of your new faith. And you have absolutely nothing to be sorry about. Whether you stay or go, the decision is yours alone.
Returning to work as a new Muslim is a great test, just like this life is a test. As Allah Almighty says in the Quran:
And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Saabiroon (the patient). (Quran 2:155)
Patience is key when it comes to any affair of a believer along with an unwavering belief that Allah, most assuredly, knows best.