Social Tensions

Being a Muslim is personal. Many may want to wear it on their sleeve with confidence, and put their Islam into visible action. But there still remains a personal, private element to faith. Fasting or praying alone, when one’s forehead touches that floor, those are private feelings. For many who have “converted”, it can remain just that: private. For others, it may be a case of their being Muslim being private in select environments, like the workplace. All of which is absolutely fine. It is important to be comfortably Muslim.

There can be tensions though. And, depending on situations, personalities and previous experiences, these can worry some. After all, it is natural for a Muslim to want to do the right thing, and to be conscious of God, even fearful. Sometimes, these feelings can cause an inner despair.

The internet can often make matters worse, by offering a mix of views. Because of how search engines work, results on Islamic issues are rather like results for medical or legal issues. Full of certainty and conflicting views, quite different from what a specialist would say in your case, and rarely of real use.

Here, the voices and experiences of many who have found themselves in similar situations can be comforting. Even then, just because some people went down one route, that may not work for another.

Some are convinced that companies and bosses are more anti-Muslim than they actually are. Where possible, having a conversation on a subject matter is preferable, as it is fair to both sides. It often works better to book in time for a focussed conversation. Sometimes, the issue is do with previous experiences or people. For example, a manager may have known people took advantage and took over 25 minutes to pray… in winter that is a most of the afternoon away from the desk. This may apply to holiday requests too, in that business needs come first (as they would in a Muslim majority country).

It helps to know how much flexibility there is within Islamic teachings for unusual situations. Office carpets may not be like mosques but they are not “impure” in such situations. Similarly, there are various ways to wash for prayer, so one can wash differently in an office. It can be entirely appropriate to have different ways of greeting people in the office from, say, a Muslim social event.

One of the most challenging areas is alcohol. This may even be in social events related to the office or with old friends. Whilst many on the internet would stress their “evidence” is plentiful, rest assure there are Islamic scholars who would say those evidences have either been misunderstood, or, have been incorrectly applied. Islam has a long history of blending into different cultures, rather than censoring cultural norms.

For many people, their workplace is a safe, secure place that is in a sense as private and familiar as a  second home. Some Muslims who convert have an office mode and private mode of being Muslim. This could be about a headscarf or praying on time. Many other office fellows have a variety of other office modes of existence, and one should not beat oneself up about it. Feeling at peace is more important and if that is found in this way, no one should be lecturing you on how to be a “proper” Muslim.