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Islam and the West (03 Apr 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Why Muslims Feel the Need to Hide Their Faith at Work

By Areeb Siddiqui

03 April 2017

From the actions of a madman on the streets of London last week to the 200 civilians killed in airstrikes targeting IS in Mosul, we live in a time where it’s considered a slow news day if Islam doesn’t make the headlines in some form. More often than not, this is unfortunately for all the wrong reasons.

On a macro scale, this negative attention has helped fuel the anti-immigrant ‘Islamophobic’ rhetoric that has dominated nationalist campaigns ranging from Europe all the way to the seat of the White House itself. However, an often-overlooked casualty of this fear mongering is the roughly 47 million Muslims living and working peacefully in Western countries. Many Muslims feel increasingly pressured to differentiate themselves from those individuals seen committing the atrocities we’ve sadly become accustomed to, even going so far as to hide the extent to which they practice Islam, or the fact that they’re Muslim at all from their co-workers.

This trend was made obvious to me a couple of years ago, when a former colleague of mine at Deloitte was genuinely shocked to find out that I prayed five times a day. After ruling out that this wasn’t some kind of special day in the Islamic calendar, and that I did in fact (like many other Muslims) perform obligatory prayers, eat halal, fast in Ramadan, they stated “well as long as your imam doesn’t have a hook for a hand I won’t get worried!”

The reference to the infamous Finsbury Park Imam and fundamentalist preacher was obviously a joke and I didn’t take it in any other way. However, it struck me as odd that someone who worked for a company that boasts London’s largest and most active Muslim network was so painfully unaware of common place practices of so many of their colleagues (Deloitte even has an amazing multi-faith room on campus that can be used at all hours).

After asking around, I found that many of my Muslim co-workers felt embarrassed drawing attention to this side of their lives, even if it meant missing a prayer rather than excusing themselves for 5-10 minutes, or becoming perpetual vegetarians rather than asking for a halal option (not that there’s anything wrong with vegetarianism; it’s just a life style choice I’d rather not be forced into).

The danger here is that by covering up aspects of our lives that hold huge importance to us, we risk making the divide between ‘us and them’ seem larger than it really is. Attempts to normalise ourselves to seemingly fit in with society, could mean that we end up relegating some of the most basic tenets of our faith to being viewed as ‘too extreme’, whether it’s attending the mosque on a Friday or wearing a headscarf in public.

I am truly proud to have lived and worked in a city as diverse and culturally rich as London. Deloitte provided me with the freedom to practice my religion openly, and with my recent move to a much smaller firm where I was the only Muslim requiring a prayer room, I felt completely at ease to ask if a prayer space could be made available ( a request they didn’t hesitate to accommodate). Unfortunately, I’m not sure I could say the same if I lived and worked in some of our neighbouring European countries.

The European Court of Justice’s recent decision to allow firms to ban all ‘visible religious symbols’, a ruling spurred by the dismissal of two women by their employers for refusing to remove their headscarves, is thankfully an unimaginable and highly disturbing scenario here in the UK–despite those who would undoubtedly welcome it.

We cannot let the actions of a few be representative of the 22% of the human race that identify as Muslim, and neither can we let them dictate the way in which we live our lives. By hiding the aspects of our faith that we hold most dear, we miss the opportunity to show those of other faiths and cultures the other side of the coin through our daily interactions with people at work and at school.

I for one will not be hiding.

Areeb is a Management Consultant specialising in the asset management industry, living and working in London. Topics and interests range from matters of faith, finance, science and wildlife.

Source: themuslimvibe.com/faith-islam/why-muslims-feel-the-need-to-hide-their-faith-at-work

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-the-west/areeb-siddiqui/why-muslims-feel-the-need-to-hide-their-faith-at-work/d/110626


  • Interrupting one's daily bread-winning activities to pray goes against the teachings of the Quran: “And God has not laid upon you any hardship in matters of religion” (Q22:78).The Qur’an further says: “God intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship.” 

    There is another authentic tradition, in which Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet said, "The religion (of Islam) is easy, and whoever makes the religion a rigour, it will overpower him. So, follow a middle course (in worship); if you can't do this, do something near to it and give glad tidings and seek help (of Allah) at morn and at dusk and some part of night". (Al-Bukhari- Riyad as-Salihin Book 1, Hadith 145).

    It is often hard for Muslims to find jobs and some employers in the U.S. have said that one of the reasons they do not employ Muslims is their insistence on prayer  during working hours. If a man is working so as to feed his children that will please God as much as praying.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 4/4/2017 12:32:47 PM

  • Is praying five times a day flaunting? Under what circumstances can we neglect regular prayer? None!

    (2:239) If ye fear (an enemy), pray on foot, or riding, (as may be most convenient), but when ye are in security, celebrate Allah´s praises in the manner He has taught you, which ye knew not (before).

    (4:101) When ye travel through the earth, there is no blame on you if you shorten your prayers, for fear the kafaru may attack you: For the kafirin are unto you open enemies.

    (4:102) When you (O Messenger) are with them, and stand to lead them in prayer, Let one party of them stand up (in prayer) with you, Taking their arms with them: When they finish their prostrations, let them Take their position in the rear. And let the other party come up which has not yet prayed - and let them pray with you, Taking all precaution, and bearing arms: the kafaru wish, if you were negligent of your arms and your baggage, to assault you in a single rush. But there is no blame on you if you put away your arms because of the inconvenience of rain or because you are ill; but take (every) precaution for yourselves. For the kafirin Allah has prepared a humiliating punishment.

    (4:103) When you pass (Congregational) prayers, celebrate Allah´s praises, standing, sitting down, or lying down on your sides; but when you are free from danger, set up Regular Prayers: For such prayers are enjoined on the Mominin at stated times.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 4/3/2017 11:25:32 PM

  • For hats Off every occasion is an excuse to express his hatred for Muslims! But I disagree with Mr. Areeb Siddiqui too. Religion belongs in our private domain. We do not need to flaunt it in the public square.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 4/3/2017 12:22:26 PM

  • very simple question.
    for the same reason christians have to hide their crosses in saudi arabia and hindu girls must hide from public in pakistan.
    mr. siddiqui need not hide.
    he can flaunt. by patronizing menacing street prayer mobs, insulting street dawah, making of no-go-zones in kuffar lands and other peaceful islamic tactics.
    when the world's 22% percent mercilessly hound, murder, harass and heckle their minority populations in the 150 odd countries of the OIC, the least this entitled mob can do is to develop some thick skin.

    By hats off! - 4/3/2017 9:18:51 AM

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