Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|The Working Muslima|
|08/15/01 at 00:06:18|
|The Working Muslima: Her Challenges and Responsibilities|
There are huge differences between the Western woman and the Muslim woman. One of the most significant differences is in their respective career and work responsibilities. The Western woman, from the tender age of 18, is taught independence to the extent of exhaustion and obligation. Western women are expected to work early and continue to do so through old age, and at the same time, must sacrifice for their household duties, most of which take a backseat to professional demands. Muslim women, on the other hand, are asked to sacrifice primarily, and in most cases only, for their family and household responsibilities. The Prophet [saw] referred to this responsibility in his hadith: “Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock … a woman is the shepherd in the house of her husband and is responsible for her flock …” Hence, a Muslima’s choice to work outside the home remains just that: a choice.
With this choice, though, come not only additional responsibilities, but several challenges, as well. Muslim women must overcome more than just the usual stereotypes and prejudices popularly faced by all working women. Muslim women are more concerned with such issues as dress code, the moral and ethical behavior towards other co-workers, and the responsibility of maintaining a professional attitude that consistently upholds the Muslima’s feminine nature and Islamic character.
Allah (swt) has created in woman delicacy, a nurturing hand, and beauty and gentleness. It then becomes the Muslima’s duty to uphold these attributes and refrain from jeopardizing them or tarnishing them in anyway . So, the Muslima must first, upon choosing to work outside the home, select a profession or job that will not put her natural tendencies at risk. As working Muslim women, we should avoid positions that require from us such labor or such actions that force us to imitate or even compete with a male counter part or co-worker.
A Muslim woman’s imitation of a man is, without much debate, agreeably unIslamic. Ibn Abbas (r.a.) said, “The Messenger of Allah [saw] cursed the men who act like women and the women who act like men.” However, some may question whether or not it is permissible for a Muslima to compete with men in a professional setting. Though there is nothing wrong with a woman doing her best and wanting to excel professionally, we should know our limits. A woman seeking a job as a car mechanic or machinist to prove that she can do whatever a man can do might put herself in grave danger of risking her delicate feminine nature, a God given attribute to be regarded as a gift. The same woman may do better for herself by choosing a position that allows her to work indoors, perhaps in a setting where she can work independently and without much inter-mixing and socializing. This socializing leads to a second challenge faced by most working Muslim women.
Socializing and intermixing with male co-workers is risky for obvious reasons. Often times, colleagues get together for meetings or conferences and, more often that not, such gatherings encourage drinking and free mixing. In these conditions, and even those less social and more business-like, a Muslim women amay find herself in an instance where she may be required to shake hands with a male counterpart or client. For these situations, we must be prepared, and in such situations, we must do all we can to heed our Islamic code and refrain from such contact with non-Mahram gentlemen. These situations frequently encourage not only illicit behavior and bring out the worst in some people (as drinking tends to “loosen” the manners of otherwise professional people), such gatherings also promote the well-known and equally dangerous political gossip and backbiting. It is dangers like these from which Muslim women must safeguard themselves.
Another challenge that Muslim women endure is that of maintaining proper Islamic identity, from the outside and within. At a time when modernity and equal rights in the workplace are heightened, women’s skirts seem to be getting shorter and the dress code at most companies is boastfully advertised as “casual,” which allows almost anything. In such conditions, a Muslim woman, fully covered in the appropriate Islamic garb, stands out in the crowd of “professionals” and often times faces being labeled as backwards or even unprofessional. Overcoming this by dressing appropriately, coupled with upholding honesty, sincerity, and righteousness in our work ethic, Muslim women stand well above the rest. While co-workers may be sacrificing morals and values to “close a deal” and woo a prospective client through feminine wiles, a professional Muslim woman will never shortchange her feminine nature to earn her pay.
In addition these above mentioned challenges, a Muslima has also to consider her other, more regular, duties, such as praying and fasting, regardless of the work schedule. We must make the time to pray regularly and we might face some increased hardship during Ramadan when we are fasting through a lunch meeting. Needless to say, such challenges are not meant to deter a woman from seeking employment to assist in household financial obligations or to better her own self by contributing to the community and society. With the help of Allah (swt) and the right intention, Muslim women can successfully balance a professional life with a domestic one, all under the guidance of Islam.
|Re: The Working Muslima|
|08/15/01 at 01:23:35|
|[quote]It is dangers like these from which Muslim women must safeguard themselves. [/quote] |
Nice article.. very true.. working has alot of challenges.. I would also suggest changing the "Muslim women" to "Muslim men." All the good advice for the workplace is applicable to them as well.
|Re: The Working Muslima|
|08/15/01 at 06:55:12|
Indeed Muslim working women go through alot!! I have lil off topic Q, but how should one explain to nonmuslims about a muslima not shaking hand with a non-mahram? I am sure this Q is probably addressed before but if someone could address it again.
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