For the Muslim, Islam is a way of life, which melds faith and practice. Whereas it is done easier at home, surrounded by fellow Muslims in your family and friends circle, there is a contrast when you are at work, working alongside Muslim and mainly non-Muslim workers. Practically as Muslims in the West, we can be the first contact of Islam towards non-Muslims, and therefore our conduct and the general way we carry ourselves, could be crucial to changing any negative perspectives we have at work. Consequently, it is a test of Iman that we continue to behave as the best Muslims we can, even if we are working from home, or on furlough where we are waiting to return back to the office.
So how can we maintain our deen in the workplace? Companies are under a legal right to all employee equally and fairly under the Equality Act 2010 but what about practical rights? I will break it down into rights sought from the employer and employers’ rights from you.
Rights of the employee sought from the employer
Firstly, from a practical sense, when you start any role, be it office based or manual, you can let your manager, HR representative or someone of a similar stature in the company, that at set times of the day you need to pray (salah). As we all know, salah is mandatory 5 times a day at set times, and whilst in the summer you may only need to pray the Dhuhr salah during your lunch; during Winter it can include Dhuhr, Asr and Maghrib, and if you stay long enough like I do sometimes, Isha. Generally, you will find companies accommodating Muslims the time and space to pray, but the best course of action would be to mention this at the outset of any employment. This also goes for Friday prayers as well. I give credit and thanks to my colleagues who sometimes go and buy lunch for me, so that I could eat it before then going to Jummah. Choose your work friends wisely!
When it comes to Ramadan and having to fast during the working day, again in advance of the month, provision could be sort from your employer about having to break your fast at Maghrib time, so that you are able to do so, and give this its proper due and not to rush doing so.
Rights of the employer from you:
Any employment that you do, you can arguably class as an ibadah, as you are working in your role as provider for your household and doing so as Allah has commanded so that you can be successful in this life and in the hereafter. Below are a few snippets of what is expected from you to your employer.
- Allah says in the Quran: “Do deeds. Allah will see your deeds and (so will) his messengers and the believers and you will be brought back to the “all knower” of the unseen and seen. Then he will inform you of what you used to do” (Surah At-Tawbah Ayat 105). This has relevance today when people are working from home more often due to lockdown and that people should be aware that even if your employer might not be aware of what is going on, but Allah (SWT) is.
- Also, Allah says in the Quran “Give just measure and weight, nor withhold from the people the things they are due” (Surah Al A’raf 7:85). This is pertinent mainly to the retail worker, in their dealings with their customers, to make sure they do not undercut them, even if their employer encourages such a thing.
- It is expected of you to do your job in the best possible manner. The Prophet (SAW) said “Verily, Allah loves that when anyone of you does something, he does it perfectly” (Al Bukhari) and that “the employee who performs his duty to his employer and Allah in the right manner, Allah will give him double reward” (Bukhari No. 4710). A similar hadith that states “when the employee fulfils obligations of Allah and his employer, he has a double reward” (Muslim No. 4100 from Book 15)
- Everyone is aware of the hadith that “Cleanliness is half of faith” (Sahih Muslim 223) and that also applies at work as well. Practically meaning to clean your desk or equipment thoroughly, maintain safety by putting away any potential obstacles like chairs and office equipment and keeping hygiene to a high standard, again especially in the current climate this would be more appreciated than ever!