Muslimah at Work: Team lunches

When I started ‘the world of work’ a few years ago, I had to make decisions that I never thought about before. I found my faith being tested every day, in little and big ways, that I didn’t know how to handle.

Before work, I was always surrounded by people like me. I attended a female-only Islamic school, and my circle of friends even in university were all Muslim females like me. Now, at work, I was surrounded by males, by non-Muslims, by people of all different cultures and faiths.

Amongst other things, corporate team lunches were a big challenge. At campus and school, we were all muslims so naturally we would only eat at strictly Halaal places. At work, where I was 1 Muslim amongst many non-Muslims, this was not the case.

In the beginning I felt obliged to go along, not really sure whether this was OK or not. I thought to myself: ‘As long as I don’t eat’ or “As long as I eat veg-only’ OR as long as I don’t drink out of the glassware’ . But I really wasn’t sure.

It took a really long time, and a lot of back and forth, till I could decide for myself what I was OK with and what not. I learned to say no when I wasn’t comfortable, and realised that this was perfectly fine. I’ve also become a lot more confident and I let my team mates know when I don’t feel comfortable joining, and even alternatives that I would prefer, and in most cases I’ve found that they generally are a lot more accommodating that I would have expected. With more and more Muslim-owned restaurants opening in South Africa, it gets easier to do this.

I’ve been contemplating writing about this for a while, since technically, even if I do decide what I am OK with, it is not really OK Islamically – I am still working with males, and interacting with them socially during corporate events without a Mahram. And whilst I am trying to share my journey with all of you, I didn’t want to write about areas in my life that I felt needed definite improvement. But I was chatting to a friend yesterday about this who said, your blog isn’t called justanotherperfectmuslimah, and that waiting till I was perfect before I wrote about it didn’t make sense, when I could be writing about challenges that other muslim sisters are probably facing as well.

So, I would really like to hear how some of you deal with these challenges at work, and if there is any advice you would like to impart of your muslim sisters?

Thanks for the read… keep on visiting!