Posted by: Dawud Israel | September 6, 2007

Islam in the Workplace

This is a story that I’ve been wanting to share for a LONG time. It’s related to being a Muslim while going to school…but it’s more related to the unease in a workplace.

A friend of mine was feeling down so I thought I would cheer him up a little. He was very worried how the situation of Muslims living in Canada would affect his future. So we went to this Muslim pizza place and were sitting outside talking and eating. I didn’t really have any good advice to give my friend, but sometimes Allah just sends people to help you out.
A car parked not far from us. And this East Indian looking guy came out. We didn’t know him but he came up to us and started talking. He gave salamz and introduced himself. He was here on a business trip from Ottawa and also attending a conference at the university. He works for the government. So that explained why he came over to us when he heard us say the word ‘deport’. Naturally, my friend asked him about being Muslim in the west and I was getting ready to run and I was expecting cops or worse to pull up 🙂
But nothing happened.

Anyways, the uncle turned out to be real cool. He just kept talking to us and talking to us like he knew instinctively we needed some advice. I think he was sharing some of his frustration in hopes of helping us somehow. How he can’t even influence his wife to be a good Muslim…how does he expect to do explain Islam to non-Muslims? How Muslims are the ones who are wrong and not the world…we screwed up and so the rest of the world got screwed.

But what really got me was his story on prayer. He works for CIDA, a Canadian government organization and they help out poor countries and other stuff like that. Before 9-11, they had given him and about 20+ Muslims a prayer room. But after 9-11, the Muslims stopped praying there and eventually it was him and this other Sudanese brother who were the only ones that prayed there. And eventually that prayer room was converted back into a meeting room and they could no longer pray there.
What happened one day was that the 2 brothers were going to pray somewhere and they decided to do wudhu in the CIDA bathroom. The Sudanese brother was washing his feet in the sink just as a senior official walks into the bathroom. Now this official is a bigshot and so he starts yelling at the brother, “Why are you washing your feet here? People wash their hands there! Get your foot out of the sink!” The brother started explaining that he’s getting ready to pray and the official shouted at him again, “Why do you have to pray here? Go pray at home!” The brother continued to explain as much as he could about Islam. Remember this is a government official he is speaking to. The brother continued to explain and the official stormed out of the washroom.

Later on, that same official found out about how the Muslims have no prayer room and long story short, that same official who screamed at the Muslims ended up fighting to get the Muslims a new prayer-room. In fact, this same official who shouted at them went up to the president of CIDA to argue the need for a prayer-room. Keep in mind this is government organization. CIDA now has gone as far as paying 3,000 dollars every month for the prayer room. And now 40+ people come and pray there 3 times a day.

The brother who told this story pointed out: In reality, we do just about nothing, but Allah does it for us and makes it something. Anything that you have done that is great wasn’t your own doing, it was Allah. You have nothing to be proud about except for the fact that you have Allah.
He went further to mention that you shouldn’t be uncomfortable to pray in public…think about it. Your praying to God and that’s good in any religion. It’s a good thing and it makes people happy. He mentioned another story in which an air hostess was actually really happy when he told her he had to pray.

My friend who was feeling down ended up feeling happier and we both learned something.

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdik ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk. Ameen.

Dawud Israel out.


  1. MashaAllah that was soo beautiful

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