Not many of us may know this, but February 1st is National Hijab Day. Over the last few years, and especially in the last few months, many women have been apprehensive about wearing their Hijab at work in fear of discrimination. As Hazuraba mentioned in his recent Friday Sermon on January 13th, 2017, a veil and modest dress code are necessary for Muslim women to be firm in their faith. However, there are exceptions in some workplaces where the traditional Hijab is not necessary due to safety concerns, such as when a doctor has to perform a surgery. In such cases, the doctor is already covered in other appropriate attire and loose clothing, so the lack of traditional Hijab is not felt. In other workplaces, such as banks and other office environments, a proper Hijab attire is required. Some women feel that wearing the Hijab hinders their career in the sense that they may not be perceived as forward thinking or for a lack of better word, as modern as their non-Muslim counterparts. In regards to this fear that some Muslim women may have, I would like to share my personal story of wearing a Hijab at work because I myself have had these fears.
When I recently applied for a position in one of the biggest bank branches in Canada, I was afraid of going into the interview with my Hijab on. Despite my fears, I did it anyways because I knew that if I put God first, if this job was blessed for me, God would certainly take care of everything. Not only did they love me in the interview, but everyone at work has been so kind, understanding and respectful about my religious attire. Fast forward a few weeks, a discussion about my fear of wearing the Hijab came up with my supervisor during a training session. When I told him that I had been scared about not getting hired, he laughed and asked me if I was scared or if I was just very smart about the hiring process. He then went on to state that large companies are required to hire people with diverse backgrounds and faiths. Me being one of the only women in the entire building to be practicing Hijab, I stood out as a valuable candidate for them.
This is the main thing that I would like to get across to all of my fellow Muslim women out there: we are blessed to be in a country where our differences make us special. They work in our favor and we should definitely use this to our advantage. Any fears that we have of being perceived one way or the other are most definitely in our heads. Also, you are not the outsider in professional environments; the person that mistreats you because of your religion is the outsider. Quite frankly, most people in the workplace may be extra nice to you when you first start because they themselves are afraid of being labeled as discriminators. International headlines about Muslims may be one thing, but they are certainly not a reflection of how the majority of our fellow citizens feel or think about us. Most people want to live and let live, and it isn’t your body that will captivate their hearts, it is your work ethic, confidence and your positive attitude.
by Maryam Tahir