Note from Ponn Sabra February 2013: This guest post was published and approved by my editor, while I was away. My family and I do NOT agree that it is ever allowed in Islam for one single non-Mahram male and female to meet alone. Work is not a life-death situation, such as on the war-grounds or emergency room. Therefore, it CAN and should always be avoided by adding a third person (a female or your mahram) by your side. We also should NOT fear or be concerned about our wali’s (guardian, husband, father, etc.) fear or disapproval, we should only fear Allah’s warnings against Shaytan being the third being present. Please read more in my bottom disclosure below.
I am choosing to keep this post up, because of the discussion points, NOT out of approval for advice #4. We agree with #1, 2, and 3. There is NO meeting that is essential for anyone’s career, work, or dunya. In ALL my work experiences, I’ve always simply told my clients, superiors, etc. “I can/will not attend, it’s against my religion.” Legally no one can force you into anything against your religion. I ran a foreclosure business where 85% of my business was with non-Muslim (and 2 Muslim) male contractors, investors, construction workers. I NEVER met with any one male alone. Subhan Allah, we wholeheartedly believe that Allah blessed us even more because I was so strict in how I ran my business, and I was #3 foreclosure agent in the county of 3000+ agents. Meaning, I was extremely profitable, subhanAllah. Do something/ANYthing for the sake of Allah, no matter how small your steps are, and He will RUN to you!.
WARNING: I am NOT judging Amanda, the author, nor the commentators; nor am I saying anyone is destined for Hellfire, since all sins are forgiven by Allah when one repents sincerely, except shikr. I am also NOT suggesting that Amanda is recommending #4. Last, I am NOT judging any Muslim woman who chooses to attend such meetings. I am simply stating that I will NOT participate in such meetings for I believe strongly against it. Since my readers typically want my advice by coming to this blog, I do NOT want it to be assumed that I agree with all of this content since it was published. So, my advice would be to ALWAYS err in the side of avoidance, pray desperately to Allah for assistance and He WILL reward you for choosing the harder path for Him, rather than following what one may think society, people, or social conventions at that particular time is necessary. Also, keep in mind that IF you’re questioning any action, that alone should cause you to perform Istikhara (seeking only Allah’s advice), as His answers would lead you to sway towards avoidance as well. Again, we should NOT be basing our avoidance because of or for any human being on this Earth, like your husband, BUT base it on Allah’s disapproval. I err as a mortal being, and do not proclaim perfection, therefore I ask Allah to forgive my sins and that of my families. We are all servants of Allah, seeking your greatest approval; and we’re trying our hardest to live in accordance to Your commands. Oh Allah, please bless us all (me & my family, those of our contributors, and those of our readers) and continue to guide us on Your righteous path. Please forgive our sins. Ameen!
It’s a moment that brings anxiety for many women who work outside the home: the day you tell your husband that you have a lunch meeting scheduled the next day with a new client …who just happens to be male. The lunch meeting is so common in American workplace culture that many don’t give it a second thought, but for a working Muslim woman, it can present serious personal and professional pitfalls. For some, there’s no problem; their husband supports them in their career and understands this is a professional encounter. For others, it becomes a choice between work desires and expectations and navigating their personal relationship.
There’s no easy answer and every situation is different; however, here are a few tips to make the lunch meeting scenario easier.
- Avoid it. If at all possible suggest meeting the client at a different time or in a conference room with no meal involved. Oftentimes the intimacy of a shared meal is the issue that creates problems. If this is something you don’t believe will ever be something you are comfortable doing, speak with your supervisor and explain your reservations. Chances are they will be understanding.
- Recommend a co-worker. If the client is coming to the organization as a whole and not just for your specific expertise, you may be able to ask or recommend a co-worker take the meeting.
- Make it a group meeting. Is it possible to bring another colleague along? This may also be an appropriate solution to mitigate the issues that come with a one-to-one meeting.
- Stick to it. It may be impossible to avoid the meeting. Reassure your husband this is a professional, business encounter and it is important for you and your career that you be involved in the deal. If this situation is likely to present itself many more times, this is an issue that you will need to deal with in your relationship, the sooner the better.
This is a tricky situation to navigate, and some may feel (Ponn Sabra & the American Muslim Mom brand wholeheartedly believe) that it is never appropriate for a Muslim woman to be meeting with a non-mahram. That being said, for a professional in the workplace, it’s simply not always possible. Ultimately, each person must do what she is comfortable with. Always remember to keep your intentions pure, and ask Allah subhanahu wa Ta’ala to make it easy and present for you the best possible option, for He, alone, knows what is good for us.
Do you have other suggestions on how to navigate “the lunch meeting?”
Disclosure: Ponn Sabra and her family firmly believe it is never appropriate for a Muslim woman to meet with a non-mahram. Group meetings, and bringing a mahram or other women are absolutely necessary as a third person. It is not unavoidable, it is our obligation and duty to stay away from non-mahram men (why “work outside work IS avoidable” is for another post). Money, work and lifestyle does NOT weight heavier than the warnings prescribed by our Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, who states that shaytan is the 3rd being present in between a non-mahram male and female. Living simply or even in poverty, but following the tenants of Islam always outweigh the dollar. Even though I am a work at home entrepreneur, I’ve been asked for meeting alone, and bringing a third person is a necessity. It should not be assumed that we fear this situation because our our wali’s (guardian: husband, father, brothers, uncles, etc.) disapproval. It is not acceptable in Islam. Also, keep in mind this “impossible to avoid the meeting” are we talking $1,000,000/hour? While I’d NEVER take a million dollars for something, I do believe is haram, I can assure you this one-two-hour lunch meeting that Muslim women MAY be considering was for what $10-150/hour…or, keeping a job for $30,000-150,000/year. Now, compare those dollar-and-cents with jennah! It’s pennies, right!?
- What are Your True Muslim Motherhood Issues in America?
- Muslim Wives Need to Learn To Just Shut Up!
- 8 Tips to Manage Anxiety
- Hypertension: For Woman Regular Exercise Is Extremely Important
- Ponn Sabra of American Muslim Mom to be Interviewed on Muslimahs Working at Home