Qur'an Memorization
& Arabic Class
High Quality Care
Conducive Environment

Working in a Corporate Environment

This morning, I saw a WhatsApp status of a brother in T-Shirts and Trouser, asking anyone seeing it to pray for him as he embarks on the new journey of being an IT guy. I wasn’t shocked because about a week before today, I noticed that many of his posts were on programming related information. So, I had to message him asking if he was now into Information Technology and he responded saying he is learning. This brother is no doubt a student of knowledge. A Memorizer of the Qur’an, an ‘Alim, and a devoted Muslim. In fact, I have NEVER seen a young man who has the zeal for knowledge like him. There is no Islamic conference organized by our scholars here, or by foreigners that you will not see him attend. In fact, the first time he contacted me was on knowledge-based related matters. I was also quick to notice that he is keen on how you speak and write in Arabic and English. I loved him almost Instantly.

Where am I going with all this? There is a new trend among our Scholars and Students of Knowledge. A trend to survive this harsh economy and environment that is hostile towards those who Allah has guided to stick to the Qur’an and Sunnah of our Prophet based on the understanding of the Salaf (The companions of the prophet). Some of them have two to five different hustle they run to survive. Others are going into IT. I would like to discuss those going into IT bi Idhnillah in this write-up because that is where I am right now.

It is not a crime to work don’t get me wrong, but if those who toiled and sweated it out sometimes for a time as long as 15-20 years studying the book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Prophet (which is always with the Intention to propagate the deen of Allah) have to spend better part of their time, Mondays to Fridays/Saturdays, struggling to make ends meet, I wonder what time they will have left to study/revise what they learnt, then hold gatherings to transmit it to others. This is why we must plead with those Muslims who are well to do, or the community that pay for the services of Scholars or Students of Knowledge to be an Imam, or and Islamic teacher in our Masajid to please as a matter of urgency do something about their welfare. The contribution they make in the society is PRICELESS! Their absence will be felt and the after effect on the Muslim community if not addressed will have a long-lasting devastating effect!

I was a Chief Imam in a community for years. I had my own Job (Self-employed) and I was doing good. I was even Mobile. My passion was and still is Da’wah. I find joy in writing out the Khutbah I intend to deliver on Fridays.  During the 2015 recession, my business was affected badly. I was able to manage and survive for about three years and then I started to sell my properties to see to other pressing needs. School fees, Feeding, electricity bills (Alhamdulillah I lived in my own house, so I don’t pay rent). My takeaway as an Imam was two thousand Naira weekly. Yes. You read it right. #2,000! With bills pilling up, I had to find an alternative quickly. I drove TAXIFY (now BOLT) for about four (4) months. I was later opportune to meet a nice brother (Abdurrahman Eesa) who is a Senior Technical Consultant.  My Intention was to borrow money to support my failed business, but he offered learning IT instead. It was a very difficult four years! At last, I got an IT Job. Had to move to Oyo state. Left my family in Lagos. I visit every two weeks and sometimes once in a Month! I have been doing this for two years. What has been my experience so far working in an Office environment? I will discuss the possible challenges for a Scholar/Student of Knowledge along with the possible solutions.

1. The clothing: You will be required to wear something smart. Smart meant fitting clothing. Some companies will insist on a suit, while others won’t restrict you to that. A sweatshirt and jeans will be fine. Just make sure it goes with a shoe or Canvas/Sneakers. This might be a very challenging experience for an Alfa who is used to putting on Jalabia, Agbada, Kaftan, etc. for years. The first feeling I got was like a Cat whose fur has been removed totally! With time, one will get used to it and find a way to dress in such a way that won’t go against the teachings of al-Islam.

2. Free mixing: This is the biggest challenge. As a scholar/student of knowledge, you were probably used to being with your fellow men and had little or no contact with women except you wife/wives or daughters. Well, in a corporate environment, you will mix with the opposite sex. In fact, you will lower your gaze so much that you might fall if care is not taken because everywhere you look, you will see cleavages, tight, or loosely worn dresses. These ladies will smile at you, want to shake, or hug you, and come to your workstation for work related matters or gist! How long will you look away? You must master the art of looking at their faces and nowhere else. Remember, they care less If you are the Sultan of Zanzibar! Some are so stubborn that they will grab your hand or escalate to the management that you are being rude by refusing a handshake. The best is to call such ladies aside and explain to them why you can’t. Bi Idhnillah, they will understand and explain to other ladies on your behalf.

3. Music: I don’t know about other office space but in Tech, it is generally believed that the best thing you can do when that code you’re struggling with is not working is to listen to music. Music might be played by your boss and loudly too. You will hear it morning to evening. Mondays to Fridays. If care is not taken, this Music will be imprinted on your mind, so much that you might stand humming or singing it unconsciously! The solution to this is constant DHIKR! Let it be on your lips during these trying times.

4. Team Bonding: This is the most difficult to evade in an Office space. The reason is not farfetched! You will be seen as someone who is trying to cause disunity. Programs like birthdays, midyear/end of the year parties will be organized. Every worker is expected to attend. It might even cost you your job if you refused. I was suspended in my first three months for a related reason. To a liberal (can’t find another word to use because I hate using this to describe a Muslim) Muslim, this might be nothing but picture a well-known Sheikh clapping and singing “Happy birthday to you”! It gave you the jitters, right?  I do not have an actual solution to this. Just dust your book on The Aims/Objectives/Goals of Islamic law (مقاصد الشريعة) because you will need to know when to apply the knowledge of “acquiring what is good and beneficial” (مصلحة) and “warding off what is evil and harmful” (مفسدة).

5. Women: Yes, you read that rightly! It is often believed that guys in Tech are rich and cheerful givers. Ladies will approach you. They will flirt with you, and some will even ask you out. Their intentions differ but most of them see you as a ticket to their daily needs. They are willing to do anything to get you! Apart from the perceived richness, you are in trouble if you are physically fit and handsome! I had to move from my former apartment to a new one because of this. Do not show any act of kindness to women. At work, home, or anywhere else. I am not saying you should be rude, but keep your face straight, avoid jokes, or anything that will trigger a wrong signal. Wallahi, it is a great fitnah to be chased around by ladies. You need prayers, and a whole lot of self-discipline! Then, get married if you are not. Find a beautiful, decent, well trained, religious, God-fearing lady (or ladies be that as it may) to make your wife/wives. Alhamdulillah for me on that.

6. Ibadah: Depending on how your workload is scheduled, you will struggle with worship. Your five times daily Salah is not what I am talking about. The extra Nawafil that you do is the problem. Do not think you will have that time to recite the Qur’an as much as you did before. Or read tira! That one far! Even the 5 times daily Salah (especially Dhur and ‘Asr) will be offered sometimes in a haste, and most times not in congregation. Just make sure you find time to offer them at their prescribed time.

7.   Politics: This is also dangerous. You will find yourself in an environment where everyone is trying to suck up to the boss expecting favors. You want a pay raise, promotion, awards and recognition, and the list is long. If you’re not careful, Major sins like slandering and backbiting will be a walk in the park for you. Being self-centered will be the ultimate goal and you won’t even feel bad about it. Always remind yourself that nothing last forever and evil, no matter how lucrative always have a negative effect. Believe in your ability to deliver and you will have that self-confidence and self-respect which the management will notice at the long run.

8. Ikhlas: Sincerity will be a powerful tool. All the knowledge you acquired and preached will be needed. Always remember that you are a symbol of the deen where you are. Colleagues who know you to be Aafa (especially the Muslims among them) will want to set booby traps for you. Or even mock your practices. Stand firm. Apart from the fact that Allah sees you, there are people who you might not know that they recognize you. I have had a couple of brothers walk up to me to confirm if I am indeed Sheikh Musa Katsina (A brother once had teary eyes when he saw me in shirt and trouser lols)! Imagine if caught in a compromising state (May Allah forbid!)?

Some might say if working in an Office as an IT person has a lot of problems, why not seek sustenance elsewhere? Well, it is a halal job laced with many booby traps of haram just like any other halal job is! It is the environment we live in. Allah says in Surah al-Mulk verse 15:

هُوَ ٱلَّذِى جَعَلَ لَكُمُ ٱلْأَرْضَ ذَلُولًۭا فَٱمْشُوا۟ فِى مَنَاكِبِهَا وَكُلُوا۟ مِن رِّزْقِهِۦ ۖ وَإِلَيْهِ ٱلنُّشُورُ

He it is Who has made the earth subservient to you (i.e. easy for you to walk, to live and to do agriculture on it); so walk in the path thereof and eat of His provision. And to Him will be the Resurrection.

عَنِ الْمِقْدَامِ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ مَا أَكَلَ أَحَدٌ طَعَامًا قَطُّ خَيْرًا مِنْ أَنْ يَأْكُلَ مِنْ عَمَلِ يَدِهِ، وَإِنَّ نَبِيَّ اللَّهِ دَاوُدَ ـ عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ ـ كَانَ يَأْكُلُ مِنْ عَمَلِ يَدِهِ

Narrated by al-Miqdam: The Prophet said, “Nobody has ever eaten a better meal than that which one has earned by working with one’s own hands. The Prophet of Allah, Daud used to eat from the earnings of his manual labor.”

I am writing a book on my experience in the corporate world with the same title of this write-up bi idhnillah. I hope it benefits the Ummah. May Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala grant us halal sustenance and make us steadfast on his path.

Musa Ibrahim-Katsina

Project Manager, Business Analyst Infinity and T24, Tester, and T24 Technical Consultant.

Mudeer, Daarul Imaam al-Layth International Schools.


3 thoughts on “Working in a Corporate Environment”

  1. Jazaakumullahu ya Shaykh, may the almighty Allah continue to strengthen you and preserve you upon goodness

  2. Jazaakumullahu khayraa ya Shaykh, may the almighty Allah continue to strengthen you and preserve you upon goodness

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *