hema’s sphere

status crazy

Posted by hema on July 18, 2007

this post was inspired by a question in a Sociology paper i was glancing at when invigilating an exam. i was curious to see what my students were learning in other subjects (apart from the Maths paper obviously- i stayed far away from that one- the other side of the hall in fact)

so, the question was an article exploring Muslims in the workplace. it looked at how the there were now more Muslims in professional jobs then ever before, but at the same time Muslims were not reaching the very top of their profession. the article suggested this was due to the lack of involvement in social activities, for example Muslims were less likely to attend work parties where alcohol was consumed, and this affected how well they merged with the team, thus affecting their promotion opportunities.

it got me thinking about my aspirations in terms of work. i know i want to be the best teacher i can be, but i don’t have any burning ambitions to become a principal or aim for the very top. and if it came down to it, i would give it up in a second if it was affecting my personal life and especially when it comes to children.

is this the wrong attitude to have? the paper was leading the readers to suggest it was. after all, we live in a society where people are judged according to the type of job they do. it’s one of the first things people ask when meeting someone new and a person’s status is judged accordingly.

you see, for me that’s the problem. as Muslims, we don’t judge a person’s status by the type of job they do or how much money they have. because we know that the only thing that matters in the eyes of Allah is piety. so, i guess it’s a matter of perspective and a different way of looking at things. we don’t just live to work. we work to live. and we live to worship.

and it always saddens me to see Muslims judging each other on material wealth and gain, especially when it comes to marriage. i’m not saying it’s something that should be ignored completely, if it’s important to you, but it shouldn’t be the sole preoccupation. it shouldn’t be the first thing that is looked at as it all too often is.

at the end of the day, Allah gives and Allah takes away. because the doctor you really want to marry could end up jabbing someone with a thermometer and end up being sued and lose everything (it could happen), or the pilot(that is a very cool job though) could end up crashing the plane and never be allowed to fly ever again. and even the local imam shouldn’t be married just because of his status as the local imam, because the status can be taken away so easily. nothing is more important than good character and having Islam in the heart. i hope all i look at when i meet anyone is the goodness they have inside them and how they treat others. it just seems hard to do that in a world where everyone is status crazy.

i guess what i’m trying to say (in my own long winded way) is it would be crazy to judge someone on their social status.

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20 Responses to “status crazy”

  1. Ahmed said

    Good post, I agree. Though I do hope that I do more than work to live. I wouldn’t let it consume my life, but I really enjoy what I do and hopefully that will continue throughout my career.

  2. hema said

    i guess if you see working as a type of worship then it is more about working to live, and so still fits the category. for me, nothing i have done has ever just been about money, i prefer to do something which either benefits others or is character building -memories of big horrible kitchens and washing up lots of dishes are coming to mind:(

  3. very very true particularly for asian muslims…..especially regarding future spouses, it’s like if the person hasn’t been to uni they have a lower status than someone who has, and the more degrees/phds/mbcs or whatever they’ve got, the higher status they have.. i think to some extent people do want their daughters particularly, to marry someone with a good job money etc so they know their daughter is going to be looked after… but personally i think i would put charachter before wealth or whatever…
    isn’t there a hadith or something which says the only way one person is better than another is through their deen or something (i can’t remeber how it goes…..) so wealth shouldn’t really come into it……

  4. As Salaamu ALikum Sis:

    I enjoyed reading your entry. Unfortunately, what we see we tend to interpret in many ways. I believe that a person should have some compatability with their other half. I am not saying in how much wordly possessions one has aquired but there has to be some commonality between a couple. Personally, to go beyond just being superficial is my aim. Religious convictions is important but so many people are caught up with following their own desires. Time is of essence when it comes to how much we can gain for ourselves in doing good for others. Showing empathy for others seems to be quite lacking a lot these days.

  5. 'liya said

    It’s important to be financially secure in marriage or at least before getting married, one thing that bugs me is to see people rushing into marriage but they don’t even have jobs – that isn’t very responsible, especially if planning to have children, money doesn’t magically appear and you need to survive. But I agree marriage based on a person’s status is horrible. I can’t tell you how many of my Indian friends parents I’ve heard say the “Is he a doctor” line. So what if he’s a doctor?! Not all doctors are nice, good, caring people! The same thing goes for “does he make a lot?” – why do people need to know how much he makes, that’s private! I don’t think these same people would be happy to know I make more than V anyway, to them it would be shocking that a girl earns more than a guy and would marry someone more “poor” I guess you could say lol. Some people are never satisfied, I have people asking me when I’m going to be a principal, and just like you, I want to be the best teacher I can be, but I DON’T want to be a principal!

    P.S I had to laugh when I read about your example of a doctor jabbing someone with a thermometer!

    (sorry for the rant, this bugs me too)

  6. hema said

    jtm-(gori gori:) -i know that parents want their daughters to be looked after, but too often it’s more about the status of the job more than anything. if a person has good character, he’ll look after his wife even if it means stacking shelves 24 hours, you know? that should mean more than being able to say my son in law is a lawyer or whatever.
    you have a good head on your shoulders, you know that? i guess there is a reason they call you the sensible one:)
    i was alluding to the ayat you’re talking about but here is the one for marriage i was too lazy to look up for the post:

    The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:
    “A woman is married on account of four things;
    on account of her wealth, and on account of (the nobility of) her family, and her beauty, and on account of her character, so attain success with the one possessing nobility of character”

    umm abdurrahman-wa alaikum salaam.
    i agree compatability is important. for so many people though, that means earning the same amount of money or something though, and i’ve never really understood that. it’s all so fickle and could change at any time.

    liya- no need to apologise, i always enjoy reading your “rants”.
    “So what if he’s a doctor?! Not all doctors are nice, good, caring people!”
    exactly, i had to use the doctor example, because it’s so bizarre how people automatically respect doctors. i’d rather just take each person as they come, and judge them as an individual first.

  7. The Dude said

    Salem,

    Good post Hema. I have to say that I agree with you to some extent. On the other hand, let’s not forget that most of the prejudices that the west has about us come from two facts:

    1) The first one is related to the way the west links some unislamic actions and behaviours to Islam. Indeed. For instance, terrorists (who claim to be Muslims) who kill innocent people in the name of our religion which is utterly unacceptable in Islam. One other example is Muslim societies where customs and innovations blend with Islam to the extent it becomes part of their religious belief and countless examples of that exist (forced marriages, the way women are treated in some parts of the Islamic world, the way some parents treat their kids, etc ).

    2)The second reason, I believe, is that we Muslims we submitted ourselves to the weakness in the sense that we are not actively trying to promote Islam and explain its noble and divine values to other people to erase any potential prejudice of bigots. To tackle this, Muslims should lead by example (as our prophet PBUH did). They have to be more ambitions and eager to excel at whatever they do: uni, work, etc.

    May Allah lead all of us to the straight path.

    Salem

  8. Shahrzad said

    Marriage should not be a deal. I agree with you. Bcs wn it comes to be a deal, hubby and wife will loose so much love. Without love, marriage life is trouble for it causes lack of patience,kindness and trust.
    I liked the term of “Allah gives and Allah takes away”
    Thank you honey 🙂

  9. Conflictedworld said

    I agree with the dude. Unfortunately we muslims need to work extra hard to get notice and we need dispell the myths about our deen and should try to strive to be the best in everything we do.

  10. aawww i’ve got a good head on my shoulders……. (smiles bashfully in gratitude)

  11. 'liya said

    Hmm, I don’t think Hema is saying not to work extra hard, that’s why she says she wants to be the best teacher she can be (and that’s by working hard). Muslims do need to work extra hard like Conflicted and Dude say, but we shouldn’t choose our spouse based on their position. While you want your positions to be compatable and that don’t interefere with each other’s lives, you can’t say ” I want to get married to a doctor and only a doctor” that’s very limiting to all the other great men out there! Not only doctors work hard, so do teachers, nurses, designers, construction workers.. and who is to say one position is better than the other? As long as he has a job that he loves and wants to excel in.. then that’s the best for him because it makes him happy.

  12. Umm Yusuf said

    Assalaamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu sister,

    Mash’Allah nice thought provoking entry! I think it hurts Muslims not to go to those functions in this world but they will come out on top in the Hereafter. For example in Islam we have been promised if you give something up for Allah’s sake He will compensate us with something better. At these parties business is often discussed and strategy.So, if it comes to going to a party that has alcohol and mixing we shouldn’t compromise our beliefs. Though, at work, we should try our best to keep a good relationship with our co workers. Maybe become friends with one of the co workers who does attend those parties and ask what you missed. I think Muslims can be part of a team and productive without compromising their beliefs.

    As for choosing a spouse. You need to choose someone who can provide for you. Though, in the end I would rather live a meager existence with someone who treats me as a queen than live the life of a queen with a husband who treats me as a servant.

  13. Shahrzad said

    I added your link to my blog.. 🙂

  14. The Dude said

    Salem everyone,

    I enjoyed reading your replies guys. It’s always nice to see people who truely care about ISALM.

    Regarding mariage, I think that I wouldn’t marry some1 unless I really love (in an islamic context of course)her.

    Salem

  15. Sumera said

    In society today your value and worth is determined by your job, what you contribute to society and the community and of course how dedicated you are to your causes. Now if you find these things to interfere with other aspects of your life, then one must decide which takes precedence. Thankfully my jobs haven’t meant having to go mingle with Jack and Joe down the pub for a few pints – since the colleagues are usually a lot older, with young children and just want to get home at the end of the day!But having the odd coffee with the girls from work after hours isn’t too bad a thing to do and is actually quite fun.

    You could choose a spouse who is quite well off and financially stable, which means you dont need to work as hard or worry about it hindering your career, but that money, wealth etc can all go at any moment (I speak from experience). So what you need to look for, IMO, is someone who is hardworking, is concerned about security (financial, emotional, psychological security) and will do his/her utmost to ensure that is attained and/or managed adequately.

  16. hema said

    i’m baa–ckk! (did anyone notice i was missing?)
    i’ve got plenty to say on some of the thought provoking comments that people have left, but first i need to check everyone else’s blogs to see what has been happening. i feel so out of the loop!

  17. hema said

    the dude- first of all, i agree that Muslims need to take a lot more responsibility for some of the misconceptions out there. we need to spend less time bickering amongst ourselves, and we need to lead by example as you said.
    They have to be more ambitions and eager to excel at whatever they do: uni, work, etc/i>
    hhmm, i do agree with you to some extent. i feel proud for the ummah whenever i see a Muslim do well, and i hate making mistakes, even little things like in the car, because i know people stereotype and may think that all Muslims are like that. so, i don’t think there is anthing wrong with wanting to reach the very top, as long as you don’t compromise your beliefs and are doing it with the right intentions. i wonder how often that is the case though..

    umm yusuf, thanks for your comment, as always it was a good reminder for me:
    I think it hurts Muslims not to go to those functions in this world but they will come out on top in the Hereafter
    you know, just recently i was thinking about how much i was missing out on.like every friday, some of the staff get together and just discuss the week, there is no alcohol involved or anything but so much gossiping! i went to one and had to make my excuse and walk out half way through, but i couldn’t help but think some of the stuff they were telling me was good insider’s information. like they were discussing the line manager’s children and how she had the first one when she was just 16 and had to really struggle to get where she is, and if i’d known that then it would have helped me to understand why she is so harsh and unsympathetic towards pregnant students, as it was really frustrating me this year when she wouldn’t let me give the students extra help.
    but it’s just so vindictive the way they do it, and i know i wouldn’t like to be on the receiving end of it. i’m sure they think i’m very strange because i’m the only one that doesn’t go to all the parites etc, even out of the Muslim staff, but like you said..the hereafter..

    sharzad-thank you:)i will add you on too, i’ve got quite a lot i need to add on actually, i was blog hopping the other day and there is some good stuff out there mashAllah.

    sumera-But having the odd coffee with the girls from work after hours isn’t too bad a thing to do and is actually quite fun
    exactly, it’s like umm yusuf said, you just need to make the extra effort in maintaining good relationships, and there are universal topics of conversations that everyone can relate to. like food or dieting!
    what do you do exactly?? isn’t it something to do with psychology?

  18. NATASHAAMINA said

    Salaam Hema :)))!!!

    Your post is very interesting.It is very noble of you,that you look for the so called “culture of the heart” in every person.I do the same.Thus,I must also admit that money matters to me.Money gives you security and indipendence!
    However,I do not think that money gives you always that big and out of reach status.For example,my family and I are friends with a family,that is not reach with money,but with good heart and high intelectualism.When you come to their home,you will not see expensive furniture or similar,but when the lady makes you a cup of her delicious coffee and chats with you about everything possible,you feel like you would be in the most expensive and fancy bar.For me they represent the highest status one can achieve,the status of a good heart.

    Hema…thanks for your comment on my BLOG.I wish you all the best with your job as a teacher.By the way,what do you teach?
    Nice time to you :)))!

  19. hema said

    hey-y natasha, glad you found me:) i’m going to link your blog on soon, hopefully to send more Muslim traffic your way:)
    good to see you aggree with me, and i teach English (or try to:)

  20. “We don’t just live to work. we work to live. and we live to worship.” Mashallah this is exactly why we are different from the rest of society Alhamdulilah. We know our purpose in life and know that chasing after this dunya can only bring us temporary pleasure and gain, but living worshipping Allah (swt)
    can bring us an eternity of bliss inshallah.

    I too have noticed lately in my life how “status crazed” everyone has been. The I don’t want to work for someone else syndrome. On the constant chase of being an entrenpeneur because its not only more money but the shallow fiscade of “Look at me, and how much I got”. This is sad Subhanallah, and they let their ambitions get the best of them.

    Also, having a higher position is a trust that was given by Allah (swt) and comes with alot more responsibility in managing those under you. You know your post reminded me of hadith on holding office/in charge of others. This is the hadith with the explanation of it below it.

    Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “You will covet for getting a position of authority, but remember that it will be a cause of humiliation and remorse on the Day of Resurrection.”
    [Al-Bukhari]

    Commentary: This Hadith urges people, particularly the incapable ones, to shed off the ambition to achieve rulership and power. It is feared that owing to their lack of talent they will mismanage the task which will be assigned to them. This will render them guilty with Allah. The Prophet (PBUH) dissuades such people from accepting any government portfolio as in this way they will remain safe and trouble-free. Yet, if a deserving person gets a job of high responsibility, he should do his utmost to do full justice to it, so that he may be spared remorse on the Day of Resurrection.

    So I mean that’s alot of weight to have on ones shoulders if one isn’t fair and just with the people they have a responsibility for in a job or in politics. Anyway your post reminded me of the huge responsibility of asking for a position or aspiring for that promotion. If it comes Alhamdulilah it was sent by Allah and if not Alhamdulilah for that too.

    What a great reminder you gave us today in your post. Hugs Chika 😉

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