Whether you are an up and coming Muslim professional, or a seasoned veteran this count down is for you. Sorry to disappoint, but these top ten actually are out of order, and what the top three will be will actually depend on who’s reading them. For this reason their value is not based on their numbering, but on their relevance to you the reader. They are however, written such that they build and reinforce the concepts of one another. But first, what is a Muslim professional? This is anyone who essentially has taken the time to learn (and intends to master) a trade, and considers themselves a practicing Muslim and holds themselves to this meritorious standard.
Number 3: Let Your Actions Not Only Speak For Themselves
The saying “Let your actions speak for themselves” is a great English saying, an idiom that is not inconsistent with our Islamic tradition, however it is through our tradition that we can improve upon it. How so? To improve it is to say, “Let your actions Speak for themselves and let your actions be that of the Qur’an (and Sunnah). Then they will truly speak for us, our principles, our confidence , our morality, our self dignity, and in today’s age with the growing systemic Islamophobia within our educational and professional settings they will speak to what we will and will not tolerate, serving as a preventative protection giving less than friendly individuals reason for pause.
It’s important that our words, like our actions and our body language, are consistent with our newfound Islamized idiom in order to complete a morally consistent character (link). Our characters internal state must also match its external, meaning the environments in which we congregate and the environments we allow ourselves to be in are also important. This goes back to some of the fundamental components of character, and as Muslims we should not be in places or gatherings that are displeasing to our Creator. We should not be at a gathering where people are back biting, drinking, acting in manners that reduce their dignity and honour. Okay, easier said than done, right? Without a doubt, but we know that with the testimony of belief comes tests to prove we are sincere in that testimony and worthy of its reward.
“Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried? But We have certainly tried those before them, and Allah will surely make evident those who are truthful, and He will surely make evident the liars.” [29:2-3]
The challenge that Muslims have is how do you translate living as minority Muslim professionals in a predominantly non-Muslim society. This is challenging, and by no means is it easy. Specific situations would require specific answers from the learned and as experienced, this is why as Muslim professionals we need seek out mentors in our for our Deen as we would and should for our professions. Both, but particularly the former, will be able to give us much needed naseeha (sincere advice) as well as be a means of support when we reach those particularly challenging valleys (often early on) in our careers. This is an important point because all too common do Muslim professionals start on the wrong foot and find it increasingly more difficult to recover. Many then find themselves falling down the slippery slop of justification for their actions, usually erroneously, and often distance themselves from those sincere mentors and advisors.
Often it is seemingly easier for some to settle this cognitive dissonance they are experiencing by giving themselves a false dichotomy for the various situations where their faith challenges the status quo of their profession. Instead of excelling in their field to allow them the breathing room to find and present unique and often superior alternatives that do not violate their principles, but fulfill the professional requirement and contribute positively to the profession and/or the work environment, they unfortunately capitulate and falsely assume, profess, and regrettably defend the false dichotomy that there is only option A or option B. This temporary relinquishment of their cognitive dissonance brings transient relief, but repeated set back after setback until there remains nothing but regret.
Many of the righteous have made mention of this challenge and we need to realize we must always be striving to be the best in our professional fields, and never stop trying our level best in adhering to our deed. This is where we need to look to ourselves and realize the inner struggle with our nafs is not a battle, but a war and consistency throughout our life’s is paramount. Once we’ve “made it as Muslim professionals” and completed our training, we must quickly realize that the real challenges have only just began.
For further in-depth analysis on this topic and more on how we as Muslim professionals, and second generation Muslims in general, can find the strength and confidence to view ourselves and our Islamic Identity with pride and honour in today’s North American society, I encourage you to check out the following video clip by my esteemed teacher Dr. Syed Ibn Iqbal.
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