Year End Parties – Muslims to attend or not to attend that is the question
14 November 2018| 06 Rabi ul Awwal 1440| Najma Bibi Noor Mahomed
As the saying goes “Tis the season to be jolly ”, with every mall in the city decorated in bells of red and trees of green.
That being said, even the office is abuzz with ‘Jane’ from reception sporting reindeer ears and ‘Maggie’ from accounting bringing homemade cookies every other day.
But let’s face it, that’s the least of your problem being a Muslim employee. And no, we are not referring to the time someone walked in on you while you were washing your feet in the basin while making wudhu or even being stared at as you carry your empty Energade/Istinja bottle when you go to the bathroom.
The current Muslim tight spot is the decision to attend your annual year end staff party. These parties are planned after a lot of deliberation to eventually being held at a restaurant that majority agrees on. Chances are the restaurant is not going to be a halaal and if you are the minority group this leaves you having to explain the reason as to why you are unable to attend the year end party yet again.
In years gone by this may have been a sweat breaking discussion to have with your employer but these days we find tolerance from company bosses to accommodate your decision to not attend.
In fact some companies take it up a notch with including your requirements in their set up. A separate platter is ordered containing halaal goodies and a table is set up to keep the halaal food away from the rest of the bunch wining and dining.
However, many Ulema agree that the debate around Muslims attending end-of-year social functions is not simply about the exposure to alcohol.
“The liquor, exposed awrah’s, music, dancing, free mixing and other lewd behaviour which usually accompany such events are very displeasing to Allah SWT. There are very clear and authentic proofs from Qur’an, Sunnah and Ijma’ (scholarly consensus) as evidence for this. People are always worried and concerned about what will displease their bosses and colleagues, but not about what displeases their Allah,” explains Moulana Irshaad Sedick.
“There should never be any compromising on the compulsory and forbidden elements of the Shari’ah for any reason whatsoever, especially not for the feelings, customs, rituals and holidays of others. If we cross this line for parties, then where should the line be drawn then? In the modern world we as Muslims are considered sexists, misogynists and heterosexists because we adhere to the Shari’ah on matters of homosexuality, women’s and men’s rights etc.
Should we change the laws of the Islam to accommodate for all things offensive to the post-modern West? Allah knows best.”
When it comes to practising one’s deen within the confines of a non-Muslim environment, Muslims are always urged to seek the middle path.
“There should not be such a split as ‘stick to Islam and be rude and intolerant by not attending such functions or attend and thus be more tolerant and acceptable to the non-Muslim colleagues and employers. This implies that Islam is intolerant, which is not true. Neither should companies be so intolerant as to consider the Muslims, who make such choices on the basis of their religion, as rude and intolerant,” Moulana Sedick points out.
Moulana goes on to explain that the line between doing what is right and what is expected should be ironed out by means of professionalism.
“The person working in such an environment should humbly submit an apology in written and verbal former to his/her colleagues and employers and simply explain that according to the understanding of orthodox Islamic scholars and their personal choice of being as good Muslims, that he/she will not participate in such functions. He/she should respectfully request that their apology be accepted.”
But what if other Muslims from the company choose to attend the function?
“If the usual counter argument of “but other Muslims are joining us” is presented, then he/she should not slander them but merely say that he/she can only speak for themselves and their understanding of orthodox Islam. This should be sufficient as it is part of freedom of expression and freedom to practice one’s religion,” Moulana Sedick added.
The interpretation is simple. If you are aware that an event of this nature will result in more harm than good then avoid it. Let’s be honest, most of the stress is not really about the party, it is about the end of the year bonus which is needed to make sure you keep your promise and get the family all the end of the year treasures that usually make December the budget free month.
So until the bank balance makes you smile from ear to ear be tolerant to the festivities and laugh at the big bosses jokes who knows you might see an extra zero in your bonus.
WRITTEN BY: NAJMA BIBI NOOR MAHOMED
Najma Bibi Noor Mahomed is a journalist currently producing and hosting the afternoon show On The Pulse. Formally from Durban and having lived in both Cape Town and now Johannesburg has given her deep insight into people. Najma uses her experience with the different communities to write up dramatic sketches. In her spare time she reads memes and cooks up a storm.