05 February 2013

Smart Hijab Tip #3: Take off your hijab for the interview

I was sat in this Islamic lecture at one of my mums friends houses the other day, trying my best not to get spoken to when I overheard the most interesting conversation. This women was telling her friend about how her daughter had been having difficulty for over a year getting a job and she decided that her headscarf was the problem so she took it off (for the interview) and voila, she got a job! She then went on to advise that her friend's daughter does the same thing - take it off for the interview and turn up on the first day with it on, after which the employers would not dare dismiss her on the grounds of religious dress for fear of being sued. Genius.

As she launched into an explanation about the drawbacks of hijab in the Western world my mind drifted to those wrist bands that I've seen Christians wear, bearing the words 'What would Jesus do?'. Perhaps we need to start thinking along the same lines.

What would - or rather what did - our final Prophet (S) do when he was ridiculed for his message and called a madman and had rocks thrown at him and his family abused? What did Yusef (as) do when he was thrown into prison for not submitting to the will of Zulaykha? What did Noah (as) do when people laughed at him for building an ark in preparation for a flood when there was not a drop of rain? What did Asiya, wife of Pharaoh, do when her own husband had her tortured for disobeying him by accepting the path of God?  What did Abraham (as) do when Allah (SWT) commanded him to kill his own son? What did the early Muslims do when they were tortured in the boiling heat of the desert and told that all they had to do was say a word, say that they did not believe in Allah (SWT) and His Prophet and the torture would cease, they would be free and respected people? I'll tell you what they did not do, they did not sell their principles for worldy gain and not even for a second or a minute, or for the length of an interview, did they succumb even to the pain of extended torture.

We complain that life in the West is hard and that we must compromise the principles that we believe in simply to fit in and be accepted by others. How weak are we then, in comparison to the Mumineen that came before us? They would not even consider uttering a word of disbelief to free themselves from physical torture at the hands of non-Muslims and yet we consider and openly encourage the rejection of what God has ordained for us, in hopes of pleasing non-Muslims?

I was going to post iyas and hadiths to back myself up but frankly, all you need to use is your logic. So anyone thinking of taking off their hijab for an interview because they are afraid they will be discriminated against, I say go ahead and do it, trick your employers and laugh at them when they offer you the job. Just remember this, that which causes your heart to stir with fear and makes you change yourself is what you are truly and utterly at the mercy of. I really do hope then, that your prospective employers are all-merciful and infinitely compassionate.
(Just a side note: I've had quite a few interviews over the past 4 or 5 years and the only time I have been rejected was once, about a year before I put on the hijab.)


Arezu In Wonderland said...

I don`t agree with taking the hijab off for an interview.
Allah subhana wa ta'ala will always help you in difficult times and it's not a good idea to take of your hijab when things get a little difficult.

But i don`t think bad about this sisters, it`s their own choice and it doesn`t make them bad muslims.
But it`s just not the way i would do it (insha'Allah).

XO Arezu

masruba tasnim said...

Wow. Such a powerful yet simple message. Love the way you wrote that and i admire your passion.


StylishMuslimah said...

Arezu: Of course, we all have a choice and I do not think badly of them either. I do think badly of the concept of knowingly compromising a part of your deen for a worldly gain though.

Masruba: Thanks sweetie :) I'm loving your blog btw, do keep posting! I'll add it to my blog reel next time I'm on a computer.

Salam x

edibe @ edbdesigns said...

unfortunately we think all the calamities we face are from Allah alone, and the fortunes are from our own doing... e.g. taking off hijab and landing a job... I did this, so this happened... for believing muslims know and should know that rizq is from Allah alone, if it is 'meant to happen' by the will of Allah, it will happen either way or another... then again, in Australia, when recruiting, HR departments will google you after receiving your CV/resume... so if they find a hijabi photo of you online (if they do not want to hire hijabis for instance), you will not even get called to the interview... sometimes we are so silly its sad...

Meilina Utomo said...

Love your style inspiration from your blog :)


washi said...

As a manager in a very demanding section at work, I do think badly of those girls. Not for taking their hijab off per se...there is no compulsion in our Deen after all...but with the fact that they wear it when starting their jobs, and basically blackmail their employers with the threat of discrimination if they object. What they are committing morally is their business with Allah t'Ala, but what they doing during this process is in fact fraud. We're seeing a lot of that in South Africa lately and I've been on the receiving end of it myself. Not this scenario, but people who lie on their CVs and think they can bluff their way (learn on the job) once they're employed. SMH because I believe that non-disclosure is the same as lying.

StylishMuslimah said...

Edibe: this is so true! It's really important to remember that when something good happens to us it was not from our own doing, it was from the will of Allah (swt). That way you avoid pride and also running the risk of say "if such and such had happened then such and such would have resulted".

Washi: Yes it is definitely wrong and haram to trick people in that way. It is also extremely unprofessional and shows your employers that you are dishonest.

Salam x

Umm Ahmad said...

When I first reverted to Islam, I had relocated to a new city. Since I found a new religion, I wanted a new start too. Soon I found it extremely difficult to get a job. I would fill out applications get calls, go in, and leave without the job.

One day a sister actually advised me the same thing! I of course refused, but subhanallah, a few months after this, I got a job at a Halal food grocery store, and that is where I met my husband.

Imagine, if I would have compromised and got a better job at nice company, I may have never met my wonderful husband and I would have never had the little boy I have now.

StylishMuslimah said...

Umm Ahmed: Aw you're comment really made me smile, what a lovely story :) so glad you made the right decision and it worked out well for you.

Salam x

Anonymous said...

I was advised the same thing when I was applying for jobs after converting, and i have heard many other muslims say that they did this or have done this. Ultimately I think it comes down to fear, fear of that judgement, but unfortunately taking off hijab to get a job does not do you any favors. First of all, it puts you in an awkward position if you do get hired of trying to figure out how to transition back to wearing the hijab and being forced to explain this (even the most liberal company, there would doubtless be people expressing surprise and questioning, including why you weren't wearing it before if it's "required."). So, many sisters who I know have gone this route end up continuing to not wear hijab at their workplace and of course feeling back about the double life. Another factor to get right down to it is, why would you want to work at a place that is so discriminatory they would refuse you on the basis of wearing hijab? Wouldn't it be best to identify such places early on and avoid them? If they have a bone to pick about this they're going to make things unpleasant for you later on as well. It is better to be yourself from the beginning and both sides can see if you will be a fit, "to thine own self be true, then thou canst not be false to any." Starting on some kind of deception isn't being honest to yourself or the company. It's also letting fear of something on earth be stronger than your relationship with Allah. Admittedly, fear is a very very powerful influence, but this is a clear case where wearing it is more likely to gain you an employment which will further your relationship with Allah rather than chip away at it. You will not get any job without Allah's will anyway.

Alhamdulillah I wore hijab to my interviews, I got that job and others since, and I have not had any problem in the workplace relating to my hijab and much support from my employers and many coworkers. It might have even helped in fact as some employers seek to add "diversity" to their crew and as far as they are concerned this counts. I know for a fact this is not the case with all hijabis, and a negative experience may just add to the fear of what will happen. I have known friends personally who were subjected to intense discrimination in the workplace. However, again, finding someone who supports you at the interview stage makes it even more likely that you will get an employer who will deal promptly with discrimination and back you up. Only Allah can soothe your fears and only if you give them into Allah's keeping instead of thinking you can control the situation yourself, which you can't. You can't make the other people treat you a certain way, you can only choose how you will act.

Try to think about it in terms of something you are NOT willing to compromise. If your employer insisted on you wearing low cut tops all the time, would you go along with it to keep your job? What about topless? Keep going until you find where you draw the line, then ask yourself why the line is drawn there instead of earlier.

StylishMuslimah said...

qatheworld: I always find your comments very interesting and this was no exception :) I agree, women should be open about their hijab from the start, it is not a deal unless you make it so. You can make your capabilities and unique qualites stand out to the most racist person if you are confident and articulate enough, it really has nothing to do with a peice of cloth on your head.

Salam x

Julie Khadjiah said...

Hi, I think that if they won't accept me wearing a hijab, then do I really want to work for them?.

Unfortunately the statistics are as such: successful interviews wearing hijab = 2, rejected = 4 but of one of those, I tried not wearing hijab, and still didn't get the job, it went internally. (I was having a low imaan day that day, and I am sure it put me off, having my hair uncovered). It is horrible being stared at in reception, like you have two heads, but this happens in the streets as well, so i'm getting used to it now. Inshallah, I will get to work in a muslim friendly environment with a couple of good sisters to help me along as I learn my deen, before much longer!!

FreelyEnslaved said...

I think people overestimate the hardships faced by hijabis when giving interviews for school and work. Alhamdulillah our society, as a whole, is more open-minded than we think.

Michelle Therese said...

Stick to your faith, wear your hijab. The only way you can change the fear and the hesitation about a covered woman is to carry on so that covered women are seen as part perfectly normal in a plural society.

I'm Christian. I have come under severe criticism for what I wear, even to the point of people demanding an explanation from me about my long dress and white bonnet while at a very holy Catholic place of pilgrimage in Lourdes, France. I couldn't believe it! Tens of thousands of fellow Catholics in a very holy place... and some people felt they had to get in another person's face for their modest dress?? I was spooked but I kept wearing my long dress and bonnet.

If we keep backing down and uncovering in order not to spook people then no one will ever grow comfortable with seeing covered women...

StylishMuslimah said...

Michelle: I'm so happy you've taken the time to comment, I'm always interested to read the opinions of The People Of The Book :D I also happen to think the traditional dress with the bonnet looks beautiful and feminine. Keep doing what you're doing! x

Henna said...

If a person does not get a job they have been interviewed for then he/she a right to ask the interviewer why they had not been given the job. Chances are you won't be told truthfully but it wouldn't hurt to ask.
In all honesty, how did she know she wouldn't have got that particular job if she had her hijab on?

Sadly, though we are a social species, it seems some people and organisations are hesitant when employing someone who is different in any way, be it colour of their skin, religion/religious dress etc. It isn't racism but it is a thing that needs addressing.

Smile Sadaqa said...

May Allah make it easy for everyone, and have mercy on us.

Anonymous said...

[Personal story time]

I've only had one interview before and that was to get into a university course with 2,000 applicants and 70 positions - so only 1 in every 285 people get accepted. People told me
a) not to wear abaya and
b) to shake hands with the male interviewers so as not to 'put them off'. I did neither and explained about not shaking hands as soon as they offered it and they understood completely.

Also I got the position and am studying there now alhamdulillah.

Like the sister above said - if they aren't going to accept you with the hijab on do you really want to be working for them.

Amanda Jenkins said...

Salaam, I know this was written long ago but I feel the need to comment anyways. I reverted to Islam almost 5 years ago al hamdulillah and I know the struggles of getting a job with hijab and truly. It is a test from Allah. I strongly disagree with taking off your hijab just to get a job.

Honestly when I read this I was very disappointed that a great blogger like yourself, who shows sisters how to be stylish in hijab would say for a job take it off, knowing you have a lot of followers who will actually follow your advice. If your willing to take hijab off for an interview are you willing to take it off when there's a brother of your interest? Or when it's too hot?

My dear sisters, I understand the struggles of finding a job while wearing hijab. I understand the struggles of being Muslim even without hijab! I'm Puerto Rican and black and come from a military family. I was met with hostility from every aspect in my life when I became Muslim. but DON'T do what this sister is saying one should do. Don't sell your deen out. Allah will provide you with a job for sure. Stay strong and positive. If it's for you, Allah will give it to you.

When I decided to wear hijab "full time", i struggled for a while getting a job, but finally one day when I went to an interview, i was interviewed by a man who I would have never though was Muslim. Not only did he appreciate me wearing hijab and gave me the job but I was also the highest paid employee (even though there were others who should have been paid more than myself). I later found out that the owner of the company is Muslim.

StylishMuslimah said...

Hey Amanda it's always a good idea to read the article and not just the title.

Salam x

Anonymous said...

I am just starting to read through your blog and I love it. I find this post very interesting! My mother-in-law-to-be told me that if I am having a hard time getting a job or finding work, take my hijab off. But Even for an interview, I wouldn't consider it. Why would I want to work for a company that does not have equal rights and discriminates? If my potential employer can't see that I'd be an honest and trusted employee then I have no reason to help them better their business.


StylishMuslimah said...

Good points Anon. Glad you like the blog :D x