By Editor, LaLa “Noor ” Garcia
I decided to share my personal views on how tough it is for Muslims to seek employment in a non-Muslim workforce. I will paint a nice picture of the interview process so that you, reader’s get a clear image of how difficult it is for Muslims to obtain employment without setting aside their belief’s. Let’s begin.
I had been on several interviews within a three week span and one would think I should be employed by now. I have an awesome resume and skills ranging from Corporate to Teaching, and to Customer Service. So, my skills are not the issue as to why I am not being hired for positions I qualify for. I also posses a degree. I figure I throw that bit of real information in there; in case some readers may think me not having a degree could be a possible issue.
When I shake hands with the person conducting the interview; the first thing they see is that I am wearing one of those things on my head (hijab). Next, is my race. That is two strikes against me. But, I can tell that there is much confusion in their faces. My overall appearance takes most people for a loop; I wear a smile that can light up any dark place, I laugh a lot from my soul, and my clothes are modest/stylish. This creates some difficulty on the interviewer; for the simple fact, they are unsure how to perceive me, overall as a person.
But soon, that fades as new thoughts and so called concerns flow in. Now the person conducting the interview is wondering what I stand for (as if that is any of their concern). They are wondering if I stand for “Black Power” or if I’m a “Terrorist” (because I’m Muslim) or if I’m with that other religious group “Nation of Islam” or maybe all three. And, they wonder how oppressed am I. Oh, I can see the look of pondering over their faces as to whether I am oppressed or not. I’m not oppressed, so I have no scent (lol) of oppression to spray or give off. So, they turn to my hijab.
My hijab becomes the main target of the interview without any questions or discussions being made (in secret), instead of my qualifications. The Hiring Manager conducts the interview in a proper manner, but I know they are sizing me up; not based off my responses to their questions, but because I am Muslim. I am well aware that I am over qualified for most positions that I apply for and that I should be an ideal candidate for the position I am interviewing for. But the job is passed up, not because I am over qualified; but because of their discriminative ignorance.
I am Islamic and I refuse to dumb down and not cover because a company may feel offended by their own ignorance. Their insecurity and lack of my Islamic deen, is not my problem. I do get a little angry when I am passed over for jobs or don’t receive phone calls/email. Which one day caused me to ponder over wearing my hijab or not wearing my hijab in fear of discrimination at interviews. But that thought seemed absurd and made me furious at myself for even entertaining the thought. It occurred to me that the devil was playing his trickery. He wants me to put down my hijab and abandon my deen for employment. But, Qur’an warns me of Shaytan (devil) sly trickery , as well as what happens if I fall into his trap “……..Whose chosen Shaytan for a patron instead of Allah is verily a loser and loss manifest” (Surah 4:119). I’d rather not be a loser. Shaytan attempts to get in my head, “From the evil of the sneaking whisperer” (Surah 114:4) by reminding me of small disappointments; not being hired because of my hijab-my religion. If I abandon my hijab for a job, I will begin to abandon other essential aspects of my deen. I refuse to give Shaytan and any other company that type of control over my deen, my hijab, and my freedom.
So, I must ask this: would an oppressed person stand firm in their belief’s no matter the cost? Or does a person who doesn’t know that they are oppressed, change their appearance for the sake of ANY job? It’s time some people take a look in the mirror and truly answer that question. A job, a person, a place, or thing will NEVER dictate a true Muslim/Muslimah from putting down his/her beliefs and/or taking off their hijab/kufi.
I’ll be jobless for the moment, because I refuse to set aside my deen for employment. And yes, it feels disappointing at those moments. But when I thank the Hiring Manager with every niceness from my soul, I smile HUGE on the inside. My Deen, kept from being employed by a company full of oppression. Oh yeah….I will smile to that. I call that true FREEDOM!