Making a Business Plan

Vol 6 - Issue 3 Making a business planIn the final article of the home business series, Noorjehan Arif explains the why and how of a business plan.

Before establishing a home business, it is imperative that you create a sound business plan. A business plan is not just a concept, but it’s a way of life. It defines the why, how, what, where and when of the home business you are going to set up. The idea is to create a path and define the pros and cons of your business, along with the route you should take for developing and expanding your business.

Why Create a Business Plan

A business plan can help in various ways. A business idea is born in the head, while a business plan incubates that idea, inking the advantages, disadvantages, financial requirements, human resource requirements, projections and products and their features, among other things. Thus, your plan helps you pave the road that will help you successfully launch that idea. A business plan is also created for users other than yourself. For example, you may want to obtain funds from any large organization. In that case, the organization would like to know how sensibly you have planned out the usage of their funds. In such a case, a business plan is going to be quite helpful.

Components of a Business Plan 

A business plan consists of the following elements: 

Executive Summary 

An executive summary is going to be helpful if you want to present your plan to another person or company. It will define and summarize the very essential elements of your plan and present them in a succinct manner for those who want to glean only the basics of the business. 

Description of the Business 

This includes such details as what is the business about and why it is going to be undertaken. Analysis of the market and competition; products and services, delivery, placement and pricing; organizational structure and personnel, structure of the business (whether it is a sole proprietorship, partnership etc.); plans for marketing and advertising, financial details and production of the products or distribution of services, all become an essential part of this section.

Financial Planning

For financial planning, you would have to make different budgets, incorporating your expenses and revenue. Then, you would have to make cash flow statements to see how much in actual cash you would expect to earn and utilize. At the start of the business, startup costs and maintenance costs along with other financial aspects of business would have to be analyzed. This planning will help you evaluate the difference in the budget and the actual earning and expenses for a particular year.

Plan of Action 

Considering the range of items included in the business plan, you would need to assign a timeline to the items in order to get them done. Such time lines need to be realistic, but ambitious to help increase efficiency of the business. Additionally, it will help in streamlining the sequence and phases of the activities that need to be done.

Industry, Market and the Offerings 

It is generally helpful and interesting to conduct a small industry research on how receptive the market would be towards the service or product being launched. It may help in avoiding negative surprises later on.

The Final Word

A business plan, be it formal or informal, can be a very essential tool for establishing and running a business successfully, depending on how well it is structured and researched, and how much effort is put in it. If done properly, it can become the ultimate guide to the future of your business.

Tackling the Glitches

In the second part of the home business series, Noorjehan Arif discusses how to tackle the problems, which inadvertently crop up every now and then

Running any business from home is never a smooth sailing, to say the least. There are a myriad of problems which pop up, and at the end of the day, you might start wondering, if you have bitten off more than you can chew. The good news is you can manage it. What’s important is to know the issues and how to tackle them.

Kids, Kids Everywhere

A business cannot be run from home, if you are constantly involved in why Ali snatched candy from Sarah. However, it is helpful if you entertain the idea of employing your own children in your home-run business. Have you ever played house with your siblings? Then why don’t you teach your own children to play office? Children love to act like elders and mimic them. If you pick up the newspaper during your morning tea, will Ali do the same? Hasn’t Sarah always yearned to pour tea for you? This is, then, the best time to teach your children some business management skills.

In cases, when you do not want your personal and professional life to clash, because Ali is misbehaving, while you are discussing a critical project with one of your customers, you can bring them as partners instead, or ask your spouse to take some of the work responsibilities. Even your maid could work part time for you, filing and taking some phone calls you want to avoid, or you can take in young interns, who are ready to do all sorts of odd jobs for you.

If all else fails to enlist good help, technology can be your next best friend, or perhaps in this case your secretary and employee all in one. You can use an answering and caller identification machine to capture your calls, a laptop to take your work along when you have to wait for your child’s school to be over, a personal digital assistant (PDA) to keep track of meetings, reminders, calls to make and other odds and ends. You have several other options available as well, like a virtual assistant online that can do all sorts of documentation and typing work.

Take the example of Shahnaz, who had a partner in her business, and, hence, responsibilities could be shared. However, in partnerships one needs to be careful and vigilant, particularly in cases, where money is directly involved. Irfana had her sister working with her, who eventually took over the management of the parlour, while Irfana could be more proactive in terms of the strategic planning of the business. But Irfana was still extremely careful, as she used an auditor friend to audit the revenues of the parlor every year.

Once the business is running, the autopilot is set and all things are smoothly proceeding, with everyone knowing their responsibilities, it becomes easier to take on the ‘curveballs’ in a more headstrong manner. Curveballs, such as Ali being down with fever, or Sarah sick with measles, can easily be overcome, if things are running smoothly. However, there are several problems that need to be addressed, before a newly launched business can be run smoothly.

Financial Glitches

Financial aspects of the business have to be well thought out and a complete budget needs to be set, before embarking on the business. The primary reason for a budget is the fact that financial elements make or break the business. Improper management of cash and revenues may result in bankruptcy in an adverse scenario, and micro managing cash to meet expenses in a less adverse condition. The Internet offers several books and websites with templates and help material for the purpose of creating a budget and evaluating it.

Demarcating Work and Personal Life


Another problem one encounters, when running a business from home, is juggling work and personal life. Boundaries tend to merge, when, for instance, Ali has to be picked up from school and a customer wants to have a meeting at the same time. Time management is often an important and, at times, the most critical element. Shahnaz and Irfana both had a separate business outside of their house, but their overlapping suggestion was to have defined time blocks for work that takes higher priority. If one has a driver to pick up children from school, then the next priority is the customer’s meeting. But if a driver is out of the question, the priority will be the children. Such times can be blocked and made non-negotiable on the table, when dealing with customers.

Stress, motivation and efficiency problems can also result in cases, when a loved one is sick, or when children have vacations or when other personal and family issues crop up. Defining a time boundary, when you plan to work solely on your business and allocating the rest to personal life, can help define and set limits to the interruptions that are allowed during ‘business hours’. It can also reduce the amount of stress and guilt that one may feel about neglecting family life.

Moving on to issues regarding setting up the business, incorporating it, registering brands and trademarks, there are quite a few organizations that one has to go through and deposit guarantees and cash in order to get things going.

Marketing your Business

Marketing and publicity are another element in one’s business that involves a lot of effort and hard work. Even though Ali, Sarah, the spouse and the nosey neighbour mean well, when they go around claiming your business and your work to be top class, marketing is much more detailed and hectic than that. Networking comes into play, when one has to promote the business and make it top notch.

Shahnaz and her partner are socialites and love to socialize with all sorts of people. They decided to put their networking skills to good use, when they opened their boutique, and promoted it with the use of the business cards, which they sent out to each and every person they knew. In a very short time, the boutique had customers raving about their clothes and handbags.

Irfana, on the other hand, utilized the locality in her favour and sent each and every house near the parlour a flyer to market the services being offered. Marketing worked – the place was thronging with women of all ages. Depending on the circumstances and the type of business, there are various elements of marketing and publicity one can employ, from publishing an advertisement in a newspaper or magazine, to utilizing a social network, to simply putting up a web presence. Using a small website, or even marketing through online advertisements can bring in a good amount of sales and publicity.

In the next issue, we will take the financial aspect of a home business a little farther and discuss how to make a business plan

Setting up a Home Business

Vol 6 - Issue 1 Setting up a home BusinessBy Noorjehan Arif

When both parents are working, it is difficult to figure out where the children should go and how they should be managed. When one is single, he or she does not have to worry about nagging children, the house falling apart, dirty laundry and what not. In quite a few cases, both men and women decide to have a home setup where they could work, earn money and still keep the house sane.

Home Business Options

There are various opportunities that women, especially of today, can explore to set up a home business: a daycare center, spa or beauty salon, or a boutique. However, there are various other options, which can also be considered:

Catering services – one can run a catering business from home to serve small gatherings and parties, such as business lunches in offices. Unique food combinations like Chinese and Oriental options are appreciated by people nowadays because of their health benefits. Regular options of Biryani and Haleem can also be an alternative. Of course, the service would run as a made-to-order arrangement to avoid waste and the hassle of storing extra food.

Grocery purchase services – due to the growing number of working women nowadays, grocery shopping has becoming a trying chore. To serve the need, one can advertise grocery purchasing services. You can earn commission and enlist the help of your children as well, making it a fun-filled family activity, rather than a business.

Event planning services – if one lives in a metropolitan city, there is always something happening. Even small cities always have weddings, engagements, Nikahs, business dinners and other social events that need to be organized. One can become a specialized business event or wedding planner, or a generalized event planner and organize various aspects of such events. Word of caution though that only the most social and outgoing people can pull this off.

A home-based business is ideal for those busy mothers who have children to look after, a home to cater to and a demanding husband. This kind of a setup, however, has its limitations because people might not take the business seriously and instead, consider it a hobby. There could also be personal interruptions like Ali snatching candy from Sarah or Sarah waking up from a bad dream.

Setting up a Home Office

To avoid mixing home and business, a part time or even a full-time office can be set up in a portion of one’s house. This, of course, depends on the type of business you have decided on. Setting up a separate office requires lots of work and involves obtaining the necessary office furniture, stationery and equipment.


Finding premises in a suitable location can be tough, considering the various options and critical factors to evaluate:

First and foremost is the cost of the location. If the rent space is costly, it may create a cash flow crunch too early in the business, which could prove detrimental to the business. On the other hand, choosing a cheap location might create a negative impression about you and the business setup.

A suitable community is also very important. If you have a problem adjusting to your surrounding environment and community, it will be very difficult to work in such circumstances, and most probably, your business would not flourish.

Another factor is competition. If the surrounding area has similar businesses and offices that are catering to a similar target market, it might become difficult to get established. You might infringe on the rights of others or spend most of your time fighting against the competition to obtain a limited number of customers.

Accessibility is another major factor to evaluate, when choosing a suitable location for the office. If customers will be visiting the office, it is important that it is visible and easy to find.

How did they Start?

Shahnaz runs a boutique that she established with a friend, who was her partner in the business as well. First, she established contacts with various people, who could help her in marketing the clothes and handbags she was making herself. Her partner would get all the material that would be required for the clothes and bags (fabric, beads, threads, etc.)

“At first, there was a nervous energy in both of us, because we were going to establish something of our own that we had to run profitably,” she said. “Then, this feeling turned to exhilaration when we made our first sales. But our target was maintaining healthy cash flows. Of course, a business needs cash coming in more than cash going out. Running on credit can create big problems, and we did not want to do that. After five years in business, we still run on cash and quite profitably.”

Irfana is an enterprising woman, who is currently settled in Australia. She owns an apartment in the posh area of Defence. She started her own beauty parlor ten years ago with the help of her husband and her sister. To start off with her own parlor, she needed to know the basic functions and tricks of the trade. Hence, she took various expensive courses across the city to learn the professional ways of makeup and beauty care. She used her knowledge on her clients and also employed a professional makeup artist for her parlor.

However, one must consider prayers as the only means of achieving success in any endeavor – without Allah (swt) being on our side, nothing has any worth.

Now that we have set up our business and prayed to Allah (swt) for its success, in the next article in this series we shall look into marketing and administrative issues to manage our business successfully, Insha’Allah.

Gleaning Ideas from the Web

The World Wide Web is a wondrous option to search for business ideas, articles and material to help setting up any kind of business. Here are some helpful links:

One of the most helpful sites across the web is It has various links and articles on how to set up a business and help material on managing it.

Another website similar in content is with scores of helpful articles and links.

Other helpful sites include: and Various business ideas and helpful material can be gleaned from these websites. Of course, one can use Google to search for other options and further help.

Top Home Business Options

  • Boutique
  • Hair and beauty salon
  • Daycare center
  • Food catering services
  • Grocery purchase services
  • Event planning services
  • Life coaching services (including tuitions)
  • Magazine and article writing
  • Landscaping
  • Interior decoration
  • Arts & Crafts

Top Must-Have Office Items

  • Business cards
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Stationery items
  • Files, papers and binders
  • Filing cabinet
  • Internet connection
  • Chairs and tables
  • Photocopying machine
  • Phone and fax line with a fax machine and answering machine
  • Computer and printer

To Be or Not To Be Ethical

Vol 5 - Issue 4   To be or not to be EthicalThis final article is by no means a conclusion on work ethics. There will still be many ethical dilemmas at work that will continue to trouble us. That in itself is a good sign. “Why?” you might ask. Because when these dilemmas stop troubling us, it means we no longer care about being ethical.

When our concern about being honest and truthful and the urge to control the waves of jealousy start to ebb, it is only the Quran and Hadeeth that bring us to our senses. Social pressures can be overwhelming at times, especially if you are living in a country which is regarded among the most corrupt in the world.

Whilst writing these articles, I have also learnt to identify the tugs of Nafs (desires) and ways to control it, Alhamdulillah. To be fair to others, to meet deadlines and to deliver good quality work seem to be contradictory goals most of the time. One is tempted to cut corners to quicken the pace of work – it is only in these very moments that the Quran and Hadeeth come to my rescue. Facts from our pious predecessors’ lives also keep us from floundering in the morass of confusion by making the right and the wrong very clear. Although we can barely reach the standards of God-consciousness (Taqwah) that they have set, their lives do tell us that you can be an ordinary human being and yet have high ethical standards.

Early Muslims and modern corporations

I am reminded of an incident from Mohammad Ibn Sirin’s (rta) life. He was a trader and a retailer, who once bought olive oil worth forty thousand Dirhams. On examination, he found a dead rat in one of the containers. He felt doubtful about the quality of oil in the entire consignment and chose to dump it, instead of risking people’s health. Consequently, he was unable to pay the forty thousand Dirhams and as a result, spent time behind bars. There were no case studies written on his level of honesty and the standards of business ethics he had set; yet, in his time, he was greatly trusted and admired, and we read about him to this day.

Ibn Sirin’s (rta) incident reminds me of the “Johnson and Johnson” “Tylenol” case. The company had aggressively marketed a brand of pain-relieving capsules (“Tylenol”), which accounted for 18% of the company’s income and had 37% percent of the market share. However, in 1982 after the death of seven people, it was found that the capsules were laced with cyanide. The company chose to recall ALL “Tylenol” bottles, facing a loss of up to $100 million (not including the damage to the brand and loss of public confidence). Nevertheless, this very decision put the company in the limelight, and it was hailed as an ethical firm. Within just six months, “Tylenol” regained its market share!

Another well-known personality from our pious predecessors is Imam Bukhari, who set such high standards of honesty that he did not even want to change his intention for greater worldly gains. Once, a group of traders offered to buy a consignment from him for a profit, which was double of what was offered to him by another trader the previous evening. He chose to forego the second offer in favour of the earlier one, because he had already intended to deal with them.

What do people say?

A young executive in his twenties, Murtaza, is of the opinion that truthfulness and success go together. According to him, if one is untruthful, word gets around which results in a bad reputation. At the same time, he believes that most people are myopic and prefer short-term gains over long term benefits. He names his father as one of the most ethical people he has come across.

The opinion voiced above reminded me once again of Muhammad Ibn Sirin (rta). Maimoon Ibn Mehran narrates that before completing a transaction, Ibn Sirin (rta) always asked his customer thrice, whether he was satisfied. He was so careful about his dealings that Maimoon exclusively purchased from him. While modern management would put this down as an excellent example of customer relationship management; it all boils down to plain honesty.

The head of research in a well-known Islamic financial services firm says that if you are unethical, you are definitely unsuccessful. He names one of his senior colleagues in the industry as ethical as well as successful. Still, he was also of the opinion that to reach the topmost level, one does have to compromise a little bit. This view was contrary to the opinion held by a chief executive of a business concern. When I asked him to name a few ethical and successful people, he immediately came up with three managing directors of local and multinational firms.

There are also people, who are ethical but have been unsuccessful monetarily. According to a female employee of an audit firm, even if people have managed to pull it off for some time using unethical practices, in the long-term they finally have to show performance, especially if they are chosen for an international assignment. Her role model is Syedah Aisha (rta), who was confident, full of energy and interacted with men within the limits set by Shariah.

Ayesha, who has worked in a part-time position, comes up with two people whom she believes to be ethical and successful. One of them is a scholar who was able to bring about positive change in a locality. Another person is a medical doctor as well as a Hakeem, who is charitable and closely follows the Sunnah. According to Ayesha, unethical people are often successful too, but their success is limited to this world only.

To be unethical is useless…

It is important not to be weighed down by what the cynics and skeptics say. Being unethical would not give us anything more than what has been destined for us. In a Hadeeth narrated by Jabir (rta), we learn that the Prophet (sa) addressed people saying that they should fear Allah (swt) and act decently in acquiring their livelihood, for no man would die until he obtains his provision, even if it involves some delay. The Prophet (sa) reiterated that people should fear Allah (swt), earn their livelihood by lawful means and stay away from the forbidden. (Ibn Majah)

Therefore, unethical dealings do not give us any more of the worldly gains that have been written for us. Such an attitude merely creates a ‘lose-lose’ situation: losing out in this world and, most definitely, losing out in the Hereafter. Now, who would want that?

Women at Work – Part 2

Vol 5 - Issue 3 Women at Work 2

That women are allowed to work should now come as no surprise to readers of the first part of this article. However, once a woman chooses to work, the decision and its realization are no less than a hurdle race. Let’s take a look at some of the common problems and their solutions in the light of the Quran and the Sunnah.

Giving up career to get married?

A common job interview question for women is whether they are single. It appears, as if career and marriage cannot coexist. Should women give up their careers in order to get married?

For a Muslim woman, family should come before her personal career. That does not mean, however, that a career is unimportant; in fact, the order of priority is a guideline of how to deal with the diverse roles a Muslim woman can and should play in society. In Islamic history, we find married Muslim women taking an active part in politics, farming, business and even in the field of war. The fact that they did not put career before marriage is proven by the excellent generation of Muslims they raised.

For example, we find Asma Bint Abu Bakr (rta) working on a farm and transporting the produce herself. She mentions that when she got married to Zubair (rta), they did not have wealth. Therefore, the Prophet (sa) gave them some land about two miles away from their home. Her son Abdullah Ibn Zubair (rta) became well known for his devotion to the cause of Islam.

In the battlefield, we hear of Umm Ammara (rta), who participated in wars and even lost her hand in the Battle of Yamamah. In the Battle of Uhud, she struck down a man, who had hurt her son. We also find Umm Sulaym (rta) carrying a dagger and tending to the wounded in the Battle of Uhud. One of her sons, Anas Ibn Malik (rta), became a renowned companion of the Prophet (sa).

Following Islamic guidance to prevent harassment

One of the criteria that women should fulfill in order to work is to dress modestly in accordance with the injunctions of Islam. They should also select professions that do not involve a lot of interaction with the opposite gender. If, however, the job requires a lot of interaction, one must take care to act with caution, care and poise. Interaction should be work-related and seclusion must be avoided. The Prophet (sa) said that whenever a man is alone with a woman, the Devil makes a third. (Ahmad and At-Tirmidhi)

The Prophet’s (sa) wives were addressed by Allah (swt) and were told not to be soft in speech: “O wives of the Prophet! You are not like any other women. If you keep your duty (to Allah), then be not soft in speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease (of hypocrisy, or evil desire for adultery) should be moved with desire, but speak in an honourable manner.” (Al-Ahzab 33:32)

If one follows the above guidelines, any chances of unwanted attention or harassment would decrease to a large extent.

Debate on travelling alone resolved

A lot of debate has ensued over whether women can travel alone. The European Council for Fatwah and Research states that travelling alone is primarily unlawful, as we know from a Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa): “A woman, who believes in Allah and the Hereafter, shall not travel for (a period of) a day and a night, unless accompanied by a Mahram of hers.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

The Council goes on to say that: “other scholars stipulate that her travel is permissible in the company of a trustworthy group of men or men and women… Caliph Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (rta) allowed the Prophet’s wives to travel for Hajj with a group of believers and sent with them Usman Ibn Affan (rta) and Abdul-Rahman Ibn Auf (rta).

“In the Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa) to Adiy Ibn Hatim, we read: ‘If you live long, you will see the woman travel from Hirah (a city in Iraq) to circumambulate the Kabah, fearing none but Allah.’ (Bukhari)

“This confirms that the cause (of the prohibition) is fear (of insecurity). If security is guaranteed and fear is no more present, a woman may travel, particularly nowadays, when travel has become easy, whether by air, train or coach. In all these means of transportation, company is available and security is realized for the Muslim woman.”

Despite the above permission, the woman should ask herself what makes her feel safer – travelling alone or with a group of women / a Mahram relative. If a woman is competent, organization will make concessions for her to comply with the Islamic condition on travelling accompanied with a female colleague and will not see this as a hindrance in her employment.

Sharing household expenses is not mandatory

In Islam, the financial responsibility of the household rests with the man. Allah (swt) states: “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means.” (An-Nisa 4:34)

On the other hand, such scholars as Dr. Rifat Fawzi (Professor of Shariah, Cairo University) and Sheikh Ahmed Kutty (Islamic Institute of Toronto) hold the view that women should contribute to the household expenses. In his Fatwah, Sheikh Kutty says: “If a wife gives her husband from her salary voluntarily, it is totally permissible for the husband to make use of it. But because of the fact that the wife’s working takes its toll on the husband, the wife should be fair enough to contribute something towards the maintenance of the house and the family.”

Nevertheless, a man cannot coerce his wife to work and share in the household expenses; neither can he forcibly take away her money. According to late Sheikh Muhammad Al-Bahyy (former dean of the Faculty of Theology at Al-Azhar University), “the wives’ right to the entire ownership of their Mahr (dower), which is given to them by their husbands, indicates their financial independence. It is not lawful for a man to take the Mahr, or a part of it, back from his wife except in two cases: if the wife remits it voluntarily, or if she gives it back to him in return for divorce from him (An-Nisa 4:4, Al-Baqarah 2:229).”

He further goes on to say: “As it is the case with Mahr, the wife has full ownership of her other sources of wealth, such as her salary. It is not lawful for the husband to take part or all of his wife’s salary, unless she gives it to him voluntarily.”

Women’s rights have not been imported

To conclude, I would like to quote Fatima Mernissi: “We, Muslim women, can walk into the modern world with pride, knowing that the quest for dignity, democracy and human rights, for full participation in the political and social affairs of our country, stems from no imported Western values, but is a true part of Muslim tradition.”

Women at Work – Part 1

Vol 5 - Issue 2 Women at work

Maneuvering her way through the maze of crawling traffic, Sara finally managed to park her car in a cramped parking lot. Having managed to drop her two children at school barely making it on time, she winced at the thought of facing the new supervisor at work. He appeared to be taking a keen interest in how she spent the day. Often, he would come in and inquire what her plans were for the evening. Lately, she was also feeling quite stressed out. A job opening in another organization came as a great blessing and a way out of the disturbing situation.

All women, however, may not be as lucky as Sara. Harassment at the workplace is one of the many problems that working women have to deal with on a daily basis. Often, their protests are not taken seriously, especially if the perpetrator is in a position of authority. The situation speaks volumes about the ignorance regarding the Divine Guidance on dealings with the opposite gender.

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts). That is purer for them. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts) and not to show off their adornment except that which is apparent.” (An-Nur 24:30-31)

Instead of solving the problem by dealing with it straightforwardly, many women simply opt out of work altogether. Some people assert that women are not allowed to work in the first place. What does Islam say about this issue?

Are women allowed to work?

According to several noted scholars, women are allowed to work.

Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi states in his Fatwah: “Islam allows her to work outside the home in an appropriate job, which suits her nature, her concern and her capacity and which does not crush her femininity. Her work is legitimate within certain limits and certain conditions, especially when she or her family needs the outside work or when the society itself needs her work in particular. The need for work is not merely limited to the financial aspect. It could be a psychological need, such as the need of a specialized learned woman, who is not married, or the married woman, who has no children or who has a lot of leisure time and to alleviate boredom.”

The scholar further goes on to say that Islam does not forbid women to work inside or outside the home. He gives the example of the wives of Allah’s Messenger (sa), who used to work at home. They used to dye their own clothing and tan hides in addition to other household activities. He gives the example of Syedna Aisha (rta), who prepared herbal medicines, Asma bint Abu Bakr (rta), who used to work inside and outside her home, Rufaydah Al-Aslamiyyah (rta), who was the first female doctor in Islam, and Umm Mihjan (rta), who used to clean the Prophet’s (sa) mosque. In fact, the second Caliph of Islam Syedna Umar Farooq appointed a woman, Ash-Shifa, as a market inspector in Madinah.

The European Council for Fatwah and Research states: “We do not deny that some countries have very strict traditions regarding women, so that they become more like prisoners in their own homes, until death comes to them. However, even though some scholars may agree with this, it remains that clear, covert and correct legal evidence contradicts these traditions in addition to the objectives of Shariah, the interests of mankind and the development of age and people.”

Daiyah Zeinab Mostafa states: “We cannot forbid women from work and deprive the society from the benefit and knowledge that they have, under the pretext that Islam forbids women to work, which is completely baseless. If we return to the Seerah (biography) of the Prophet (sa) and his companions, we will find that they lived a happy life, when men and women worked together to fulfill their duties.”

Conditions for working

It is clear from the above rulings and opinions that women are allowed to work. However, they need to keep in mind certain conditions:

Work should be lawful, not forbidden or leading to the forbidden

Some of the occupations that are forbidden or lead to the forbidden include working as a flight attendant, which requires wearing provocative clothing and interacting closely with the opposite gender, working as a private secretary, requiring being alone with the manager, or working as a dancer, who excites physical instincts and lusts.

Maintaining Islamic conduct in dealings

The rules of modesty, as laid down by the Quran and the Sunnah, must be observed. The proper Muslim dress should be worn; one must not look lustfully but be serious in speech and decent in gait.

Work should not result in neglect of the primary duty

The Muslim wife’s primary duty is towards her family. According to Zainab Al-Alwani, instructor of Fiqh and Islamic studies in Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences (Virginia, USA), educated Muslim women should strike a balance between work and family obligations by choosing a flexible job or choosing to work fewer hours. Daiyah Zeinab Mostafa further goes on to say: “Work can be obligatory for her, if she does not have anyone to look after her, and she is able to work and earn her living in a lawful way. It could be forbidden, if her work would lead her to neglect her duty as a wife and as a mother. It is entirely lawful and allowed, if the woman can strike a balance between different duties and obligations.”

Dealing with problems at work

A number of problems and dilemmas crop up, once a woman decides to work. Harassment, discrimination, travelling alone or choosing a career over marriage are just the tip of the iceberg.

Proud as a Peacock

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe may never really know, how a peacock feels, and perhaps calling him proud may be doing him an injustice; however, we humans can definitely understand what it is like to be arrogant and worse still – to be treated with arrogance. For instance, there is the case of Saima, who felt looked down upon at work, since she did not speak English very well and did not come from an elite business school. There are other people at work, too, whom we merely take for granted – the sweeper, for instance, who comes early in the morning, much before most people arrive for work, or the intern, who is slogging it out in a cramped corner of the office. Before we move on to discussing, whether arrogance is an acceptable trait, we must first define it.

What is arrogance?

In a Hadeeth narrated by Abdullah Ibn Masud (rta), the Prophet (sa) said: “He, who has in his heart (even) a weight of an atom of arrogance, will not enter Paradise.” Someone asked: “How about a person, who likes to wear beautiful clothes and shoes?” Allah’s Messenger (sa) replied: “Indeed Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty. Arrogance means rejecting the Truth and having contempt for people.”

Is arrogance acceptable?

The Quran is filled with stories of people and nations, who were overbearing and puffed up with self-importance; they rejected Allah’s (swt) Word and mocked the messengers. Their end speaks volumes about how much Allah (swt) dislikes arrogance. The Pharaoh, for instance, was drowned along with his followers, Qarun was swallowed up by the earth, and the nations of Ad, Thamud and Lut were destroyed by natural calamities.

We also find words of admonition in the Holy Quran regarding arrogance. For example, there is the advice of Luqman to his son: “‘And turn not your face away from men with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, Allah likes not any arrogant boaster.’” (Luqman 31:18)


Even the arrogant Qarun was admonished by his own people for his overbearing attitude:

“Verily, Qarun (Korah) was of Musa’s (Moses) people, but he behaved arrogantly towards them. And We gave him of the treasures, that of which the keys would have been a burden to a body of strong men. Remember when his people said to him: ‘Do not exult (with riches, being ungrateful to Allah). Verily, Allah likes not those who exult (with riches, being ungrateful to Allah).’” (Al-Qasas 28:76)

In the books of Ahadeeth, we find the end of a man, who was puffed up with pride.

Ibn Umar (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “A man was walking dragging his dress with pride, he was sunk in the earth because of it and will keep sinking in the earth till the day of standing.” (Bukhari)

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated: Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Allah (swt) said: ‘Pride is my cloak and honour is my loincloth, and whoever contends with me regarding one of them both, I will throw him in the fire.’” (Abu Dawood)

The above Quranic verses and Ahadeeth clearly show how much Allah (swt) dislikes arrogance.

Are you arrogant?

One is quick to jump to conclusions about people’s vain attitude. However, it is much more important to recognize arrogance within yourself. You could ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you love listening to how well you work and how well-dressed you are?
  • Do you believe that you have got this job only, because you worked hard and well? After all – you deserve it!
  • Do you listen to others at work, or do you always want your way? After all – your opinion is what really matters!
  • Working as part of a team, do you feel that the less important work makes you literally that – LESS important?
  • When someone criticizes your opinion, do you feel like saying: “How dare you question my judgment?”

If your answer to most of the above questions is a ‘yes,’ it is likely that the plant of arrogance has taken root inside your heart.

The ways of rooting out arrogance


Begin with seeking Allah’s (swt) help: “O Allah! Keep me alive (in a state of) humbleness and grant me death in (a state of) humbleness, and gather (resurrect) me in the company of the humble ones.” (Ibn Abi Shaibah)

Praise Allah (swt)

When someone praises you, instead of saying thank you, say: “Alhamdulillah!” (Praise be to Allah!)

Remember the warning in the Quran

Remind yourself of the miserable end of the nations and people, who were arrogant.

Look up to the Prophet’s (sa) example

As a part of a team, the Prophet (sa) did not despise any task, no matter how menial and ordinary it appeared to be. Once, he was traveling with his companions and it was time to prepare food, he asked them to slaughter a sheep. A man said: “I will slaughter it.” Another said: “I will skin it out.” A third one said: “I will cook it.” So, Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “I will collect the wood for fire.” They said: “No. We will do that work.” The Prophet (sa) said: “I know that you can do it for me, but I hate to be privileged. Allah hates to see a servant of His privileged to others.” So, he went and collected firewood. (Khulasatus-Siyar, p.22)

Remind yourself of your creation

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “It is He, Who has created you (Adam) from dust, then from a Nutfah (mixed semen drops of male and female sexual discharge [i.e. Adam’s offspring]) then from a clot (a piece of coagulated blood), then brings you forth as an infant…” (Ghafir 40:67)

Dealing with arrogant people

Difficulties in the workplace arise from the attitude of colleagues and supervisors. Dealing with an arrogant boss or a colleague is difficult; however, you can use the following tips to deal with them more effectively.

Be gentle with them

Allah (swt) told Musa (as), how to deal with the arrogant Pharaoh: “And speak to him mildly, perhaps he may accept admonition or fear (Allah).” (Ta-Ha 20:44)

Arrogance is rooted in insecurity. Being gentle with such a person may tame his desire to overpower others.

Advise them in private

From a Hadeeth, we learn that the Prophet (sa) said: “Islam is a word of sincerity and well wishing.” Upon this, the companions asked: “For whom?” The Prophet (sa) replied: “For Allah, His Book, His Messenger and for the leaders and the common Muslims.” (Muslim, Abu Dawood, and At-Tirmidhi)

Advising such people in private would perhaps give them a chance to reflect on their behavior, which is detrimental to their own self as well as to others around them.

Supplicate for them

Lastly, make a prayer for that arrogant colleague or boss to help him/her get over the overbearing attitude, which invites Allah’s (swt) wrath.

Dealing with Jealousy

Vol 4 - Issue 4 Dealing with JealousySarah took a two-year break from her job to attend university. When she came back, she discovered that her juniors had now reached higher posts and she would have to join as a subordinate. She couldn’t help feeling a strong sense of resentment towards her ‘juniors’. The resentment continued to build up.

Having just switched to a new company as Head of Operations, Amir looked forward to higher pay, a newer car and the chances of working with a dynamic team. The newly-appointed Head of Sales was fifteen years his senior. Amir had an introductory meeting with him that morning and got an uncanny feeling that he wasn’t going to be of much help as the Head of Operations.

No one is safe from jealousy. Either you are a victim of jealousy or a victim of someone else’s. You’ve also probably been in a sticky situation as a team-leader, when your subordinates are nurturing feelings of jealousy towards each other. Problems are being created but you find yourself at a loss as to how to deal with the issue.

Can the above stories be dismissed as myths or does jealousy really exist in the workplace? Let’s see what research has to say.

What does research say about jealousy?

A survey on the role jealousy plays in organizations was conducted by Frederick C. Miner Jr., Ph.D., and the results were published in the April 1990 issue of the “Personnel Journal”. It was found that more than 75% of the respondents reported observing a jealous situation in their work environment. What was really surprising was the fact that more than 50% indicated that they were directly involved in such a situation, and over 25% of the group admitted that they were jealous of someone else during the past month. In more than 33% of the situations, jealous people tried to undermine the co-workers they were jealous of by spreading rumors, acting destructively and so on.

In another survey on jealousy, the results were reported by “Notre Dame Magazine” in the summer issue of 1996. The survey conducted by Professor of Management Robert P. Vecchio cited that 77% of employees surveyed had witnessed jealousy around the office within the past month, and more than 50% admitted to being directly involved.

The above results point to the fact that jealousy is common in the workplace. Let’s see what guidance Islam gives about this very destructive emotion.

What does Islam say about jealousy?

The Prophet (sa) said: “Beware of jealousy, for verily it destroys good deeds the way fire destroys wood.” (Abu Dawood)

In another Hadeeth, the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “There has come to you the disease of the nations before you, jealousy and hatred. This is the ‘shaver’ (destroyer); I do not say that it shaves hair, but that it shaves (destroys) faith.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Two things cannot be gathered in the heart of a believer, Iman (faith) and envy.” (An-Nasai)

It is very clear from the above Ahadeeth that jealousy should not be nurtured, and one should make an effort to cleanse one’s heart of this destructive emotion. Not doing so would put our faith in danger.

How to deal with jealousy?

Here are some tips on dealing with this emotion, and with people, who might turn green at the mention of your name.

If you are jealous of someone…

1. Say Salam and shake hands with him

Jealousy breeds hatred and the word of Salam spreads love as we know from the following Hadeeth: “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, you will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I not tell you of that which will strengthen love between you? Spread (the greeting of) Salam amongst yourselves.” (At-Tirmidhi)

2. Say a prayer of blessing for him

Upon feeling the pangs of jealousy, immediately say a prayer of blessing for that person and ask forgiveness from Allah (swt).

3. Ask for contentment from Allah (swt)

One of the causes of jealousy is discontentment with the blessings given to you by Allah (swt). You can read the following Masnoon prayer to seek contentment: “O Allah! Make me content upon what (blessings) You have granted me and bless me in it; and be the Best Protector (and Guardian) for me (in my absence) of whatever is hidden from me.”


If someone is jealous of you…

Seek protection from Allah (swt)

Say a prayer seeking refuge with Allah (swt). Recitation of Surah Falaq (Chapter 113) and prayers of protection would save you from the harms of the person who is jealous.

You could recite the following prayer: “O Allah! Indeed we place You before them (our enemies) and we take refuge in You from their evil.” (Abu Dawood)

If you are a manager dealing with jealousies among your subordinates, then you should:

1. Throw open the doors of communication

Understanding the reasons for an employee’s negative sentiment and trying to arrive at a solution to the problem would possibly result in curtailment of jealousy.

2. Boost employee’s morale

By focusing on each employee’s positive aspects and abilities you could shift the attention away from destructive tendencies towards constructive efforts.

If you are a co-worker, then you could:

Convey to your colleague that jealousy is destructive

Tell your colleague that jealousy will take him down the drain both in this world and in the Hereafter; plus, the company will likely suffer.

Last Word…

Allah (swt) has said: “It is We Who portion out between them their livelihood in this world, and We raised some of them above others in ranks, so that some may employ others in their work But the Mercy (Paradise) of your Lord is better than the (wealth of this world) which they amass.” (Az-Zukhruf 43:32)

It is clear from the above verse that the reason for some people getting more of this world than others is due to Allah’s (swt) wisdom and planning. Therefore, instead of rushing to get more of the possessions of this world, our sights should remain on the Hereafter. The fires of jealousy will then subside, Insha’Allah!

An Advice

Al-Hasan Al-Basri said: “Umar Ibn Khattab wrote this letter to Abu Musa Al-Ashari: ‘Be content with your provision in this world, for the Most Merciful has honored some of His servants over others in terms of provision as a test of both. The one, who has been given plenty, is being tested to see if he will give thanks to Allah and fulfill the duties which are his by virtue of his wealth.’” (Ibn Hatim)