Being a Muslim and the struggle to find a job

“Akhi, how can you go to a job interview with that beard?  Trim it down a bit.”  “Akhi, why are you being so extreme?  Just shake her hand during the interview; Islam makes exceptions for necessities, and this is definitely a necessity.”   “Akhi, why don’t you just ‘exaggerate’ a bit in your CV or when you are being interviewed?  You’re not lying, you’re just exaggerating a bit, and that’s acceptable, isn’t it?”


These are words and questions that I have heard numerous times in many different occasions, and I assume many of you have heard them , so what’s the answer to them?


Alhamdulillah, I am someone who has been blessed with a beard, and I do not shake hands with women, so how did I deal with the above so-called “obstacles”?

Let me tell you my story.


As a university student in this current age, the method of getting jobs is to apply while you are studying in your final year, or apply for a placement in your penultimate year, and this is exactly what I did.  I knew that job-opportunities are scarce and competition is high, so I applied early to try to avoid any disappointment.  Because I live in London, I wanted to find a job in London so that I don’t have to move out and live in a different city where Islam is not as widespread, and where I don’t have any friends.  However, when I looked at the opportunities available, and the nature of my degree, I did realise that it might be difficult to get a job in London, so I made my first compromise in that I would accept job offers in Southern England.


When applying for jobs, I ensured that I didn’t lie in my CV, and when answering the competency questions, or participating in a phone interview, I also ensured that everything I said was true.  I won’t deny that in my first few interviews/answers to competency questions, there were some “exaggerations” from my part, but Alhamdulillah I didn’t get those jobs, and I pray that Allah will keep me steadfast in not doing this again.  When I got to my first final-stage job interview, which was for a job in Southampton, I received the usual comments and “advice” that I should trim/shave my beard, and shake hands with a woman if she put her hand forward, but what stopped me from listening to this “advice” is that I knew that my sustenance comes from Allah, so how can I ever get a job if I disobey Allah in the process?  Even if I do get a job, how can I ever expect to have any barakah in this job if I disobeyed Allah in the process?


The first interview, as expected, didn’t go too well and I didn’t get the job.  My second interview was in Slough, and again I tried to maintain Islamic principles when attending the interview and not do anything that displeases Allah, but again I was rejected.  Being rejected in the final stage of a recruitment-process is very disheartening because it means you have already gone through all the previous stages of answering competency questions, phone interview, etc., and fallen at the last hurdle.  What makes it even more annoying is when they tell you not to feel bad because you have been specially selected from hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people to attend the final stage.


Now that I had two rejections at the final stage of the recruitment process, my motivation was lowered and the ‘need’ for compromise began to hit me.  The compromise could be in my deen; e.g.  trim my beard or shake hands, etc., or it could be in where I am willing to work.  Again, Allah reminded me of the importance of abiding by His laws, and that only He controls my sustenance, so I chose to compromise where I am willing to work;  now I was willing to work anywhere within the UK.


My third final-stage interview was in Aberdeen.  It was a two-day assessment centre, and I was thinking how much of a waste it must feel if I go all the way to Aberdeen and stay for two days, only to end up with a rejection, and guess what?  That’s exactly what happened.


All of the previous interviews I mentioned were in my penultimate year, when I was applying for a placement, and at the beginning of my final year I made my third compromise: I was now willing to work for any company in my sector, anywhere in the world.  I applied to over 50 companies!!

As time went by, I got more and more rejections, some in the final stage of the recruitment process.  The total number of companies that I was waiting to hear from was quickly decreasing, and so were my hopes of finding a job in my sector.  Despite all of that, I kept on reminding myself that Allah is al-Razzaaq, and that only He can provide for me, not my physical appearance, or my actions, and that is what kept me going.


As time went on, and I was coming closer to completing my degree without securing a job, I made my fourth compromise: I began to apply for teaching positions as the hopes of working in my sector were diminishing, and becoming a teacher would be my back-up option.  I then heard back from a company which I had previously applied to, and they invited me to attend a first-stage interview, and Alhamdulillah they then progressed me further to the final stage assessment centre based in Aberdeen.  Approaching the assessment centre, I was thinking to myself, this is going to be another rejection; oh well, I’m used to it by now.  Alhamdulillah, the assessment centre went fine and at the end of it, I sat down with a HR representative so that he can give me feedback on how I had performed.  The feedback was good, Alhamdulillah, and I was getting very excited; then came the killer question.  The question was (paraphrased), “It‘s physically visible that you are someone who practises his faith a lot, so do you think it will affect you in any way if you are to work with us?”  A lot of things went through my head at that moment, but I decided that I would be honest in my answer and not hide anything , so I replied that it shouldn’t really affect me, except that I am not allowed to have any physical interactions with the opposite gender, hence I didn’t shake hands with the female interviewer.  We then had a long discussion on how I can best go round this issue without compromising my religion, or sounding rude to others.  After that, he said they would get back to me soon.


When I finished the assessment centre, I stayed behind a bit to wait for a brother I had met on the day until he finishes, and while I was waiting, a senior manager came to me and said, “You mentioned in your application form that you were president of a society in university; which society was that?”  I swallowed my heart and replied, “Islamic Society”.


A week later, I received a call from the recruitment department saying that they want to offer me a place in their company.  I had attended many interviews before this one, and I met many companies, but subhanAllah, out of all the companies I interacted with, this one was the one I felt closest to.  And guess where the job is?  London, Alhamdulillah.


Looking back at what I had gone through and what I did, now I really appreciate and understand that Allah is the One who provides for me, and that if the whole world goes against me, but Allah is by my side, then I will surely succeed.  Who would have thought that being open and frank about my requirements and my belief would actually help in getting me the job?  As Allah says in the Qur’an {…They plan, and Allah plans, and Allah is the best of planners} (Surah Al-Anfaal 8:30)


During my application process, I made many compromises, but Allah helped me to ensure that none of those compromises were in regards to the deen, and SubhanAllah, I was rewarded with a job that I could have never dreamed of getting.  Out of the over 50 companies I applied to, only two were in London, and this was the only one in central London, but because Allah is the One who controls everything, including my sustenance, He provided me with the best job out of all of the ones I applied to.


I want to use my story as a reassurance and as a message to everyone who is struggling to abide by the commands of Allah that you should keep steadfast and remember that Allah is Al-Aleem (the all-Knowing), Al-Qaadir (the most Able), Al-Razzaaq (the Sustainer), and Al-Qahaar (the Irresistible).  Don’t ever think that if you make a small compromise in your deen that you will be successful, because when you make that compromise, you are reducing your reliance on Allah and relying on something else.  How can you expect that something else you are relying on to be of a greater help than Allah?


Whenever you are faced with a hardship or a tough decision, remember Allah’s words in the Qur’an: {… And whoever fears Allah, He will provide for him a way out.  And He provides him from [sources] he could never imagine.  And if anyone puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is [Allah] for him.  For Allah will surely accomplish his purpose: Verily, for all things Allah has appointed a due proportion.”} (Surah al-Talaaq 65:2-3)



14 thoughts on “Being a Muslim and the struggle to find a job

  1. As salaam wa alaykum,

    The graduate job process is one of the toughest and most competitive processes and when you add looking “visibly Muslim” to that it becomes even harder.

    The graduate job I’m in right now was one I had the least hope in. This is because the assessment centre was in Ramadan, manageable in most other circumstances but this was a 2 day assessment centre with a lunch and formal dinner in the evening (which btw was before Iftar time!).

  2. Masha Allah Sir, I love you for the sake of Allah for having that taqwa, please pray for all of us.

  3. I’m so happy I came across this! I am seeking advice! Alhumduliah I recently reverted and quit my job due to health issues and now I’m ready to get back on my feet, but it’s harder than expected. I was rejected one job and not selected as another. My bills are adding up and I was at the brink of taking my hijab off for interviews. After reading this, thank you so much for the reminder of Allah. I shall be steadfast and wait patiently!

    1. May Allah make you steadfast, and grant you a job that He is pleased for you to have, for what He is pleased with, is far greater than we can imagine.

  4. Salam
    I have been looking for a job for 2 years and even though I get to interview stage , I never get selected. In many of my rejection calls or emails I received indirect comments such as “we believe you are not the right fit” or “your not what we expected”.

    There have been occasions where companies were impressed with my CV and practically have given me the job but when they book in for a face to face to complete formality, I see the disapproval in the faces.

    I have never had a problem with getting jobs before. I always got every job I had applied for. The last 4 years I have started to practice and have adorned the hijab. I have got jobs after wearing the hijab but was with a Muslim owned company but eventually they got rid of me as I prayed during work hours and also adhered to Islamic free mixing rules.

    I am only relying on Allah SWT to help.

    Please make dua for me brothers and sisters.

    Jzk Allah

  5. I’m currently in the same situation. I’ve got bad grades and I’m a practicing Muslim looking for a job. Whatever job I get it won’t be anything high class I just hope to be content with it. My own family are trying to get me to compromise saying “if you can’t pray on time you can pray when you come home” etc. I live in the UK, it feels almost impossible to get a low class Halāl job at the age of 18 with bad grades… As Salāmū ‘Alaikum Wa Rahmatullāh

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