Muslim colleagues at Capgemini discuss working life

Muslim colleagues at Capgemini discuss working life

 May 07, 2020

Two colleagues working for progressive employer Capgemini UK describe their perspectives on the hijab and life at Capgemini as a Muslim woman.

Salima Topadar on life working as a Muslim woman

"A role model to Muslim women is Khadijah (peace be upon her), wife of Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), who successfully fulfilled the roles of a businesswoman, a wife and a mother. She inherited her father’s skills and upon her father’s death she took over the business, hired trustworthy men and traded goods through the primary commerce centres of that time, from Mecca to Syria and Yemen. Another inspiring individual is Fatima al-Fihri. She founded the first university in the world. The University of Al Qarawiynn was founded in 895 in Morocco, which is still in operation today," Salima shares.

"Working as a young Muslim female has been a positive experience at Capgemini. I have received a few questions regarding my faith however, these conversations have been educational for those curious. With the support of a great company, I am made to feel comfortable in the workplace. Considering both Khadija’s (peace be upon her) and Fatima al-Fihri’s stories and seeing their courage and determination, I am proud to say I became the first female in my family to attend university and graduate with a Computer Science degree. Now I am prouder than ever to be a part of and work for a company who stand by their female workers and have programmes in place to inspire us into leadership roles and bring in more female talent to tech.

"Colleagues have been extremely supportive of my views when it comes to social events and food. For example, allowing me to choose restaurants which serve halal food and understanding I don’t drink alcohol due to religious reasons. This means avoiding places such as bars and pubs, making after work social events with them more relaxed and enjoyable. Capgemini has allowed us to be comfortable in our own skin and most importantly have shown respect and support towards our beliefs."

Shaira Abdullah on the Hijab

"The word hijab comes from the Arabic word ‘Khimar’ which means conceal. In the Quran, God instructs men and women to observe modesty," explains Shaira.

"For me, the hijab is not simply a piece of cloth I put on my head. I wear it because it makes me feel complete. Over the last year, I believe it has become a part of my identity as a Muslim woman – it has allowed me to be proud of being able to represent myself outwardly as Muslim whilst allowing me to fulfill my duties towards God," she adds.

"Given I started to wear my hijab halfway through my first year at Capgemini, I received a few questions from my colleagues who were intrigued as to why I suddenly started to wear it – I happily explained why and have continued to have conversations around it.  So why do I wear it? The reason is simple; it is the same reason for which I fast and pray: God commands us to do it. I do it out of submission to God, out of Islam.

"Some people assume I had a life-changing moment or an epiphany; this is far from the truth. I have been wanting to wear the hijab for a long time, however, last year I decided to wear it on the first day of Ramadan, which really helped me as that particular month for Muslims, is a great habit builder and allowed me to stick to my intention of keeping my hijab on. Of course, it is difficult at times and I do struggle, but overall, it has helped me focus on what matters most: my spirituality and character in my journey towards being closer to God.  Aside from that, hijab, to me, means a complete liberation from all the societal pressures and expectations regarding standards of Eurocentric beauty."

"Whenever I see a Muslim woman in hijab doing amazing things, making it to magazine covers, and succeeding in different elements of sport, cooking, fashion, business, or in technology, it’s a huge empowering feeling. An example of this are the numerous athletes donning the hijab whilst competing and Nike unveiling the ‘Pro Hijab’ for Muslim sports women which has also helped normalise the hijab," Shaira continues.

"It’s highly unfortunate, that some have a negative opinion about the hijab. Some people may feel that the hijab oppresses women, but I hope to be an example of a woman who is empowered by it. The last year has allowed me to embrace my Muslim identity inside and out and has helped me to reflect on what it means to be a Muslim woman. I hope I can continue to embrace the hijab and have discussions with those around me on what hijab means to me."

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