Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Feel Like I Should Be Mad...But Not Sure....Anyone?

Most people that have spent any time around Muslims during Ramadan will know that Muslims will strive to listen to the Quran throughout Ramadan...at home...in the car...where ever possible. We listen for several reasons...but the main one being that when we listen to the Quran...it reminds us to focus on our goal of Ramadan...to purify our thoughts and subsequently our actions.

So I had my son download the Quran into my MP3 player so that I could take it with me everywhere...and one of those places I took it was to work. This player requires headphones to hear it properly...but if you remove the headphones you can still hear it...but very tinny and far away. You have to be right next to it to get a clear hearing...from farther away its hard to make out what it is much less hear it even.
I had it on my desk...and was enjoying hearing it while I sat at the desk...and believe me...even that close it wasnt really that loud...or clear...but I was happy with it. So imagine my surprise...not to mention my anger...when my english boss popped his head around the corner and told me to turn off that music. I told him it wasnt music...it was the Quran...he replied...I dont care what it is...I dont want to hear it...turn it off.

I was left speechless...and my cheeks were burning....and I felt like I should say something about how rude that sounded to me...but I hesitated for two reasons. One...maybe I was being too sensitive...and two...its Ramadan and we are supposed to practice self restraint and patience...so I didnt do anything...but I seethed for the rest of the day....which probably disturbed my fasting...but Im only human.

My question to you, dear readers...is this. Would you have reacted in anyway if your boss said such a thing to you...or would you consider it his right to say it...as the boss and all? After all...he is the guest so to speak...this is a Muslim country...its the Holy Month of Ramadan...and the company that pays his salaray is owned by a Muslim...so its not beyond the pale to assume the Quran would be played at some point at work during Ramadan...as is the case in many businesses around the Islamic world...so why did he get so upset...and was frankly quite rude about it. A simple..."please dont play that during office hours" ...would have sufficed. I would still have been rather upset...but I wouldnt have felt as if he smacked me in the face...which is what I did feel...which is why Im so darn mad now.

Now I know many will quickly jump up and say..."you Muslims are so damn sensitive when it comes to your religion..."...well...Im not focusing so much on the religious aspect of it...more on his poor choice of words...he was just plain rude in my opinion. So...Im still fuming all these hours later...and wondering if I should press the point tomorrow at work...which is really what Im asking...if you were in my shoes...would you talk to him and point out his rudeness to him...or not? Id really like some opinions here...thanks in advance.


rebellious said...

i`d go directly to him and pitch a fit to show him his rudeness, beside i would kick his ass by telling him i respect him so much , so why cant he get up from his high horse and treat me better than that << very cool storm ,, Maryam Al.Sherooqi>> luv u ,, hehehe
dont forget to kick his ass

ange Embuldeniya said...

First off, congrats on holding back and taking time to think over it ;-)

Secondly, I would suggest that you not engage in any further verbal conversation(s) with regards to this incident with your manager as it may prove pointless, rather, I'd encourage you to escalate this issue to higher management by putting down the happenings which led to this incident including specific details of your manager's rude behavior and send it to him via e-mail while copying his manager (unsure how large your company is, but if he doesn't have a manager who he reports to them am sure it would be beneficial to copy it to owner of the firm) on the same e-mail. Also sum up the main points from your blog posting here and how it had affected your productivity while at work, etc. Feel free to recommend how his reaction should have been communicated and end with a note to the top management stating something along the lines that you look forward to contributing to the well being of the company's workforce and the success of the business in the hope that such an incident would not repeat itself in the organization again. You may also highlight that you are happy to provide further details of this incident in person during a formal meeting with your manager and top management if required to do so in order to resolve the issue. ;-)

It is strange that a person with the authority to manage people effectively acts out in such a manner, it's not the first time I've heard of this happening, but the ways to resolve it is through complete diplomacy :)

Lastly, if you're not violating any privacy clauses at your firm, I'd be real interested to know the name of this rude person or at the very least in what capacity/department he works within, because I sure wouldn't want my firm to employ such folks - that would be totally de-motivating to other employees should the person get hired and then behave the same. Feel free to e-mail me and you have my word - confidentiality is assured.

Keep going strong! :)


(angeloe at hp.com)

coolred38 said...

Hey guys...thanks for the feedback. Im still somewhat miffed days later but I have decided that he just isnt a Ramadan loving soul. He is a work-a-holic and no doubt is fuming that all these work hours are lost as Muslims get to go home several hours early. Maybe his irritation came out at the wrong time...I will give him the benefit of the doubt just this once...but past behavoir and comments leave me to believe he's not all that hip to Arabs/Muslim/Islam anyhow...so Im sure its only a matter of time before something new comes up...we shall see. Meanwhile...this is me practicing my patience....sigh!

American Bedu said...

Hi there!

First of all, what kind of policy if any does your company have in regards to the presence and playing of MP3 players at work? Is it typically allowed?

Secondly I commend you for not reacting and exchanging words with him, Ramadan or not that was the professional attitude.

Lastly to close the loop and give yourself self satisfaction, do bring the topic up with him at a time he is not rushed and you are not angry. I would not focus so much on the fact that as a Muslim you were wanting to listen to the Quran but more on the aspect of interoffice relations and professional demeanor. How his manner and approach were upsetting to you.

Then depending on how that discussion goes it is up to you whether you choose to bring up the importance and joy it gives you to listen to the Quran as you are working.

American Bedu

Abu Dhabi/UAE Daily Photo said...

I can understand asking you not to listen to anything during work, particularly if this is the policy towards music, audio books, etc. I'm teaching, and while my students will read Quran during their breaks, they are expected to give their full attention during class. So, I can understand why it would be important to focus on your job. However, the way it was handled was inappropriate on the part of your boss. I would guess he felt rather silly when you responded, and didn't know how to respond tactfully. Personally, I would be much sensitive to the symbolism of this holy month and handle that as delicately as possible so as not to suggest that I was prohibiting prayer. Every office is different. I share a space w/ 4 others, and low music does not bother us, but the earphones definitely create a barrier for communication in the workplace.

coolred38 said...

Thanks guys for the input. Actually, as I said...Im not so much upset about the fact that he didnt want me hearing the Quran itself at work...it bothered me more the way he dismissed it as if it had no significance other than so much noise to him. That was what got my heat up. He was extremely tactless and considering that Im alone in my office...and it was low...and there are only 7 people in my office all together...Im not sure why he got so irritated to begin with. Anyhow, i decided to forgive and forget and move on...maybe he was having a bad day...I will leave it at that and consider it a learning experience.

Nzingha said...

No foreign manager would have dared to say that to a Muslim during Ramadhan here in Saudi. I don't think it is just a matter of how he said it but that he said it in regards to your objection that it was QurĂ¡n and it is Ramadhan and he does live and work in a MUSLIM country .. isn't that what Bahrain still is isn't?? I wonder sometimes. That you are in a Muslim country during Ramadhan he should have even better manners and consideration to the land and the people of which he is a GUEST worker.

Of course I'm not finding myself a huge fan of many of the foriengers in Bahrain. It is really much different than Saudi.

Marahm said...

I actually understand his objection to not wanting to hear not simply the Qur'an-- which can sound unpleasant to non-Muslim ears-- but to sounds unrelated to the workplace.

Surely, his approach was rude,but forget about the Muslim country/Muslim sponsor angle. Western guest workers regard their workplace as cultural holy ground--theirs.

I'd probably let the incident pass. He is not open to to hearing an objection from his subordinate--a fellow Westerner who "went native".

Susie of Arabia said...

I'd just go with the earphones and try to slough off his rudeness as ignorance. But that's just me.

Aafke said...

It's rude,but ignore it, he doesn't sound as if he would listen to any reasonable comment. Probably he will regard it even as criticism.
I think you reacted very well!, Put one earplug in your ear :)

I don't know what work you do, but I think most offices would not allow listening to anything here.
I think you handled it well, forget it and feel good about having dealt in the proper ramadan-manner.

SoulSearch said...

That was definitely rude in my opinion. He should be reminded that he works & lives off a Muslim country. He should be culture sensitive to say the least. Many expats are very respectful towards our religion, but unfortunately you always get some dimwit like your manager who needs some sense kicked into him!

Susanne said...

What an interesting blog. I'm glad I found it. I'm sorry about your rude boss, but you took the high road in deciding to let it go. Maybe he'd had a bad morning and just took it out on you. Unfortunate, but that's life sometimes. :-S

aa said...

The manager was rude and unrespectful...he should've handled it in a better way.

Still, it seemed as though you were justifying the 'noise' because it is ramadan.

I think a workplace is a workplace and employees need to respect that. I worked in a governement office (in Canada) and a woman played christian music, had christian posters all over her desk, a jesus screensaver on her computer, etc. -- and she was the receptionist. It is not appropriate, I think, and esp. if you are working in a foreign-owned or managed company. {this is the first time to your blog, so I don't know the details of the type of company you are at}.