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IslamQA: Dealing with a toxic work environment as a Muslim

(Part 1): Salaam, I am currently in a toxic work environment at my new job. My coworkers, teachers who are Muslim women, have been gossiping about me and spreading rumors. What is your advice to rise above it, Islamically? Are there any duaas I can make to relieve the worry I feel when they talk about me?

(Part 2): Also, our work requires collaboration. Despite my treatment I find myself wanting to be kind and share my work with them. Would this be okay for me to do, Islamically, or should I be doing something else because of my treatment? I am very conflicted. Thank you for your help.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

The ideal way to behave (although it is very difficult at times) is to be kind, compassionate and generous regardless of what other people do. The way to rise above any worldly situation is to keep a strong connection with God, and this requires constant, daily work. I recommend an hour of tahajjud every night for this who are able (as I discuss in this essay). Reading the Quran without tahajjud for an 30 minutes to an hour every day can also have powerful similar benefits.

When we have established a close connection with God and work on it daily, then we will require no willpower to be kind, to avoid being rude toward those who are rude toward us, or to avoid sinning. All of these will become almost automatic for us. So it is a close relationship with God from which all these other benefits come.

Regarding sharing work with them, that sounds perfectly fine and God will reward you for it even if they do not appreciate it.

I should mention that Islam does not require us to be martyrs when it comes to abuse. Islam allows us to try to counter the abuse and to hold the people responsible. But it also tells us that while this is fair and just, we can aim for a higher ideal (generosity, meaning to forgive and be kind despite their abuse and cruelty). It is up to each person to decide between justice and generosity, sometimes justice makes more sense. But those who are closest to God will always try to be closer to generosity even if justice is more satisfactory to their human instincts.

34. Good and evil are not equal. Repel evil with good, and the person who was your enemy becomes like an intimate friend.

35. But none will attain it except those who persevere, and none will attain it except the very fortunate. (The Quran, verses 41:-34-35)

It is not necessary to memorize any specific prayers for dealing with fear and worry. Having a close connection with God, and sincerely talking to Him, is all that is required. Some people recite the three very short final chapters of the Quran (112-114) in times of fear and worry.

Best wishes.

And God knows best.
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