Steps To Avoid Extra-Marital Affairs In The Workplace

Last week, we explored some accounts on how many married people (men and women) engaged in extramarital relationships and the position of Islam on it (read here). This week we are discussing some steps to avoid extra-marital affairs in the workplace (and elsewhere).

The following are some tips adapted from various Islamic sources, many work and spouse counseling sites, and Nina Chen for preventing unIslamic behavior and affairs in the workplace.

Avoid what is doubtful. “On the authority of Abu Abdullah al-Nu’maan ibn Basheer (may Allah be pleased with them both) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (s say, ‘That which is lawful is clear, and that which is unlawful is clear, and between the two of them are doubtful [or ambiguous] matters about which not many people are knowledgeable. Thus, he who avoids these doubtful matters certainly clears himself in regard to his religion and honour. But he who falls into the doubtful matters falls into that which is unlawful, like a shepherd who pastures around a sanctuary, all but grazing therein. Verily every king has a sanctuary and Allah’s sanctuary is His prohibitions. In the body there is a morsel of flesh which, if it be sound, all of the body is sound and which, if it be diseased, all of the body is diseased. This part of the body is the heart.” (Recorded in Bukhari and Muslim)

Have honest, trusting and transparent communication with your spouse. Do you “edit” information out about how you spent your day when you talk to your spouse? Do you exclude information about how you spent time with someone else you may be attracted to? If you find yourself engaging in such secrecy, ask yourself why and put an end to it. When in doubt, discuss the situation with your spouse. If you are unwilling to do so, you may stepping into a dangerous and un-Islamic area. Commit to honest and transparent relations with your spouse, and schedule private times for yourself and him/her so that you can reconnect emotionally. Most importantly, talk to your spouse if you sense yourself slipping. Unless one is shameless, extra-marital affairs are shrouded in secrecy, and discussing the issue makes it clear whether there is a marital problem, a problem of incompatible personalities, a sexual or emotional problem, or something else in the marriage that needs to be resolved. “And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts. Verily in that are signs for those who reflect.” (Qur’an 30:21)

Stay committed to your marriage. Strengthen your commitment to your marriage–a blessed act in Islam. Studies show that couples who commit to one another think less often about being with someone else. Keeping your marriage strong needs investment and commitment. Treat your wife (husband) with respect. (Muhammad).) said ‘I am the best amongst you and I am the best to my wife’ Address your spouse with the best of names. Prophet Mohammed (s) called Khadija ‘Ya Khadija’ as an endearment. The following hadith has relevance for all those brothers who work 12-16 hour days neglecting their marriage and their wife. In hadith 88, in the book of Marriage, Abu Juhayfa quoted it from the Prophet (s): 4903. It is related that ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘As said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said to me, ‘Have I not been told that you pray at night and fast in the day?’ I answered, ‘Yes, Messenger of Allah.’ He said, ‘Do not do it. Fast and break the fast. Pray and sleep. Your body has rights over you. Your eyes have rights over you. Your wife has rights over you.’”
Honor your marriage publicly and tangibly. Frame a picture of your wedding/and of your kids and position it in your office where you (and anybody else who you may be wary of) can see it. Keep it as a constant reminder of your marital and family status. Bring your spouse with you to office parties, company picnics and dinners so that anyone who may be attracted to you gets the message loud and clear that you are married and committed to your marriage bifadlillah.

Stifle fantasies about co-workers. Monitor and control your thoughts and keep your thoughts on a professional level. Don’t entertain fantasies/thoughts about an extra-marital relation with a co-worker since Allah knows at all times what you are thinking. Indeed, Allah is always near and is all aware– as mentioned in a number of Qur’anic verses such as, ‘He is with you, wherever you are…’ [Surah al-Hadid (57): 4]. Again, Allah emphasizes his closeness to each of us in the Qur’an: ‘And indeed, We have created man, and We know what his own self whispers to him. And We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.’ [Surah Qaf (50): 16] Similarly, Allah states that, in the case of the dying person, ‘But We are nearer to him than you, but you see not.’ [Surah al-Waqi’ah (56): 85]

Do work at work, and keep intimate/personal information for your spouse. If you share more of your personal information with a co-worker than with your spouse and spend more time with him/her than in your marriage, this is a big warning sign, and you need to desist and re-examine that relationship.

Do not work alone with coworkers of the opposite sex. The Prophet (s) said: “No man is alone with a woman but the Shaytaan is the third one present.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (1171) and classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi. Al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) narrated in Sharh Muslim (14/153) that there was consensus among the scholars that it is haram for a man to be alone with a woman who is not his mahram Being alone with each other opens the door to haram opportunities. If you have to do work with someone of the opposite sex, arrange to have someone else present or leave the door to your office open or do it in an open and public area. The more you do work together alone, the more likely you are to build a connection that may lead to fornication or zina.

When talking with coworkers of the opposite sex, stay focused on work-related topics. [/b]When the conversation digresses to a more personal level, stop and leave. Conversations of a personal nature are between you and your spouse and is nobody else’s business.
Don’t succumb to peer pressure. Your co-workers may try to make you feel vulnerable especially if you are feeling lonely or depressed while away on a business trip. Peer pressure may be exerted on you in the form of statements such as “Are you a saint? Everyone at our firm does this when away on business.” or “If you don’t do it, you are not one of us.”, etc. Stand by your Islamic principles, and if such peer pressure becomes intolerable, either go to the Human Relations Department and register a complaint or find a job with another company where marital fidelity is more valued.

[b]Travel in groups rather than in a pair. Since jobs often involve traveling, often with male and female colleagues going on business trips or trade shows together, protect your marriage by not spending time alone with any person of the opposite gender and never ever bring that person to your hotel room. If you must attend a social event, do so in groups. Be disciplined about your behavior in working relationships. A good tactic of preventing an affair is to ask yourself “would I be doing or saying this if my spouse was here?” of “What would Prophet Muhammad (s) do if he were in this situation right now?”

Avoid online relationships with co-workers (or anybody else). These are just as toxic as an actual extra-marital affair because they may desensitize you, and act as a precursor to one. Remember the fiqh rule: Whatever leads to haram is itself haram. Prevent online affairs by placing the computer in a common room such as a family room or kitchen where you cannot hide the computer screen from your spouse. Stay away from chat rooms and never bring up or discuss sensitive topics and personal or marital issues with co-workers or anybody else over the Internet.

Educate your co-workers about Islamic etiquette. One of my female co-workers was always wondering why I refused to stare at her face while speaking to her. This provided me with an opportunity to explain the concept of awra and modesty in Islam. Ever since, she makes sure that to let me know what parts of a meal at a company picnic or dinner has pork or alcohol.

Use spiritual examples of Muslim men and women who faced similar tests. The story of Yusuf (Joseph) (a) and Zulaika in the Qur’an (Chapter 12) is a very moving one and a testimony to his spiritual fortitude. Similarly, the story narrated by Ibn Umar of the three men trapped inside cave is very moving, especially the part narrating the story of the second man who did not take advantage of a female relative after she tried to dissuade him from seducing her. Spiritual strength and growth correlate with one’s ability to resist temptation.
Do not let you eyes stray and behave with Islamic humility as required in the Qur’an (Al-Hishmah).

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