Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, SunniPath Academy Teacher
I work at a Muslim school and I really love my duty because I love my students. I realise what a blessing it is from Allah that he has selected me from many to be an example to children growing up in a drug ridden society. Many of them at first impression has been influenced by the low life of the streets, but Alhamdullilah they are all attempting to read Salah and refrain from evil and enjoin good. My students are very fond of me and many of them would probably go back to thier old declining habits if I ever left them. At the moment I feel very intimidated to leave and look elsewhere for a job due to problems I am having with some of the brothers there.
From a young age I have had a bad experience with 'loud mouth' and 'cocky' people. I believe it is against the Sunnah of the Messenger (Sallallaho aliehe wassallam). Unfortunately we have a governor who is also Muslim but seems to be very vocally hyper. He doesnt talk, he screams!! Im not sure he does things with the intention of harm, but he certainly creates a volatile environment. We had a very good relationship previously, but recently it has accured to me that he is a very rude and has a bossy manner.....maybe he was always like this, but it only became apparent when he embarrassed me in front of my students. He is older than me and should know that we are all examples to the children, mocking each other in front of them will cause them to lose respect for us and hence break a strong link they have with their deen through us as examples. This happened a few times, even when he would give me Salaam he would say it in a manner that would embarrass me in front of the children. Had he done this in front of anyone else I would not have felt so bad, but he did it in front of the same students who love me and respect me, so much so that they themselves become upset when they see me upset.
I began to keep away from him and refrained from excessive chat. I felt so hurt that I didn't want to teach there no more, I couldn't even spend time or talk to the other brothers who were part of the setup of the school because of the incident. I began to find excuses to get away and maybe work elsewhere until I find a way around the situation, as they say 'time is a good healer'. I didn't want a normal relationship no more, I wanted a professional working relationship, one where he knew I didn't want any of his 'charismatic charm'. When he came to realise that I wasn't talking to him properly he stopped replying to my Salaam aswell! I had the hope of rebuilding a relationship but making sure of boundaries this time around. He is a devoted brother whom I pray for, he spends time at the school so I cannot avoid him either. My personality clashes with him and I just can't find a way to forgive him. It has come to this that I have stopped giving him Salaam aswell. Any meetings he is in I will not attend, even when the school goes for days out, if he is involved I won't go. I don't have the desire to do anything for the school anymore.
Unfortunately I can't act and pretend, I am not very good at hiding feelings, I seem to hate his presence, yet I don't want to habour these feelings. All I want to know is, do I get sins for avoiding him, especially now that I don't give him Salaam. What advice would you give to me in a situation like this?
In the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful.
I pray this message finds you in good health and spirits.
As a teacher you understand the importance of having a supportive work environment. If you find the environment intolerable, then you several options:
1. You can find another job. However, I suspect that you really believe in the work that you are doing. If you really feel that you are making a difference in these young people's lives, then you need to weigh this positive aspect against the consequences of seeking a new job.
2. You can put up with your supervisor's behavior. However, you need to decide what constitutes crossing the line. He may just have an unpleasant personality, in which case there's not a whole lot you can do about it. On the other hand, if he's deliberately embarrassing you in front of your students, then you need to stand up to him. He's your boss, not a dictator! You need to let him know that you are an adult and therefore do not appreciate being yelled at. Schedule a meeting with him and air your grievances. Write it down on paper if you have to. You can be calm and professional. But you can also get the message across that his conduct is making your job a lot harder and sending the students the wrong message.
3. You can minimize your contact with your supervisor. However, if you are missing out on important meetings and class trips, then you might want to reconsider. Is it possible to keep a professional relationship with your supervisor yet maintain some distance?
4. Finally, I'm not sure how your school is set up, but I highly recommend that there be some type of ombudsperson or mediator who can resolve disputes between teachers and the administration. If this is an Islamic school, then it might be advisable to have a respected scholar who can provide advice in this arena.
I pray that you reach an amicable solution.
And Allah knows best.
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