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Islamic Values vs Cultural Fit: Where Do We Draw The Line? (Podcast)

“You have to look at what you’ve become. Yes maybe you’re on 100k a year but where’s your family? Where’s your manliness? Where’s your ability to discuss your faith? Because I bet you there’s a guy on 20k whose happier than you.”

On this week’s TMV Podcast, Salim speaks to Sadiq Damani, former CEO of Theodo UK on how to maintain Islamic values while navigating the challenges of the working world. Touching on topics such as how to fit into a certain work culture while being Muslim and the challenges of keeping faith, Salim and Sadiq also discuss humorous (and awkward) stories in which we all can relate to in terms of being Muslim in the West.

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Speaking first on the topic of his own journey through the world of tech start-ups and applying for jobs, Sadiq states that very early on he saw that there would many instances of having to choose between trying to fit into a certain work ‘culture’ and staying true to his own Islamic values. There were many times, Sadiq explains, when he lost out on job opportunities because of the workplace’s “party culture” or because of the company itself telling him that he would not fit into their certain “work culture”.

Why is it that when I’m being measured by my competency it’s fine, but when it comes to ‘cultural fit’ – which is a phrase I hate – it doesn’t sit too well?”

Although Sadiq did struggle at first, he also managed to find a company and – amazingly – became the CEO of Theodo UK, a French tech start-up. As a Muslim, there were many (amusing) instances when he felt he did not fit in – and described instances like workplace dinners turning into drinking parties and having to make a quick escape, or expensive client dinners where he went hungry because of the lack of halal food.

While Sadiq describes these stories with humor, he also stresses that these were all learning experiences and that he learned how to really stay strong in his own sense of Islamic faith and values while navigating the secular workplace because of these very struggles. According to him, these times were also essential in learning how to present and explain Islam to those who may not be familiar with it.

From explaining why he does not drink to normalizing the fact that he does pray regularly, Sadiq discusses how important it is to really know our religion and why we even have faith, in order to not only better represent ourselves as Muslims but to also better ourselves individually.

Often we don’t even know why we’re following this faith. I think 99% of us would stumble if asked why.”

When it becomes more about chasing money and being accepted by questionable workplace cultures rather than about an individual growing as a better Muslim, Sadiq says there needs to be a fundamental shift in the way a person thinks and lives their lives.

“You have to look at what you’ve become,” Sadiq explains. “Yes maybe you’re on 100k a year but where’s your family? Where’s your manliness? Where’s your ability to discuss your faith? Because I bet you there’s a guy on 20k whose happier than you.”

To listen to the rest of this fascinating conversation, click below:

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