I was not hired because I wear a hijab

Published: August 10, 2011
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“But, what does my attire have to do with my work?”I was baffled. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

As I stood outside the glass door, gathering my confidence I took a deep breath. “This has got to be it,” I thought. I prayed one last time before entering the world I wanted to be a part of.

I was a recent advertising graduate, a position holder, the favourite of almost all my teachers. I was about to enter the office of a renowned advertising agency to interview for a copywriting position. This was where I had always seen myself when I closed my eyes. I was ready to give it my best.

I stepped inside and took in the surroundings. Done up in white and gold, the extravagant lobby enticed me. I walked to the reception, feeling watched, feeling judged.

The girl on the counter seemed to come out from a fashion magazine, her skin was smooth and perfect, her nails polished. I could not help but notice that the girl had hazel eyes and her eye lids were dark green and yellow.

“Yes? What do you want?”

“I am here for the interview.”

I saw a flicker of amusement in those enchanting hazel eyes. “Ok, have a seat please.”  I sat on the faux leather couch and looked at the small fountain in the lobby and the lights dancing with the water. Employees moved around, silent and efficient. “Miss Tooba?” I heard my name being called.

I was led to the conference room. “Please wait, Mr Shariq* will be here in a moment,” my guide informed me and left the room. I looked around at the spotless glass table, black chairs that complemented the white interior and a flat screen television that was installed at the far end of the room. I smiled to myself, clearly impressed.

I heard the door open and turned to look around. A middle aged man in a gray striped suit, white shirt and a pink tie entered the room. “This must be Mr Shariq”, I thought. I sensed a hesitation in his demeanour, his pace slowing for a second.

“Hello, Tooba, ” he said, seemingly overcoming his hesitation.

“Hello,” I replied, fervently wishing for easy questions, like all candidates.

He asked me about myself. My voice unsteady for a second, I regained my confidence and answered properly. I gave the right answers to all his questions, ranging from my subject to my personality. He gave me a test and I performed well. I felt sure that I would get the job.

“Okay, Tooba, one last question”, suddenly his tone changed.

I sat a little straighter, puzzled by the apprehension in his tone.

“Yes?”  Suddenly, I did not feel so sure of myself.

“Do you really think you can work like this here?”

His objection was to my attire. I was wearing a pink hijab with a moss green gown, covered head to toe.

“Well yes, why not?” I replied.

“I am sorry Tooba, but you might not be able to adjust here. It would have been a pleasure to have a person of your caliber here, but…” he stopped in the mid sentence, his implication clear.

“But, what does my attire have to do with my work?”I was baffled.

“Other people might not be comfortable with you around,” he said with certainty.

I was speechless.

I had never heard anything of this kind before. I had studied at a reputable, institution. I have lots of friends, and no one has ever felt uncomfortable around me, why would this attitude suddenly change with me stepping into the professional world?

“It was a pleasure meeting you Tooba,” his words indicated the end of the interview. I stood up, feeling dejected, a tear in my eye. This was absurd. Sixteen years of hard work, my academic standing, everything seemed to go down the drain. Was it just appearance that mattered? All my achievements, intellect, confidence could not land me my dream job.

I felt cheated, my years of efforts wasted for all the wrong reasons. I was forced to let go of my dream by professionals who claimed to provide equal employment opportunities but could not shun their discrimination towards an attire that does them no harm.

Where’s the justice?

*Name has been changed

tooba.zaheer

Tooba Zaheer

A lecturer by profession, an MBA student, who blogs at bakerscanvas.blogspot.com and periodicreflections.wordpress.com.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Word Life

    I felt really sorry reading … I am sure it was their loss

    Chin Up Girl :)Recommend

  • Shiraz

    this is so unfair ..Recommend

  • http://twitter.com/Catyabdullah Caty

    Its such a shame that people are too judgemental over Hijab. Where as they would be fine with women with thin clothing and God knows what. Recommend

  • Hiba

    I soo hope you get hired by a MUCH better firm and could only look back and smile:) Remind us again why do we call that place a Muslim country?Recommend

  • Feverish

    this is such a bookish story. half of it doesnt even look true. had you had the calibre, you’d have the job, sweetie. high time you stopped reasoning with yourself and did some actual work. you are big enough not to look for sympathies! :)Recommend

  • Taha Ali

    It is !! so called Modern.Recommend

  • http://twitter.com/ahsanzee Ahsan

    Its the corporate world! anything goes….One side you have this story and on the other you have all those islamic banks who wont take you UNLESS you have the hijab on….so theres balance isnt there? oh and they also want you to grow ur beard long (if ur a guy ofcourse) Recommend

  • http://ayeshahoda.wordpress.com Ayesha Hoda

    That was quite discriminatory and I feel bad for you. But for one thing, I think you’d be better off not working in that place. Another thing is that this happens vice versa as well. There are certain companies which force their employees to wear a hijab, even when this is not initially stated at the time of recruitment. They are harassed if they don’t follow. So I guess the main problem remains the same – too much focus on a woman’s dressing. I mean there should be a dress code and people should be presentable but wearing or not wearing a hijab should be an individual’s choice. Either way it’s wrong to force anyone. In this case, at least the guy was honest with you. It would have been worse if you had joined and later the agency had forced you to change the way you dress up.Recommend

  • saima amjad

    all the islamic banks have a strict islamic dress code for all their female employees.one of my friends has to now wear the hijab or she’ll get fired she has been told.i wish someday ET would write about the discriminatory practices of the islamic banks.Recommend

  • babar idrees

    this article is a lame attempt at fear mongering that will be very popular with the rightwing religous extremist crowd.Recommend

  • Maleeha Shah

    unfair to the hilt! Recommend

  • adeel ahmed

    ET, now you’re looking to take over Nawai waqt’s audience also.please someday include a blog by someone forced to conform to strict religious dressing in order to continue employment.Recommend

  • Majid

    Let’s take this scenario one step further: Would you be comfortable in working with a woman at a professional job dressed up in an Afghan peacock burqa? Recommend

  • Usman

    And the liberals only blame conservatives for discrimination.
    Btw, Tooba mark my words, you are better off not working in such an organization which does not respect diversity & personal choices. All the best for your future.Recommend

  • maru

    you should name the boss you know. that guy should be ridiculed for his absent sense of forgiveness! Recommend

  • http://sheeraz1022.wordpress.com Sheeraz

    Really sorry to hear about that. You just have to believe that every thing is happened by the Will of Allah. And surely you’ll get the reward what was made for you. Inshallah you’ll finally land in a much better organization. God bless you :)Recommend

  • http://fruitforbidden.wordpress.com/ The Forbidden Fruit

    It’s one’s own complexes that makes him/her uncomfortable in the presence of people who dress up differently than them. But I never knew they could take it that seriously!Recommend

  • http://www.thehrdesigns.com Hassan Raza

    It is funny how people put the blame on Allah. It was never Allah will. I don’t give much of a thought to such articles, as i have been through all this a lot way before. Just like every school has a discipline every job has some dress code. Lets take the case of receptionists at various restaurants and hotels. You don’t get to see dark complexion people at counter; so how do you take that? Racial discrimination? Well i have nothing against anyone here; but i do believe in dress code.

    If your dress code or appearance is obstructing in fulfilling the purpose of job, then of course that is something he/she can reject you for. Recommend

  • Saad

    If this happens in Pakistan, do we have any right to point fingers towards foreign countries who want to ban the hijab?Recommend

  • Fatimah

    People stare the ones with hijab or abaya as if they are from some other planet. Have faced it.

    May be Allah has some better plans for you :)Recommend

  • parvez

    When he confronted you with the dress code you crumbelled. Possibly he wanted you to put your case forward and fight, which you did not do. The employer usually wants to see if you have that little extra which makes the difference. Recommend

  • http://wasiddiqui.com Wajeeha Asrar Siddiqui

    Dear Tooba,

    I too wear Hijab, and had face the same reactions once and twice but girl chin and walk with confidence, Since those who do not respect your Hijab will never respect your work as well. So, girl it turned best in your interest.

    All the best for your career, I am also a professional in digital media, marketing and advertising, Hope to met you someday girl.

    Take Care.Recommend

  • Saad

    Its just that many hijabis and mullahs try to impose their own religious views on others and preach till all their colleagues are sick of them which doesn’t exactly lead to happy productive employees. You may not fall into the preacher category but I can understand why the company doesn’t want to take a risk.Recommend

  • Hiba

    I’d have to respectfully somewhat disagree with all those comments regarding “hijabs” and “islamic banks”. What’s the big deal with an organization having a dress code that represents their corporate values and ideology? If it’s an Islamic bank that wants to cultivate and promote an Islamic working environment for their employees as well as attract clientele, then it doesn’t sound so bad: For the girls who work there they can consider it their uniform and not wear it in their personal lives: As simple as wearing a suit/ pencil skirt for those working in banks,
    not wearing t-shirts,spaghetti straps, low cut tops, or above-the knee- shorts/skirts at ANY workplace, or having to wear loads of make up at Sephora. Come to think of it, why do our female national ambassadors (somewhat) cover their heads when at a national or international platform? What about the journalists reading the news?Recommend

  • Hammad mian

    Miss tooba nowdays only sexy girls can get the job easilyRecommend

  • Mohammad Zakwan Nadeem

    ” Faith makes everything possible in our life. ”
    You don’t be fill with dismay, U preferred ur faith & “Hudood Ullah”,Allah SWT will bless u a better and flawless substitute.
    Girls like you are our pride,true builders of an Islamic society. The Girl You showed at reception is no more but the authorize to be doomed and cursed by Allah SWT & his Angels.
    be big-hearted and dont replace your faith with any Luxury of this mortal World.
    at end I”ll Quote some Lines from Hadith-e-Nabwi S.A.W.
    Abdullah ibn Umar says,”Prophet Mohammad said, Female is a thing to be covered & Hidden. She is in the eyes of Satan when she leaves her Home & She in the vicinity of Allah(in the Eyes of Allah) when she stays at Home.”Recommend

  • http://habloid.wordpress.com Habiba Younis

    quite discriminatory! I hope you get job in some better place where people arent this narrow minded.Recommend

  • Hiba

    ^ Sexy girls can be hijabis too… we may just never know whats under that mysterious abaya :)Recommend

  • http://www.nerdcrunch.com Moderate

    @parvez

    I am sure if that was some non-muslim, you wouldnt have been so ‘thoughtful’ then and would have gone all gun blazing on mullah/islam bashing. Recommend

  • Imtiaz

    This was an advertising agency. Agencies traditionally do not have a specified dress code.

    I’d say name and shame this agency.

    As far as banks are concerned, normal banks wouldnt have issues with someone not wearing a scarf. If you go to an “islamic” bank, then im afraid they have that authority to as you to wear one. First, its going to be in their stated policies. They wouldnt tolerate men wearing shorts either. And they would also permit men wearing Shalwar Qameez with a waist coat. Looks formal.

    Islamic banks are built around the premise that everything these is in accordance with islamic law or their interpretation of it.

    As far as the agency goes, again, name and shame.Recommend

  • Sahr.

    Vain Bigots.They’re not worth it and its their loss that they didn’t hire you. You deserve to go in a better place. Recommend

  • Baber

    @Hassan Raza:
    She was there to give an interview for the position of “Copywriting”. Although I agree that every job has it attire but jobs such as these, I mean, back-office job doesn’t need one.

    Bus Shariq saab ko ankho ki thandak chaiye in other words. Recommend

  • Azar Ali Zain

    For heavens sake! It is NOT about women and dress code and choices! It is about the stupid prejudice and stereotypical attitude of humanity! I know a guy who was asked to move because he used to wear kurta shalwar at a multinational and would prefer not to look at the opposite gender.

    I hope and pray people get mature in our society.Recommend

  • Ahmer Zuberi

    I fail to understand when we’ll stop treating women as an object. They want bikini-clad girls in client services, girls wearing skirts in creative, receptionist should wear a mini skirt to cast a please-come-back-again impression on ‘valuable’ visitor. Its a shame to disregard and discriminate someone who has a potential and willingness to come forward and prove themselves. Better call it ‘sick’ agency rather than ad agency.Recommend

  • Shahid

    @Miss Toba

    You should apply in some Arab company, they will certainly hire you. Hijab is not part of our culture and people really feel uncomfortable. Although I protest this discrimination but a company means business! Recommend

  • Amjad

    Sorry but if you are wearinf a hijab or very conservative clothing, why would you want to work outside the home in a mixed sex environment? You send a certain image and statement when you dress in conservative Islamic dress. This is the fact. In the West, they also don;t want to hire people who wear the hijab for prominent work but they would never be so obvious about declining you. They would make up some excuse and not say it’s because of the hijab because they know they will be in trouble with the law. But they do it every day I’m sure.Recommend

  • http://ovais-envisage.blogspot.com/ Muhammad Ovais

    I have met many of the most adorable women in hijab! and hijab has nothing to do with your profession!

    @Hiba
    I am working in a professional consulting firm in London and have many clients from fashion industry. I myself being a active participants of fashion events in london, have seen many women working in fashion industry with a hijab. As far as they are not models, what is hijab to do with some paper work in a boxed room?

    same goes for islamic banking! there are many gora and non muslims working in islamic banking. their code of working do not require a beard and follow of sunnah all together!

    I think we have to work for a sensible approach towards corporate behaviour in Pakistan. The corporate culture and professionalism is about work not how you look but in cases i said if you are a model! I will simply say its a corporate immaturity! Recommend

  • http://India Feroz

    Advertising and Modelling are two professions where hijab may not be the best choice. Many women are in professions where customer relationships is the key and often these women go to work in hijab and put in on again when leaving their office. Advertising is a field that needs lateral thinking and an open mind, following societal norms right or wrong means that person is always looking over the shoulder and the mind is really not fit to fly. The writer must apply for advertising posts in Iran or Saudi Arabia, she will fit well with the culture.Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    @Feverish:
    Your response is quite typical..haven’t you seen Sunsilk ad about a shampoo for Hijab wearing girls…Well if the maker of a product cares about the attire why can’t the Advertizers..i’d say the Firm wanted some mental satisfaction as well from their staff for their staff.. Perverts.!! Recommend

  • Ali

    One of the many loads-of-garbage the professional life puts on you and one of the many stupid HR manager who think they are Gods. Don’t worry you will end up somewhere much better.Recommend

  • http://ahandfulofdust.wordpress.com/ Mariam

    Dont loose heart, you will be able to get a better job soon.Recommend

  • Azar Ali Zain

    @Shahid:
    Is tolerance also not part of our culture? If a person likes covering herself, what’s the point to force her to feel she is going against culture? The society is seriously going on the wrong turn – when they can applaud and support the voice of the LGBT (http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/7255/its-not-easy-being-gay/) but they can’t support someone’s will to be with them while being covered.
    @Amjad:
    West’s prejudice – we all know – is stupid. And you quote it, pretty lame. Covering ones self does not send a message but just that the lady does not want gazes to be upon her body parts, pretty simple, why make things complex?
    @Fahad Raza:
    I agree with you.Recommend

  • Saif

    It is one of the few cases where the employers are beware of the next person’s beliefs in order to stop any attempts at secularization within the working environment. Its unfortunate but in our own country where muslims are suppose to freely practice their faith, “wearing a hijab” or “sporting a religious beard” raises eyebrows.
    Its one of many examples, that the contemporary pakistani has fallen back further, in regarding religion and its ethics as our community’s highest priority!!! Recommend

  • TANOLI

    if its happening in civilized human right champion west then i dont blame them but in pak
    istan its a shame shame shame.Recommend

  • Dr. Salim

    I am surprised that some blogger have such extremist view. Speaks about their mindset. For some of the blogger or commenter here, no hijab directly means thin clothes. Please note people do wear quite modest cloth without Hijab. How is a women dressed in simple shalwar kameez less modest then one wearing hijab ? Wearing Hijab has no rationale meaning and is more religiously driven. The uncomfortable feeling comes from being mindful and not open hearted to such people whenever there is a conversation on religion beliefs or practices. With Hijab a person is already making a statement that I am a staunch follower of Islam without frankly understanding the rational of wearing Hijab besides shallow reasons that it is a extra layer to protect my modesty making me more pak then any gal who is not wearing Hijab. This is why liberal (not vulgar) minded people get uncomfortable.Recommend

  • Hiba

    @ Muhammad Ovais: I agree with the fact that models may or may not expect hindrance in their line of work, depending on what they’re modelling for.It all depends on the organization: most of the time one’s religious values do not come in the way of anyone getting a job simply because its personal and has got nothing to do with work culture. But when the job itself require’s one to be a representative of a faith, then its not entirely unjustifiable to have a dress code that reflects it. So what if non-muslims or gora’s work there? Unless they’re asked to convert entirely, it shouldn’t be a big deal for them to wear a scarf or wear a stick on beard for 8 hours of their day; its representing the values of their organization. Islamic banks represent Islamic financing options and laws and they want to appear Islamic to the public or clients they’re serving, it has nothing to do with forcing religious practices on those who don’t follow them.
    The whole point is: both employees and employers should respect each others values and find ways to work around them, not step on them!Recommend

  • http://bakedsunshine.wordpress.com/ Shumaila

    Discrimination based on dress where the dress does not affect the job directly is simply wrong, whether the applicant is dressed in a hijab or in a suit. I sympathise with your position but I’m sure if you’re as good as you say you’ll get a job somewhere else easily. Recommend

  • Mohammad Zakwan Nadeem

    @Hiba:
    What a Non-Sense Comment… if wrong deeds are done under Hijab, What does it mean, Hijab is a Bad Practice?
    I already Mention some lines from Hadees-e-Nabvi that “Female is a thing to be Hidden”.Recommend

  • A.

    @Shahid: “hijab is not a part of our culture” ? seriously? hijab is part of ‘muslim’ culture. since so many pakistanis are muslims, and many pakistani traditions are derived from muslim traditions, i think hijab IS a part of our culture. just because not very many women wear hijab doesn’t mean that it’s not a part of our culture. also, just because somebody’s arab doesn’t mean that they can’t discriminate against muslims. many arabs aren’t muslim and some even hate muslims.

    @Amjad: “they would make up some excuse and not say it’s because of the hijab because they know they will be in trouble with the law.” why would they be in trouble with the law? since when do any constitutions staet that if you hire a woman who covers, you will be ‘in trouble’? if any constitutions say that, then jewish women who cover their hair can’t be hired either. show me where it says that, in any western constitution. prove you point. finally, why WOULDN’T she want to work out of the home? just because she wears a scarf, she’s not entitled to the rights other women have — to work where they please? THAT is discrimination: denying her the rights other women have just because she wears a scarf.

    @Feroz: if advertising needs open minds, then customers and anybody who works in advertising should have an open mind to how somebody dresses. finally, just because your culture includes a way of dressing, does not mean you will immediately fit in.

    @Dr Salim: just because somebody is liberal doesn’t mean they have to be uncomfortable around someone who is not. a woman dressed in shalwar kameez can or can not be less modest that one wearing a hijab. it’s a matter of opinion. nobody here is saying that someone who doesn’t wear hijab is a slut. although wearing hijab is usually religiously driven, it still has a rational meaning: to cover the body. MODESTY. ‘shallow reasons’ ? honestly? you think every hijabi wears hijab just because she wants to appear more modest and “make her self more pak” ? you can take 400 hijabis and it is still possible for all of them to have different reasons to wear hijab. true, some of them may think that they appear better than non hijabis, but many of them wear it for reasons such as simply following Allah’s command (Surah Nur, ayah 31). and anyway, regardless of their reasons for wearing hijab, we should be tolerant of their religious views and decisions.

    @Mohammad Zakwan Nadeem: “I already Mention some lines from Hadees-e-Nabvi that “Female is a thing to be Hidden”.” what is your source for that hadith? Tirmidhi? Bukhari? we can’t believe that hadith unless a legit source is provided. finally, just because you believe in that hadith — whether it’s true or not — does not mean everybody has to.

    bottom line: it was wrong of them to reject her simply on the basis of her hijab. however, they could have had other reasons which they did not state. finally, we should be tolerant of other peoples’ faiths and decisions.Recommend

  • http://natashasuleman.wordpress.com Natasha Suleman

    “I am sorry Tooba, but you might not be able to adjust here. It would have been a pleasure to have a person of your caliber here, but…

    We are peaceful people. Your hijab Tooba….that thing on your head….. I mean ..your colleagues might feel ‘terrorised’. We don’t want ‘talibanization’ of our organization. Im sure you understand. It’s not your talent. Not your academic record. Not your skills but your hijab that matters the most. A piece of cloth would make your colleagues uncomfortable. Those poor peaceful maadernzzzzz peoplzzzz would have to live with a constant threat to their life. All that because of that pink thing on your head. Recommend

  • http://natashasuleman.wordpress.com Natasha Suleman

    You deserve better Tooba.

    Mr Sharique* however needs some lessons. If I were you , I would ‘help’ this man through a mail. Recommend

  • Mohammad

    This seems so dramatic. It seems more like a star plus soap. No big company would say this on face. Trust me no one. Recommend

  • Azhar

    Take legal action write a letter to ur local parliament representitive where r u frm by the wayRecommend

  • Salman

    Really shocking……………… :-(Recommend

  • Ali

    Would you feel comfortable working in an office where the men came in their boxers and women in bikinis? No? Then deal with it.. different places have different dress codes..Recommend

  • irfan

    The guy was an idiot mentioning the objection, he should have just said thanks for coming. On retrospect the lady is reading too much for example hesitation she noticed. Although this was an extreme case but girl would really uncomfortable in that organization if hired, think about it. You also need to think about it if a girl who wants to be model insists that she will model only for wommen or will wear burqa on catwalk. Recommend

  • malik

    I think you were rejected not because you wear hijab, but because – as this verbose blog indicates – you are a poor copywriter.
    Good copywriters write crisp copy and avoid cliches. And finally one thing: they all have great sense of humor !Recommend

  • Nihal

    Pakistan is such a joke. I used to have so much faith in the country but that’s all starting to go down. Whereas Muslim sisters in Western countries are fighting alongside like minded non-Muslim men and women to wear Hijab in secular societies, Pakistanis seem to be headed in the opposite direction. You have have such a perverted perception of what ‘the west’ is, that you guys try to practice ‘westernism’ in it’s most extreme form. Thank God I am a hyphenated Pakistani born and bred outside of the country. Recommend

  • ayman

    assalam-o-alikum
    i also wear hijab(including the veil).I applied to karachi’s so-called most renowed institution for alevels .I got in because of my result(12 A’s).but when they saw me they said i will have to remove my veil and believe it or not they said the same thing that other students might not be comfortable with me and my views were the same as yours.
    But doesn’t matter if we leave something that we love for the sake of allah ,allah will reward us with much better things not only in this world but also in hereafter.
    Your sister in ISLAMRecommend

  • http://Karachi Hasan Abidi

    @ Tooba

    Wat a non issue !

    As an avid and a very very regular contributor to Tribune, I wonder if Tribune can do itself a world of favor, by not printing these frivolous pieces.

    I mean, every place has its own culture and a working environment.

    Wats there to crib abt ?

    Would an Islamic Bank ( since it was so generosly mentioned thru out) hire a female all decked up in foundation make up with colored lenses and a wearing a low neck top witha tight mini skirt, at its reception?

    Its all abt the image u want to carve 4 urself and wd like to associate with.

    There z ur answer Ms. Tooba.

    So dont enter a lane where u dont belong, and find urself some peace by being among those who think like u, live like , talk like u and ofcourse DRESS like u.

    It wd also save unsuspecting readers of Tribune, some yawning moments. Jesus!

    Hasan Abidi
    [email protected] Recommend

  • Choas A.D

    Too Bad. Move on. Another company might not be as ‘big’, but you’ll fit in better elsewhere. If they don’t deserve you, then that’s their loss. Ta’ Hell widdum!Recommend

  • Sarah

    How about you sue them? Is it possible? Don’t worry trust Allah and He will do the best for you.Recommend

  • Sarah

    I think you should actually take the real name of the interviewer and say what company you had applied to. If you really want a change to happen you must speak openly first!
    You know you have support from people! Recommend

  • Malik Sajjad

    Very sad feelings of mine to read this, but keep your Hijab On. No problem and don’t worry. you have to apply on another place bcoz everyone is not like them.My heart says that you will got your dream job soon INSHALLAH. Be Brave, Girlz …Recommend

  • Talia

    Sorry but as someone else also pointed out– your story seems a bit made up … Not because this kind of stuff doesn’t happen but because your version seems to be more of a cry for sympathy. By the way, wearing hijab is a beautiful thing, so I respect you for that. Recommend

  • M

    ‘The girl on the counter seemed to come out from a fashion magazine, her skin was smooth and perfect, her nails polished. I could not help but notice that the girl had hazel eyes and her eye lids were dark green and yellow.’

    Tooba, while I do sympathize with your situation, don’t you think you’re exercising double standards when you base your own judgement of other people on their attire and appearance.

    The basic premise of this article is being stereotyped and how bad it made you feel. And I’m sorry to say but you have done exactly the same thing while describing the girl on the counter and even Mr. Shariq’s demeanor. Writing things like ‘I saw a flicker of amusement in those enchanting hazel eyes.’ or ‘I sensed a hesitation in his demeanour, his pace slowing for a second.’ Aren’t we being a little judgmental here ourselves?Recommend

  • Salman Arshad

    If you were targeting specific Islamic advertising companies, like those associated with creating hijab-related ads, or promoting Islamic banks, or Umrah/Hajj packages etc. that would have been better.
    .
    I fully condone your rejection at the advertising firm. You did not belong there.
    .
    Hijab may not lower your value but it makes you un-fit for certain jobs or environments.
    And you must respect that.Recommend

  • Cynical

    It’s my company.I hire who so ever I like.
    I decide on the criterion and I don’t owe anybody any explanation.
    Any problem with that.?Recommend

  • Cautious

    Word of advise — before you next interview find out what the norm is for dress wear with that employer and dress accordingly for the interview. Recommend

  • Ali Islam

    Sorry Tooba but to get your desired job you have to take off your hijab and get rid of the gown. Wear some good jeans or shalwar kamez stitched in some hot sexy style. Pakistan is changing and you must change yourself as well.
    I am sorry for the idea but a girl has to sell her appearance as well.
    Well if you stick with the laws you think are right and following the instructions of religion, then I hope you will get a better future than this. Wish you best of luckRecommend

  • uaahmed

    to be honest, most people do feel un comfortable with Hijab, they just dont admit it, hats off to the shariq guy for admitting itRecommend

  • http://islamabad Maryam

    i dont know but the thing is i work in the corporate world too n we have girls here who wear hijab which is respected.
    i just wonder which organization was that?Recommend

  • Javeria Mahmood

    oh so very sad! and we blame France & Italy for banning the HijabRecommend

  • Bhutto

    Its so unfair.. They might need a model to hire not a ideal candidate for job.Recommend

  • Boo Hoo

    Welcome to the corporate world girl. You just learned your first lesson. I’ll tell you the second but don’t mind or take it to heart.
    There will be many other companies who won’t have any problem with Hijab BUT please change the colors of your scarf and gown. Pink with MOTH GREEN??
    And you are an advertising graduate?? Try to read a little bit about corporate colors and just change the colors of ur scarf and gown.Recommend

  • Zeeshan

    If you wear half sleeves you are assaulted and if you wear hijaab you’re rejected by an Employer. Not hard to imagine in a country where injustice of all kinds is rampant.Recommend

  • http://dinopak.wordpress.com Hasan

    This is the story of every ‘modern’ Pakistani. I feel for you Tooba, it is very unfortunate that we live in a country where most of the people have forgotten their values. Not just the religious ones but the cultural ones too.Recommend

  • Zarnab

    my symphathies. rest assured youll be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams for this. Recommend

  • Nazia

    Well.. Girl .. its now almost 2 years i m in professional world. and since my frist jobn. i have been noticing this.. people doesnt want us to be in abaya or hijab or scarff.. or coverign head with dupatta..
    it is so common in big/small firms.. even in the field you want to move in .. its simply not allowed..
    the getup you told of the recption girl .. is so common .. and theses kinda people get promotions n PR bla bla ..
    this is the fact , although Pakistan is a Muslim country . but alas..!!

    my thought are same as you .
    my last two employers asked my in Hr intrview session . will you wear abaya during work ??Recommend

  • umar

    God might have better destiny for you instead of this which appeared you to be the fittest for youRecommend

  • Hasan Z. Bhatti

    This is awful! Prejudice has absolutely torn our society apart.
    Oh, and I think these white collar, bloating with complexes, so-called front runners of our corporations are complete twats! Or maybe it is the structure of a modern day corporation itself. We are eventually going to become slaves of our own industry!Recommend

  • Mohammad

    @M:

    Super-likeRecommend

  • aamir

    First off, Tooba, you sound incredibly insecure. The melodramatic tone of your article and the conclusions you reached, clearly a consequence of said insecurity, need reassessment on your part. One thing about advertising, and many other professions around the world, is that it does promote a particular look and way of thinking. Much less an hijab, if one were to be even overweight the chances of getting an advertising position in the US or UK would be, excuse the pun, slim.

    If it is, however, bigotry you refer to, well that is hard to argue when everyone you deal with in Pakistan is Muslim as well.Recommend

  • Butt

    If you really wear Hijab it means you must be following Islam in its true spirit..
    Now Muslims do not say “hello” when they meet, they say “Salam”
    Secondly, women are not allowed to work outside in Islam, read Quran and you will know,so stay in and follow the religion in its true spirit! Yes many women do work but then they dont wear hijab! Recommend

  • aNu

    Dear Tooba,

    ALLAH is planning something better than that never loose hope be happy…….. one day you will thanks ALLAH that you was not hired there :)Recommend

  • Mustafa

    @Hasan Abidi:
    Are you Sidra’s brother?Recommend

  • skeptic

    @Hiba:

    totally agree….its all about living the image through each n every thing that represents u..shaan till this date has a strict rule about offering prayers etc,…meeezan bank, bank islami are very particular about their hijaabs…so i gues for the ad agency it also makes sense to hav the kind of people who fit their imge…its the corporate world…why else do u think they hav regulations to protect disabled people…had the competitive market agents been that fair n just…so governments wuld hav had no role to play!!!!………

    n Tooba…no offens…moss green n pink seeems a horrible combo to begin with!!!Recommend

  • KolachiMom

    For every one Shariq, there are a thousand @Mohammad Zakwan Nadeem kinda people. Worry not, young lady. It’s shouldn’t be too much trouble for you to find another job. Not everyone gets their dream job on the first try.Recommend

  • Bilal

    Unfortunate this is so true around…… Recommend

  • Syed Yasir Qureshi

    Imam Abu Dawud and Imam an-Nasai relate from Sayyidatuna Aisha (Allah be pleased with him) that she says: “A women extended her hand from behind a curtain to hand a piece of paper to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). The Messenger of Allah pulled his hands back and said: “I don’t know if this is a mans hand or a women’s hand.” Aisha said that it was a women’s hand.
    This Hadith is clear that the companions of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) used to observe separation (hijab) in a way that there use to be a curtain or a veil between the sexes. If free mixing was acceptable, then there was no need for this. Besides, if such separation was against the spirit of the Sharia, the Messenger of Allah would have certainly pointed it out to her.

    Quite Clearly, you had no business going there in the first place. If you are as religious as you claim, then stay away from ghair maharim. You can’t have it both ways. One one hand I want to be all covered and hijabbed and virtous, holier than thou attitude, on the other hand, I will sit alone with Mr. Shariq. That my dear is sheer hypocrisy. Unless you disagree with what the Prophet (PBUH) said.Recommend

  • Syed Yasir Qureshi

    @ Zakwan Nadeem

    “Abdullah ibn Umar says,”Prophet Mohammad said, Female is a thing to be covered & Hidden”

    Then why is this girl out of her house in the first place? You cannot have it both ways…..You cannot pick and choose what you feel like in Islam. Hypocrisy and its best. I choose to listen to the part that says cover up. I do not choose to listen to the part that says stay hidden. Recommend

  • http://itcnslt.com Arif Imran

    You Should pity those who disgrace the religious values of the very religion they follow themselves, its a shame to know that these type of things happen where 97% of the population are MUSLIMS , don’t worry sister this must be the will of Allah and always pray for your better future HE will bless you with a much much much better JOB INSHA ALLAHRecommend

  • Faraz

    I’m an advertising professional and this account doesn’t ring true to me one bit.
    First, however ‘modern’ or liberal we in Pakistan might be, such open objection to islamic look/attire/attitude/everything, is something that is just not done in a public place especially, no less a corporate office. Let’s face it. People are afraid of the stigma of the label ‘kafir’ attached to them at the slightest expression of anything opposing islamic views. so therefore, even the hardcore atheists will think twice before saying anything against the islamic beliefs expressed in whatever form, be it dress or beard or anything else. i can believe the writer didn’t get hired but the fact that she was told WHY she wasn’t being hired with the reasons being as she states, frankly stretches the imagination. she might be right that the guy was judgmental towards her through his body language et all, but he couldn’t have said all that to her. it’s not only poor corporate etiquette, it’s also ethically wrong and an advertising bigshot would certainly not risk projecting such an image of his company in hiring interview.
    Second, i don’t think any ad agency in Pakistan has a fountain in their lobby. no way. please correct me anybody if i’m wrong.
    i think the writer suffers from a complex today’s neocon upper-middle-class yuppies suffer, i.e. ‘liberal stigmatization’. they feel they are being ostracizes by the so-called liberals and that the country is being taken over by them. typical islamic fear. regrettable, yes, but very much true.
    P.S. i was watching an episode of ‘Main Abdul Qadir Hoon’ on TV the other day and it’s such blatantly false and negative propaganda in the name of entertainment, it sickened me. The hero is a rich young american-qualified man, who is ‘led astray’ by a femme fatale who turns him onto drugs and whatnot. then he meets a recently-converted american female who dies but not before making him see the light. thus upon his return, he is a transformed man, complete with beard sans moustache, shalwar qameez and topi. but he faces ostracization wherever he goes. job interviews, his own mother, his family friends. he is ridiculed openly but braves it all with that smug, selfsatisfied, patient smile that is a hallmark of every douchebag who thinks he’s better and more pious than you because ALLAH is with him. pathetic.Recommend

  • Faraz

    lol @BOO-HOO! wellsaid!Recommend

  • Faraz

    @malik: brilliant!Recommend

  • Cynical

    @Dr Salim

    Most sensible, very balanced view.
    You have made your point without being bitter or sarcastic about those who hold a view opposite to yours.
    That is what I call class.
    A big thank you.Recommend

  • Zara

    i was not hired in an organization as i DID NOT wear a scarf !! So its not always true that organizations ask to abandon the scarf but there are a number of companies who even enforce headwear !Recommend

  • ummmm

    Remind me of my own experience. I was once rejected from a “right-based” NGO because I supported LBGT rights and was of the view they should be legal. Recommend

  • N.S

    This is very unfortunate. I work at a leading Investment Bank in London, and I have a colleague who wears a headscarf. This certainly has not impacted her career in any way whatsoever, and nor should it.

    Pakistan is increasingly becoming intolerant, towards religious as well as non-religious people. We clearly can’t seem to find a middle ground.

    My mother interviewed at a nearby school in Islamabad last year for a teaching position for elementary level kids. They offered her the job before she left, and on the way out, she noticed all the teachers were wearing hijabs. So she went back in and politely inquired about the dress code. The principal told her it was compulsory for all their teachers to wear an abaya and headscarf, to ensure a ‘moral’ and ‘decent’ environment for the kids. Needless to say, she never went back.Recommend

  • Syeda Rehana

    Dear Tooba

    While discrimination is horrible, what you have not told is what the company did. Your description suggests it was involved in fashion or something like that. In this case, perhaps the man was right, it would be awkward for all involved.

    Discrimination is also two sided. I have been told by a hijabi colleague that she prays often that I dont go to hell because I dont wear a hijab. Hearing that off and on nearly daily is very initimidating. If one complains then you are in danger of violence that these fanatics often hide not too deep under the surface. Surely you have some non-hijabi friends who have been threatened for not wearing the hijab.

    Finally, I am sure your college marks are wonderful but in real life what you do with your knowledge is what matters. Surely someone who makes false religious moves just because they are done in our semi-tribal society cant be a good thinker. The Prophet PBUH never asked women in Muslim society to wear hijab. It was only for Ummul Momineen and when asked if other women should also follow he said no. Thus in the Prophet PBUH’s life and that of Hazrat Abu Bakr RA there was no hijab. This pre-Islamic custom was brought back in the time of Hazrat Umar. So my question to you is, why are you mocking Islam and its Prophet PBUHRecommend