YEAR END PARTIES-Only if you ‘have to’ attend… 

It's that time of the year when in the name of the ‘festive’ season many plans are underway to celebrate. Amongst these are ’year-end’ parties when employees of especially large companies take a ‘break’, let their hair down and move into celebration mode. All work ethics, professionalism etc. is cast aside and parties are thrown sometimes in big ways with zero inhibitions. This they say is to just let off some steam after a year of hard work. Besides the Islamic repugnance for such gatherings, it is common knowledge that such parties are misused as licence to go beyond what company rules and the law allows, let alone a code of conduct that is expected of a human being. We would not be wrong if we say that in these parties we see many times the emergence of a totally different person from the one we knew through the year. In most of these parties the difference between animalism and humanity is difficult to differentiate.
Due to the relaxed atmosphere created by the social nature of the event, music and alcohol, employees and management alike often make the mistake of behaving in ways that they would not do during normal working hours. This they do for many reasons including the mistaken beliefs that: Such behaviour is normal at parties; nobody will mind because it is year-end; people are more tolerant at parties; I can just say 'I meant it as a joke'; The party is outside working hours and/or away from the office so the rules don't apply; on Monday nobody will remember what I did.
As Muslims this is the time of the year when we should be putting on an extra guard lest in the name of the festive season we sell our souls without even realising it. Many ahadeeth speak about the destruction of Imaan when certain sins become involved in! The Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi wa sallam has told us that a person cannot be a believer whilst he is engaging in adultery or for that matter whilst he is consuming alcohol. Do we need to mention that the above two vices form part and parcel of almost every party? Maybe not at the start but surely at some point or other this must take place. They say a party without alcohol is a lame excuse for a party.
There may be "some pressure" from management to attend. Be mindful that there is no obedience to the Creation in disobedience to the Creator! In other words to comply with management and disobey Allah is extremely unwise. To uphold your Islam will not bring you disgrace. Rather be classified as "anti-social" than ever incur the wrath of Allah. Allah will NEVER disappoint you so long as you are true and faithful.
If you "have to" or "want to" attend, (Our advice would be NOT to) be particular of not transgressing the Laws of Sharia. As said above if you have to attend then beef up security on your spiritual wealth and don’t be bothered if you’re going to stick out like a sore thumb just because you value your religious beliefs and your relationship with your Creator.
For those who are going to attend we have the following suggestions:
• Well ahead of time inform the organisers about your halaal dietary requirements. According to hadith that flesh that is nourished by haraam is destined for the Fire of Hell. If in doubt abstain. Moderation is key. You can always eat and drink at home.
NOTE: Many outlets serve alcoholic beverages but claim that the food is Halaal. Do not be duped by this. The presence of alcohol automatically places the food in a ‘doubtful’ category which Islam instructs to leave out when in doubt.
• Dress Islamically. At these parties usually the dress code remains ‘free’ unlike whilst at work. Your dress is your protective armour. The function maybe a party but this doesn’t mean that you have to compromise your modesty. Many functions have themes. Be mindful of your deeni obligations when adopting themes. At no point should your dressing be provocative or compromise your religious values. Woman should also remember that the hair should be covered at all times.
• Don't overstay. Usually most functions are started off by welcome speeches. If you fear fitnah(evil) thereafter-leave! Spend the least amount of time at the function just for appearance. But don't overstay your welcome by partying until the wee hours.
· Do remember that although office parties are intended as social events to reward employees and raise morale, they remain strictly business events. Do act as though your behaviour is being observed every minute (because it is!- not just by those around you but by Allah Ta’ala as well as the two angels commissioned to record all your deeds).

• Do conduct yourself professionally at all times. Don't use the office function as an excuse to blow off steam. It's still a company function, so proper etiquette and decorum matter.
• Be in a state of wudhu (preferably). We are taught according to hadith that Wudhu is a weapon and protection for a Muslim.

• Do keep your hands to yourself. Don't flirt, and do avoid any other inappropriate behaviour. The office function is not the time to end your career with the company by doing something inappropriate or haraam.(prohibited).

• Don't spend all evening talking business. You'll forever have the label as the office bore. Rather steer your discussion in a constructive way. Remember that you are an ambassador of Allah! If possible bring in Deen in a subtle way by talking about the beautiful aspects and wisdom of ISLAM!

• Salaah ( Prayer)- Don't miss your Salaah or even make it Qadha. Allah  says: "Then woe to those prayer performers. Who are heedless of their prayers (Surah Ma-oon, verse 4-5). According to hadith: "Prayer is a pillar of faith. Whoever abandons it has destroyed his faith." (Baihiqi)

• Make Dhikr. Any gathering in which Allah and His Noble Messenger Sallallaahu Alaihi wa salam are not remembered is accursed according to hadith. Engaging in the recitation of the third Kalimah in public places has huge rewards. Don’t miss out on this opportunity. Whilst bodily you are at the function keep your heart connected to Allah Ta’ala. This is sure to keep you on track also. Steal a few moments when you are not part of a conversation to do this.

• Keep all conversations positive. Don't spend the evening complaining, bragging, correcting, whining, or ridiculing. And do avoid controversial subjects (such as, politics, etc.) and off-colour jokes.

• Do not monopolize conversations and, especially, don't talk about yourself or your accomplishments all the time.

• Do show interest in others. Do be gracious and thank co-workers and team members for all their help and hard work during the past year. And don't even think about gossiping about others. The Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi wa sallam said : "Who protects his tongue from unlawful utterances and his private parts from illegal sexual intercourse, I shall guarantee him entrance into Paradise." (Hadith-Bukhari and Muslim)

• Avoid touching the opposite sex. The Messenger of Allah Sallallaahu Alaihi wa sallam has said, It is better for one of you to be pricked in the head with an iron pick than to touch a woman whom it is unlawful to touch ( Hadith al-Tabarani and al-Bayhaqi)

• Sit when eating and drinking: It is indeed a great sunnah of the Messenger of Allah Sallallaahu Alaihi wa sallam. Eat with your hands if possible. This could be away to promote Islamic eating etiquette.

• Do take the time to network with people at the function who can influence your career or who you may not see regularly, such as top management, people from other departments, and employees from other locations. You can begin building or strengthening business relationships, so do introduce yourself and build your network.
• Don't forget to thank the person responsible for making necessary  arrangements for halaal food. And do consider sending a thank-you note to top management for accommodating you as a Muslim.
• Should you find ‘things’ getting out of hand then politely excuse yourself and leave. You cannot be in a place where Allah Ta’ala’s wrath is about to descend in torrents any longer!
NOTE: This articles intent is in no way meant to condone year end parties or encourage attendance of these. That is why right at the beginning we stated ‘if you have to’.

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