“Two things remain irretrievable: time, and a first impression”
- Cynthia Ozich.
And she’s right. Making a good first impression is important–and difficult–because you only get one shot. In our personal lives, professional, and social lives, making a good first impression leads to stronger relationships, better opportunities, and a higher level of respect. If you run into your boss in the elevator and make a distasteful joke, spill your coffee, or are dressed inappropriately for work, she’s going to remember that next time you’re competing for a promotion.
Good impressions are important beyond just our relationships. We always, whether we like it or not, act as ambassadors to our communities. As a Muslim, when people see you, they are looking at all of Islam. That's a lot of pressure, but it’s also an opportunity. You have the opportunity to put Islam’s best foot forward. Each day, each first impression, is a chance to show the best that Islam has to offer.
Making a good impression as a Muslim is a chance for Dawah, opportunity, and respect. Here are 4 ways to make a good first impression as a Muslim.
Be an ambassador of your beliefs
First impressions are an opportunity for Daa’wah. When people look at you, you want them to see someone of devotion, faith, and good character, because that’s who Muslims should be. Therefore, you want to be a person that treats others with respect, and lives according to his beliefs. If someone sees you living hypocritically, perhaps they will begin to think of Islam as a religion of hypocrites.
Living righteously will set you apart from others. Those around you will take notice and wonder what compels you to live a clean, happy, and righteous life.
“Whoever does good, whether male or female, and is a believer, We will surely bless them with a good life, and We will certainly reward them according to the best of their deeds,” Quran 16:97
Muslims have been prescribed a certain mode of dress. Both men and women are compelled to dress modestly and maintain a neat, clean, and tidy appearance.
In your dress, you want to command respect (and self-respect), and you don’t want to field feelings of disrespect or lust. Modesty is a paramount quality of Islam, and your daily wardrobe should reflect that.
Tidiness of appearance is important too. Beyond simply dressing modestly, remaining clean and neat will leave a markedly positive first impression of both you (personal hygiene is a simple, yet overlooked trait) and Islam.
Looking your best will make you respectable and approachable.
For more on dressing modestly, check out our guide on modest fashion styling for petite and plus size women.
Keep an Open Mind
Not everyone is an open-minded individual, but you can be. In a modern workplace culture, you’ll often find yourself working alongside others who are very different from you. Perhaps you don't know much about their culture and religion. Chances are, they might not know much about yours.
Your coworkers might come to you with questions about Islam. Not everyone is educated on Islam, so some of their questions may come off as offensive or ignorant. Maybe they’ll ask about your hijab, or how you can stand to not eat pork products. Chances are, these questions come from a place of genuine curiosity, not meanness.
Islam is a religion of mercy, and we should reflect that mercy in interactions like these. When curious people come to you with questions that you’re tired of answering, think of it as an opportunity to share your faith. Keep your cool, and don’t let this opportunity for Daa’wah pass you by.
When people inevitably come to you with questions about Islam, be prepared to answer them with ayat, hadith, and other evidence like miracles.
We should be able to explain our beliefs to those around us. By being prepared to do so, we can leave people with a positive, ‘big picture’ impression of Muslims and Islam