Polite conversation at work often involves a little bit of tact and a little bit of give. You and your coworkers should remain professional, but a little understanding if everything isn’t perfect should be allowed too.
Redditor badreligionaita asked if what they said was wrong in response to a coworker. After the original poster (OP)’s comment, the company changed policy, affecting how their coworker usually writes their emails.
To figure out if they were wrong, OP asked the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit the titular question.
“AITA For signing off on a professional email with ‘As-Salaam-Alaikum’”
They explained what led to the situation:
“I have worked at my current job for almost 3 years. It’s a smaller company with less than 100 employees scattered across a handful of regional offices.”
“Because I work with people in different offices quite a bit, a lot of my communication is via email.”
“There is one person in particular who I work with who has a habit of signing off on emails with ‘God Bless You.’ He will also find ways to put bible quotes and scripture into his emails that I find rather inappropriate for work.”
“I have never been a religious person, but I was raised by Muslim parents and have nothing against it and believe that people should have every right to practice their religion as they see fit. But, I also believe that religion shouldn’t be forced down anyone’s throat, especially in the workspace.”
“After about 6-months at my job, I brought it up to my boss about my coworkers email habit. He said he’s aware of it and doesn’t agree with it either, but it’s a different office and the manager of that office thinks it’s ok and I should just try to ignore it.”
“So, that’s what I did. I bit my tongue and tried to ignore it. For almost 2 more years I ignored it. Until one day this particular coworker added some scripture to an email he sent me after I told him I was having a rough day.”
“I understand he was just trying to be helpful in his own way, but it just rubbed me the wrong way and I didn’t have the patience for it anymore.”
“So I wrote him an email and copied my boss and his office manager on it, explaining that while I appreciate the sentiment, I would prefer if he refrained from including any religious material in any and all future correspondence.”
“It was a very professional email, succinct and to the point, but also very clear on what I was trying to communicate. I then signed off on the email with ‘As-Salaam-Alaikum.’”
“Not even 10-minutes later I was called into my boss’s office. He asked me what the hell I was doing mocking someone else’s religion like that.”
“I told him I wasn’t mocking anything, I was simply conveying to a coworker, in writing, that I would prefer to keep religion out of our future correspondence.”
“He said that it sure as hell seemed like I was mocking my coworker’s Christianity by using a Muslim saying in the email. I asked him if he even knew what that phrase meant and he said he didn’t. So I told him it means, ‘Peace be unto you.’”
“I told him if he thinks its ok for someone to say God Bless You in every email, it should be ok for me to say As-Salaam-Alaikum as well. He told me to leave his office and get back to work.”
“A couple days later there was a company-wide email put out by the CEO outlining new email policies regarding religion, politics, and other personal views. It very clearly laid out that none of that kind of personal viewpoints should be included in any company email, no exceptions.”
“Shortly after that email was sent out, my Christian coworker sent me a text to my personal phone that simply said ‘I hope you’re happy, a**hole.’”
On the AITA subReddit, OP is judged for their actions. Other users vote to determine whether or not they were wrong.
This is done by including one of the following in their responding comment:
- NTA – Not the A**hole
- YTA – You’re the A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everybody Sucks Here
The other commenters determined that OP was responding equally to their coworker. It wasn’t their fault that the company decided to react differently to two different religions.
OP was not the AH in this situation.
“NTA They never should have allowed him to include Bible verses. Their reaction to what you said just shows their pro-Christian bias and Islamophobia.” – EzHedgehog
“Might have been petty but it was warranted.”
“Muslim, Christian or whatever, unless it’s a religious workplace, leave that stuff out of business.” – bunluv136
“And, if you want to say religious things like ‘God Bless You’ in a non professional context to random people, you should damn well tolerate the equivalent blessing from every other religion as well.” – DefinitelyNotA-Robot
Another commenter pointed out that the phrase OP included in their email isn’t even specifically religious.
“‘Peace be unto you’” isn’t even religious though. It is a 100% secular thing to say. No mention of religion or God. So what’s their problem? Lol. NTA” – Competitive_Tree_113
Other commenters disagreed and felt OP wasn’t in the right. They felt they knew what OP intended and they weren’t impressed with their actions.
This led to debate in the comments.
“This is the comment I was looking for! It’s absolutely within his right to send the email requesting that religion be kept out of emails, but to literally sign that email with an example of what you’re requesting be removed is a bit hypocritical.”
“Even if it was just to prove a point, it was unnecessary, and it would have been more professional to leave it out. However, the coworker’s response and the private text are completely uncalled for.”
“He shouldn’t be this butt hurt that a company now has a (usually standard) ‘no religion in the workplace’ policy.” – PuzzleHeaded_Jicama
“Except his wasn’t a religious message, it’s like saying have a good day.” – bistian00
“I understand that, as it was explained, but no one else who does not speak the language would understand that. And OP knows that full well, and knows that their words would be taken in a presumably religious context.”
“They added it to be intentionally goading, whether or not it ‘technically’ has nothing to do with religion at all.” – PuzzleHeaded_Jicama
“I don’t speak Arabic, but I googled the phrase after reading OP’s post and found out what it means. OP’s coworker could’ve done the same but chose not to.” – flimsypeaches
OP shouldn’t feel guilty for what they did. It came down to the company making the choice to change things.
Maybe they can explain that to their coworker, but who knows if they’ll listen.