Infidelity At Work: New Book Supports Quasi-Islamic Relationships

Posted on December 1, 2007


Review of Shirley Glass’s Book, Not “Just Friends”, by Islamonline


“I’m sorry, but I don’t shake hands with members of the opposite sex.” This line can be heard coming from Muslims working in office settings everywhere.


Islamic standards of modesty warn against even casual physical contact between unmarried men and women. This, of course, can cause uncomfortable situations in places of business where it is customary to shake hands with colleagues. But Muslims have long known that even casual, seemingly innocuous contact as well as casual behavior between the sexes can lead a person astray into either marital infidelity or inappropriate pre-marital relationships.


Until recently, it seemed that it was only Muslims that felt this way. But in her book, Not “Just Friends”, Shirley Glass gives credence to time-honored Muslim traditions on the issue of inter-gender office relations. Glass’ main thesis is, for all intents and purposes, Islamic in character. She asserts that unguarded, casual office relationships between men and women often lead down a slippery slope towards extra-marital affairs. And according to Glass, this phenomenon does not apply solely to the spouse with a wandering eye; even strong, nurturing marriages can be rocked by office romances.


Glass, who has studied martial infidelity over the last 25 years of her career as a psychotherapist, found that 25 percent of women and 44 percent of men have strayed from their marriages. And although the cliché of the office romance has been around for quite some time, Glass says that the typical lustful physical relationships that often develop are but one aspect of illicit office behavior. For Glass, it is the more personal friendships that develop in the office environment that pose a greater threat to marital stability.


Speaking recently to Connie Chung on CNN, Glass noted, “The crisis is that … men and women are working with people that they respect, people that they have intellectual interests with, people that they share excitement over projects, frustration over deadlines. And so the relationship begins as a platonic friendship that’s very deep and rich. And what happens is that, over time, they begin to share more and more of their personal lives together.”


This type of intimate sharing of personal thoughts and feelings is, Glass asserts, more detrimental to marriage because, unlike casual sexual encounters, these interactions create strong bonds between the people. And once this level of personal intimacy grows, the dreaded sexual affair is just on the horizon.


For Glass, the answer to this problem is to establish what she calls “walls and windows” by which married couples agree to keep emotional distance from people outside the marriage while keeping open channels within the marriage.


The resemblance to Islamic standards of modesty is uncanny, although Glass does fail to call for the true Islamic solution, which erects clear boundaries between the permissible and impermissible.


Glass is just one of several authors to recently take a more conservative tack regarding marriage and relationships. And in many instances, themes that have elements of solid Islamic common sense are finding favor over the more liberal trends that have predominated in popular culture. By Ali Asadullah


Pasted from <>. Shirley Glass’s book is available from and from Barnes and Noble.


Note from Rafik Beekun: Islam has a very enlightened and balanced approach to men-women relations at the office. Please read this previous post that I wrote:

1. Serious Considerations in Mixed Groups: Interacting with Members of the Opposite Sex