Work And Worship

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Allah Almighty mentions in the Qur’an the ruling for seeking a livelihood, saying at the end of Surah Al-Jumuah (Friday Chapter) what means: “After you finish the prayer, go, seek and search out from the blessings of Allah

Almighty” Here this means work; a livelihood. Somebody who wants to seek a livelihood.

Scholars said that seeking a livelihood can have the following rulings:

  1. Seeking a livelihood could be wajib (obligation) for somebody who has to fulfill the basic needs of life.
  2. Seeking a livelihood could be recommended for someone who is not sure about his livelihood; does he have enough to make ends meet? Then seeking a next job is recommended.
  3. It could be makrouh (disliked), if the person doubts about what he or she is doing is halal or haram.
  4. It could be forbidden if somebody is seeking a livelihood from the forbidden things which Allah Almighty and His Messenger (peace be upon him) prohibited and so on.

But the general ruling on seeking a livelihood is ibaha (permissibility) or a wajib (obligation). For someone who has to seek a livelihood to fulfill the basic needs of life, this is an obligation on this person.

Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) one day came into the mosque of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and found two young people. He asked them:

“What do you do?” They said “We only worship Allah Almighty.” Umar said to them “No, no, where do you work?” They said, “We don’t work. We are righteous people who just make Zikr (remembrance) of Allah. We are, alhamdullilah, from those people whom Allah chose to be close to Him.”

Then Umar said to them “Wait one minute,” and came back with a stick and began hitting them, and said, “Go work somewhere. Go find a job”.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said in a sound Hadith to Hakim ibn Hizam ibn Khuwailed that he told him “Hakim, the upper hand is better than the lower hand.”

The best example is Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him). When he became khalifah, the next day Umar saw him walking to work. He said: “O Abu Bakr, where are you going?” He said “I have to work.” Umar said “You are the Caliph of the Muslims. How are you going to work? You’re going to be busy.” He said “I have to have a livelihood.”

Abdul-Rahman ibn ‘Awf (may Allah be pleased with him), one of the 10 blessed companions, when migrated to Madinah, as narrated by Imam Al-Bukhari in his collection, he came and gave salams to the Prophet (peace be upon him) after he arrived there. The Prophet said to him: “Where are you going?” He said “I’m going to the market.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said “Why?” He said “To get busy, to develop some type of sustainable income for himself.”

The Prophet did not stop him because he knew that he wanted to get married to an Ansari woman and he needed to settle his affairs.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) once prayed, “O Allah, resurrect me poor.” This dua is sometimes cited by people to say that the Prophet (peace be upon him) discouraged people from seeking a livelihood. But scholars maintained that what he means here is (Resurrect me miskin), meaning that the only reliance I have is on You. The word miskin here means one who relies on Allah Almighty, trusts in Allah Almighty alone.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said “The best property is the property of the righteous person.” We have his companion Abu Talha Zaid ibn Sahl, when he gave his garden for the sake of Allah, Allah said “You will not attain righteousness until you give from what you love.” So he said “I love this garden” and so he donate it for the sake of Allah.

Imam Hanbali used to have a very strong and sharp tongue. He said “Those extreme people, if they knew that the Prophet loved to wear the Yemeni dress (which is a very comfortable type of dress) and he loved nice perfume and he loved sweetmeat, if they knew this, they would apostate and leave Islam!” He said because they made Islam so difficult they would not be able to fathom how the Prophet lived his life very simply. As Ibn Al-Qayim mentions in Zad Al-Ma’ad, a four-volume masterpiece about the Prophet, that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was very simple. Whatever somebody gave him, he would wear it as long as it was not something forbidden by Allah Almighty.

Some of the great students of the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) were poor because of circumstances, and some of them were rich. A good example is the grandfather and the father of Imam Malik. They were people who had good wealth. Imam Malik used to wear the clothes of the king when he narrated hadith. He would send his servants to the people and they would ask them “Do you want to learn hadith or Islamic law?” They would say to him or her “We want to learn Islamic law.” Then Imam Malik would come out immediately.

But if they said, “We want to learn from the hadith of the Prophet,” Imam Malik would go make ghusl, make ‘oud, put on the best clothes he can, and come and teach hadith. People actually used to chastise him. Some scholars wrote him letters saying: “Why do you dress like that? You should be more pious”

And his response was interesting. He said: “What you are doing is good, and what I am doing is good. So leave me alone.”

Many of us know Imam Abu Hanifa as a teacher and a faqih who used to narrate hadith on behalf of the Prophet (peace be upon him). But if you wanted to buy silk in the city of Abu Hanifa, the best place to buy silk was his shop that he ran with his brother. So even though he was an Imam, he still had his business and he made this money to be sufficient.

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal once was asked: “If somebody has a 100,000 dinars can he be from the people of zuhd, can he be a pious person?” Imam Ahmed, who was the strictest of the four as far as being a person of zuhd, said: “Yes, as long as the person doesn’t put love for that money in his heart.”

Imam Abu Hamid Al-Ghazaali, who died 505 years after hijrah, many times people see him as the archetype of the ascetic personality. But once he lamented: “Oh my God, There are some people who made everything haram and everything difficult on the people until the only thing that you can find halal to eat, if you follow the opinion of these people, is the grass on the ground!”

And then he chastised them: “What’s wrong with these people? Why did they make the religion this way?”

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