“To live means to work. Work is the life of a person.” (Voltaire)
We spend the largest portion of our life at the workplace. In fact, our entire life is aimed at earning what we would spend on our livelihood. Eight to twelve hours at work, eight hours for sleep, two hours in commuting, an hour for getting ready… and what is left? We eat so that we can live, and we spend our life on earning our sustenance. I urge you not to waste your time at the workplace.
Are you surprised? Just think about it – does it make sense to live only for eating? Most probably, your earning is sufficient for providing you not only with food but also with clothing, a place to live, treating yourself from time to time with something nice and, once in a while, for taking a vacation. I dare to assume that among my readers are also those who earn sufficiently and are able to afford nearly everything they wish for. Yet, we work too much and have too little time for anything else but work. Is it worth it to spend the precious time allotted to us by the Most High on such trivial pursuits?
However, I do not urge you to adopt a lazy and parasitic lifestyle. Not at all. You should work and work a lot. When I say “do not waste time at work”, I mean “do not waste it on useless pursuits”. Any time that you spend on something other than for Allah (swt), the Most High, is wasted. Whatever we do with the Niyyah (intention) other than that is useless for eternity.
If we pose the question “where to work?”, then the obvious answer is “wherever it is beneficial”. Any efforts we put forth towards caring for those close to us and their well-being can be filled with deep meaning if we continuously keep our Niyyah focused by reminding ourselves Who we are doing it all for? Whose pleasure are we seeking? Who is our real boss? This is the factor which transforms the otherwise senseless and tiresome situation of “living so we can eat and eating so we can live” into a spiritual act of service to Allah, the Most High. Reaching such a level of commitment is not as difficult as maintaining it; however, in this lies true happiness and success.
Furthermore, simply having the intention of “I will do it for the sake of Allah (swt)” is not enough; the quality of the work has to match the intention. This is because “for the sake of Allah (swt)” means “for seeking His pleasure” which is possible only if He accepts what you are doing. What job can be done for the sake of Allah (swt)? It can be any job, including housework, as long as it does not involve anything forbidden. Some people think that working for the sake of Allah (swt) is possible only in the field of religion, which is not so. What matters is not where but how we work.
The most important question, the answer to which will help you stop wasting time at work, is: how to work? For the sake of Allah (swt) you have to perform your duties in the best manner, as He does not accept anything other than that. A person who leaves for his work in the morning and returns home in the evening does not do anything which would draw him nearer to Jannah if he does not put his best efforts into doing it. It is necessary to keep in mind that your boss is not this “mean and evil guy” in charge of you, but the One for Whose sake you have made the intention to work. Likewise, it is as necessary to remember that your salary is not that “meagre amount of cash which is not enough for anything anyway” but your real salary is your professional activities that are written down in the Book of Life as your good deeds, accepted by your Supervisor. Religion is like a magic wand that changes reality; everything is transformed when viewed through a spiritual lens. The most annoying and senseless job turns into an act of worship, a way of expressing love, a deed with a capital letter.
If you could see how Allah (swt) the Most High watches over you during every minute of your work, would you allow yourself to be careless, to take endless tea breaks or to spend your work time on empty conversations? If the management installs security cameras for observing their employees, it significantly increases their productivity. A believer knows that even without such cameras in place, he is continuously being observed by the One Who hears and sees everything – the One Whom he is serving. The money you earn by carrying out your duties late and negligently is stolen money. For example, if your work time is eight hours with one hour for lunch break, but you spend three hours of it on idle pursuits, do you have any right to take money for this time? If your management would know of the tasks you have not completed, they would not pay you for them in full. Thus, it is unfair to carry out your duties partially while receiving full payment for them. Your earning stops being Halal if it is earned unjustly. It is even more unjust in front of your own self and your soul to think that you are working for the sake of Allah (swt) while carrying out your duties non-seriously – if you do that, you are merely cheating your own self! Besides, the Most High cannot be deceived into accepting badly performed duties. The only way out for a careless employee is to repent.
If only I could work in the field of religion…
Some Muslims think that if they would be working in the field of religion, it would be easier for them to work for the sake of Allah (swt) only. The truth is that the responsibility level of such employees is so high that it makes their work not easier but more difficult. However, a hardworking person, not a lazy one, a true professional, not the one who purchases his diploma, and any person who continuously remembers where and for whose sake he is working, is a representative of Islam. Imams and Alims are not the only representatives of the field of religion. People working in Islamic educational institutions, Islamic shops, facilitating enforcement of Deen anywhere, etc., also belong to the same field and are also responsible for shaping the image of Muslims. If any one of them carries out his duties heedlessly, he directly harms the religion of Allah (swt). Instead of taking upon yourself such responsibility and failing to fulfill it, it truly is better to be a simple sweeper, who keeps in good order the territory entrusted to him.
We work according to what we get paid
Sometimes we hear the following complaint: “If only I would be paid more, I would work better”. If you have taken up this job and are not satisfied with your salary – leave and find another job! However, the unique position of a believer is such that he knows that no matter where he is or what he is doing, he would not receive more or less than his Rizq. What is decreed for you today will definitely reach you, no matter where and for what salary you are working. If you are working for the sake of Allah (swt) on a small salary but sincerely, you are richer than the one who works for the sake of his Nafs (desires), no matter if he carries his duties out well or not. And if you are working for the sake of Allah (swt) but underperform deliberately, then you are poorer than the most poor and are living in self-deceit.
I pray to Allah (swt) the Most High to accept what we are doing for His sake and teach us to do it in such a way that we would not be ashamed of it on the Day of Judgement. Ameen.
Translated for Hiba by Laila Brence. Source: http://islam.ru/content/obshestvo/9947