The Adab of Working ~ Sea Without Shore


The following is an extract from the mubarak book, Sea Without Shore, reproduced in accordance with the author’s fair use policy ‘meaning a few pages or less for nonprofit educational purposes or review‘. Enjoy.

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman worked all his life, and emphasises the importance of dedicating one’s daily labors to Allah. Imam Ghazali treats this in his Ihya ‘ulum al-din, where a discussion may be found of many of the points listed here. In earning a living, one should:

1. Intend from the beginning to:

(a) become financially independent through one’s own halal income;

(b) free oneself from asking others for money or wanting what they have;

(c) gain the means to live a religious life and support one’s family;

(d) have taqwa in such matters as avoiding waste, being on time for work, and dealing politely and honestly with people;

(e) want for others what one wants for oneself;

(f) be generous, kind, and fair to others in commercial dealings;

(g) enjoin the right and forbid the wrong when necessary, if one can; and

(h) sincerely do, wish, and advise the best for all Muslims.

2. Not merely choose a halal means of making a living, but intend thereby fulfilling a communal obligation (fard kifaya), since in many cases if one’s occupation were neglected by all, the community itself would come to a halt.

3. Realise that having a job is a blessing from Allah. One should never critisize the person who employs one, but if one dislikes a job, one should either better it, or find another. Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman used to advise people not to leave their job until they had found a better one, unless it was clearly haram.

4. Never let the marketplace of this world distract one from the marketplace of the next; namely, by going to the mosque and praying if one can.

5. Not confine oneself to that, but remember Allah with dhikr and taqwa while working, and especially when buying and selling, which gives baraka to one’s life and money.

6. Not be greedy and grasping, going to every length for profits, but rather showing good character and generosity. (NB This point is expounded in more length in the book)

7. Not merely shun the unlawful, but avoid circumstances entailing doubtful legality and probable harm to others.

8. Think carefully again later about one’s dealings with each person to make sure that one can answer for them to Allah on the Last Day.

You can purchase the book here.

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