19 Safar 1441

Does Islam promote Impassiveness?

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Nov 4th, 2014
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If we look at the concept of work, we have to differentiate between working for this life, to do something for our world and society and working that is in a form of pure worship to Allah azza wa jal.

 

 

Work, as a concept could be good as well as bad: work that has value or is harmful to a person in the measurements of the Hereafter. If you do well; if you obey the orders of Allah; if you perform the things that you are told to do and you keep away from the things that you are prevented’ from doing; this is positive work, you will be rewarded with good deeds on the ‘Day of Judgment’. And vice-versa: if you do something bad, if you do not perform the things that Allah azza wa jal has instructed you to do, you will be punished on the Day of Judgement. Now coming down to our world: we have to work in order to achieve something. Whether it is positive in what we are doing: such as those who are working to feed their families, those who are studying in the universities to achieve a degree. Or we could be working in a bad sense, that is, harming people, making wars, killing, stealing; this is also work but again you will be punished or rewarded according to what you do. Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam told us that there are 2 names that are very truthful; they are Al Haris and Al Hammam. Haris means that every person does something, whether for this world or for the Hereafter, so he is actually doing something. Hammam means that he is about to do something. Everybody is about to do something, whether it is good deeds or bad deeds.

Coming back to the concept of work, Islam promotes working and that is why whenever you recite in the holy Qur’an, you will find the that Allah talks about the Muslims as those who believe and perform good deeds. Therefore, if you believe without any performance, without any actions, this is not enough. You say that I am a believer and you sit idle, you do not pray, you do not fast, you do not fulfill the pillars of Islam then you are not a Muslim! Therefore, there has to be belief as well as actions. The Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam told us about those who beg, he warned them, he told that those who beg, in this world will come on the Day of Judgement without pieces of flesh on their faces. Which means that, because they had imposed this humility on themselves; by asking and begging people in this life, they will be punished on the Day of Judgement by coming in the skeleton like face; no flesh nothing to show for’! A man came to the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam asking for money, he was begging the Prophet. He, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam redirected him and he told that man to go and buy an axe and a rope. He asked him to go to the forest to cut and collect firewood, sell it and come back to him in a week’s time. After a week the man came in a very different appearance, now he had money, he sold the wood and made money. Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam took this man’s example and told the companions that this is far greater than a man coming and begging people for money; they might give him and they may not give him. Therefore, Islam promotes people to work.

Intention in Islam is very important; so, is it enough to work to support my family and myself or there needs to be a higher intention? {To work only for the sake of Allah’?}

Intention is very important in Islam if not THE most important thing in all our deeds! The Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam told us that, “All deeds depend on the intention and whatever you intend, you will be credited accordingly!” If there are two people praying at the same time, in the same Masjid: one with the intention to ask from Allah and to seek His pleasure. Whereas the other one is praying with the intention to show-off or show his boss that, he prays so that he would give him a raise: one is in hell and the other in paradise because of the intention, though the actions and deeds are exactly same! {They are prostrating, they are bowing and they are reciting the Qur’an in the same fashion and manner!} The intention when working is very important but it is not THE only thing. Many brothers and sisters may mix the concept of ‘intention’ by saying that, “If I work from 9 to 5, my intention has to be that this work is for Allah.” This is not possible: to work 9 to 5 for Allah! This is a very high achievement to reach if you can do that but it is normally unreachable! However, if you work 9 to 5, you have to ask yourself what your intention is. What would your intention be from your job: ‘To get the salary at the end of the month’! ‘Why?’ ‘To feed my family’! This in itself is an excellent intention. That is why the Prophet Salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam told us that feeding your family is a charity. This is a responsibility. I have to do this. The Prophet Salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam nevertheless said that if you do this, you will be rewarded. It is a form of charity. This is an incentive for you to go work with an open mind, you go to work happily because you are putting the food on the table, but at the same time, Allah Azza wa Jal is rewarding you for it. The intention is very important even to those who are studying. If a boy or a girl goes to school, they have to have a clear intention, but unfortunately, this is at the bottom of our list, if it exists at all! Ask and survey any community around you. Why do children go to school? Why do teenagers go to high schools? Why do young men and women go to universities? They pursue a degree. Or their parents just ask them to do so. Otherwise, they are going to punish them. So if you do not have an objective with a clear intention, then you are not going to have good results. It is quite important that we teach our kids, teach our teenagers, and teach our youth that they have to have a clear intention. This intention does not mean that you have to sit 24 hours in the Masjid. No, on the contrary, live your normal life with a good intention. So if someone goes to the gym and works out for a couple of hours a day, (that is a lot!), what is his intention? This man’s intention is to have a beautiful symmetric body so that he could seduce girls. He shows-off, or so that he could beat those whom he does not like. His intention and his 2 hours in the gym would be in his ‘sins’ record. He is sinful. From the moment, he got out of his house until the moment he comes back. Another man is also working out, but his intention is to have healthy body so that he could perform his worships, prayer, pilgrimage, so that he could be representing Islam in a nice way, and at the same time, whenever there is a call to defend Islam, he is fit. And Islam asks you to be fit. This man is being rewarded’ from the minute he goes out of his house until the he comes back. Therefore, the intention is extremely important.

Now you have a good intention to work but actually what you face is that people are not treated’ equally. You may find that those people who are not well qualified are taking up jobs. People may get jobs through ‘References’, because he is the boss’s nephew or something like that. As a Muslim, how should we deal with similar situations?

The concept of suffering from inequality is not only in the Muslim world, it is worldwide. It is not ‘what’ you know; it is ‘who’ you know. Unfortunately this is practiced everywhere. Unfortunately, there are governments that are run through this methodology’. They have presidents that are not fit to head a school and they are heading a country. However, this is beside the point. The point is that you do whatever pleases Allah Azza wa Jal. This means that if you are in a job and you find people trying to climb your back to reach a higher position. People polish shoes and reach where they want through crooked ways and means. This is not acceptable for you as a Muslim because Islam tells you that you have to work, but going to the top is not your objective. You have to work honestly; you must not lie, you must not be with two faces, you must not be a hypocrite, you must be punctual, faithful, truthful and so on. If you get a better position Alhamdulillah, if you do not, then also Alhamdulillah and let those who did wrong, get what they deserve in this life and they will definitely get what they deserve in the hereafter.

Can the ‘end’ justify the ‘means’ in Islam?

The Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam told us that whoever seeks the pleasure of people over the pleasure of Allah azza wa jal, Allah will be angry with him He will make the people angry with him as well. On the other hand, whoever seeks the pleasure of Allah over the pleasure of the people; Allah will be pleased with him and He will make the people pleased with that person as well! Therefore, you cannot compromise, you cannot say, “It is both this and that!” ‘Well it is either this ‘OR’ that!’ Either you are a committed Muslim {regardless of what the consequences are} ‘I have committed; I have red lines that I cannot cross. I have my Islamic boundaries that I do not cross. This is what I believe; I have my trust in Allah azza wa jal, whatever they want to do, let them do, but I will not comprise my religion to seek their pleasure; because I know that Allah azza wa jal would punish me if I go against the principles of Islam!’

What does Islam say about a person who does not work, who is always praying, who is always in the Masjid, proclaiming that I am dedicating all my life for the worship of Allah, can this be taken as an excuse for not working?

This concept is found’ in some cults that claim to be Muslims but this is actually not the case! Umar Bin Khattab, the second Kha’lif, once went into the Masjid and he saw a group of people sitting. He asked them what they were doing there as they were sitting there for too long and they did not have any reason to be sitting there. When asked they said, “We are Al Mutawakkiloon, we are those who have their trust in Allah!” Umar {may Allah be pleased with him} started beating them with a short stick, telling them that, “you are not having the trust in Allah azza wa jal but you are Mutawakiloon, you are just sitting here because you all are lazy, this not the way of Islam!” Those who claim to have their trust in Allah have to work as well. Trust has to be accompanied with work and if someone sits idly at home and says, “I have my trust in Allah, if Allah wishes; He would grant me money, food, water and everything. Therefore, I do not have to work!” This approach is insane! This is unacceptable because it is like a person wanting to have children without being married and intimate with his wife; and he keeps praying to Allah to grant him children. ‘Will this work?’ Of course not’ this is not having trust in Allah but it shows his dumbness. It is similar to standing in the middle of the highway during rush hour and saying, “I have my trust in Allah, Allah will protect me!” this is insane. To be a proper Muslim, you have to work and that is why the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam said in an authentic Hadith, “If you have your trust in Allah, real trust in Allah then the Almighty will support you and provide you with sustenance exactly as He does to the birds! In the early morning the birds go out of their nests, empty stomach and at the end of the day they come back with full stomach!” Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam did say to us that the birds work, they left their nests in the morning and came back with full stomach at the end of the day. What were they doing? They went looking for food and if we have our trust in Allah and we work and seek what would support us, by having our trust in Allah and working at the same time then I assure you that Allah will support us and give us whatever we need and ask for.

What does Islam say about someone who is working in a Haraam business like a hotel that serves alcohol?

If I understand your question correctly, then I will answer it with a hadith and I will comment afterwards. This hadith was reported by Imam Muslim in the Sahih, the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam told us about a man travelling with lots of dust in his hair (because of travelling), and raising his hands to heaven and saying, “O Allah, O Lord, O Rubb, O Rubb” he is praying to Allah Azza wa Jal to grant him whatever he seeks. The Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam said, “Yet he is fed from sources of forbidden money, and he nourished through sources of forbidden money, the things that he drinks is bought from the same money, the things that he wears is from the same money, how will Allah, The Almighty answer his prayer?” Therefore, the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam is telling us that if your income is from things that are forbidden then your prayer will not be answered by Allah. This means that you have to go out of your way, to insure that your income is Halal. This is very easy.

If without doing that Haraam job, the person will be fired’; what needs to be done’ in this case?

Let me first say that there is a rule in Islam, which says that necessity makes forbidden things permissible. However, you have to define the necessity. You mentioned an example of a person working in a hotel, and he serves alcohol, pork or things that are non-Islamic. The question is; is his job permissible? The answer is no. You say this is the only job he can do or this is the only job available now. Actually, it is not. However, is this’ the only job that pays him the amount he wants? There are hundreds and thousands of jobs that pay less; but this does not suit you because they pay less’! It is the same in the case of bankers. There are two types of banks: Islamic banks that deal with Islamic transactions and non- Islamic banks; which are the majority, unfortunately! A lot of the Muslims work in the non-Islamic banks and whenever we tell them this is a major sin, they say, “Well, we cannot find an alternative.” However, they do not complete the sentence; it should be; “we cannot find an alternative that pays the same salary!” However, there are many alternatives’ that give 30% less, or 40% less or even 50% less salary; here comes your trust in Allah Azza wa Jal. If you trust the Almighty, then you should leave this income that is not permissible for you and look for a job which is permissible for you even if it has a fewer income. In my point of view, people do not starve to death, in our societies and in our communities maybe they do in Somalia but where we live, you always find a Muslim that gives you a loaf of bread to survive on. You have to look at the things that please Allah, not a thing that pleases you, because the sky is the limit, no matter how high your salary is, you will always find a position that always promises more salary but you may have to compromise your religious aspects.

If you are a practicing Muslim then perhaps you may not get a job; you will have to bribe to get a job that you deserve. You think that you are well qualified for this particular job but you will have to bribe someone to get that position. What does Islam say about this?

Paying bribe is something that is considered in Islam as a major sin and those who pay bribes, those who receive bribes and those who are witnessing the bribing process, are all cursed by Allah. But when we come to this case where you have a job opening and you apply for this job and your HR manager wants something ‘under the counter’ for him to accept; now you are the victim. You also want to make yourself the judge, because you are claiming that you are the most qualified person for this job but this is not for you to judge. Now your desire is influencing your judgment; you want the job because it pays well and at the same time, you are convinced that you are the best man around but this is your own thinking and your own notion. You may be right and you may be wrong! Coming back to the situation again, if you bribe this HR manager then bribery would become common, to the extent that you would also have to bribe the man who would issue your driving license, who may have to bribe the man who would bring the phone in the house; the list may go on and on’! Therefore, because of this there would be widespread corruption in the society.

What does Islam say about migrating to Non-Muslim countries for better opportunities?

There are educated young people around who are well qualified to get good jobs but they are not given’ good salaries so they prefer migrating to other countries where they would be paid well. This is the role of the government and top people to do something about this. However, you can ask me about the rule of migration to other countries in general! Traveling to work in another country is permissible; simply because this is what the Muslims in the early times used to do. Arabs were traders even during pre-Islamic times. The Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam himself went to Syria and to the Sham area, up to the north of Arabia, for trade. He was a Merchant himself, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam and all the companions were merchants and traders by profession. Therefore, travelling by itself to seek a better opportunity for work is acceptable as a concept. If a person goes to a Muslim country where he is free to practice his religion, he is not oppressed and at the same time he has a good opportunity to a decent job then this is one of the best scenarios possible; because then you have a good income and you are leading a comfortable life. The problem arises when a person migrates to a non-Muslim country where the temptations are endless, where Shari’ya {the Islamic law} is not applied’ where there are threats to his faith and belief; in this case, the answer would be; going to such a country is not permissible. Although your income would improve but your religion would deteriorate and the level of Ei’man and faith will drop dramatically. I have witnessed cases like these where people who abandoned their religion, they get overwhelmed by the pressure of peers, with the environment, the society; they ultimately give in and become hopeless. They end up imitating and copying the western ideology and they are transformed’ into something other than Muslims! If they are sure to preserve their Islam and Ei’man, if they can practice their religion freely, if they think they are immune to the temptations around them then working in such environment is permissible, otherwise, it is not. Having said that, going to a Muslim country is far greater for this Duniya and for the hereafter. Scholars say that travelling to non-Muslim countries is not permissible unless three conditions are ‘fulfilled:

1)    A Muslim has to have a certain level of virtue and fear of Allah that prevents him from indulging himself in temptation, desires, lusts or whatever.

2)    To have the level of knowledge that prevents him from accepting any bad ideas and influences that would affect his religion. For example if someone comes to him and says Islam promotes trinity, that is why you say, “Bismillah, ar Rahman, ar Raheem, which is the son, the god and the Holy Spirit!” The man who does not have proper Islamic knowledge would go blank and would not be able to answer him. This is unacceptable, you need to have proper knowledge that allows you to that defend Islam and refute these bad ideas.

3)    You have to have a legitimate purpose for going to these non-Muslim countries. You cannot go there for tourism; just to go there to have fun and enjoy; this is not permissible because you have many Islamic countries where you could visit for tourism. If you have a legitimate reason such as, you go there to give Da’wah {you go there to spread the correct message of Islam} studying or looking for a job, trading, medical treatment, you have to go there because they have the best hospitals, a proper and legitimate reason. If these conditions are fulfilled’ then it is permissible for you to travel, but other than that, stay where you are, among the Muslims, among your brothers.

4)    I am going abroad for working. What if I stay in my country, I am working for non-Muslims in my country, for example, for multinational companies. Is it right or wrong, and what about the income, is it permissible to eat from, or what?

The income depends on the activities of the company. So, if the company, for example, is an industrial company that produces pipes, this is a legitimate line of work, this is permissible. Now, if your boss or your manager is a non-muslim, is it permissible for you to work under non-muslim management? The answer would be yes, it is. There is nothing wrong in that, and the evidence of that is that Salman Al-Farisi, may Allah be pleased with him, when he was abducted’ and sold as a slave, he was sold to a Jew. Now, his master who was a Jew, used to ask him to work in his farm, so he worked in his farm. And the Prophet Salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam did not tell Salman Al-Farisi {who was a Muslim} that you have to leave work or do something or kill your boss or whatever, because he is a non-muslim, no, it is okay’. Especially nowadays with globalization and everything; as long as the activity is permissible and there is nothing forbidden in your work then it is permissible for you to work in a foreign company.

What does Islam tell about mingling with the opposite gender in the workplace? Are there any rules that you need to adhere to if your colleagues are of opposite sex? Is there anything that prohibits you from taking such a job?

The problem is that, this issue has some many attachments to it; you have to look at it from a holistic point of view. You cannot just say no or cannot just say yes it is all right to work in a mixed environment! We need to explain and elaborate so that people would understand why we are taking such a stand. Working with the opposite sex is forbidden in Islam, we are told in Islam to segregate between females and males and this is put forward extremely clear in the prophetic sayings. For example: the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam has said that in a Masjid, the best rows of men are the front rows and the worst rows for men are the last ones and the worst rows for women are the front ones and the best ones are the last rows. The Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam is talking about praying in a Masjid, the sacred place of worship; this means that Islam wants to keep the men as far as possible from women. In Islam, we are told that a person must lower his gaze from the opposite sex; so men are not supposed to look at the Au’rah {the body parts which are to be covered before Non-Mahram} of women and women are not supposed to look at the Au’rah of men. Women’s Au’rah is from top to bottom and men’s Au’rah is from naval to knee. Therefore, men are not supposed to look at a Non-Mahram female at all. We have many things in Islam that tells us that if women mix with men, they are a cause of temptation and this is crystal’ clear, nobody can deny that. People may say, “We have been to the US, we have been to the West, there is a mixed work environment everywhere there and nothing happens and you guys are sick, thinking that something will happen!” I will tell you it is not the case, you may work with a thousand women and nothing happened, not because it is a safe environment but simply because nothing clicked between you and them, there was no chemistry. I will give you a crystal’ clear example that was on the world TV screens a few years back. A head of a country, a well-known ‘super power’ was accused’ of fornicating with an intern. Now this man had a beautiful wife, he had a big position but still this did not prevent him from cheating and why was that? ‘Because, he was working with the opposite sex’! Now, you cannot blame Muslims for being rather ‘safe than sorry!’ this is what the Qur’an and Sunnah tells us to do. Let the women work with women and let men work with men. Coming back to your question, which I had to set the platform for it: if you are working in a company that has females, you should isolate yourself from them as much as possible, in the sense that it is forbidden’ for a man to be alone with a Non-Mahram woman in the same room. The Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam tells us that there is a third person with them and that is Shaitan. Do not tell me that she is ugly or she is 10/15 years older than you are. Because, it is not what you feel towards her; maybe you do not have any feelings for her but can you guarantee that she does not have anything towards you’? We have heard so many cases of nurses marrying their doctors, of flight attendees marrying their captains, of house cleaners marrying their bosses and this is all because of working and being alone together. Marrying is a positive thing but we have also heard so many things about relationships and extra marital affairs! Even if nothing happened between the opposite genders, whatever Allah prohibits, it is forbidden’ for us!

Avoiding working in a mixed environment is very difficult these days, so what should be done in such a situation?

First of all’ it is very unfortunate that mixing of opposite genders in a workplace is the ‘current trend’. My best advice would be to look for a better job! However, if it is the only job available then there are boundaries that you must not go beyond, there are red lines that you must not cross! For example, you MUST NOT be alone with a Non-Mahram female in the same room, not even in an elevator! So many times, it happens that you are going in an elevator and going up or down a female comes in; what should be done’? Without any hesitation, you need to get out right there, this applies to both men and women; if you are a woman and you are in an elevator alone and while going up or down a male comes in, you need to get out of that right there! It is either him or her in the elevator, not both of them together! Some people might say, “You are being an extremist! This is ridiculous!” No, it is not! Because in so many cases elevators were stuck for 3/4 hours and then what happens! You should tell yourself, “I am not doing this because I do not trust myself or I do not trust her, I am doing this in the best interest of the community at large. I am only following the instruction of Allah and the prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam.” The bottom line is

1) ‘Do not be alone with a Non-Mahram woman in the same room.’

2) If you work with a woman, do not look at her in the eyes, in the sense, try to avoid looking at her, unless it is necessary. One might say, “This is rude!” well, this might look rude but this keeps me away from Fitnah, this is what puts a partition between her and me. Imagine if I dissolve myself in the work environment and then I start looking at her, smiling, joking and maybe doing something beyond this to be friendly and kind; this is unacceptable in Islam. Therefore, you have to draw a line.

3) If you work with the opposite sex, you MUST NOT ever touch them at all. Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam told us that, “It is better for one of you to be stabbed in his head with a big iron nail than touching a Non-Mahram woman!” therefore, shaking hands is totally unacceptable! Nowadays it is far worse; they hug and kiss when they meet or depart as if it is no big deal! You need to draw the line; touching a Non-Mahram woman is completely forbidden’ in Islam. If there are more than three or four people in the same room, then it is ok but again you need to keep the rules in mind!

If the only option that you have is to work in a mixed environment then the more you are away and segregated from the opposite sex is better for you and this is the Islamic way of doing it.

In Islam, it is not permissible for a woman to wear perfume because men are more attracted towards women than women are towards men and no one can doubt that. If you have a group of men in a room and an attractive woman goes into that room, many heads would be turning; maybe not all men would turn to check her out but lots would! However, if something opposite takes place, if you have a room full of women and one, fine, handsome, muscular man walks in, very few heads would turn. Therefore, Islam plays a great role over the chastity of a woman, of them being properly dressed, not being perfumed when going out, not showing their beautiful side to Non-Mahram men.

What about the women who take high positions like being a Judge?

Actually, a woman is not allowed to take the position of a judge because it means that she has to give verdicts in things that she is unequipped with’. She has to mingle with men and probably she has to be alone with some of them. The Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam said that this is not acceptable. However, if the CEO of a company happens to be a female and you happen to be the manager or whatever there, you work in this environment but you keep the boundaries protected. If she tells you, “Come over to my office, I want to have a one on one meeting with you!” You do not go alone in the room unless there is someone else or you can do it through phone conference or whatever or send an email but do not be alone with her, do not talk to her in a very friendly, joking and smiling way in other’s presence as well. This is because it is natural that a man is attracted towards a woman, it is not just me {the one with the suspicion and doubts.} It is natural that a man would love to impress women and a woman would love to impress men. Moreover, if you work in a mixed environment you would get plenty of chances to interact with the opposite sex and would try to impress them and things can get crazy from there! Coming back to your question, yes you can work under a boss who is a female but keep the boundaries of Islam protected.

In conclusion, we say that you have to work because if you do not work, you are not adding value to the society and every individual in Islam must add value to his community and to the society.

The quotations from the Qur’an and Hadiths in this article are a rough translation of the meaning of the original text!

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