Working for Allah: A Summary Introduction

Jan 29, 2005

Why Should We Work for Allah?

We may ask: Why should we work for Allah anyway?

Well, let me turn that question around and ask: If you didn’t work for Allah, who gave you everything you have, who will you work for?

Will you – and should you – then work for those who gave you nothing? And who can give you nothing?

Does that make sense?

Ask yourself: Who gave you all the blessings and privileges that you enjoy in life? And who can ensure the continuity of those blessings and privileges throughout your life?

Even more fundamentally, who gave you life, which you take so much for granted? And who gave you the complete package of tools to live life with?

Who gave you your central nervous system? And who gave you your circulatory and digestive systems?

Who gave you your disease-fighting – immune – system? And who gave you your reproductive system? And all the other systems and subsystems that comprise the perfect package of human life that you call your body?

Who fitted your body and being with any or all of these systems and their tiniest components and mechanisms?

Your Presence in this World: Who Controls Your Arrival and Departure?

Who made all the fundamental decisions and choices in your life as regards how you came into this world, each one of which has had such a profound impact on the kind of life you have had thus far?

  1. Who decided where you were to be born
  2. Or when you were to be born.
  3. Or to what parents you were to be born – which determined your race, nationality and social status and which significantly impacted the kind of life you will have in this world.
  4. And whether you were to be a natural or a caesarian birth?
  5. And who made the gender choice for you as a result of which your life became what it did all though these years?
  6. Was it you, your parents, your government – just who precisely made all these decisions for you if not God Almighty.

Or look at the converse of it, and ask yourself these four most fundamental and basic of all questions with regard to how you will go out of this world when your time comes:

  1. Do you know how long you will live on this earth?
  2. Do you know when you will die?
  3. Do you know how exactly you will die?
  4. Do you know where exactly you will die?

How many of these simple questions do you have the answers to? If you don’t know the answers to any or all of these questions, do you know anyone else who does – like your parents; teachers; doctors; scientists; politicians; priests; government officials; basically anyone, anywhere?

If no one knows any of this, then who do you think can control any or all of it? That is the point I am trying to make.

Of course, you may say the whole thing is a fluke, a matter of sheer chance. This is what the passage of 15 billion years – or whatever the correct number – will do to you, you may claim. And you have a right to make that claim. And it is a right given to you, believe it or not, by God Almighty himself – in that noble and glorious miracle of a book called the Qur’an.

Or you can somehow bring yourself to consider an alternative hypothesis, a different way of looking at your existence and how you came to be in this world: that your coming into this world – and the way you came into this world – is an act finely and exquisitely calibrated by your creator and master.

For whatever reason – and who can fathom his mind or guess his reasons? – he decided to make you the way you are, and place you on earth in the time and the place he did, and in the nation and community and with the family he did. And with every one of those decisions went a physical, social, psychological and economic package that was custom made for you.

When your time came to show up on this earth, you were born to that welcome package. You inherited all that stuff.

And he was the one – the only one – who made all those decisions for you with regard to your coming into this world. Just as he is the only one who will make all the decisions with regard to your exit from this world. For, in spite of all the orchestrations and efforts that go into these things, you can no more control your departure from this world, than you were able to control your arrival into it.

Two Ways of Looking at Reality: Two Rival Hypotheses

These are then two alternative – rival – ways of looking at the world and your place in that world. Call them two hypotheses if you will. Neither is more “provable” or “scientific” than the other, even though there is a great deal of evidence on either side.

But the evidence is inconclusive. That is the beauty of life on earth. Evidence points in both directions. And you are asked to make a choice. In either direction it is a leap of faith. One is called science and the other Islam.

But when done right, they are both the same. They both lead to the same ultimate outcome – reality. Science may call it reality or truth. Islam calls it Haq. And God Almighty is that ultimate reality – clear, complete, full, indubitable, manifest: Al-Haqqul Mubeen (24:25).

Thus, in the ultimate analysis, it is a choice you make. It is the great big test you face in life. Your life will be shaped and determined by the choice you make – right here in this world as well as after your death, in the next world.

Allah and You: Another Attempt at Explanation

If you still don’t get it, let me try and explain a bit further: Who gave you your body? Who made the trillions of parts and components of that body? Who makes them all – each one of them, most of which you don’t even know you have – function properly at the individual level? And who makes them all work together – in unison and in cooperation with one another – the way they do?

Who do you think made the billions of cells in your brain that allow you to do everything you do in life – from thinking, talking and dreaming to walking, seeing and having the use of the various parts of your body, for your day-to-day, second-to-millisecond living?

And who do you think made the earth, the air, the water and the entire solar system and all the galaxies that make life possible for you and all other living things?

So, if everything you have is what Allah gave you, and if the only one who makes it possible for you to continue to enjoy what you have is Allah, then ask yourself: Who should you work for if not for him?

It is that simple!

What is it you do when you Say you Work for Allah?

This is one of the most interesting, intriguing and important questions of all? Not too many people seem to have a good handle on it.

All too often people tie themselves into knots in trying to answer this question. And yet, as I said, this is perhaps one of the most important questions of all. And it is a question that needs a clear answer – an answer that we can understand and also live and work with. So, calling on Allah to help, let me have a shot at it.

Below are some ideas that will help you to develop a clearer understanding of what it means to work for Allah.

Islam vs. Religion: First Obstacle to Overcome

If you really want to get a clear handle on what it is to work for Allah then the first thing you need to do is to get away from using the term “religion” to refer to you relationship with God Almighty – and to the entire system of Islam.

While others may not have too much of a difficulty with the use of that term to denote their beliefs and behaviors, it does not make much sense when used to denote Islam and its teachings. In fact, God gave human beings Islam to set them free from the tyranny of religion.

That is because religion is something that you do on a part-time basis. Islam is something you do 24-hours a day. Religion requires doing certain “holy” rituals, in certain “holy” places, on certain “holy” occasions, using certain “holy” formulas and chants presided over by certain “holy” men.

On the other hand Islam, in what is perhaps one of its greatest boons to humanity, sets human beings free from dependence on “holy” men and allows every man and woman to build a direct personal relationship with God Almighty. The more you think about it the more you wonder if this was not one of Islam’s most revolutionary accomplishments – giving every human being a direct and unfettered access to the creator.

As a result, Islam is accessible to all. It is something that is done all the time, in every aspect of one’s life, anywhere convenient, by anyone and everyone – male or female – using life’s everyday tools and wherewithal.

As a result, when you work for Allah, you do not become more “religious,” though it may seem that way to a world conditioned to view life through the sacred-secular prism. You just become instead a more conscious, more committed, more responsible, more caring and more active individual. Above all, you become much more targeted, much more focused and much more efficient and optimal in what you do.

In other words, you become a better human being overall.

Three Things that Make you a Better Human Being

Working for Allah then begins with accepting God Almighty as your maker and master and by acknowledging his authority and sovereignty over every aspect of your individual and collective life.

That means from now on you do what you do keeping three simple principles in mind:

a. The first thing is to make sure your motives are pure. That means you do everything you do with one clear, primary and overriding purpose in mind: to please God Almighty and not to curry favor with anyone else or to seek any worldly gain or advantage.

b. The next thing is to make sure everything you do is done based on and according to God’s law and commandments. This has five easily identifiable guidelines and parameters:

i)          The Qur’an.

Derive all your actions from the Qur’an – God Almighty’s own book in your own mortal and feeble hands.

There is no book like it. It is “The” book, as Allah himself calls it. There is no doubt or error in it. Where else are you going to find a book like that?

ii)        The Sunnah.

Let all your actions be guided by the model of the Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, as found in the wonderful and most amazing collection of Hadith we have at our disposal.

It is the most complete and the most authentic and accurate record of the most fully, comprehensively and wonderfully lived human life on earth. There is nothing like it in this world.

It is among the greatest miracles of all.

This package of the Qur’an and Hadith taken together is what is called the Deen of Allah – God Almighty’s chosen way for you.

Islam is the divine system that operates the universe that God created – what many non-Muslims would refer to as nature. Islam is what holds the heavenly bodies together – call it gravity if you will. It is what makes the earth rotate on its axis.

Now the same Islam that runs the world at a cosmic level is in your hands in the form of the Qur’an and Hadith. And now it is recast by God Almighty to fit the needs of your daily life on planet earth: your life as individuals as well as your life as families, groups, organizations, institutions, societies, nations, cultures and collectivities of all kinds.

iii)     Common Sense.

While trying to conform to the letter and spirit of the text of the Qur’an and Hadith with utmost faithfulness, do not ignore common sense and the demands of practical life in the environment and context in which you live.

For, God sent Islam into this world to help you, not to make life impossible and miserable for you. And he equipped you with intelligence, reason and common sense to help you navigate the turbulent waters of life.

iv)      Science.

What is science if not common sense and basic human logic, rationality and observation put through tighter thinking and more rigorous analysis and testing? So, science and rationality form key pillars of thought and behavior in relation to working for Allah – Islam that is.

Do you see how the equation has already changed dramatically? Instead of talking about Islam and science being at loggerheads with one another, we are now talking about both having the same goal and seeking the same outcome – and in fact one being a close ally of the other.

As I mentioned earlier, done right, the distinction between the two disappears – except maybe to note that one comes down from God to help humans while the other is the earthbound human attempt to reach God.

A great deal of the trouble Muslims are in today comes from their generally having turned their back on knowledge and education in general and on science in particular, which is in significant part due to their flawed understanding of Islam.

v)        Pragmatism.

There is nothing negative or pejorative about this idea. What I mean by pragmatism is that Muslims, in order to be successful at the human level, need to have a good, solid connection with reality. They need to be fully aware of their environment and use a problem-solving approach to cope with the reality that surrounds them.

That is because Islam is as much a practical guide to solving our daily problems as it is a set of sublime ideas about God and the Day of Judgment. There was no more pragmatic and problem-solving man on earth than Prophet, Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.

c. The third important principle to keep in mind while working for Allah is to make sure your ideas and efforts are geared toward serving the best interests of all of the creation of Allah – from Muslims and non-Muslims to animal and plant life and the environment and the entire universe.

They are all different manifestations of the majesty, power and glory of Almighty Allah. No matter how you look at it, the universe is one seamless family. Kullun Lahu Qaanitoon, as Allah says in the Qur’an: each working for him in its own way.

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