In Islam, work is regarded as an act of worship if certain conditions are met. Islam is a religion of action. It calls upon Muslims to work hard to benefit themselves and their societies. In the sphere of work, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has set an ideal example to people to follow.
Dr.MuzammilH.Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, states in his Khutbah delivered at ISOC – Sha`ban 2, 1422/October 19, 2001: Allah says: (And say: ‘Work (righteousness): soon will Allah observe your work, and His Messenger, and the Believers: soon will you be brought back to the Knower of what is hidden and what is open: then will He show you the truth of all that you did.’)(At-Tawbah9:105)
(O Messengers! Enjoy (all) things good and pure, and work righteousness: for I am well-acquainted with (all) that you do. And verily this Community of yours is a single Community. And I am your Lord and Cherisher: therefore be conscious ofMe.) (Al-Mu’minun23:51-52)
1. Islam emphasizes action. Believers are those who work, work hard and continue to work until the end.
2. The work must be good, it should be done with the consciousness of Allah and with the conviction that everything will be shown on the Day of Judgment.
3. There is no dichotomy or sharp division between the secular work and religious work. All work is religious if it is done with the awareness of Allah and is done according to the rules of Allah. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “If the end of the world approaches and one of you has a seedling (or plant) in his hand, if he can plant it before the end comes let him do it.” (MusnadAhmad)
Let us reflect on this hadith. What do you expect from a religious teacher? An ordinary religious teacher or preacher would have said, “If the end approaches, give up everything, go to the mosque and just pray.” However, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) wanted to emphasize something else. These words contain another wisdom and a very important message of Islam.
i. First thing that is emphasized here is activism, the value of action. Action is important and it should be done under all circumstances.
ii. Second, there is no need to make a very sharp division between the worldly actions and religious actions. All actions should be done. But keep in mind the priorities and also keep in mind what is Fard (obligatory), what is Mustahabb(recommended) and what isMubah(permissible). Do not neglect a Fard for the sake of a Mustahabb or Mubah.
iii. Do not despair or become pessimistic. Every good action is valuable whether you are able to see its fruits or not. Muslims do not work only to see the results here in this world; our ultimate goal is the success and salvation in the Hereafter.
iv. Another important point highlighted here is that no one knows when the end of the world will come. One may think that end is near, but it may not be. Only Allah knows when the end will be. So, one should keep working and doing the good things.
About activism, we must keep in mind the following principles of Islam:
1. Deeds must be righteous. For Muslims the righteous means that which is according to the Qur’an and Sunnah. Righteous actions are actions whereby a person implements Allah’s rules: a) between a person and Allah, b) between a person and other people, c) between a person and other things.
2. Righteous actions include: religious actions, moral actions, social actions, economic actions, political actions, judicial actions, etc.
3. Righteous actions are those that are good, and righteous actions are also those that remove evil, injustice and oppression.
4. Righteous actions should be done with sincerity (Ikhlas) and in an excellent manner (Itqan)
5. The actions should be with knowledge, wisdom, planning, and persistence. Allah has promised those who work with faith and righteousness that He will grant them success in this world and in the Hereafter. Allah says:(Allah has promised, to those among you who believe and work righteousdeeds, thatHe will, of a surety, make them succeed in the land, as He caused those who were before them to succeed others. He will establish for them their religion, the one that He has chosen for them. He will change (their state), after the fear in which they (lived), to one of security and peace: They will worshipMe(alone) and not associate naught with Me.’ If any do reject Faith after this, they are rebellious and wicked.) (An-Nur24:55).