Work, you idler!

Work, you idler!

Work, you idler!

Author: Said Yai Ardiansyah, Lc., M.A.[1]

It is a pitiful that our country has too many unemployment in it. The students who studied at various level of education, at the time of their graduation, instead of adding the number of worker or businessman, they added the number of unemployment. In fact, The excellence of a school or college doesn’t guarantee that the students who graduated from it could instantly work, have a good skill, or able to create business opportunities.

Many of the educational institutions actually taught its students to be laborer or employee, thus, we could see that after their graduation, some of they were tangled in the world of unemployment if they weren’t able to find a job.

Whereas job in this world is not merely by being an employee or a laborer. There are plenty choices of lawful job. Even, when we looked closer to our society, there are only small parts of them who work as an employee. Some are working in the agricultural sector, or farming, fish poultry, trading, transportation and communication services, other services, etc.

The incorrect educational orientation of our country is the culprit that made our students became dependent to others, unwilling to work and initiate to develop their own abilities.

And unfortunately, majority of them are the muslims.

Does Islam teach its followers that way? Certainly not.

The spirit of dependency to others is not a commendable thing. Islam has covered every aspect of life, including this kind of social problem.

The Prophet’s suggestion to all muslim to work

The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- suggested his companions to be willing to work and not just sat idling at their homes, or being dependent to others.

In hadith that was narrated by Abu Huraira -may Allah be pleased with him- The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said:

((لأَنْ يَحْتَطِبَ أَحَدُكُمْ حُزْمَةً عَلَى ظَهْرِهِ خَيْرٌ مِنْ أَنْ يَسْأَلَ أَحَدًا فَيُعْطِيَهُ، أَوْ يَمْنَعَه.))

“It is better for one of you to find a bundle of firewood that he brought on his shoulder, rather than he begged to other, sometimes he gave him (what he begged), and sometimes he didn’t.” [2]

In this hadith, the Messenger of Allah suggested a muslim to be willing to work, although the work was a very simple one or didn’t need special skills. Such kind of work is scattering around us, such as being a coolie at the traditional market, a scavenger, an egg seller, an itinerant food vendor, etc.

The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- taught us to seek protection from laziness. He -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- once prayed:

(( اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْهَمِّ وَالْحَزَنِ وَالْعَجْزِ وَالْكَسَلِ وَالْجُبْنِ وَالْبُخْلِ وَضَلَعِ الدَّيْنِ وَغَلَبَةِ الرِّجَالِ.))

“O Allah! Verily, I seek for your protection from hesitancy, sadness, weakness, laziness, fear, stinginess, being in debt, and controlled by people.” [3]

Everything that is mentioned in his prayer above is the result of weakness, laziness, and the lack of self-reliance on Allah.

This kind of “disease” that infected our society. And the muslims should wake up from their sleep and laziness.

The One who’s able to Work, Shouldn’t Go Begging

A strong person shouldn’t depend himself on others, unless he is forced to do so, or in the real need, such as the totally disabled one, in severe illness, elderly, a person who bear other’s debt for them, poor people who can’t fulfill his daily needs, etc.

Therefore, it is mentioned in this hadith below:

(( عَنْ عُبَيْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَدِىِّ بْنِ الْخِيَارِ قَالَ: أَخْبَرَنِى رَجُلاَنِ أَنَّهُمَا أَتَيَا النَّبِىَّ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- فِى حَجَّةِ الْوَدَاعِ وَهُوَ يَقْسِمُ الصَّدَقَةَ فَسَأَلاَهُ مِنْهَا فَرَفَعَ فِينَا الْبَصَرَ وَخَفَضَهُ فَرَآنَا جَلْدَيْنِ فَقَالَ: (( إِنْ شِئْتُمَا أَعْطَيْتُكُمَا وَلاَ حَظَّ فِيهَا لِغَنِىٍّ وَلاَ لِقَوِىٍّ مُكْتَسِبٍ. ))

It is narrated from Ubaidillah Ibn ‘Adi Ibn Al Khiyar, he said that there were two people who told me that they were once came to the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- at the time of the farewell hajj, and the Prophet was distributing some alms. Then they asked him to give them the alms. Then he looked at them from their head to their feet. He said that they were strong men. Then he said, “If you wish, I will give it to you. But an alms is not meant to the rich or the one who’s still able to work.” [4]

There are a lot of lawful job out there, even though the result it yields maybe is not big enough. However, a small income that may cover one’s need is better than being an idler who depends on other’s gift.

The companions of the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- were hardworking men. And it is undeniable that some of them were blue collars workers.

(( عن عَائِشَةُ -رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهَا- قالت: كَانَ أَصْحَابُ رَسُولِ اللهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- عُمَّالَ أَنْفُسِهِمْ ، وَكَانَ يَكُونُ لَهُمْ أَرْوَاحٌ فَقِيلَ لَهُمْ لَوِ اغْتَسَلْتُمْ.))

‘Aisha – may Allah be pleased with her – narrated that in the past, the companions of the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- were workers who work for themselves. And they smelled unpleasant (due to their own sweat). Then it was said to them, “What if you take a bath?” [5]

It showed that they were actively working men.

A Good Example in Working

The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- told us about the life of Prophet David -peace be upon him- who ate from the result of his own work:

(( عَنِ الْمِقْدَامِ -رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ- عَنْ رَسُولِ اللهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- قَالَ: مَا أَكَلَ أَحَدٌ طَعَامًا قَطُّ خَيْرًا مِنْ أَنْ يَأْكُلَ مِنْ عَمَلِ يَدِهِ وَإِنَّ نَبِيَّ اللهِ دَاوُدَ -عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ- كَانَ يَأْكُلُ مِنْ عَمَلِ يَدِهِ.))

It is narrated from Al Miqdam -may Allah be pleased with him- that the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said, “There are no better food for one to eat than the food that comes from the result of his own work. In the past, Prophet David -peace be upon him- ate from the result of his own work.” [6]

The Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- mentioned about Prophet David -peace be upon him- because he was a famous figure from among the prophets and in fact, he was a king. But even though he was a king, he didn’t depend himself onto his people. Rather, he worked on his own to find some income to satisfy his and his family needs.

Likewise was Prophet Zachary -peace be upon him-. The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said:

((كَانَ زَكَرِيَّا نَجَّارًا.))

“Prophet Zachary was a carpenter.” [7]

In “Shahih Al Bukhari” [8], ‘Aisha -may Allah be pleased with her- revealed the condition of her father after he was appointed as a caliph to replace the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- :

(( لَمَّا اسْتُخْلِفَ أَبُو بَكْرٍ الصِّدِّيقُ قَالَ لَقَدْ عَلِمَ قَوْمِي أَنَّ حِرْفَتِي لَمْ تَكُنْ تَعْجِزُ عَنْ مَؤُونَةِ أَهْلِي وَشُغِلْتُ بِأَمْرِ الْمُسْلِمِينَ فَسَيَأْكُلُ آلُ أَبِي بَكْرٍ مِنْ هَذَا الْمَالِ وَيَحْتَرِفُ لِلْمُسْلِمِينَ فِيه.))

“”When Abu Bakr Ash Shiddiq was appointed as caliph, he said, “My people know that my income from my job is not enough to fulfill my family needs. And now I’m busied by the affairs of the muslims. The family of Abu Bakr will eat from this wealth (bait al mal) and the muslims will get some work (in return, -ed) in it.”

If only Abu Bakr Ash Shiddiq -may Allah be pleased with him- took his share from the bait al mal just that, according to his needs, then that would be just fine. But he took initiative to create some jobs for the muslims with the capital that was issued from the bait al mal. And for what he did, he deserved to get some profits by that work. He did it all so that he wouldn’t be dependent on the givings of the muslims.

Investing in Our Children

The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said:

((إِنَّ أَطْيَبَ مَا أَكَلَ الرَّجُلُ مِنْ كَسْبِهِ، وَإِنَّ وَلَدَهُ مِنْ كَسْبِهِ.))

“Indeed, the best food that person consumed is the one that came from his own work. And indeed, his children is among the result of his work.” [9]

Therefore, parents are allowed to enjoy the income of their children, because the wealth of their children is theirs too. And it is not something reprehensible if parents ask for some wealth from their children, as long as they do not violate his right, nor give it to their other children, or take it at the time when his children’s death or his own death comes.

In the past, there was a man who asked the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him-, saying:

(يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنَّ لِى مَالاً وَوَلَدًا وَإِنَّ وَالِدِى يَجْتَاحُ مَالِى). قَالَ: (( أَنْتَ وَمَالُكَ لِوَالِدِكَ إِنَّ أَوْلاَدَكُمْ مِنْ أَطْيَبِ كَسْبِكُمْ فَكُلُوا مِنْ كَسْبِ أَوْلاَدِكُمْ. ))

“O Messenger of Allah! Indeed, I have wealth and children. And indeed, my parent took a lot from my wealth.” The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said, “You and your wealth belong to your parent. Verily, your children are among the best of your income. Eat from the income of your children.” [10]

Thus, parents who wish their children to have better income than theirs, could admit them in schools or training centre so that they’ll acquire certain skill that they could use in finding a job. After their children started to work, the parent then could enjoy the result of their work.

Work, O you idler!

Indeed, in the past, the companions were busying themselves with two things: firstly, with working and worshipping, and secondly, with worshipping and seeking for knowledge. These two activities were not reprehensible, since by these, they did something beneficial to others. The companions loathed to see a person who had strength to work, but refused to work or didn’t want to busy himself with worshipping activities and seeking for knowledge.

The dependency to others must be thrown away immediately, including to our parents. A  child who has reached adulthood should be ashamed to beg to his parent, although they are financially sufficient.

The Messenger of Allah – peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said:

(( إِنَّ الْمَسْأَلَةَ كَدٌّ يَكُدُّ بِهَا الرَّجُلُ وَجْهَهُ إِلاَّ أَنْ يَسْأَلَ الرَّجُلُ سُلْطَانًا أَوْ فِى أَمْرٍ لاَ بُدَّ مِنْهُ.))

“Indeed, begging is a scratch by which a person will scratch his own face, except one who begs to the leader or in a matter that he must beg in it.” [11]

(( مَا يَزَالُ الرَّجُلُ يَسْأَلُ النَّاسَ حَتَّى يَأْتِيَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ لَيْسَ فِي وَجْهِهِ مُزْعَةُ لَحْمٍ.))

“A person who always beg to others, will come on the Hereafter without any flesh left on his face.” [12]

May Allah the Glorified and Exalted gives us strength to work and be independent of others and rely only on Him.

May this article benefits you. Amin.


  • “Mir’atul-mafatih Syarh Misykatil-Mashabih”. By Muhammad ‘Abdussalam Al-Mubarakfuri.
  • “Subulussalam”. By Muhammad bin Isma’il Al-Amir Ash-Shan’ani. Kairo: Darul-Hadits.
  • “Syarh Riyadhishshalihin”. By Muhammad bin Shalih Al-‘Utsaimin. Published by Darussalam.
  • “Umdatul-Qari Syarh Shahih Al-Bukhari”. by Badruddin Al-‘Aini Al-Hanafi.
  • Other references has been included in the footnotes.


[1] (S-1) Alumnae of Islamic University of Medina, majoring in hadith. (S-2) Mediu of Malaysia, majoring in Fiqhussunnah. Headmaster of SDIT Al-Istiqomah Prabumulih.
[2] Narrated by Al-Bukhari no. 2074.
[3] Narrated by Al-Bukhari no. 2893.
[4] Narrated by Abu Dawud no. 1635 and An Nisa’i no. 2598. Sheikh Al-Albani in “Shahih Sunan Abi Dawud” (V/335) said, “The narration is valid according to the requirements of Al-Bukhari. Ibn ‘Abdil-Hadi classified it as valid and Ahmad said “(it is) jayyid (good).”
[5] Narrated by Al-Bukhari no. 2071.
[6] Narrated by Al-Bukhari no. 2072.
[7] Narrated by Ahmad no. 7947 and Ibn Maja no. 2150. Sheikh Al-Albani classified it as valid in “Shahih Al-Jami’ ” no. 4456.
[8] Narrated by Al-Bukhari no. 2070.
[9] Narrated by An Nisa’i no. 4452, At-Tirmidhi no 1358 and Ibn Maja no. 2137. Classified as valid hadith by Sheikh Al-Albani in “Al-Irwa’” no. 1626.
[10] Narrated by Abu Dawud no. 3530 from ‘Amr Ibn Syu’aib from his father from his grandfather and Ibn Maja no. 2291 from Jabir Ibn ‘Abdillah. Sheikh Al-Albani said, “Valid.”  in “Al-Irwa’” no. 838.
[11] Narrated by Abu Dawud no. 1639, An-Nasa-i no. 2600 and in “As-Sunan Al-Kubra” (III/80) no. 2392, At-Tirmidhi no. 681. At-Tirimidhi in his book of Sunan said, “Hasan Shahih (good and/or valid.”, Sheikh Al-Albani in “Shahih Al-Jami’” no. 1947 and   Sheikh Syu’aib Al-Arnauth in his footnote for “Musnad Ahmad”.
[12] Narrated by Al-Bukhari no 1474 and Muslim no. 1040/2398.

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