The Working Ethic of A Muslim

The Aim of Working in Islam

Today, worldly affairs have been the center of attention of mankind, so much that they start to be the slave of it, and even worse, some muslims perceive that holding tight to the teaching of Islam will merely decrease their chances to obtain sustenances. Some other, who still agree to maintain some of the obligations of shari’a, think that if they want to get ease in pursuing worldly profits and financial stability, they shall abandon some rules in shari’a particularly regarding the lawful and unlawful, and business ethic.

The Aim of Working in Islam

Whereas the teaching of Islam has given total solutions for muslims to earn their living, and guided them to perform noble ethic to gain success and open the doors to prosperity and blessings. Business in Islam possesses special ethical codes and regulations, far from greediness and avariciousness, thus it will become a business that serves as a foundation for civilized and prosperous society.

All wealth and riches in this world belong to Allah, and men merely act as a manager to it, thus a manager should never step out of the rules of the Owner of those wealth (i.e, Allah). Hence, it is a very sad fact if there are people who strive to gain worldly benefits and spend their whole time in it, while they forget to bear the aim of their creation, that is to worship Allah alone, as He decreed, which can be translated as,

“I created the jinn and humans for nothing else but that they may serve Me; I desire from them no provision, nor do I want them to feed Me. Surely Allah is the Bestower of all provision, the Lord of all power, the Strong.” (The Willowing Wind: 56-58)

Merits of the Lawful Wealth

Merits of the lawful wealth in the hand of pious men are numerous, just like a palm-date tree that leaves nothing of it’s part but beneficial for mankind. Living prosperously means seeking for knowledges will be easier, socialize will be easier, mingle with people will be more enjoyable, calling people to Islam will be more successful, domestic life will run smoothly, and performing righteous deeds will be tougher. Thus, wealth in the hand of a muslim could serve as a balancing tool in worship, and bridging the relationships among people.

The messenger of Allah said:

“The best of the good wealth is the one in possession of a pious man.” [1]

The wealth even could function as an energy emitting the bright future, and a strength that contains numbers of virtues and excellences in the world and the Hereafter, also as a mover for da’wa and fighting in the cause of Allah.

Allah decreed, which can be translated as:

“Those who spend their wealth by night and by day, secretly and publicly, will find that their reward is secure with their Lord and that there is no reason for them to entertain any fear or grief.” (The Cow: 274)

The Prophet also praised a generous muslim who spend his wealth in Allah’s cause. From Abdullah Ibn Umar, the Prophet said:

“The upper hand is better than the lower hand. The upper hand is that of the giver and the lower (hand) is that of the beggar.” [2]

From Umar Ibn Khaththab said, “One day the messenger of Allah ordered us to give charity, while I was having plenty of riches, than I said: Today I will surpass Abu Bakr, then I brought half of my wealth to be given as charity. The messenger of Allah said: What did you leave for your family?” I said, “I left for my family such as this.” And then Abu Bakr came bringing with him all his wealth, then he said, “O Abu Bakr, What did you leave for your family?” He replied, “I left them, Allah and His messenger.” Thus I said, “I will not be able to surpass you forever.” [3]

Islam Disapprove The Idler and Beggars

Islam highly denounce the idler and shari’a has confined the activities of beggars, and tightly close all doors to life dependency to other people. In the other hand, the Qur’an praises the patient ones who restrain themselves from the help of others because such act will create lots of wickedness and regression in life.

Imam Ibn Al Jauzi said, “An idler would not be but in two kind of wickedness; first: he neglected his family and deserted his obligations by using the reliance to Allah as mask, thus his life would be a stumbling block for others and his family would be in trouble; second, that is a kind of disdain, which would not be afflicted but upon the contemptible person and vagrants, because people with dignity would not be willing to loose their dignity due to idleness under the mask of resignation that is adorned with dumbness, since one might have no riches but they still have the opportunity and chances to make efforts. [4]

A muslim must strive to get an affluent life, strive against idleness, be spirited in winning the bread for his family, devoted in fulfilling his needs and work diligently to protect the future of his offsprings to be able to live independently without burdening others, because an idler who acts as a burden to others and a beggar who sells his self pride are the most reproached and detested man in Islam, as firmly stated in a hadith from Abdullah Ibn Umar, that the Prophet said:

“One will not meet Allah while he likes to begging to others but he wont have any meet left on his face.” [5]

Yusuf Ibn Asbath said that Sufyan Ath Thauri said to me: I leave 10.000 dirham of wealth that later will be counted by Allah, is dearer to me than I must live by begging to others and become burden to them. [6]

The Working Ethic of a Muslim

If we take a better look on the living history of the scholars and the Imam of sunnah, we can see that they have set an excellent role model in balancing between seeking for knowledge and learning, and earning for their living. Even every prophet and apostle strived and worked to support their living and the spreading of their da’wa. Prophet Zachary worked as a carpenter, Prophet Idris worker as a tailor, and Prophet David made the armors, thus, we can see that working to be able to live independently is the sunnah, the guidance of the messengers of Allah. And striving to earn for one’s living either by trading, farming, or raising the cattle are not a kind of humiliation of oneself, and do not contradict the attitude of resignation. [7]

This is the understanding of the messengers of Allah and the noble predecessors, hence not only they became diligent and tenacious workers, but also persevering and tough in seeking for knowledges and spreading the religious teaching. It is allowed for someone to work in the field of da’wa and the affairs of the muslims, and he gets reward from that work of him, because when Umar Ibn Khattab worked as the caliph, he fulfilled his family needs from the wealth of bait al mal. [8]

The life of the messengers of Allah and the noble predecessors divided in perfect balance between seeking for knowledge and da’wa and earning lawful sustenances for their family. Thus, we shall follow their steps, whether in seeking for knowledge or earning for our living, and do not be idle, reasoning that working will hamper the process of our learning. Whatever form business taking by a muslim, as long as it is lawful and earned through a right way, it must be carried out persistently and cheerfully, no need to be shy of it, although some people will think that his profession is undignified. The truth is that the dignity of a business or profession does not lie on the company it resides in, such as the foreign company for example, or a high position that it places, or such, but on the lawful state and legal form of it, and it’s noble position according to shari’a.

Author: Ustadz Abu Ahmad Zaenal Abidin Ibn Syamsuddin

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[1]. Narrated by Ahmad in his “Musnad” part 4, hasith no. 197 and 202, it’s status is good.
[2]. Narrated by Bukhari (no. 1429), Muslim (no. 1033), Abu Dawud (no. 4947), Ahmad in his “Musnad”, Nasa’i, and Ibn Hibban.
[3]. Narrated by Tirmidhi (no. 3675), Hakim in “Mustarakah” (1/414), he said that it is sahih.
[4]. “Talbisul Iblis” by Ibn Al Jauzi, page 303
[5]. Narrated by Bukhari, Muslim, and Nasa’i in his “Sunan”.
[6]. “Jami’ Bayanul Ilmi wa Fadhlih”, by Ibnu Abdul Bar. part 2 page 33.
[7]. See “Fathul Bari, page 4/l 358 and “Al Minhaj Syarah Sahih Muslim” part 15/ 133.
[8]. See “Fathul Bari, 4/357”

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