To try to earn a lawful livelihood
Is an obligation
Like the other obligations in Islam _ Prophet Muhammad salla-llahu alehi wasalam
In Work There Is A Blessing
One morning, Ali ibn Abu Taalib went outside Medina in search of work so that he could feed his family . He came upon a Lady looking for a labourer to carry water from a well to a clay pit. He agreed to carry the water for her in return for some dates . He did so and got about twenty dates. On the way home, he met the prophet who asked what he was carrying. ‘Ali said:
” It is the dates I earned for work I did . My hands are blistered from drawing water from the well with a palm-fibre rope.”
The prophet rubbed ‘Ali’s face and his hand and in obvious approval said: ” God has blessed this hand.”
And he continued:
” O ‘Ali ,give me a date, I will treat myself with it.”
Remember, Aliy Bn Abi Talib was a cousin of the prophet, a thorough breed companion of the prophet, a knowledge imbued soul, an in-law of the prophet salla-llahu alehi wasalam and a future 4th caliph of the prophet!
Still he made work his second nature and dignity therein , his focus!.
Earning a living is obligatory to everybody in life! Everyone needs a basic minimum to live. You need food sufficiency to free you from hunger. You need clothing and shelter sufficient to protect you against exposure to heat, cold or shame. You need security to ensure freedom from fear!
And a man needs to earn living, so do animal and birds! They need to go out in search of food and water and security for themselves and their families !
To earn a living is not like eating a candy! One needs to have some skills, knowledge or raw labour! Earning a living, from time immemorial and in every era, has been shrouded in one’s ingenuity, personal strive and grace from the Lord of the seven heavens and earths!
In fact, the bird in the hadith of the prophet salla-llahu alehi wasalam which is said to rely on God to earn its living, will still go out in the morning though hungering but will return in the evening stomach full! We read in the hadith as follows :
” If you ( human beings) have relied on God sincerely, He would have provided your livelihood for you as He had provided it for bird; he would go out in the morning with empty stomach but would return in the evening stomach full”
A Personal Experience With A Striving Goat
” In every thing lies His signs
That which points to His indivisibility ”_ Labidu, An Arab Poet
As part of maintaining one’s health, there was a day I was taking a walk between Akesan and Owode in a beautiful morning!
On reaching the Alapo’s bridge I noticed a struggling and a fierce movement in a space between the road median and a wooden fence ! When looking critically, I saw a struggling she-goat , her neck in-between the fence and her body outside it. And I thought , she needed an helping hand to be saved from the quagmire she was in !
Alas! On looking further, I realized that the she-goat in actuality, had been trying to eat from the green leaves growing on the ground in the wall of the wooden fence and I shuddered at the power of God which is ingrained in every living thing to strive to earn its living! Now, I sensed the insight in the words of Allah, in Qur’an 67 vs 15 which reads:
” He (Allah) it is who made the earth smooth for you, therefore go about in the spacious sides thereof, and eat His sustenance and to Him is the return after death”
Honest Work Is An Obligation Like The Other Obligations In Islam
As an adult who has a backlog of dependents among parents, siblings, wives
and children, you need to work to provide food, clothing, shelter and security for yourselves and your dependents!
This is the reason you will need to engage in an honest and lawful work! And like other obligations in Islam, earning an honest living is also obligatory as it is a discouragement from laziness which sells man to evil, begging which confers indignity on man and charity which debars man’s freedom for he who pays the piper will want to dictate the tune!
How To Earn A Living In Islam
There are three basic ways of earning a permissible livelihood:
1. Profits_ from agriculture, industry, trading and investment;
2. Wages for work done;
3. Rental incomes – from leasing, letting or hiring.
These ways of earning a livelihood all require the interaction and cooperation of human beings. No individual owns all the things he needs . Each person has some skill, resources or commodities he can spare while at the same time he needs the skill , resources or commodities of others.
Human beings are therefore naturally dependent on one another. And this is a reason why no one should feel pompous to others in the job everybody is doing!
Nobody Should Feel Pompous In Doing His Chosen Work
Some people in high flying jobs are sorry and unpersonable characters when it comes to doing their jobs with dignity! They go out of their ways to showoff to those at the lower rung of positions in their offices. They are rude to drivers, cooks, sweepers and gatemen in their places of work, forgetting that without these personalities and professionals – yes ,they are professionals in their own rights; they cannot function properly!
One of the wonders of the powerful God is that , in some years to come, the children of those at the lower rung of hierarchy in the job may be the one that will take over from the showing -off highfliers for their parents had taken the cue from their oppressors’ bosses and strived to give their children the right education needed to thrive in future!
It is also the concern of Islam that while doing your job as it should be done you have to:
_ make sure no injustice or exploitation is melted out to anyone in the cause of performing their jobs
_ no profit is made at the expense of others’ health, peace of mind and life
_ the job or work to be done must not be destructive of man’ s innate goodness and harmful to the public !
The Dignity Of Labour
There is dignity in labour indeed as one with a lawful livelihood will have confident among his friends and foes to say I’m earning from the sweet of my labour as prophet Daud was earning from his welding job! This is the reason prophet Muhammad salla-llahu alehi wasalam had praised every labourer who is earning a living from the toil of his own hand! We read in an hadith as follows:
” No one has eaten a better food
Than what he earns
From the toil of his own hands as prophet Daud ate from the labour of his sweat!”
Therefore, he who has a legal and lawful livelihood should not fear for what others will say for doing their jobs, even if it is mending people’s shoes or gather fire wood for people or clear bushes for farmers etc!
It should be cleared to everybody that a job is a job no matter what other are saying ,if it is lawful!
No Job Is Menial Or Contemptible If It Is Lawful
The albatross around the necks of today’s higher citadel’s of knowledge graduates that is impeding their economic progress is their contempt for any job or work which will take them down from the top of the horse the type of education they earned had misleadingly placed them!
A glaring fact on our nation’s educational type is that it designed to produce civil servants that will work only in government establishments ! It is an education that gives much premium to reading and writing without much ado about how one can use his hands to earn a living for himself!
Therefore, most of the graduates turning out every year find no sense in taking delight in jobs below their qualifications and outsides their fields of studies!
They see those jobs as menial and contemptible even while their counterparts are making millions out of these jobs every now and then.
And in the course of searching for government jobs that had been assigned to the sons and daughters of those at the helms of affairs even before they are advertised, they abandoned their families’ businesses which had earned millions to their fore fathers in the Day’s of innocent!
Let me put it to those in search of jobs amidst their big big certificates:
In the process of securing a livelihood and engaging in economic activities, you may either be producers engaged in agricultural or industry; traders engaged in commerce or professionals person practising some skills!
You may engage in any economic activity as long as it does not involve doing, supporting or promoting anything haraam.
Providing the work you do does not involve what is haraam , you should not feel ashamed of doing any work , however menial, and you should not regard any type of honest and lawful work as contemptible.
Know that the work you do does not put you into a higher or lower social class. If you are a landowner or an agricultural producer ,this does not make you better or worse as a person than an agricultural labourer on your land.
If you are a cleaner in a factory, this does not make you better or worse as a person than the owner of the factory. There is dignity in work and labour as there is blessing of God in it !
An Ideal: The Prophet’ s Manner Of Empowerment
The story is told of a man from among the Muslims of Madinah who came to the prophet salla-llahu alehi wasalam and asked him for some nourishment. The prophet was not one to refuse any request for help. At the same time he did nor like to encourage begging or dependence . He therefore asked the man:
” Don’t you have anything in your house?”
” Yes said the man . ”A saddle blanket which we hear sometimes and which we spread on the floor sometimes and a container from which we drink water.”
” Bring them to me,” said the prophet who then took the items and asked some of his companions , ” who will buy these two articles?”
” I will” ,said a man, for one dirham ”
Another said, ” I will take them for two dirhams.”
The prophet sold the articles for the two dirhams which he handed over to the man and said, ” with one dirham, buy food for your family and with the other buy an axe and bring it to me”
The man returned with the axe. The prophet split a log with it and the instructed the man:
” Go and gather firewood and I do not want to see you for fifteen days”
This the man did and after two weeks had made a profit of ten dirhams. With some of the money he bought food and with some he bought clothes. The prophet was pleased and said to him:
” This is better than getting a blot on your face on the day of resurrection.”
This true story emphasises that a Muslim and in particular when you have a family, you have the obligation to work. You are required to use your initiative and whatever resources you may have to earn a living.
Donate to News Live
Your donation will be much appreciated. It will help our journalistic efforts.