Working for Allah:
A Summary Introduction
Working for Allah: Working Involuntarily vs. Working Voluntarily
If you are a human being, two things are true about you:
- You work for Allah – actually and in reality, and a good bit of it involuntarily.
- And at the same time, you must choose to work for Allah, by an act of conscious, considered and rational will – voluntarily, willingly and gladly.
That is because as a human being, your life has two distinct aspects:
- There are parts of you – there are aspects of your life – that are autonomous and involuntary. They are mostly independent of your will and thought – they are not entirely volitional.For example, your blood circulates in your body without your being able to control it.That is how Allah made your body.In the same way, you remain generally earthbound, a prisoner to the law of gravity – unlike birds that have been given by their creator the tools to defy gravity.
- At the same time, you have also been blessed by God Almighty with a measure of choice in some of the things you do in your life. You have been granted by your creator a certain degree of autonomy – what people call free will.For example, you can choose to raise your arm – a capability that you lose when you become paralyzed.So also, you can choose the words you want to speak, or embrace the beliefs you prefer, or entertain the thoughts in your mind that you wish or accept or reject employment at a certain place.
Working for Allah, therefore, means to choose to work for Allah in all the seemingly voluntary aspects of your life, even as your entire being works for Allah in all the involuntary aspects of your life by the very nature of your creation and by the necessity of your design.
Working for Allah: A Considered Choice
Thus, working for Allah is a matter of choice – careful and considered choice – and not a matter of simple habit or of mindless reflex.
To the extent your body slavishly obeys the laws Allah has created to govern this universe, you are a slave of Allah. That is how you involuntarily work for Allah as a human being – the way slaves do. Your body automatically does what it is designed and created and told by its creator to do. You have no choice in the matter.
Your ears hear sounds; your eyes see pictures, forms, shapes and colors; your nose smells scents; your tongue experiences tastes; your hands touch, feel and hold; and your legs support you when you stand up and help you to walk.
This makes you a Muslim – albeit only involuntarily and automatically. That is, those aspects of your life and body are Muslim over which you have no control. That part of you, therefore, is a dutiful and obedient slave of Allah.
But the other, the more voluntary aspects of your life that is where the real test lies. With regard to them, you must make a conscious and rational decision as to whether or not to work for Allah. At this level, you must choose, decide and prefer to work for Allah. At this stage, working for Allah is a choice you make.
Islam: A Rational Alternative
Choosing to work for Allah – voluntarily and willingly – that is what Islam and being a Muslim is all about. It is this decision – and this choice – that makes you a Muslim or a non-Muslim. It is that choice that is at the heart of what God Almighty calls Islam.
Thus, if you choose to work for Allah willingly and voluntarily, consciously and by choice, then you are a Muslim. That is, you are a Muslim in those aspects of your life in which you have a degree of choice, control and freedom. If you reject that choice – and instead choose to work for someone other than God Almighty who made you and made everything in this world for you – then you are not a Muslim.
When you reject that choice – the choice of working for your creator who made you and made everything in this world for you -and you do so knowingly, willfully, and even arrogantly, then you are exactly what you chose to be: a rejecter or a denier.
Kaafir is what the Qur’an calls those who reject God knowingly, willfully, arrogantly.
The challenge, therefore, is that you must consciously, voluntarily and willingly obey Allah and work for him, even as the entire universe obeys Allah and works for him by its very design. And even as your own body and its parts and systems work for Allah in all those areas and aspects over which you have no control.
That is because you are a slave of Allah – that is how he made you – as is the rest of the creation a slave of Allah. It is clear that since he made you, he owns you, just like you say you own the car that you did not invent, design or make but only paid a few thousand dollars or pounds to purchase.
And that is what slaves do: they work for their master. Just like your car works for you. They obey the commands of their master – in every aspect of their lives. They follow the manuals and directives and instructions provided by their owners and masters.
When your car stops obeying your commands or responding to your instructions, it gets sent for service or repair, where its problem parts are cleaned, adjusted or replaced. It then comes back a more responsive and well-behaved car; a car more obedient to your commands and directives; altogether a more “Muslim” car.
Working for Allah: “Worshipping” God and Serving God’s Creation
But at the same time, working for Allah means embracing a more practical as well as a broader perspective on life. It means “worshipping” God and serving his creation.
That means you cannot claim to love and “worship” God and at the same time hate or distance yourself from God’s creation. You cannot profess to be devoted to God in heaven but do nothing to help alleviate the suffering of human beings right here on earth; and to raise and change their condition and make it better; and to invite them to come to God; and show them in the most beautiful and supportive ways how to do it.
For, if you really loved or feared or “worshipped” God, those are all some of the things you will be automatically and powerfully drawn to.
Custodian of the world – that is the status that being a slave of Allah confers upon you. For, now you are not just anyone’s slave, but the slave of the master of the worlds – Rabbul ‘Aalameen, as he calls himself in his last revealed book the Qur’an.
You learn from the Qur’an, which is your primary book of guidance on how to be a good slave of your master, Allah, that your master is also the one who made and owns every ant and elephant, every plant and planet in the universe. He is their only, true and undisputed maker, master and owner.
Just as you also learn that your master – and the master of all the worlds, Rabbul ‘Aalameen – is not only an all-powerful and just master but also a deeply kind, compassionate, caring, loving, doting master. There is none like him in this world.
Most merciful and even more merciful, those are his primary attributes in the opening chapter of the Qur’an called Surah Al-Fatihah.
Islam: Being a Dutiful Slave of the Almighty
That means, as a conscious and committed slave of Allah – as a good Muslim that is, or even just as an ordinary Muslim – you accept the authority and sovereignty of God Almighty, your true and only lord and master, in all aspects and facets of your voluntary life.
That means you believe in him; you teach yourself to love, fear, honor, serve and obey him; and you do your best to live up to the individual and collective code of conduct that he prescribed in the Qur’an and that his messenger Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, so beautifully and so completely practiced in his life – both of which are in our hands today in their entirety and in their full glory, majesty, authority, completeness, accuracy and authenticity.
That also means you embrace a broader and more inclusive perspective on life, on the world and on humanity in general. As a result, you work hard to bring more and more people to see the wisdom and beauty of accepting God as their master. And you also work hard to make the world of Allah a better place for all human beings, regardless of creed, culture, race, age, nationality or gender.
If you did that – if you worked for Allah willingly and voluntarily using a perspective on life that is big and broad and that is inclusive of all human beings and all of Allah’s creation – you are a conscious and committed Muslim. You are a good Muslim, that is. You are now a proper and dutiful slave of Allah.
The name for what you do is Islam. And anyone who submits to his master, to God Almighty, willingly and voluntarily is called a Muslim – the one who submits. You now fear God in his heaven and love and serve his creation right here on earth.
That means you carry out your obligation to God in terms of praying, fasting, pilgrimage and everything else and you do your duty to God’s creation in terms of serving their needs and promoting their welfare.
You are thus connected to God through what people call worship, while you are at the same time connected to God’s creation through service – which in Islam is one of the finest forms of worship. The more clearly you see this and the more deeply you get engrossed in it, the two become increasingly one and the same.
Kufr: Refusing to Work for Allah – Knowingly, Willfully, Arrogantly
If you reject your master’s call knowingly and willfully, after receiving that call, and after having had time and opportunity to consider and evaluate that call, then you are exactly what you chose and decided to be: a rejecter.
You then become, by your own choice, a rejecter of your master’s will, command and authority in the conscious, willing and voluntary part of your life, even though the rest of your body continues to obey him and work for him involuntarily.
The name for such rejection of Allah’s authority is Kufr. And the one who becomes a rejecter is called a Kafir – the one who rejects.
Kufr is thus knowing, willful and arrogant refusal to work for Allah in the conscious and voluntary aspects of your life. It is a deliberate rejection of Allah’s authority, mandate and law in those areas of your life that are seemingly under your more direct and immediate control.
Or, at a more fundamental level, Kufr is little more than a denial of his very existence or his role in this world and your life. But regardless, it is a choice each one of us makes and must make – and must live with. These names and titles – Islam and Kufr – simply go with the choices we make.
They describe the position we have adopted in life. They indicate whether we have made a decision – a conscious and rational decision – to work for Allah or not to work for him, but rather to work for someone else. For, work for someone we must, that being the nature of human life.
As a result, when we decide not to work for Allah, we in effect make a decision to work for others, even if it is just for ourselves. So, for us as human beings the question is never whether or not to have a master – and whether or not to work for someone – but rather which among the many competing masters must we choose and for which one of tem must we work.
Muslims are simply those people who, ostensibly, have chosen God as their master and have made a conscious and rational commitment to work for him as his slaves, while other people have chosen to work for other masters besides God.
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