Working For Allah:
Clarifying a Concept and Specifying Some of Its Practical Dimensions
(Bringing Islam to the World One Concept at a Time!
Taking the Qur’an to Every Home and Heart that Needs It --
And which One Does Not?)
Beyond All Propaganda and Lies
Beyond all propaganda and lies that are let loose against Islam and Muslims by all and sundry, here is a bit of clarification on what it means to be Working for Allah, a concept that is at the core of being a Muslim.
Not just in a vague, theoretical sense, but in a very concrete and practical sense that must necessarily translate into precise everyday behavior on the part of those who believe in it.
From this point of view, Working for Allah means working for the betterment of the state of humanity on earth, without distinction of race, religion, gender, nationality or class in every worldly and other-worldly sense.
And doing so proceeding from a solid foundation of Iman or faith as people call it. Faith in God Almighty; faith in his prophets and the divine books that he sent into this world through them; faith in his angels; and faith in the Day of Judgment and the Next World.
And doing it solely for the sake of God Almighty – to win his pleasure and approval.
That is what it means, at least at a theoretical level, to be Working for Allah.
Why Work for Allah: A Rational Argument
At this stage, it is not only fair but imperative that we ask: Why should we all be Working for Allah? And why and how does it make sense for each and every one of us to be Working for Allah?
My answer is twofold:
(a) One based on simple logic and reason.
(b) The other based on the Qur’an.
The fact that these two approaches intertwine at every stage is part of the miraculous nature of the Qur’an and its message.
Logic and reason are important because, in Islam, they are the guiding lights of faith and of all other aspects of life on earth. And they are part of the internal radar and compass that God Almighty has built into all human beings.
That is why the Qur’an invokes them repeatedly as it makes its case for Iman. It never ceases to amaze me how a book that the entire world accepts as having come from the mouth an uneducated man in Arabia 1400 years ago could read like a scientific paper of the highest quality and rigor.
These are all aspects of the Qur’an that remain to be fully discovered and appreciated by the world, both Muslim and non-Muslim, but it is there in plain sight for all to see.
So, from a rational point of view – from the point of view of reason and logic that is – the Qur’an argues that the human beings, as well as the world in which humans live and operate, are fully and entirely designed, created, maintained, managed and sustained by Allah, and by no one but Allah.
Does it then, asks the Qur’an, not make sense for human beings to run their life based on divine directives? That is, according the owner’s and master’s wishes, and as per the factory-issued Owner’s Manual as it were?
I for one find this argument both lucid and unimpeachable. In my mind, this very argument, this entire style of reasoning, constitutes a direct proof that this Qur’an is not a book of human origin.
Why Work for Allah: Basis in Qur’an
And the Qur’an is tantalizingly, disarmingly, clear on the subject of why we should all be working for Allah.
Here is the Qur’an on the subject:
Wa maa khalaqtul jinna wal insa illaa liya’budoon.
“The only reason I created the Jinn and the humans is to work for me … to serve me … to do my bidding as it were.”
How much more clear, simple or precise can it get?
I could, following most other translators, alternatively paraphrase this Aayat as follows:
“I created not the Jinn and the Human save to worship me,” except that I don’t know what the English expression “Worship” means, even though it is the word of choice among English-Arabic translators, including most translators of the Qur’an.
It seems to me quite unfortunate, and indeed a grave injustice to Islam, Muslims and the Qur’an, to use the word “Worship” to denote Qur’an’s most powerful and comprehensive expression Ibaadah.
For, what is worship? Is it what transpires in church services on a Sunday? Is it what a Hindu priests do in temples? Or is it what the Jews do in a synagogue?
So, I am not clear as to what exactly “Worship” is. Hence my preference for the expression Working for Allah.
Dependent vs. Independent Life
The Qur’an seems to argue that life is of two kinds: dependent and independent.
Dependent life is beholden to the functioning of all kinds of other forces, both internal and external to itself. So, dependent life is dependent both internally as well as externally.
All life and life-forms on earth are subsumed by this category. In fact, all “beings” are, whether they are living or non-living. That is, all Khalq is. That means anything that exists in this world exists in a dependent capacity.
Even mighty beasts like dinosaurs died out when their sources of internal and external support and dependency did no longer work in their favor.
That also is the story of the mightiest “beings” on earth – the mountains. They live and die and change form and function, based on forces, beyond their control, that transpire under and around them.
So, everything on earth is dependent on others for its existence. That is the nature of Khalq, creation – all creation.
The One Who Is Forever
But then there is another life that is totally independent of any and all forces, influences, means and resources outside itself. And that is God: the Maker and Master of every other form of life on earth and elsewhere.
He is Hayy – living forever, without beginning or end. And he is Qayyoom.
That means he is, on the one hand, self-sustaining and forever living, and, on the other hand, he sustains and maintains all else in existence.
Death does not approach him, because, as the Hadith puts it, he is Hayyun laa yamoot.
Nor is he ever affected by such attributes or states of mortality and feebleness as sleep or tiredness – Laa ta’khudhuhoo sinatunw walaa nawum.
Supposing you ask: If all this is so, what should we do then? What is our role? What is the right thing for us to do?
The Qur’an, as always, is as amazing with its answer as it can be, and says: Wa tawakkal ‘alal hayyilladhee laa yamootu, which could be paraphrased as: “And, of course, put your trust in the Living One who does not die!”
Why, Glorify and Praise Him, of Course!
And then supposing you were to ask further: Then what should we do?
The Qur’an’s reply to that anticipated question is already there – before you even ask it. As if nothing could be more logical or self-evident. Says the Qur’an: Wa sabbih bihamdihi!
Paraphrase: “Why, of course, glorify him and sing his praises!”
Which, by the way, is the Tasbeeh of the Malaa-ikah, as the Qur’an says: Wa nahnu nusabbihu bihamdika wa nuqaddisu laka!
Paraphrase: “And we glorify and praise you.”
The First as well as the Last
He is also the first and he is also the last. And he is the one who meets the eye; and he is also, at the same time, the one that is hidden.
I never cease to marvel how beautifully the Qur’an puts across these concepts: Huwal awwalu wal aakhiru, wazzwahiru wal baatin.
And then the Qur’an wraps it all up by saying, there is absolutely nothing like him: Laiytha kamithlihee shaiyi.
And then the Qur’an does the only thing that makes sense. The Qur’an declares that he is the Lord and Master of all: Dhaalikumullahu rabbukum!
He is the Khaaliq who creates the Khalq. The Khalq is dependent on him in every way for its existence and sustenance; he is dependent on no one for anything. He is, as the Qur’an puts it, As-Samad.
So, the Qur’an makes it clear that all Khalq must do the bidding of the Khaaliq, and work for him, whether they so, as the Qur’an puts it, willingly or unwillingly: Tawu’an awu Karhan.
While the rest of the creation works for him by its very design, without having to exercise independent judgment or what we humans call fee will, to the extent we know, human beings and Jinn have been given by their creator a measure of freedom whether or not to work for their maker and master and how.
That is why, so far as humans are concerned, Working for Allah becomes a matter of choice on the part of those who consciously and willingly opt to go that route and make that commitment.
And that is also why the concept of Working for Allah goes beyond mere theoretical understanding and ends up being an applied and practical approach to life and its challenges.
Below are some elements of a practical approach to Working for Allah.
First Practical Objective: Acquire Knowledge!
As a result, if you claim to work for Allah – that is, if you go about saying you are Muslim – you must show a serious commitment to five very practical things:
First and foremost, you must commit yourself in a most serious way to learn as much as you can about the Deen of Allah – and about Allah’s world.
For, it is Allah’s world – the world in which you live; the world of here and now; the Dunya as the Qur’an calls it – that provides the context to understand and practice the Deen of Allah.
For, without knowledge, you are basically blind and helpless. And you are, in many ways, a Muslim with a great deal of Islam missing from your life.
Second Practical Objective: Do the Best You Can!
At the same time, you must also equally seriously commit yourself to practice the Deen of Allah – as best as you can, as the Qur’an seems to make it clear.
Aayat of the Qur’an:
Laa yukallifullahu nafsan illaa wus’ahaa.
“Allah does not expect anything from anyone beyond their capacity to deliver.”
That means no human being can be perfect. No human being can do everything. So, at all times, with regard to everything, do the best you can.
And Islam, above all, is a way of doing the best you can with regard to everything – doing your human best.
In fact, to me that is part of the proof that this Islam is really from Allah. Human mind does not operate that way.
Third Practical Objective: Don’t Leave Others Behind!
Third, what many people do not understand is that Islam is not a passive state of mind or existence. As a result, it is not enough for you to learn and practice things all by yourself.
You must also simultaneously commit yourself in a most serious way to invite everyone else to do the same – to learn and practice the Deen of Allah.
If you don’t, you haven’t learned the first lesson about what it is to be a Muslim – and to be Working for Allah – which is to make sure you don’t turn your back on your team: Humanity.
For, life is a team sport. And your team is Humanity.
And the first lesson of Islam is to be an inseparable and active member of the Human Team – the team of Humanity – in this game, the game of life.
That means, as a Muslim, as someone Working for Allah, you don’t abandon your job, and your primary responsibility, of making sure that, at the end of the day, every member of the team comes back to the Locker Room – they all come home to Allah, where they all belong.
You and everyone else – you and every other member of your Human Team.
Fourth Practical Objective: Follow the Beautiful Way!
Fourth, you must, in the same breath, also commit yourself to make sure that you do all this in the most beautiful way – in the finest, nicest and most wonderful of ways.
That means in a way that would enhance the best interests of the entire creation of Allah.
That means you must keep your eyes not only on success and wellbeing in this world but also on success and wellbeing in the next world; not only on the letter and form of the law but also on its spirit; and with a great deal of caring and compassion for all.
For, you are, after all, representing a God who is most merciful, most merciful – Ar-Rahmaan Ar-Raheem!
You are, according the Qur’an, the Khalifah – representative – on earth of such a God, which means you are a channel of his love and mercy, and of his Grace and compassion, to the rest of his creation.
And you are also the follower and successor in this world of his most beloved Messenger, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, whom he sent as a source of blessing and love and compassion to All the Worlds, as he says in the Qur’an.
Wa maa arsalnaaka illaa rahmatan lil’aalameen.
Hayaat Tayyibah or Life Sublime: What Else Can You Wish For?
So, if you do all these things right, and do them with the sincerity and dedication that they require, the result will be a most wonderful life – for yourself as well as for everyone else.
The Qur’an refers to such a wonderful life as Hayaat Tayyibah (16: 97) – Life Sublime.
It is a most amazing concept: Hayaat Tayyibah. It means a life which is most wonderful, positive and purposeful in every conceivable sense and in every one of its myriad aspects and dimensions.
It is a life that is illumined by the soundest theoretical knowledge and guided by the most profound practical wisdom.
It is a life in which the best human understanding of science becomes identical with the revealed divine guidance of Islam.
In short, it is a life in which Islam is operational in its truest and fullest glory.
The result is a most wonderful, glorious and noble life for all – a most clean, pure, idyllic, happy and prosperous life for everyone, both here and in the hereafter.
The Qur’an characterizes such a delectable and perfect state of existence as cast in the mold of Fid-Dunya Hasanah wa Fil Aakhirati Hasanah!
Most blessed on earth and most blessed in heaven – and most wonderful in this world and most wonderful in the next world.
That is the kind of life those claiming to work for Allah – those who claim to be Muslim that is – must endeavor to build for themselves and for all of God’s creation on earth.
That is what it means to be Working for Allah.
And that also is what it means to be a Muslim.
Fifth Practical Objective:
Get Busy Building a Better World for All
Fifth and finally, get busy trying and working to make this world a better place for all – starting out where you are.
Or starting out wherever you can and however you can.
That means get busy with all kinds of targeted projects and activities that will improve the Quality of Life for your fellow human beings.
If it means physically and personally cleaning the streets and neighborhoods and towns and communities, do it.
If it means building schools and hospitals and parks and playgrounds and community centers for everyone everywhere, do it.
If it means making clean drinking water and healthy nutritious food available to those who don’t have it, do it.
If it means making your streets and neighborhoods safe and crime-free, do it.
If it means putting a roof over the head of every human being on the face of this earth, do it.
If it means helping to elect the most honest, capable and God-fearing people to public office, do it.
If it means helping to reduce pollution in air and water, do it.
If it means working to make public life more transparent, accountable and less corrupt, do it.
If it means working to make peace and justice prevail in the world for everyone everywhere, do it.
If it means working to end the curse of rape and violence against women in all parts of the world, do it.
If it means ridding humanity from the perpetual bondage of compound interest, do it.
If it means working to save the cheetah, the tiger, the rhino, the elephant and other animals around the world from becoming extinct, do it.
If it means making sure no human being, male or female, is left without a proper education in this world, do it.
And if it means making sure no one anywhere goes without proper and adequate medical care, do it.
In other words, be a positive presence on the face of this earth and do whatever you can to be helpful to others, Muslim or non-Muslim, human or animal – and however best you can do it.
And try to do it all in the most beautiful manner: sweetly, gently, peacefully and keeping in mind the law of the land as well as the local sensitivities of the people and communities in whose midst you work.
At the same time, do not lose your primary focus: inviting people to the path of Allah.
For, all your efforts to make people’s life in this world better will not be of real and lasting value to them unless you also show them the path to eternal success and the ever-lasting blessings of Allah in the hereafter.
Don’t Forget, It Is People Who Decide
And don’t for one single moment lose sight of the fact that you are only a channel and a communicator. The power to guide people does not lie in your hands.
It is a decision between people and their God. It is people who decide. And it is their God who decides. And that is where God Almighty wants to keep it.
This in a nutshell is what you do when you are Working for Allah.
Where else can we find a more challenging job description; a better work environment; or a more comprehensive reward structure or compensation package?
© 2012 Syed Husain Pasha
Dr. Pasha is an educator and scholar of exceptional
talent, training and experience. He can be reached at DrSyedPasha [at]
AOL [dot] com or www.IslamicSolutions.com.