Conditions for Sound Successful Islamic Work (1)
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
(Friday Speech was delivered by Imam Mohamed Baianonie at the Islamic Center of Raleigh, N. C., on April 18, 1993)
There are many Islamic projects, activities, and tasks that are initiated and executed by Muslim individuals, groups and organizations. But, what makes a project or a task Islamic? And which projects are successful and beneficial for the society, and rewarding for Muslims who worked on this project in the Hereafter?
There are certain conditions that must be met in every Islamic work in order for that work to be beneficial to the society and rewarding for the Muslims who participate in it on the Day of Judgment. These conditions are:
The first condition is the work must be halal (allowed) from the Islamic perspective. If it is haram (not allowed or prohibited), all the people who are involved in this work will be sinning. If the work is prohibited, it can not be Islamic even if people think it is.
When working on a prohibited project, good intention does not justify it will not be accepted because Allah (S.W.T.) demands from us to submit to him through certain means as well as through the goals attained by these means. So, both the means as well as the goals must be allowed. This makes the Islamic method a distinct way of life different from any other. Good goals do not justify bad means. For example, it is not allowed for a Muslim or a group of Muslims to do work that is not allowed (like usury, working with alcohol and pork,) to make some money to build masajid mosques, or to fund Islamic projects. If they do this prohibited work, they will all be sinning even if their intention is good because Allah (S.W.T.) is good and does not accept except good and there is no way to please Allah (S.W.T.) with acts that displeases Him. So, we should warn ourselves and warn Muslims not to do this kind of work. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Kahf, (verse 103&104), what can be translated as, "Say (O Muhammad): Shall we tell you the greatest losers in respect of (their) deeds? Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life while they thought that they were acquiring good by their deeds?"
The second condition that must be met in any Islamic work so that the work will be beneficial for the people in this life, and rewarding on the Day of Judgment for those people who do the work is that a good and sincere niyyah intention must be there when doing any Islamic work. This intention must be 100% for the sake of Allah (S.W.T.) and no other. Allah (S.W.T.) does not accept anything that is not for His sake alone. Allah (S.W.T.) is disgusted with shirk and whoever performs a virtuous deed for Him and give a share to others, Allah (S.W.T.) dose not even take His share and leave the whole of it for others. Imam Muslim reported that the prophet (S.A.W.) said: "Allah (S.W.T.) has made the following statement: "I am most independent and free from needing associates. Whosoever does an act in which he joins other partners with Me, I shun him and his partners and become disgusted with him."
Working for Islam must be for the sake of Allah alone and nothing else, but working to be heard-of along with intention to please Allah (S.W.T.) will not be accepted by Allah (S.W.T.) whether this reputation is for the individual, the group he works for or the organization. There are some Muslims who do work these days to seek good reputation for themselves, the group that they work with or the organization they belong to. This kind of behavior is so dangerous and must be avoided and is rejected. Allah (S.W.T.) may indeed make those people reputable in this Life, but in the Hereafter, the reputation does not help them because the standard there is different; no reward for them, but rather punishment and a severe one. They will be among of those who will fuel the Hell Fire before the non-believers, before the hypocrites and before the disobedient and the oppressors.
Listen to this hadith carefully; Imam Muslim reported that the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said: " The first person to be judged on the Day of Resurrection, will be a martyr. He will be brought forward and shown all the bounties which have been granted to him. He will recognize them (he will admit that he did have them) and then will be asked: What use did you make of the bounties? He will say: I carried on jihad (fighting) for Your cause until I was martyred. Allah will tell him: You are lying; you fought so that people might call you courageous, and they have done so. As per divine judgement he will be dragged on his face and thrown into the Hell.
Next, will be brought forward a man who had acquired knowledge and had studied the Qur'an. He will be shown the favors bestowed on him and will recognize them and will be asked: How did you use them? He will say. " I acquired knowledge and taught it to others and read the Qur'an for Your sake. Allah will tell him: You are lying; you acquired knowledge so that people might call you a learned man and you read the Qur'an so that you might be called a Qari (reader), and they have done so. As per divine judgement he will also be dragged on his face and thrown into the Hell.
Then another man will be brought forward on whom Allah the Most High will have granted him all kind of wealth and property in abundance. He will also be shown the favors bestowed upon him, which he will recognize. He will be asked: "How did you use them? " He will say: I spent them in all the ways that You approved; and I spent them in all these ways so as to win Your pleasure. He will be told: You are lying; you did all that so that you might be called a generous person and you were called as such. As per divine judgement he will also be dragged on his face and thrown into the Hell."
Those workers who do the work for the sake of reputation for themselves or their group should be very careful. They should fear Allah (S.W.T.) and purify their intentions for the sake of Allah (S.W.T.) and should not waste their work.
Satan may make us confuse and mix our sincere efforts with seeking reputation, and we do not know what is the real motive behind our work. The best test to make sure that we are sincere or not, is to test, if our efforts will change if the credit for that work will
go to some one else. If our efforts and zeal to do the work remain the same whether we get the credit or not, then this is a strong sign for our good and sincere intention. Otherwise, it is a strong sign that our intentions are not purely for the sake of Allah (S.W.T.). So, let us be careful and examine ourselves.
For this reason, many righteous people from the early generations of Muslim used to hide their good deeds from people because this will keep arriya' showing off away from their deeds.
Today, unfortunately, some of us are keen to show the people their Islamic work to be heard-of, and this is absolutely wrong. And we should listen carefully to what prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said, which was reported by Imams Bukhari and Muslim, "If anyone causes his deeds to be heard-of, Allah will disgrace him, and if anyone acts to show off, Allah will expose his hidden evil intentions (before the people on the Day of Judgement)."
We should pay a special attention to purify our intentions because our deeds and actions will be judged according to it. And we should always work for the sake of Allah (S.W.T.). This way, we keep Satan away from it, we gain rewards for the good deeds on the Day of Judgment; that great day when we will be in dearest need for the reward.
If a Muslim does a virtuous act to please Allah (not with the intention to show off or to be heard) and people praise him for it, then there is no harm and nothing wrong with it. In fact, such praise is the glad tidings, which he receives in the world. Expression of such good opinion about him by the public is akin to a declaration that Allah is pleased with him. Imam Muslim reported that the prophet (S.W.T) was asked: "Tell us about a person who does some good deed and people praise him, will this be consider as showing off? He replied, "This is an early glad tidings, which a believer receives (in this life)."
In the future, "in-sha' Allahu ta'la" we will talk about the other conditions that must be met in any Islamic work so that the work will be beneficial for the people, and rewarding on the Day of Judgment for those people who do the work.