Life Revolving Around Work

Yesterday I came back from work at 9:00 PM.

My day started at 5:00 AM.

In between the schedule was like this: 5:00 AM to 5:30 AM: breakfast and preparation; 5:30 AM-7:00 AM: journey to work; 7:00 AM to 7:30 PM: work; 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM: getting back to home.

I work in an oil and gas company. The LNG process plant, unfortunately, is 77 kilometers away from my house. The shuttling between my house and the workplace takes three hours. No less.

Normally I work eight hours a day, but due to some shutdown activities, I was forced to work overtime.

The work doesn’t end even when I am in the comfort of my own house. I am a new employee, and a fresh graduate, and needless to say, I need to do a lot of readings for catching up. In this time of economic recession, most companies are not in the position of giving their employees formal job trainings. They simply expect new graduates to learn the job themselves. They expect us to learn the job quickly too.  Universities on the other hand never produce graduates who actually have the skills that are required to get the job done in real world. My university didn’t teach me those skills either. Like everyone, I am now learning these skills in a hard way.

This work, a worldly blessing of Allah, has given me the ability to drive a good car. It has given me the capacity to live in a good house. It is a way to increase my bank balance. It has given me a special social status among my relatives and my acquaintances.

What this work has taken away from me is my chance of offering my dhur, asr, and magrib prayer with tranquility and focus. It has extracted away from me the energy that I used to spend either to memorize some portions of the Quran or to read it out loud with full devotion.  It put my regular practice of reciting some adkhars in complete disarray.

I often heard, and even believed, that I can have it both. Can I really have it both?

Is it really possible to offer my prayers at my workplace with full khushoo when my mind is totally preoccupied with something else? If the answer is affirmative, then I would like to know how. In my humble opinion, since human minds are not machines and cannot abruptly jump from one state to another like an ideal step function does, we need to spend at least 15-20 minutes just to move out our worldly worries from our mind and prepare it for salah. The companions of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to rush towards mosque soon after the proclamation of adhan to prepare for salah. We simply can’t afford to have such preparation time at work.

The sincerity of the companions of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) in their worship of Allah was such that even for a slightest shortcoming in their worship, they would feel such remorse that it would drive them to compensate it in a way that we even cannot perceive. There was one companion of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) who donated his much beloved dates garden in charity because a bird, while praying in his garden, disturbed the khushoo of his salah.

Am I prepared to make such compensation like this noble companion of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) by donating all my salary?

I am not.

So, what I have gained spiritually yesterday? Out of 24 hours, how many minutes were spent in quality remembrance of Allah? The gain is close to ZERO. Z-E-R-O.

This zero gain exposes another ugly facet of me, which is often hidden in the cloak of religiosity. That ugly facet is my love for this world.

There is a proverb that I have learned from my mom, “If you have two small boats (dinghy) side by side, and you try to stand in both of them by placing your each feet in each of them, your destiny will be water.”

Only supermen and superwomen can stand in both boats and have it both.

Can we have it both? We can, but most of the time, in the process of having both, we lose the sight at akhirah.

I am not a superman. I am an ordinary man.

That’s why both of my feet are in the boat that is marked duniya.

In reality, I need a high profile job only if I need to enjoy the latest model of car or the latest gadget. If I truly want to fulfill the purpose of my existence, I need a simple job that will pay me enough to eat two simple meals a day and live in a simple house.

Am I prepared to make such sacrifice?

The answer is NO.

Consequently, the first 22 years of my life have revolved around getting education, an education that has prepared me for this so-called prestigious career. And expectantly, my life has now started revolving around this career.

As you sow, so shall you reap. You cannot expect apple if you plant a mango seedling.

Should our life revolve around career?

It should not. It should revolve around worshipping Allah. Everything else should be secondary.

I can blame as much as I want on my job for my failure to revolve my life around the worship of Allah, but ultimately, the root cause remains my love for this world, a love that has stemmed from a choice I made.

The problem with falling in love with duniya is the longer you love it, the harder it becomes for you to disassociate yourself from it. The delusion of this life is a slow and silent killer. It drains our courage slowly and silently, and ultimately it makes us such a coward that even after understating that we have made a wrong choice, we cannot gather enough courage to abandon the wrong path and tread the right path.

Allah, the most high, however has made the consequence of making the wrong choice clear:

Say (O The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ)), If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your kinsmen, the wealth which you have acquired, the commerce in which you fear a decline, or the houses you love – if these are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger, and striving hard and fighting in His cause, then wait until Allah brings about His Decision (torment). Allah does not guide those who are defiantly disobedient. [9:24]

May Allah bless all of us the courage to make the correct decision sooner than later.

10 thoughts on “Life Revolving Around Work”

  1. if you have the axis right, it wont make your regret for the circles that you draw, be it small or large. your devotion to the Almighty is that axis and the way your life and work rotates around it cant have the same radius everyday, just like the way u cant elongate your thumb to match your index.
    but this metaphor should not leave you with a contented heart and uninvited lethargy in your days coming. keep a balance between ‘trying your best’ and getting ‘overstressed with work’. rewards await you in the long run.

    1. I get your point, but the point that I was trying to make was you need to be a person of great focus and determination to be able to draw circles of whatever radius you want and yet not lose the hold of your axis.

      During the time of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), there were companions who were successful tradesmen, and yet their involvement with trade did not diminish their spirituality even a bit. Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) is an example in this regard. He managed both.

      However, there were also companions who found that they can’t maintain both the duniya and the akhirah, and thus they abandoned pursuing duniya without any hesitation to excel in their search of akhirah. An example in this regard is Abu Ad-Dardaa’ (May Allah be pleased with him). After embracing Islam, he (May Allah be pleased with him) said:

      “I embraced Islam at the hands of the Prophet (ﷺ) and I was a trader. I wanted to combine trade and worship, but they would never go together. I abandoned trade and retained worship. Today, it doesn’t please me to sell and buy to earn 300 dinars a day, although my shop is at the door of the mosque. I can’t say that Allah forbids selling, but I’d like to be of those whom neither traffic nor merchandise can divert from remembrance of Allah.”

      See the self-sacrifice and wisdom of Abu Ad-Dardaa’ (May Allah be pleased with him). As soon as he understood that he will not be able to like one of those who can manage both business and spirituality without sacrificing quality from the later, he abandoned business IMMEDIATELY, to achieve his lofty goal.

      I believe I fall in the second category. I simply do not have what it takes to manage both. However, unlike Abu Ad-Dardaa’ (May Allah be pleased with him), I have given preference to this world over the attempts to achieve lofty goals like perfection in worshiping Allah and purifying soul.

      Hope my point is now clear to you.

      BTW, thanks for your comment and dropping by. I really appreciate it 😉

  2. hye, came across your blog and unfortunately, life does revolve around career for most of us. So maybe, we can put things in a different perspective.

    Remember that Islam is way of life, every single thing that we do is ‘IBADAH’, in fact sleeping is also worshiping ALLAH.So, what we need is that, to make ALLAH as the ultimate BOSS. Every morning, before going out to work, set our ‘NIAT’ (intention) straight, that we go to work because of ALLAH asks us to, because work is ibadah.

    i am not sure of your job, but you work in an oil and gas company, so just imagine the final impact to the ummah if you do your job with full dedication.

    1. I agree with your suggestion of looking into our career from a different angel. In fact, we have been commanded by Allah to spread out after completion of salah to earn His provision. In that sense, earning provision is considered an act of worship. At the same time, spending for families from what we earn is also a great form of worship as Abu Mas’ud al-Badri [رضى الله عنه] narrated the Messenger of Allah [صلى الله عليه و سلم] saying:

      “Without a doubt, when a Muslim spends money on his family while considering (the action as worship), it is an act of charity”.

      So, yes, even while working, we can in fact earn rewards from Allah just by having correct intention.

      Having said this, my worry was our obsession about our career. While earning for our family is good and something commendable, the way this career thing has been structured by capitalism in our time, it often forces us to remain absorbed into thoughts about our career, which consequently sometimes make us sacrifice from how we fulfill the rights of Allah, like praying our salah. It is without doubt that the rights of Allah upon us are the greatest, and we should always strive our best to fulfill them in best possible way. Should we not worry if remaining too immersed in our work cost us the khusoo of our salah?

      BTW, thanks for dropping by and commenting in my blog. Truly appreciate it.

  3. i do agree with your points,and it is one of the risks, challenges and problems that we have to face.

    Well, things are actually easier said than done.

    But, having such concern is actually one way of FACING this, and we need to always REFRESH our niat and iman

    Somehow in facing the world today, our ummah really needs STRONG MUSLIMS, and having people like you who has this concern is important in the community to ensure that there are still working MUSLIM who actually takes this issue seriously

  4. well one could always give up the career, materialstic things, volunteer, earn just basic needs and leave th erest to ALLAH, spend the whole day praising him . Lots of people live like that.

    It is our need for materialistic pleasures that forces us to take a career where money comes first…

  5. Assalaam Alaikum wa rahmatullahe wa barakatahu,

    This sincere concern for not being able to devote as much time to worshipping Allah(swt) due to present job assignment is so genuine and resonates with many. The job stress, routine, and employer expectations can be truly challenging and time consuming, especially in the corporate world.

    I do agree that any job done with true devotion is “ibadaah”.

    If i may suggest an alternative, after gaining some experience in one’s career, there is a chance to diversify into the field of education in a Technical Institution/University. A teaching career may not be that financially attractive, but the pros are many: rewards for imparting knowledge(sadaqa-e- jariya), better schedule and longer vacations(more time for ibaadah and dawaah).

    May Allah(swt) guide us to the right path and make things easier for us in this life and the hereafter. Ameen

    1. I agree with your brother about the fact that you need to spend less time for your work if you can teach at college or university level. However, I am not sure if imparting non-religious/worldly/secular knowledge counts among sadaqa dharia.

      Also most of the times we cannot make shift to a career that would allow us to devote more time for worshiping Allah mainly because either: (1) we are simply too attached with this duniya (our car, social status, gadgets etc.) and thus cannot detach ourselves from the careers that pay well but drain out most of our time, and energy. (2) we are too lazy or too scared to take the initiative or we have too little trust on Allah to make changes.

  6. I agree with you that it is not easy to have a career shift……but keep praying for Allah’s blessing to put baraka in your time….and inshaAllah, He will put you on the path that leads you closer to Him……..

    But for now, in keeping with your schedule, you can try to perform your ibaadah around the same.
    Since your commute is so long, there are a few suggestions which can be incorporated according to your choice:

    1. Get some CDs of the adhkars listen or read yourself…. during morning and evening.
    2. Try to get your favorite Qari’s CD to listen and memorize the Quran.
    3. Listen to the Quranic Tafsir and contemplate.
    4. Make dhikr on the names of Allah- either read all 99 names or focus on one or two names a day.
    5. Listen to inspirational Islamic lectures on CDs for continuous motivation.

    At home, please try to squeeze in few minutes to read at least one ruku or few verses of Quran daily, maybe after Isha prayers.

    With your continuous ibaadah, Allah(swt) will help increase the khushoo in your prayers at work too.

    Use your financial blessings to help the needy/orphans or Islamic schools, hospitals, or any genuine charitable institution etc.

    Alhamdulillah brother, inspite of your busy schedule, you devote time on your inspirational blog and are spreading Deen as well.
    May Allah(swt) reward you for all your efforts and deeds. Ameen.

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