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.
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.