In Memory of My Grandmother

In Memory of My Grandmother

Yesterday, my beloved grandmother (known to her grandchildren as Ma) passed away. While it was the saddest day of my life in a long time, I am grateful to have had her in my life for so long. My grandmother was an incredible woman, whom I learned a lot from. In this short tribute, I want to share some of her most outstanding qualities that we can all benefit from.

When my father passed away almost three decades ago, his parents became like a second set of parents to me. Right until today, my grandfather remains my primary father-figure and the person I consult the most on any decision. My grandmother became like a second mother to me, and I would spend many weekends and vacations with her. During these past three decades, she taught me so much by being a role model in the following areas:

1. Generosity

My grandparents are the most generous people I know. I learned generosity from observing them, and the impact they have on their community. My grandmother was not just generous with her wealth but her time as well. Her home was always full of guests, and she would make time for everybody, despite how large the family is and how busy she was. She never turned people away and would often advise people, “Don’t have a snake on your wallet.” Meaning don’t become a miser.

2. Humility

My grandmother was a very humble and content person. Allah had blessed her with great rizq, but she never showed it off. She spent on her family and community, and would always be concerned about others. She remained a simple humble pleasant person throughout her life. She disliked any form of showing off or boasting, and would remind us to stay humble no matter how successful we become.

3. Expressing Love & Gratitude

My grandmother always expressed her love and appreciation to everybody around her. She would make sure to hug each of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, and to tell each of us how much we meant to her. Her gratitude was not just to people. Despite her health problems in her old age, she constantly thanked Allah for every blessing in her life. She would advise me often that no matter what challenges we face in life, we must always find reasons to be grateful to Allah, and we must thank him a thousand times over for each blessing.

4. Love of the Quran

My grandmother loved the Quran, and would make time to recite and listen to it daily. Her favorite Surah was Surah Yaseen. She would listen to recitations of the Quran every night until she fell asleep, and would try her best to follow along the translation, and learn some of the meanings of the Quran.

5. Maintaining family ties

My grandmother’s life would often remind me of the hadith, “Whoever strives to maintain family ties, Allah will bless them with abundant sustenance and a long life.” (Bukhari)

My grandmother was always concerned about maintaining family ties. She would make time to call every one of her siblings, children, and grandchildren. She would organize family gatherings so that the family stayed united. And whenever she spoke to us, she would remind us about the importance of staying united as a family.

Her life was a fulfillment of this hadith, as she lived a long life with blessed sustenance, perhaps because to her concern for maintaining family ties.

6. Seeking a good ending

During one of my final calls with her, my grandmother and I had a very long heart to heart conversation. She reminded me to maintain family ties, and to stay committed to serving the ummah. She told me how proud she was of me, and that she was happy to have me on her scale of good deeds. Then she asked me to make a special dua for her. She asked me to make dua that she had a good ending on a Friday. She said she always wanted to pass away on a Friday.

Yesterday, on Friday 27 August 2021, around 4am, my beloved grandmother returned to Allah.

We ask Allah to bless her with the best of the Afterlife, to grant us Sabr with her loss, and allow us to follow in her blessed footsteps.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Islam
The Legacy of Muhammad Amra

The Legacy of Muhammad Amra

Mohamed Amra was one of the kindest souls I ever met. His entire life was dedicated to serving the ummah and uplifting the community. His biggest passion was reviving the culture of reading Islamic books in South Africa, and to do this, he established Baitul Hikmah Books, my favorite local book publisher.

Every time I met him, we would end up working on a new project together. It is no exaggeration to say that 90% of my halaqas, lectures, and seminars over the past three years were organized by him. My books were published and printed locally by him too. And in my most recent meetings with him, we were planning a huge long-term project together.

But it is the Qadar of Allah that he returned to His Lord on Tuesday, 24 August 2021.

Mohamed was to me a friend, a mentor, a role model, and a father-figure. I am grateful to Allah for the time I spent with him and the work we did together.

I ask Allah to accept him as a martyr, forgive his shortcomings, and elevate his status in the Afterlife. For his wonderful family, all of whom amaze me with their strong Imaan and love of this Deen, may Allah grant you all Sabr and the best of both worlds.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Leadership
The Legacy of ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA)

The Legacy of ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA)

Q: Why did you choose ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) as the topic of your book?

I have always been fascinated by the story of ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA). He has been a role model of mine since I was a teenager. There is just something extraordinary about his story that makes him stand out among other historical figures. He stands out from among the Tābiʿīn (second generation of Muslims) as the best Caliph of that generation, as well as one of the most pious and knowledgeable men of that era. He played a crucial role in shaping Islamic government policies, preserving hadith, and spreading Islam to new lands. Yet despite all this, most Muslims that I meet have never heard about him. His amazing story remains unknown to the average Muslim and I wanted to change that with this book.

I had the idea to write a book about his life over a decade ago, but did not get down to doing so. A few years ago, I delivered a Jumah Khutbah on lessons from the life of ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) and it was very well received. This motivated me to go back to the topic, and I realized it was time to finally sit down and write this book. Thus, I dedicated the bulk of 2019 to writing, researching, editing and publishing this book.

Q: Can you give us a brief glimpse into who ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) was and why his story is important?

Sure, ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) was the eight Umayyad Caliph. On his father’s side, he was the grandson of Marwan Ibn Hakam (RA), and on his mother’s side, he was the great-grandson of ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb (R.A). He grew up in Madinah under the tutelage of his grand-uncle ʿAbdullah Ibn ʿUmar (RA), and the great scholars of Madinah. He served as the governor of Madinah during the reign of his cousin/brother-in-law Walīd Ibn Abd al-Malik(RA), and as Grand Vizier during the reign of his Walīd’s brother Suleiman (RA).

After the death of Suleiman (RA), ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) became the eight Umayyad Caliph. Historians often refer to his as ʿUmar II (ʿUmar The Second) as he was the second ʿUmar to serve as Caliph, thus the title of the book, Productivity Principles of ʿUmar II. During his reign, he reformed many of unjust policies of early Umayyads, and attempted to bring the Caliphate back in line with that of the Rightly Guided Caliphs. He played a crucial role in reforming various policies, and setting new standards for the Islamic Empire, earning him titles like the Fifth Rightly Guided Caliph and the First Reviver of Islam. ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) served as Caliph for only two and half years before he was poisoned by his cousins, and murdered. May Allah grant him the best of the Afterlife.

Q: As a follow up to that, why do you think many Muslims are unaware of the story of ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA), when he played such an important role in early Islamic History?

I think it boils down to a common problem in our Islamic History curriculum. Too many Muslim schools focus only on the history of the first generation of Muslims. We study intensively the lives of the Prophet (pbuh) and the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs which is great and crucial. But we make the mistake of stopping there. Too often, the rest of history is summarized in a few short lines (Umayyads, then Abbasids, then Ottomans) without going into any details. As a result, the stories of many great people from our history remain unknown or forgotten to all except those who are truly passionate about history and seek the knowledge out themselves.

When I first published this book, many people asked me who ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) was and why they never heard about him before. Many of these were people who are generally knowledgeable about Islam, yet have a gap when it comes to Islamic History. These conversations made me realize how crucial it is to write about these figures, and share their stories with new generations. From all major Islamic subjects, history is often the most overlooked today and I try to fill that gap with my lectures and writings.

A wrong understanding of history can cause many doubts and unrealistic expectations. This is why my book is prefaced with an extended introduction focused on how to approach and study history, as well as a summarized history of the first century of the Muslim Empire. I hope that this book will contribute towards making ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) a household name and a role model for Muslims everywhere once again.

Q: What is your favorite story from the life of ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA)?

There are honestly too many to list, but I will mention briefly the one story that always blows me away, it is actually the story of the events that led to his birth. This story actually takes place in the Caliphate of ʿUmar I (RA).

When ʿUmar I was caliph, he had a habit of going around at night in disguise to see if anybody needed help. One night, he overheard a conversation between a young lady and her mother. The mother was telling her daughter to mix milk with water and sell it in the market. Her daughter reminded her that Caliph ʿUmar had prohibited such practices. The mother said, “ʿUmar cannot see you.” To which the daughter replied, “But the Lord of ʿUmar can.” ʿUmar was so impressed by this reply that he asked his servant to find out who that young lady was.

When he learned more about her, he approached her with an offer to marry his son ʿĀṣim. She accepted the offer, and they married. It is narrated that later ʿUmar had a dream, after which he used to say, “I wish I knew the man from my descendants, with a scar on his face, who will fill the earth with justice, just as it was full of injustice and oppression.” Many Muslim historians claim that the just ruler ʿUmar saw in his dream was actually ʿUmar II.

It really blows my mind every time I think about how destiny worked through this story, a great Caliph finds a righteous wife for his son, hoping that from their progeny would arise a just ruler. That couple has a daughter who married the prince ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz Ibn Marwan (RA), and their son ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) grows into one of the most just rulers in the history of this world.

Q: That is amazing. I actually never heard that story before. What were some of the policies of ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) that stand out?

Once again, there are too many to count, and I discuss these in various sections of the book. I will list my three favorite policies of his. The first is that he removed various taxes from the early Umayyads had unjustly levied on converts. These unjust taxes were discouraging people from converting to Islam, and by removing them, he opened the door for hundreds of thousands of converts to enter Islam. He famously told his governors “Allah did not send his messenger as a tax collector, He sent him as a Mercy to his universe.” His entire mindset towards taxes can be summarized in this one statement.

Another important policy of his was increasing the salaries for Islamic scholars. His cousin Walid (RA) was the first to establish a policy of a state salary for Islamic scholars, so they could focus on their Islamic work without needing to worry about finances. ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) took it one step further and increased the salary to a comfortable amount, which in turn encouraged many youngsters to choose Islamic Studies for their careers. This led to a new generation of financially strong intelligent and capable Islamic scholars.

A third policy of his that is very important, so important that I dedicated an entire chapter to it is his emphasis on Shura (seeking expert advice). ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) revived the Sunnah of a ruler surrounding himself with experts and pious scholars. He sought their opinions on all major policies, and would humbly listen to their perspectives. This incredible policy led to many of the important reforms that took place during his reign. ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) famously said, “The heart of Islamic Law is adherence to what you find in the Book of God, the issuing of rulings based on the example set by the Messenger of God as well as the judgments handed down by the Rightly-Guided leaders, and consultation with the learned whose points of view can be trusted.”

Q: What can readers expect from the book in terms of format, themes, and core lessons?

The book is divided into four broad sections: introduction, history, productivity principles, and appendices. The introduction is a bit lengthy yet many readers say it is their favorite part of the book. In this introduction, I clarify the correct approach to studying history, as well as some of the reasons readers often experience a disconnect with history. This is very crucial information that not only sets the tone for the book, but will also assist the reader in studying other history books and courses effectively.

The second section consists of two chapters focused on the history of the first century of Islam. The first chapter covers the history of Islam from the time of the Prophet (pbuh) until the reign of Suleiman (RA). This is crucial for understanding the context and significance of the reign of ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA). The second chapter is a detailed history of the life of ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) from birth until death. The rest of the book builds upon these two chapters by deriving and explaining various lessons from his life.

The next fifteen chapters cover fifteen lessons that I learned from studying his life. I called these the Productivity Principles of ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA), and the book is named after these chapters that form the core of the book. Each chapter takes some stories and quotations from his life and discusses with practical details some lessons we can derive from the stories and apply to our own lives. These principles are crucial for living a productive life that is beneficial for us in this world and the Hereafter. The book ends with two short a appendices covering various issues and quotes that did not fit into the three main sections.

Q: Why focus on productivity in a history book? How did you link the two topics together?

The focus on productivity perplexed many early readers, and some were skeptical about how these lessons could be derived from a history book. However, once they read the book, they understood well and were blown away by how relevant this story really is. ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) lived for only 37 years, and was a Caliph for only 2 and half years, yet he accomplished far more during this short period than seems humanly possible. Part of this is a miracle of barakah (blessings) that Allah gifts to the righteous, but a lot of it has to do with how he lived his life.

I decided to spend some time analyzing his life for clues on what made him so productive. Initially, I had a list of eight principles and started writing the book accordingly. But as I wrote, researched further, and reflected deeper, I discovered more and more lessons, resulting in a book covering fifteen productivity principles that I extracted from his life.

A mistake we often make is that we study history only for the facts. We fail to engage with history and draw lessons from it. I hope this book serves as an example of how to engage with history, draw lessons from it, and apply those lessons to one’s life. The six months I spent writing this book were the best months of my life, and one of my favorite memories. I thoroughly enjoyed engaging with history, reflecting on it, and writing my observations. I hope the reader finds reading this book as enjoyable as I found writing it.

Q: Where can people find your book, and why should they read it.

The book is available to purchase as a PDF via Gumroad and Payhip. The paperback and Kindle editions are available via Amazon. There are also several bookstores around the world (South Africa, Australia, India, UAE, Malaysia) that currently stock the book, and hopefully many more will stock it in the future. I am optimistic that this book will benefit everyone who reads it, and will serve as a model on how to study and draw lessons from the biographies of historical figures.

The benefits for the readers are many. On one hand, it is a beautiful summary of the first century of Muslim history, drawing many lessons from it. On the other, it is a deep dive into fifteen productivity principles that are very practical and life-changing. This book serves as both a history book and a guide to productive living. I cannot recommend it enough, and hope you enjoy it and benefit from it.

You can purchase the ebook here, or the paperback here. The book is also available at several bookstores around the world. For best value, check out our Barakah Bundle which includes this book and FOUR other bestsellers.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Books
7 Keys to Contentment

7 Keys to Contentment

True wealth is not in having many possessions, but rather (true) wealth is feeling content in the soul.

Sahih al-Bukhari 6446

In a world too caught up in chasing its own tail, humanity desperately craves something deeper. Amassing wealth is no longer a satisfying goal in life. To some extent, it is necessary for comfort and success, but it does not fulfill every need of the human soul. The need for a greater purpose, and spiritual connection with the Creator, cannot be gained through a life spent in the pursuit of wealth and status. True wealth lies in contentment, a feeling of inner peace with everything God has blessed you with.

True contentment is the sweet spot between apathy and greed. A sincere believer is not lazy in earning an income or providing for the family, but neither is he greedy for everything this world has to offer. He works hard to earn that which is pure, to gain blessed sustenance, and then he is content at the end of each day with what God has blessed him with for that day.

But how do we experience contentment?
What can we do to unlock this powerful and satisfying feeling?

The following steps bring contentment into one’s life, and in the process upgrade the quality of one’s life and mental health in amazing ways.

1. Living for a greater purpose

We were not created to waste life on lustful pursuits. The human soul was designed for a much deeper experience. Allah created us to worship Him i.e. to live a life that is pleasing to Him. It is in the pleasure of Allah that the greatest of joy is experienced.

Those who believe, and whose hearts find comfort in the remembrance of God. Indeed, it is in the remembrance of God that hearts find comfort.

Surah al-Rad 13:28

True comfort of the soul can only be experienced when one’s lifestyle is aligned with the Divine Purpose. It is only when our focus is on pleasing the Creator, and living an Islamic lifestyle that we can begin to taste the sweet fruit of faith. Contentment is a gift to those who live with purpose.

2. Practicing Daily Gratitude

And when your Lord proclaimed: “If you are grateful, I will grant you more; but if you are ungrateful, My punishment is severe.”

Surah Ibrahim 14:7

Allah’s promise is clear and true. The secrets of success are unlocked through a lifestyle of gratitude. It is only when we begin to appreciate the little things in life, the small bounties that we take for granted, that we begin to experience contentment. There is so much that we take for granted in our pursuit of more. But if we were to stop and take time to thank Allah saying Alhamdulillah (All Praise is for Allah) at every little gift, we will attract a higher level of blessings and inner peace into our lives. I discuss this concept in more detail in my latest ebook; Earning Barakah.

3. Keeping one’s earnings pure

It is tempting to take shortcuts, to chase the get-rich-quick scheme, to harm others in the pursuit of more. But any wealth earned in such a manner is devoid of blessings. It is a cursed wealth ruined by bad intentions, ill means, and harmful greed. Even if someone was to amass millions in unlawful gains, they will never taste the sweetness of contentment. Every mountain of gold will only make them desire another.

Blessings come from purity, and purity comes from halal earnings. It is only when we make a firm effort to earn halal, even if it is less, that we unlock blessed sustenance. Blessed sustenance is not necessarily a lot of wealth, or a thriving business. It is any sustenance that suffices the family, and brings one closer to the Creator. The most blessed sustenance of all is contentment.

4. Serving the community

The soul longs for more than just material wealth. Our souls are social in nature, and need to be part of a community. That feeling is not just to belong, but to serve as well. Modern psychology studies have shown that community service cures many forms of depression and loneliness. This is because we tap into the part of our soul that needs to serve.

If the pursuit of this world has left you cold and lonely, then maybe it is time to shift one’s paradigm from consumption to service. When we give back to society, we attract blessings and inner peace into our lives. Taking care of the creation pleases the Creator and opens new doors of blessings. A simple step of taking out time once a week to help others can have a profound impact on one’s mental health, and help build an atmosphere of contentment.

5. Living within one’s means

The need to live large is a lie. We do not need fancy homes, cars, or luxury furniture to be happy. If they are within one’s budget, then there is no sin in indulging, but then too precaution is needed. One of the biggest problems of modern life is that too many of us live off credit cards and loans, convinced that we need that fancy new gadget now, and will figure out a way to pay for it later.

It is very difficult to sleep peacefully at night, when your brain keeps reminding you that you still owe thousands of dollars to others. The guilt and anxiety that a debt-based lifestyle brings wipes away any hope in experiencing contentment and inner peace. The solution then is simply; reduce debt to only that which is necessary. Some debt is unavoidable, but too often we choose to indulge in that which we cannot afford. Yet if we choose to live within our means, we will build a far more relaxed and happy home.

6. Being Afterlife-focused

This world is an illusion, and one day we all will leave it. The pandemic has shown us how short life truly is, and many who used to read this blog a year ago are not gone. Every one of us will one day experience death and return to our Creator. On that day, the wealth we amassed will hold no value. Allah will ask us two things about it, how it was earned and how it was spent. Our focus must be on earning and spending in ways that will reflect positively on the Last Day.

Instead of focusing entirely on wealth-building for this world, we should also put aside some time, money or effort for building the next world. These should be invested in sources of continuous reward (al-thawab al-jariyah) that will pile up good deeds for us long after we have passed away. Contentment comes from knowing you have invested more in one’s Afterlife than in one’s worldly life. My latest book contains an entire chapter on how to build sources of continious reward, get it here.

When the human being dies, his deeds end except for three: ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge, or a righteous child who prays for him.

Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1631

7. Trusting God’s Plan

The final step is simply to trust the Creator and His Plan for you. The concept of Tawakul (trusting God) is central to Islamic Spirituality. I have written many articles about this concept in the past. It is crucial for maintaining contentment and inner peace in this world.

A life of tawakul means a life of working hard, while trusting God’s Plan, and accepting the results of one’s efforts as what is best for you. It means living life with a strong wroth ethic, combined with inner peace and contentment. When you trust Allah, you will never be disappointed. Allah’s plan is best and that is enough for us.

Whoever is conscious of Allah, He will make a way out for him. And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whoever puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. For Allah will surely accomplish his purpose.

Surah al-Talaq 65:2-3

To gain a deeper spiritual connection with blessed sustenance, check out our latest ebook “Earning Barakah” available here.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Inner Peace
The Self-Help Movement and the search for purpose

The Self-Help Movement and the search for purpose

The Modern Self-Help Movement

This article is an extract from Earning Barakah: An Islamic Guide to Blessed Sustenance, the latest ebook from Islamic Self Help. Access the full ebook at an “early bird” price here.

During the past five decades, a new movement emerged in the West, the Self-Help movement. The Self-Help industry was designed to help people find purpose and pleasure in their lives after it had become a monotonous slug. Stripped of religion and devoted to secularism, the lives of many people became nothing more than a cycle of work and stress. The Self-help industry was invented as an alternative religion of the twentieth century. Its god was money and fame, its slogan was purpose and pleasure, and its rituals were work and productivity.

The Self-Help movement helped fill in a gap that was created when people divorced themselves from religion. Life no longer had a purpose, so the gurus suggested that we make our purpose. They proposed that people are the captains of their ships and choose their destinies. They invented a new series of beliefs and rituals revolving around the elevation of oneself and inflation of the ego. The purpose of life became whatever you wanted it to be. Life was not meaningless; you created your meaning. A multibillion-dollar industry was invented to replace divine purpose, but it failed.

The purposeful life that self-help gurus propose is still meaningless. The person living it still believes that life is purposeless and knows that his so-called purpose and mantra is nothing more than a fiction of his imagination designed to make him feel better about himself. A self-invented purpose may elevate work slightly above the level of work for work’s sake, but the emptiness remains. The heart knows that it still is not even close to fulfilling its real purpose. It still yearns for its Creator.

To counter this secular narrative, religious self-help movements were invented to balance things out. By combining the methods of personal development with religious teachings, a stronger system was invented. The Christians were the first to merge the two like Stephen Covey did in his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Soon the Buddhists and Hindus began formulating their self-help literature too.

Muslims, however, only really entered this space in the twenty-first century. I started Islamic Self Help in 2015 to try and bridge this gap myself, with some level of success. As did many others. But there is still a lot of work to do. The secular self-help industry has a lot of good ideas. But when these ideas are divorced from religious truths, they cannot live up to their full potential. Islamic Self Help may then be the one real solution to this dilemma.

The beauty of Islam is that it is the only religion that spells out the purpose of life. Every major religion takes in vague terms about this concept, but only Islam makes it crystal clear. God created this world to test us and created us to worship Him. Worship here does not refer to ritual acts of devotion only. Worship in the true sense means to live a life that is pleasing to God.

The Muslim does not need self-help literature, or pep talks to help him discover the purpose of life. It is already clear to him in his scripture. God created us and we must dedicate our lives to obeying and pleasing God in everything we do. This includes the way we work, how we earn our wealth, and how we spend it. We belong to God and to Him we will return. Life is not a random series of events. Every moment is an opportunity to fulfill the divine purpose by choosing what is pleasing to God over what is not.

This realization helps the believer live a life of true purpose. Whether he is a farmer, trader, teacher, or doctor, the believer is first and most importantly a slave of God. He works to please God and earn blessed sustenance. He begins his day with prayer and starts each task with the name of God. When faced with a dilemma, he chooses the pleasure of God over immediate gratification. Each transaction is transformed into an act of worship when it is done with a purpose for the pleasure of God.

Because of this, life rarely becomes boring or monotonous for the believer. If he is having a slow workday, he fills his time with the remembrance of God and Quranic recitation. If he makes a large profit, he gives a good portion of it to charity. He spends his free time figuring out ways to set up sources of continuous reward, and he is careful in how he spends his wealth.

The believer does not need to invent a purpose, his life already has a clear purpose. Every day, every trade, every action, is for God. This clarity makes life beautiful, purposeful, and fulfilling. Death is not even something he fears, because it is simply a return to God who he spent his entire life trying to please.

Doing work that matters

Many Psychologists state that work that benefits others tends to be more fulfilling.[1] The concept of finding happiness and fulfillment in benefiting others is so strong that it is even suggested as a cure for depression. When someone suffers from depression, especially if it is due to stressful and monotonous work life, then community service can often serve as part of the cure.[2]

The believer already knows this because Islam has always emphasized the benefit of others above oneself. One of the conditions for a sale to be valid is that it is mutually beneficial. A believer must trade a beneficial product or service for money. Any trade that is not beneficial is invalid and Ḥarām (prohibited). This is why Islam prohibits interest-based loans. Lending money on interest benefits the lender while often trapping the borrower into a life of debt-slavery. Islam recognizes this evil and prohibits interest outright.

Benefit and value then become the primary concern when deciding on a business idea or career part. In the secular world, this is a novel concept. After decades of work focused primarily on money, we now see a generation of entrepreneurs who are conscious about the environment or want to do work that benefits others. They are a growing minority and indicate a shift in the mindset of people. Perhaps humanity is returning to the fitrah on this issue, or perhaps it is just a passing phase, part of the rebellious nature of each generation.

Muslims, however, do not go with the fad. Our primary concern in business has always been benefiting others. A Muslim trader goes into business because of the joy that his products bring to his customers. Whether he sells food, technology, vehicles, or toys, his focus is to make sure his goods are of the highest quality and beneficial to the consumer.

This is also why Muslims are attracted to community-focused careers. The number of Muslims who choose careers in medicine, education, psychology, and humanitarian aid, is proportionately high. Our desire to serve and to benefit humanity attracts us to jobs in which we can maximize that benefit. If given a choice between a boring office job at a higher pay which benefits nobody except the boss, and a life of social service at decent pay, most believers would choose the latter. Serving others has always come first to the believer. It is far more valuable than money and provides a much deeper sense of happiness and fulfillment.

Doing it all for Allah

Every human attempt at creating a paradigm for work fulfillment has fallen short in one area; intention. The reason why we work is the most important factor in elevating our work from the mundane to an act of worship. Only Islam gives true guidance on this issue. In Islam, any worldly act is instantly transformed into an act of worship when it is done for the pleasure of Allah. This includes all permissible forms of work and trade. By intending to work for the sake of God, the believer raises the standard of his work to new levels.

No longer focused purely on work for work’s sake, survival, or materialistic pursuits, the believer is free from the shackles of worldly intentions. His work has Divine sanction and is a source of reward and blessings for him in both worlds. The teacher who teaches for the sake of God, the trader who trades to earn wealth that is blessed by God, the doctor who helps the sick to please God, and the lawyer who helps the oppressed for the pleasure of God, all have one thing in common. Their lives are dedicated to God. So, when they return to Him, they return with a life of good deeds. Every moment spent working for God will count on their scale of good deeds on the Last Day. That is truly a blessed existence.

The materialist cannot understand why doing things for the pleasure of God is so important to the believer. They argue that people should be good for no other reason except that it is the right thing to do and look down upon those who dedicate their lives to God. Their paradigm does not allow them to see the importance of pleasing God or the benefits in both worlds that come from it.

The same materialist who works to pile up the things of the world does good things for the sake of his ego, and he judges people for trying to please God while asking them not to judge him. In his blindness, he fails to see that he is not being good for the sake of goodness, he is only good when it boosts his ego or allows him to look down upon the believer. He is a slave to wealth and a slave to his ego. As long as he chooses to remain blind, he will not experience the pleasure of being a slave to God.

The believer understands reality better. He knows that God created us to worship Him and the best intention for any deed is to please God.  There is nothing more important to the slaves of God than His pleasure and love. The slave knows he will return to His Master and on that day a life lived for God’s Pleasure will be worth more than anything in this world. So, he bears the mockery and insults from the materialist with patience and humility, knowing that the best ending is for those who are conscious of God.

These three qualities are necessary for living a good life and having a fulfilling work life. The believer does not need to invent a purpose or search for meaning. His life already has purpose and value. By choosing a career that benefits society, working for the sake of God, and keeping his intention pure for God, the believer transforms his work into a continuous act of worship. This act of worship results in happiness, fulfillment, contentment, and blessed sustenance in this world, and everlasting bliss in the next world. The servant of Allah knows that by choosing a life that is pleasing to Allah, he will get the best of both worlds.

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[1] Stephanie Watson, Volunteering may be good for body and mind, Harvard Health Publishing, 26 June 2013. Accessed 12 February 2021 at this link:

[2] Sheri Jacobson, Volunteering – 5 Reasons Why It Really Does Help Depression, Harley Therapy, 27 January 2015. Accessed 12 February 2021 at this link:

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Books