Islamic Perspectives

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh): going out to work

Adil Salahi

People go out to work every day at their offices, factories, shops, farms or other places. They begin the day preoccupied with their livelihoods. They want as much as they can get and even more. The one who is in straitened circumstances wish for ease and plenty, and the one who has plenty would love to have more. What they want out of life is without limits, and the efforts exerted for it exhaust all their energies.

 Can we imagine the volume of effort that is poured into this area of human life? It appears to me that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), God's last messenger, was fully aware of these human feelings when he addressed God as he went out of his home, saying: "In the name of God. I place my trust in God. My Lord, I seek refuge with You. Guard me so that I should not slip into error or be made to slip into error, or go astray or be led astray, or do injustice or suffer injustice, or wrong anyone or be wronged by anyone." This supplication shows the Prophet as having no desire to overpower anyone. He simply wants to be free from error, whether committed by him or against him. He seeks guidance for himself and all others. He seeks refuge against injustice in whatever shape or form it happens to be.

To achieve this, the Prophet appeals for God's help. As the teacher of Mankind, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has required every Muslim to try to strengthen his ties with God when he leaves his home for whatever business he needs to attend to. Anas ibn Malik quotes him as saying in reference to going out: "Whoever says: 'In the name of God; I place my trust in God; every power functions only by God's will'; will be answered: 'You will have guidance, spared evil and will be protected.'"

Interaction with people may pose numerous problems, and friction can lead to serious dangers. No matter how alert and sharp one is, man is always in need of God's shelter and protection. All glory belongs to Him; He will always extend His protection to those who place their trust in Him alone. In fact, a Muslim should suspect his own resources and abilities, looking always to God for His help and grace. He should say, as we have been taught by Prophet Muhammad: "My Lord, nothing is easy unless You make it easy. You certainly make the difficult easy."

When things are difficult and worries mount, we should hold more tightly to our bond with God. Ibn 'Umar quotes the Prophet as saying: "When anyone of you finds earning a living to be hard, why does not he say as he leaves home: 'In God's name, I seek protection for myself, my property and my faith. My Lord, make me one who is happy with whatever You determine, and bless whatever You grant me, so that I do not wish to hasten what You have delayed or to delay what You bring forth.'"

When we carefully consider these teachings, we realize that the Prophet's insight into human nature was unparalleled. His treasures of certitude were always overflowing and he generously granted of them to all around him. He wanted his followers' ties with God to remain stable, steady and strong.

Consider the following report by Al-Bara' ibn 'Aazib: "A man complained to the Prophet of feeling isolated. The Prophet told him to say very often: 'Limitless in His glory is God, the Holy, the Lord of the angels and the spirit. You, my Lord, have encompassed the heavens and the earth with Your might and superior power.' The man said it and his feeling of isolation waned."

The man must have been a sensitive one who is wary of other people. Life is never easy for such people. They are always apprehensive, yet they need to interact with people. When he complained to the Prophet, the Prophet taught him that supplication which is bound to make him happier with his bond with God Almighty.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 November 2011 on page no. 29

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