Exclusive study: Islamic Movements and Ethics of Public Work (2)
How to address the problem?
In part I, we attempted to define the problem, its causes and its consequences. In this part, we will suggest some solutions that can help an individual avoid falling into the problem ab initio or assist in addressing it practically in the event of its existence.
Treatment is divided into two parts:
1) The first part is the duty of the individual,
2) The second part is the duty of the group.
First: treatment that focuses on the individual: (prior to action initiation - during action - post action)
1- Everything is curable
If you suffer from one or all of the aforementioned illnesses, then you have to be sure from the beginning that they are not permanent traits that you are born with and cannot be overcome or cured, but the opposite is true. Whatever you suffer from these problems, you can address them and get rid of them if you have a sincere intention to treatment and a sure determination on it, and also if you take all possible means and struggle against your inner ‘self’ and exert a lot of effort to overcome it.
2- Be honest with your inner ‘self’ and caring for it
If you have decided or happened to you or have been nominated to enter a field of public work, you must take great care with the highest levels of caution and control of your ‘self’ and honesty, and frankness with your soul.
If you feel that your ‘self’ has started to deviate from the proper path, then you must stop it and control it so that you do not lose your way to achievement of your ultimate objective, which is the pleasure of Allah, obtaining His reward and winning His Paradise.
You must take great care of your soul and watch it; Whatever others show interest and care for you, they will never be more aware of the defects of your ‘self’ than you. Observe yourself carefully and abandon the field of public work immediately if you fail to strive, watch, and control yourself, if this is the only remedy.
3- Do not seek assignment (of a certain job or action)
Never seek assignment or mandate to perform certain actions or jobs; you can be ambitious to perform tasks of public work and bear its burdens, but this ambition must be linked to the controls of intent as well as the controls of work and the sincere desire to achieve progress for the Islamic project, but not the fulfillment of your desire for personal success.
You should not impose yourself on those actions or strive to reach for achievement of his own goal; but if he is chosen to perform it while he is qualified for it, he should feel that it is a blessing from Allah and thank and praise Him for giving him the opportunity to perform such job to serve his Da’wa and bring him nearer to his Lord, through doing such good action. However, if he believes that he is not qualified for this work, but others chose him to do it despite their awareness of this because there is no other person who is better than him for that task, then he has an excuse with Allah that he did not demand assignment to do the action and did not seek it, but he was only chosen by others; and in this case he must pray to Allah and ask for His assistance to perform requirements of such actions.
Allah Azza Wa Jalla (Owner of Greatness and Reverence, the Most Strong) says: “So do not claim yourselves to be pure; He is most knowing of who fears Him.” (Surat: An-Najm, Verse: 32)
4- Always renew your intention. Do not transform the intention into a habit
We always say that the intention turns habits into acts of worship, but we should also be fully aware that with the passage of time our intentions - regrettably - become habits. Accordingly, reminding each other of renewing our intentions at the beginning of any action also becomes a habit that usually precedes actions, without real understanding of the meaning of renewal of intentions, which is an attempt to vigorously recall the purpose of our actions and make sure that the intention behind such deeds is for the sake of Allah, Lord of the worlds alone.
So, we must always renew our intentions ahead of deeds. However, we should be careful not to do this routinely and to avoid turning it into a habit. When you really renew your intention, you evoke and control your mind, heart, thought and passion to achieve sincerity of intention for the sake of Allah Almighty.
5- Dua’ (supplication)
Dua’ (supplication) is the magic key to addressing this problem. If the problem is primarily related to the human heart, remember that the hearts are between two fingers out of the fingers of the Compassionate Lord; He turns them to any (direction) He likes, and He is able to protect our hearts from making that mistake. Therefore, the Messenger of Allah (May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to say in his Dua’, “O Allah, I take refuge in You lest I should commit shirk with You knowingly and I seek Your forgiveness for what I do unknowingly,” in reference to the hidden shirk (polytheism), which is failure to achieve intention sincerity; instead of doing an action only for the sake of Allah, you do it so that other people will see and appreciate you. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) used to say in his Dua’, “Oh Allah, Turner of the Hearts, keep our Hearts firm on Your Religion”.
6- Remember your sins
After you have finished performance of a certain deed and you feel excited and pleased for your success in doing it perfectly; and because we are talking about public work, others will see, praise, and appreciate it; therefore, you should pay close attention to your ‘self’ when you start to feel excited and joyful at this achievement. In such situation, you must remind yourself of the sins and transgressions that you have always committed against the rights of Allah, the transgressions against the rights of other people, and the transgressions against yourself.
You must remind yourself of negligence and failure to achieve true obedience of Allah and, also, remind your ‘self’ of the hidden inner diseases that you know about yourself which others do not know about you. You have to imagine how you would be if Allah had uncovered your sins and people saw the truth of these sins, and if Allah had uncovered to others the fraud of the eyes and the ideas you are thinking of but would be ashamed if others saw – as “Allah knows of the fraud of the eyes, and all that the hearts (of men) conceal”.
This makes the human soul come to its senses and realize its real status.
“Oh Allah forgive me for that which they do not know (about me), and make me better than that which they think of me”
7- Embodiment of reward and deed
Intention, reward, sincerity, and people’s admiration... etc. are all intangible matters that cannot be measured or hold in the hand. However, embodiment of such matters in the form of a sensual example can help you to realize their dimensions and have control over them.
We read about a companion of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), Al-Harith, who was asked by the Prophet: “How have you woken this morning?” Al-Harith replied: “I woke up as a true believer.” The prophet then said: “every single thing has a reality to it, what is the reality of your belief?” Responding to the prophet’s question, Al-Harith started to personify his belief sensibly, saying: “My self has become disillusioned with life, and it’s as if I see the throne of Allah, and it’s as if I can see the people enjoy the beauty of Paradise and visit each other, and as if I see others being punished in the hellfire…” Upon hearing this, the prophet said: “You know now, so be steadfast and committed to the path that you are on.”
Therefore, you have to personify these abstract values as in the following examples: You also have these moral values, for example:
a- Imagine that after you have done a certain action, someone offered to give you $100 in pay, but at the same time someone else offered to give you $1,000,000 for the same work, provided that you do not accept the $100 from other person; of course, you will take the $1,000,000 and reject the other little amount of money.
What if Allah Almighty offers us a Garden whose width is that of the heavens and of the earth (together), for our good deeds, including the public work, provided that we do not accept any other pay from whosoever – through purification of the self, sincerity of the heart, and ridding our actions of showing off that destroys our good deeds by spoiling intention that must be for the sake of Allah Almighty alone.
b- Once you have finished your action, imagine that you hold it in your hand and dive into a sea to put it in a treasure box placed deep in that sea and lock it. While you are diving into the sea, you have to be aware that this sea is your sins and negligence that are about to spoil this deed if you kept looking at the work for a long time and did not rush to put it in the box; and this sea of sins and negligence will also spoil your deed if you open the box from time to time, to remember and admire it, whether before people or while you are alone.
c- Imagine that there are two people doing an exam, each of whom was given a sheet of paper, a pen and specific time, on an equal basis. While one of them took advantage of every minute and used the pen to write his answers on the sheet of paper, the other wasted both his time and sheet paper by spending this precious time in drawing meaningless lines instead of writing down his answers. This is exactly the reality of our actions; for Allah Almighty granted you your life, time, and tools (such as the pen and the sheet of paper in the above example), and all your role is to use what Allah has given you of tools to achieve his pleasure and win nearness to Him. Why are you preoccupied with admiring your deeds and looking down at others?
You must not forget that Allah Almighty gave you the talent, the hearing, the sight, the tongue, the ability to think and perform orations and public speeches. Therefore, you should thank Allah for helping you make good use of these blessings while others were unaware of them and wasted time and tools without benefiting from them.
8- Read the biographies of good ancestors to know your position
You have to look into the biographies the early companions of the prophet and the early followers, as well as both early and late righteous, imams and Mujahideen. You have to think how much effort they exerted in performing their action perfectly and changed their reality, and then you have to look at yourself and your achievement. Compare yourself to them and compare your achievements, no matter how big, with their achievements. Of course, you will surely know that the road is extremely long, and the destination is still far away, which necessitates exerting further efforts for work, proficiency and influence so that you may come nearer to them.
How can our intentions deviate from the required sincerity and how can our souls show excitement and arrogance while at the time when we are still worth nothing in history books and while we are still at the bottom of the list of prominent servants of Allah?
9- Secret worship and virtues of public work
As everything is visible to people in public work with no way to hide your action, you should resort to the secret worship of Allah, especially night prayers an zikr, to protect yourself against all illnesses of the heart, especially showing off and self-admiration. Although the secret worship is advisable to all Muslims, it is much more necessary for those who engage in public work to put a barrier between them and these missteps and prevent them from falling into such transgressions and sins, as only Allah knows what is in the human heart and He alone can forgive us for our weaknesses and the shortcomings of our deeds.
10- Be preoccupied with the next job
Once you finish a job, no matter how successful it was and how much fatigue you have encountered during performing it, immediately be preoccupied with a new job, even if the start was through thinking about it, so as not to leave yourself an opportunity to rethink the previous deeds and admire and express pride of their perfect quality.
If your intention is sincere, the job that you have accomplished is only a step and there are still more steps, as the race track has not ended and will never end until you die; and only then the soul of a believer will rest in peace, his body will calm down and he will be rewarded for his good deeds.
11- Look at people around you .. this is Allah’s favor to you .. this is your duty
Look at people around you, to see someone who was deprived of the grace of sanity, another was deprived of the grace of sight, a third one has become paralyzed after he had had an accident, and a fourth one that has arisen in economic circumstances that did not allow him to complete his schooling and prompted him to enter the work market since his early childhood, etc.
Consider all this, and learn that all your capacity, potential, and talents that were granted to you to undertake a public work are only Allah’s blessings and graces to you.
But more importantly, you are accountable before Allah for the capacity, conditions and potential granted to you by Allah. Therefore, the public work you do is not a grant from you but rather a duty and an obligation that you are accountable for.
It is noteworthy that of course you are not better than the aforementioned examples, in addition to the fact that ‘everyone will find it easy to do the deeds that will lead him to his destined place for which he has been created’, yet their accountability is much easier than yours. However, some of those people may exceed hundreds of times a healthy person that has abundant advantages and appropriate conditions.
And Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, founder of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), under his illness and complete paralysis, is the best example for this.
12- Be careful ... lest Allah take away from you what He has granted you
What you enjoy of capacity, talents, that you take advantage of and benefit from to perform a public work perfectly as we have mentioned above is a blessing from Allah that you have to thank and praise Him for; and if you do not fulfill the duty of thanking Allah as it should be, thinking that you have been given these blessings because of a certain knowledge which you have, you should fear from Allah’s punishment, or that Allah may take away from you the blessings and grants that He had granted you. We have seen so many examples in our life for those who were punished by Allah in this way; some of them had been strong, impressive and influential, but suddenly they fell ill or became poor, which changed his life and left him lonely, even unable to go to the bathroom on his own.
O Allah! As long as You keep us alive, benefit us by means of our hearing, our sight, our minds and our bodily strengths.