Reinforcing Spirituality in the workplace


I did not realize that relationships at the workplace could be so gratifying in terms of Ibadah until I sat down with my father to delve into his experiences about human resource management. His answers left me inquisitive and I set to search for the ideal virtues in a Muslim employer and employee that please Allah SWT.

Motivation, communication, cooperation, conflict management, wage compensations, promotion, job description, rotation and enrichment are the key components outlined in an employment agreement. To fortify the faithfulness in daily roles played by a manager, supervisor and a subordinate, I rummaged though admirable work of Imam Ghazali rahimullah to the rejuvenating lectures of Nouman Ali Khan.

To begin with, ayah 57 from Surah Yusuf is of utmost significance for both the manager and the worker.

Allah swt says, And verily, the reward of the Hereafter is better for those who believe and used to fear Allah and keep their duty to Him (by abstaining from all kinds of sins and evil deeds and by performing all kinds of righteous good deeds).”

Thus, a mandatory virtue for both parties is to never lose sight of the perpetual mission of life. The subordinate should trust in Allah swt as the Ultimate Provider for hard work and service and the supervisor should learn from the leadership qualities exhibited by Prophet Muhammad (saw), the four caliphs, Hazrat Yusuf (as) and all the beloved messengers of Allah. In the light of the above verse:

  • The Muslim manager ought to devise the employment agreement around the 5 prayers (salah) negotiating time management, submission deadlines, rest pauses and work shifts.
  • Another principle characteristic is built upon ukhwat i.e. Islamic brotherhood. Both should know the fruits that lie beyond this temporary life of a heart-warming brotherhood.
  • Another important lesson which can be absorbed from this ayah is that when Satan intrudes the mind of the employee in the absence of the supervisor, he should remember that Allah swt is All-Seeing; He knows the conflicts created by nafs. Such a self-reminding habit ensures that one understands the importance of honesty and sincerity to his leader.
  • This verse steers me to an aspect also mentioned in Ihya-Ulum-Ud-Din (The Revival of Religious Learnings) under ‘Seven things that make the religion of a businessman perfect’ i.e. the worker and the manager should both remember that they are setting up accounts with everyone they deal with. Allah swt will have the debit/credit records on the Final Day.

Narrated by Abu Hurairah (ra), Allah’s Messenger (saw) said, “Allah said, ‘I will be an opponent to three types of people on the day of Resurrection; one who makes a covenant in My name, but proves treacherous, second who sells a free person and eats his price and third, who employs a laborer and takes full work from him but does not pay for his labor.” (Sahih Bukhari).

Aforementioned hadith shows the intensity of love that Allah has for the hard-worker. The employees proffer their services in return of remuneration and benefits. Also, the religious-mandated practice of abiding by the agreement has been emphasized. A Muslim naturally tends to get psychologically attached to his Muslim brother. Reviewing Prophet (saw) management skills, it can be seen how Allah wanted him to boost the morale of the companions (sahabah) at all times and listen to their concerns. Our messenger’s (saw) life reveals his highest regard for employees’ services; their covenant was uncomplicated but magnificent in the context that the volunteers were the most important asset in the mission i.e. their supplications and services.

Isn’t it miraculous how our Creator, most Magnificent and most Merciful, has paved way for our self-evaluation in every field of life? Alhamdulilah! In Surah An-Nisa, Ayah 135, Allah swt says,

O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better Protector to both (than you). So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you may avoid justice, and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do.”

The know-how of justice, self-acceptance, embracing criticism, being truthful and avoiding discrimination lies in this verse. The righteous employee should keep an eye on any acts of discrimination around him; this divine code of life also defines discrimination in terms of favoring the rich staff over the poor. The intention (niyah) of the employer of any organization should be to facilitate his employees and make them intellectual and highly productive Muslims securing an abode in the loftiest compartments of Jannah.

Feeding on my brainwaves in cross-cultural psychology class day before yesterday, I observed my supervisor’s frown turning into a smile. I was overwhelmed when I reminisced a tradition that smile is also a form of sadaqah i.e. an act of charity. Such cheerful habits make us beloved in the eyes of Allah azzawajal.

Purification of soul can also be conquered at work which brings us to yet another attribute of an employer i.e. the ability to pre-plan training programs. Integrating Nouman Ali Khan’s lecture ‘People of Substance’ into the employment bond, positive and negative reinforcement done in accordance with Shariah will yield awe-inspiring results. For example, in a firm in Lahore, the supervisor sends his employees to a holistic nutritionist on performance-based work; she devises plans based on Prophetic Medicine and quantum health sciences which bring them closer to Allah swt’s creation, their body systems and the lifestyle of the Prophet (saw). Another effectual bequest to be given for employee’s recognition could be a book on Prophet Muhammad’s (saw) seerah. Regarding training programs, employees deserve a chance for rejuvenation of faith thus they can be registered into workshops, incorporated Quran and Hadith boot camp courses and conferences.

I believe to become mehboob (beloved) for Allah swt requires to master the blissful art of forgiving. It is perhaps the most heartwarming and fulfilling attribute to apply in jobs and role playing; the employer should forgive and let go of errors and mistakes as frequently as he can looking ahead to riches of Hereafter. On the other hand, the employee should forgive the judgments made about them and accept demotions as a form of test from Allah, the Most Generous.
Allah mentions in Surah Ale-Imran, ayah 136,

For such, the reward is Forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing underneath (Paradise), wherein they shall abide forever. How excellent is this reward for the doers (who do righteous deeds according to Allah’s Orders).

Jazak Allah khair!                                                                                                                              


Published originally in Hiba Magazine
April 2014 print issue.

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