In Islam work is given special importance to the extent that it is considered as an act of worship in itself. Although some people believe that they are not obliged to work because they dedicate themselves to worshiping God, this is actually a wrong perception of the concept of worship.
Therefore, Islam is a religion of worshiping the Creator, with an essential part of that worship being working for survival. God tells us in the Qur’an to traverse the universe and make use of all the abundant resources that have been created for us.
Islam calls us to be responsible to our community and to work hard to provide benefit to others, rather than relying upon begging for charity.
Abdullah bin Umar reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The leader of the people is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects: a man is the guardian of his family and is responsible for his subjects, a woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and of his children and is responsible for them, and the slave of a man is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible for it. Surely, every one of you is a shepherd and responsible for his flock.”
One of the ways we can be responsible is to provide for others and to instill within ourselves a strong work ethic. It is far better for a Muslim to earn his own living and provide for his family than to rely upon the charity of others.Providing charity for others is far better than receiving charity yourself.
Abdullah ibn Umar reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “The upper hand is better than the lower hand, the upper hand being the one that gives and the lower hand being the one that receives.”
Begging without a valid excuse is a major sin in Islam and there is no blessing in the charity one receives from such begging.
Begging for charity is only permissible in cases of dire need such as overcoming a large debt, experiencing a calamity, or suffering in extreme poverty.
The Prophets were the best examples of self-sufficiency, hard work, and responsibility. For example
1- The Prophet Zechariah, peace be upon him, earned his living as a humble carpenter..
2- The father of all mankind ,Adam, was a farmer
3- The prophet Nooh was a Carpenter
4- The prophet Moses was Shepherd
5- The Prophet Muhammad himself, was a trader. Before he was chosen as a messenger of God, he was a hardworking person.
The Prophet Muhammad himself, who is considered a paragon of virtues in Islam, used to pray seeking God’s refuge from laziness or idleness.
In his instructions to Muslims on this aspect, the Prophet Muhammad strikes a balance between worship and work. So, as Muslims have to be constant in their acts of worship, they also have to work hard to make a living, Also, in exhorting Muslims on the importance of work, the Prophet Muhammad made it clear that getting one’s sustenance from one’s work is one of the praiseworthy acts of worship. It is recorded in his traditions how he turned a man who came to him begging into a productive member of the society by teaching him how to work and provide for himself.
Prophet Muhammad would also serve himself and perform chores for his family, rather than having others work for him.
For those who are struggling to meet their needs, it is a virtue to give them charity but it is even better to give them the means to support themselves, as in the popular saying, “Feed a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
On one occasion, a man came to the Prophet begging him for charity but the Prophet gave him the means to work for himself.
Describing work as an obligation not just for individual validation but also for social progression adds a whole new dimension to work ethics. Where managers struggle with keeping up morale amongst employees, an understanding of Islamic teachings by an individual will automatically bring about the satisfaction and gratification needed for the achievement of organizational objectives.