3.M.2 From the Quran, presented by Muhammad Suheyl Umar

  • Text

1A– Al-Nūr (The Chapter of Light) Qur’ān–– 24: 37

In the Name of God, the Infinitely Good, the All-Merciful

…Those, who are not made unmindful of dhikrullah (invocation/remembrance of God) by trading or buying and selling nor do they forget to establishing the ritual prayer or pay the zakah (pure-due/almsgiving), those who fear the day when hearts and eyes shall be overturned…

 

1B– Al-Jumu‘ah (The Chapter of Friday) Qur’ān–– 62: 9–10

In the Name of God, the Infinitely Good, the All-Merciful

O ye who believe, when you are called to the prayer on Friday hasten unto the remembrance of God and relinquish your trading; it is better for you if you are aware. And when the prayer has been accomplished then spread out in the land and seek the bounty of your Lord and keep up the remembrance of God with abundant invocation so that ye may prosper.

 

  • Commentary

These verses could be taken as the representative samples of the perspective that the Qur’ān gives on the interpenetration and relationship between “The Spiritual Life and Daily Life”. Throughout the ages these, as well as a multitude of other verses have played a normative role in defining the attitudes and aspirations of not only the adherents of Islamic spirituality (mystics/Sufis) but also of the pious among the Muslim community.Following is a text from a contemporary master of Islamic spirituality where he offers advice on ‘Work and Prayer’ to his disciples and shows how prayer could be prolonged in ones work and be integrated into the spiritual life.
In the Name of God, the Infinitely Good, the All-Merciful

 

Work is not in itself a prayer. But it can nevertheless prolong prayer in a sense and be integrated into the spiritual life under the following conditions.
The first condition is that the Dhikr (invocation/remembrance of God) be accomplished well. Whoever practices the Dhikr with negligence, thus with an imperfect intention, cannot sanctify his work. The Dhikr may be imperfect because we are weak, but this imperfection must not come from a hypocritical intention. The quality of the Dhikr is sufficient when one’s intention is sufficient; it is insufficient when one’s intention is insufficient.
The second condition is that we prefer the Dhikr to our work; the work cannot prolong the Dhikr if it is preferred over the Dhikr. When one works in order to escape the Dhikr one cannot sanctify the work. We are speaking here of work which by its nature more or less excludes the Dhikr, not of work which can easily embrace it.
The third condition is that we offer the work to God; that we begin the work in the Name of God, which confers upon it a certain grace (barakah).
The fourth condition is that the work be done well, if only because one cannot sanctify something imperfect. One must accomplish the work according to the logic of its nature; as with every perfection, the quality of work has something indirectly spiritual about it. It is in any case immoral and illogical to do things only halfway.
The fifth condition is that we think of God even during work, every time that our work permits. One must have the presence of mind, or the imagination, to invoke God in idle moments.
An evident condition is that the work be honest, for one cannot sanctify what is displeasing to God. In a world which is artificial and meaningless one does what one can; one must always choose the lesser evil. In case of professional difficulty, one must pray, so that God will help us.
If these conditions are fulfilled, God will not reproach us for not having practiced the Dhikr during our work times; the vibration of the Dhikr will then continue in our heart without our knowing it. When a man neglects the prayer because he is ill, the Angels pray in his stead; the same holds true for our work, since this too imposes itself on us while our intention is to choose the Dhikr.

Besides, the fact that a man must work proves that God wishes him to work; man must accept his destiny, but he must accept it in the most perfect way possible. He does not have the right to work badly because he practices the Dhikr; he has the duty to work well on the margin of the Dhikr, and if possible with the Dhikr. Bad work is harmful to the Dhikr, as bad Dhikr is harmful to work, barring particular circumstances whether objective or subjective. 

He who works must husband his energies in order to be able to work, and to work well. The Dhikr is only good to the degree that its effort is in harmony with the effort of work.