Degree of Effort in Acquisition of Sustenance
On browsing through Quranic verses and traditions of the Ahle Bait (a.s.), a question that crops up in the mind is, ‘When Allah has guaranteed sustenance and we will receive only the destined amount of livelihood, why should we work at all? We should simply Sit at home and the destined livelihood is bound to reach to us. Also, if we are supposed to work, what is the extent of the effort that we should put in?
The reply is as follows: The system of this world runs on means and causes. For everything, Allah the Almighty has provided a cause. For a tree to bear fruits, it is essential that we plant it in an appropriate place, water it regularly and take care of it. Consequently, after the passage of some time, this tree will bear fruits for sure.
Of course, Allah the All-Powerful has the ability and power to send fruits without trees. Hence, Allah’s power is one thing and His system, another. Certainly, Allah has provided a destined livelihood for everybody but at the same time, He has made effort and striving as a prerequisite for its acquisition. His system demands that to acquire his livelihood, it is obligatory that man strives and slogs. Take the ant as an instance. Allah the Almighty has determined its livelihood and even guaranteed the same for it. But how hard does this tiny little creature work for its livelihood! Similarly, man has to work hard for his sustenance and livelihood.
How beautifully has Imam Hasan aI-Mujtaba (a.s.) presented this point!
“Beware! Don’t work so hard to acquire your livelihood like a person slogs to overpower his enemy. Nor rely so much on your destiny that you sit idle, without work because seeking divine grace and Allah ‘s sustenance is modesty. To seek it with moderation is also modesty. Neither modesty reduces the sustenance nor does greed increase it because livelihood has been determined and decreed. Greed and avarice only lead to man being involved in sins and crimes.”
Meezanul I Hikmah. The Chapter of Sustenance. H. No. 7150.
Imam Hasan (a.s.) has explained this concept in the most lucid manner. Moderation is the right approach. Neither should one become crazy after it as if fighting an intense battle and spend all his strength and resources for it nor should one become lazy and indolent as to remain idle and unoccupied.
Another tradition of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.s.) explains the point even further as to how hard should we work for seeking a livelihood and how much energy should we devote for it.
“Beware! Being busy and engrossed in a thing that is guaranteed for you. it shouldn‘t keep you away from the thing that is made obligatory on you. For, the thing that is guaranteed to you it will reach you inevitably but the thing that you have missed (i.e. the obligatory actions) can never be gained by you.”
(Ibid. 1-1. No. 7130.)
Usually it is seen that man becomes so crazy after seeking a livelihood that day and night, he is gripped by anxiety over its acquisition. He becomes so engrossed in it that he does not get the time to even perform the obligations imposed on him by Allah. Even if he manages to perform his duties, they are done in such a way that although the resplendent verses of the Holy Quran are on his lips, his mind is totally occupied with thoughts about his business and trade. He does not realize when his prayer commenced and when it came to an end. The aim of prayer is to remember Allah, Who ordered Prophet Moosa (a.s.)
وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ لِذِكْرِي
“Establish prayers for My remembrance.”
Surah Ta Ha (20): 14
Our prayers are everything but Allah’s remembrance. In the light of these traditions, a person should work only that hard for his sustenance that does not act as an impediment in the performance of his religious obligations. How nicely has Allah the Almighty presented this reality by saying that ‘We have not created the Jinn and the humans but that they worship Me.’ Now, kindly pay attention to the verses following the above verse.
مَا أُرِيدُ مِنْهُم مِّن رِّزْقٍ وَمَا أُرِيدُ أَن يُطْعِمُونِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الرَّزَّاقُ ذُو الْقُوَّةِ الْمَتِينُ
“I don’t intend from them any sustenance nor do I desire from them that they feed Me. Surely Allah, He is the Sustainer, the Possessor of Strong Power.”
(Surah Zaariyaat (51): Verses 57. 58)
Immediately after talking about worship as the aim of creation, Allah mentions about His power of sustenance and that too with underlined hyperbole. One should be extremely cautious that the involvement of sustenance does not prevent him from Allah’s worship. Worshipping Allah is the duty of humans. Performance of obligations will be the cause of increase in one’s sustenance and not its decrement.