A very subtle issue
I was reading the recent blog post of my friend Hossam, where he was sharing a meeting with another executive in MAS. A question that Hossam was asked really grabbed my eye and made me feel a little scared:
How do you know that you are not in MAS for the spiritual and organizational ‘rush’ that activism brings to our life, and for the sake of being active and engaged in a society with a bigger goal than yourself, rather than truly for the sake of Allah?
Let me add to this question the following: “How do we know that we are not in MAS for the blessings that will come to us in our life? How do we know that we are not in MAS because of the amount of Barakah that will come to our time, wealth, and children? How do we know that we are not in MAS for a amount of dignity such work brings?
It really brings a lot
No one can really understand this question except those who experience working in a blessed organization like MAS. The amount of satisfaction and recognition that this work brings is tremendous. The amount of blessings that this work brings to health, wealth, and family is vast. This reminded me with a little quote I read for Ibn Al-Qaiyem when I was young and I could not understand. He was warning people from obeying Allah just for the dignity obedience brings and abstaining from sinning just for the humiliation sinning effect. He said that after explaining for a long time how much dignity and honor obeying Allah brings and how much humiliation and problems disobeying Him will do. I was confused. Now that I think about it, I completely understand. In our beginnings, the intention is so pure and the focus is to clear: Allah. Going through this effort, we see a lot of benefits, we see a lot of outcome, we see a lot of satisfaction, we see a lot of recognition and admiration of people. We get distracted by these things and we turn our intention to gain them, something very subtle and very tricky.
Two important things to consider thinking along these lines.
1- This is the sooner tiding of the believer
These blessings of this type of work is inevitable. You will get them even if you do not want to. They are meant by Allah and they will always be there. As a matter of fact, one of the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) was a little concerned about people praising him for good work he did while he intended it for the sake of Allah. He was worried that this will take away from the reward he would get from Allah (sw). The prophet answered him, “This is the sooner tiding of the believer,” meaning that this is a good news for real blessings and real joy in the hereafter. So, there is nothing wrong in rejoicing the blessing of good work, expecting it to happen, and feeling happy when it does. There is nothing wrong of proclaiming that this work will bring such blessings to our life and be proud of it. We should consider these blessings, “the sooner tiding of the believer.”
2- Our intention will be tested
However, we should always be alert that we do what we do for the sake of Allah NOT for the sake of these blessings to come to us. If we don’t we will fail to continue because Allah will always test it. He will test us with:
- A lot of work with no fruits
- A lot of criticism from people around us especially when we make some unpopular moves or fail to produce results
- A loss in wealth, health, food, and loved ones
- A physical and mental harm
- Feelings of shortcomings, feebleness, and ineffectiveness
If we continue working and use those tests to strengthen ourselves and renew our commitment, then we passed. If we stop then we failed and we better renew our intention, for these blessings are by-products of the effort and not the goal