Islam: A Means to Construction and Civilization
Rabee‘ Al-Awwal 1437 AH/January 1, 2016 CE

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Sermon Plan

  1. Global Cultivation is a Religious Duty
  2. Islam Encourages Settlement and Construction
  3. Qualitative Work Leads Nations to Prosper
  4. Islam Denounces All Aspects of Idleness
  5. Warning Against Global Corruption and Destruction

Sermon Text

Allah has created humankind in the best form; He honored and graced them over all creation subjecting all things in the world to them. He (may He be Exalted) says, “We have honored the Children of Adam and carried them in the land and the sea, and We have provided for them of the good things, and We have preferred them over many of those We created” (the Quran, 17: 70). He also says, “He is the One who has created for you all that is on the earth, then He attended to the heaven and has made it seven heavens, and He is aware of all things” (the Quran, 2: 29). As such, man was entrusted with stewardship over the earth: “And your Lord said to the angels: “I am placing a vicegerent on the earth.” They said: “Will You place in it he who would make corruption in it, and spill blood; while we praise by Your glory, and exalt to You?” He said: “I know what you do not know” (the Quran, 2: 30).

Indeed, the Lord assigned a great mission to humankind; that is to worship Him, cultivate and develop the world and discover its treasures and resources. Allah (may He be Exalted) says, “He [Allah] has established you from the earth and has made you settle in it [reform the earth and discover its resources and graces]” (the Quran, 11: 61). Allah encourages man to work in dependence on the physical means placed in the universe without inclination to idleness and s. Allah (may He be Exalted) says, “He is the One who made the earth subservient for you. So roam its paths, and eat from His provisions; and to Him is the final summoning” (the Quran, 67: 15).

Hard work is not restricted to a specific time. A human being has to pursue the course of reform to his/her last breath as indicated in the narration of Anas Ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “If the Last Hour comes while you have a palm-cutting in your hands and it is possible to plant it before the Hour comes, you should plant it” (al-Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad).

Islam sanctifies and encourages building and construction, even at the hardest moments, since they are the backbone of life and the means to the progress of nations and communities.

As such, Islam encourages all areas of learning and education, which lead to the settlement and construction of the universe. All Muslims are deeply animated to explore the world and discover resources in land and sea. Persistent work has a very special in Islam as cited in the narration of al-Miqdam (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Nobody has ever eaten a better meal than that which one has earned by working with one’s own hands. The Prophet of Allah, David, used to eat from the earnings of his manual labor” (al-Bukhari).

Evidently, Islam is an open call for work, settlement and human welfare. For Islam, hard work yields great esteem and veneration, as a means to progress and development. Like acts of worship, it is divinely rewarded. The Quranic verses encourage lawful means and work for seeking one’s livelihood. In fact, encouragement of good work for lawful provision comes next only to the command of prayers. Allah (may He be Exalted) says, “When the prayer has been concluded, disperse within the land and seek from the bounty of Allah, and remember Allah often that you may succeed” (the Quran, 62: 10). After praying the Friday prayer, ‘Irak Ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) used to leave the mosque saying at the threshold of the mosque: “O Allah, I have responded to your call, have done your obligatory salah and left as You commanded, so provide for me out of Your Graces and You are the best of providers. Many Quranic and prophetic texts speak of the higher objectives of construction and reform and encourage hard working and building. They also discourage from idleness and laziness. Hard work is the way to save face, earn respect and human dignity. Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Surely, you had better gather a bundle of wood and carry it on your back (to earn your living) rather than ask somebody who may give you or not” (al-Bukhari).

When Sufyan al-Thawri passed by some people while they were sitting in the Sacred Mosque, he asked why they sat there. In reply, they questioned: “What shall we do? He said, “Seek the grace of Allah and do not depend on [other] Muslims [in your provision].” In Islam, the one who seeks the livelihood of his family through the lawful means has a rank equal to that of martyrs and guards of far borders. Ka‘b Ibn ‘Ujrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that a man once passed by the Prophet. Observing his power and vigorous activity, the Prophet’s Companions said, “O Messenger of Allah, if only he had made use of his power and activity in the cause of Allah!” In reply, the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “If he is seeking the provision of his children, he is in the Cause of Allah. Likewise, if he is seeking the provision of his old parents, he is in the Cause of Allah. Also, if he seeks to meet his own needs, he is in the Cause of Allah and if he seeks to meet the needs of his family, he is in the cause of Allah but if he seeks the means to vain glories and riches, he is in the cause of falsehood” (Narrated by al-Tabarani).

Not only does Islam call Muslims for work as a means to construction and civilization, but also encourages qualitative and accurate work as a way to earn the Divine Love and Mercy. ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Surely, Allah loves anyone doing a work to do it in the best qualitative manner” (Narrated by al-Tabarani).

Qualitative and careful work is one of the most significant values and principles that Islam encourages. It is also one of the key Islamic objectives, whereby a Muslim earns the Divine satisfaction and achieves the right devotion. Actually, Allah only accepts the deeds sincerely devoted to Him and a sincere work must fulfill the quality standards. Allah creates inimitable things everywhere as speaks of this miraculous power saying: “[It is] the work of Allah, who perfects all things. Indeed, He is Acquainted with that which you do” (the Quran, 27: 88). Allah also encourages man to do what is good and do it in the most qualitative manner and to refrain from all aspects of corruption: Allah (may He be Exalted) says, “And do good; indeed, Allah loves the doers of good”, (the Quran, 2: 195) and He also says, “And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters.” (77) He (may He be Exalted) said, “I was only given it because of knowledge I have” (the Quran, 28: 77).

The Quranic verses frequently preach good and qualitative work that shall be sincerely done in pursuit of the Divine satisfaction and public welfare. It is a devotional way to serve the members of the community. Promises of great rewards and good repute in this life and in the afterlife are always at the ready for hard workers who serve their communities while being conscious of God’s Control and Awareness of all hidden notions in the depths of hearts and chests. He is always aware people’s deeds as He told: “And, [O Muhammad], you are not [occupied by] any matter or recite any of the Quran and you [people] do not do any deed except that we are witness over you when you are involved in it. And not absent from your Lord is any [part] of an atom’s weight within the earth or within the heaven or [anything] smaller than that or greater but that it is in a clear record” (the Quran, 10: 61).

Allah sees humans in all of their affairs; in plants, farms, bookshops and all other areas. Allah (may He be Exalted) says, “And say, “Do [as you will], for Allah will see your deeds, and [so, will] His Messenger and the believers. And you will be returned to the Knower of the unseen and the witnessed, and He will inform you of what you used to do” (the Quran, 9: 105). Allah is well-aware of all affairs and deeds, so expedite to do the good wholeheartedly devoted to Allah and keep away from all evils as He is witness over you. Zuhayr, an Arab poet, said:

No trait a person may have as hidden from people, but will be disclosed

The pure tradition of the Prophet also encourages hard work and building to achieve the best outcome, a rule generally applied to all ritual and worldly activities. For example, in the prayer, which is a communication between a servant and His Lord; the best reader should lead prayers. Good readers are promised the company of the honorable angels. Likewise, the shroud should be properly chosen, as the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “If anyone of you is charged with taking care of his brother (after death), let him shroud him well” (Muslim). ‘Asim Ibn Kulayb al-Jarmi said, “My father Kulayb attended funerals with his father in the company of the Prophet when he was mindfully a boy of good perception. The Prophet approached the grave when the burial was in process. He kept saying, “Level the inside of the grave” until people thought it is an act of sunnah. Then, he turned to them saying, “Indeed, this act (of leveling) carries no benefit or harm to the deceased but Allah loves anyone doing any work to do it in the best” (al-Bayhaqi).

It is necessary for any work a man does to perform it in the best manner and devote it to Allah. Allah alone is the Omniscient of the secrets of human hearts and He counts their deeds, small or big. Inept workers do not regard the divine observation over their work and their sin is equal to the loss and damages in property and energy they cause. A clumsy employee, who carelessly neglects his work while getting his wages, will have the whole community against him on the Last Day. Those malicious persons carry the onus of nations’ backwardness. ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Only to Allah, I complain of the weakness of honest people and the dauntless betrayal of powerful ones.”

Islam is against all aspects of despair and indolence that hinder construction and cultivation. As far as Islam is concerned, laziness is a disgusted vice whose bearers are worthy of divine dispraise and are similar to hypocrites who “come not to prayer except while they are lazy” (the Quran, 9: 54). Laziness is a destructive fault that spoils nations and causes them to lag behind other developed civilizations. It is a fatal disease that could lead man to lose the essence of his humanity. To use the expression of Imam al-Raghib, “He who intentionally neglects his work and falls to inactivity removes himself from humankind and even from animals as s/he is closer to the dead.” [al-Dharee‘ah ila Makarem al-Sharee’ah].

That is why the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) sought refuge in Allah from incapacity and laziness saying, “O Allah, I seek refuge in You from incapacity, laziness, old age, miserliness and cowardice, and I seek refuge in You from the torment of the grave, and from the trials of life and death” (Muslim in his Authentic Collection from Anas Ibn Malik). Note how he (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) gathered incapacity and laziness together, as they equally lead people to neglect their duties.

Laziness is a mental and psychological defect that deadens mettle and weakens will. Like a lethal germ and fatal disease, it leads to inactivity and impedes nations’ endeavors to progress. It also hinders individuals from serious work and useful activity. Islam blames laziness, as it causes man to overlook duties and begets feelings of boredom and hate, may Allah save us. As such, a person may dislike the good only because of lack of power and determination. It disregards duties, opposes success and kills it victims. A victim of laziness is a parasitic and independent being, who fails to carry out his human responsibility and constitutes an impending danger to individuals in the community. Imam ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Idleness is the key to despondence. Indeed, inability and inactivity beget poverty and breed ruins. Anyone who fails to pursue [an active course of life] gets no useful outcome and, hence, leads a corrupt course.”

Laziness is against the ethics and guidance of Islam. Islam invites people to do good and reform the universe; the lazy people never build civilization; rather, they may cause the destruction of civilizations. Islam also fights against corruption. Indeed, corruption is the vice of evildoers and hypocrites whom Allah describes saying, “They strive throughout the land [causing] corruption and Allah does not like corrupters” (the Quran, 5: 64). Allah also says, “Do not walk on the earth spreading corruption” (the Quran, 2: 60).

Corruption has many forms; the most dangerous thereof is the corruption in religion. Muslims have been afflicted with corrupt people who spread mischief on the earth in the name of religion. They kill the innocent and violate the honors and properties of people. Allah dispraised them in the Quran as follows: “And from among the people are whose words you admire in this worldly life, but Allah is witness as to what is in his heart, for he is the worst in opposition. And if he gains power, he seeks to corrupt the earth and destroy its crops, and the lineage. Allah does not love corruption. And if he is told: “Be aware of Allah,” his pride leads him to more sin. Hell shall be sufficient for him; what a miserable abode” (the Quran, 2: 204-206).

All forms of corruption destabilize the values of construction and development. It promotes negativism and irresponsibility. We shall all resist corruption and corrupt makers to relieve the whole community; otherwise, the community may come to ruins.

 Al-Nu‘man Ibn Basheer (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “The likeness of the man who observes the limits prescribed by Allah and that of the man who transgresses them is like the people who get on board a ship after casting lots. Some of them are in its lower deck and some of them in its upper (deck). Those who are in its lower (deck), when they require water, go to the occupants of the upper deck, and say to them, ‘If we make a hole in the bottom of the ship, we shall not harm you.’ If they (the occupants of the upper deck) leave them to carry out their design they all will be drowned. But if they do not let them go ahead (with their plan), all of them will remain safe” (al-Bukhari). Mutual cooperation, support and solidarity are essential to achieve the essence of faith and fraternity.

Saving the earth from the corrupt people and safeguarding the roads and institutions are some of the best good deeds. Actually, Allah removes the corruption at the hand of the defenders of reformation. Allah (may He be Exalted) says, “If only there was from the previous generations a people with wisdom who prohibited corruption on the earth, except the few that We saved of them. And those who were wicked followed the enjoyment they were in, and they were criminal” (the Quran, 11: 116). A corrupt person is a destructive means that undermines community and harm people. Only elimination of corruption can save people from evils.

The Muslims have many resources, vast lands, seas, lakes and rivers. Their lands are rich with most of the contemporary world’s needs of minerals and oil reserves, let alone their precious treasures of experts and manpower. It is the duty of all Muslims to invest their possessions and rich resources in the best manner for the welfare of humankind as a whole in order to build a progressive civilization and achieve scientific advancement. The Muslim community forms an active nation of work and construction, not of idleness and destruction. They are the people of civilization, not of backwardness. A Muslim shall love his/her faith and proudly work hard for his religious and national progress.