Business and Salah
by Hazrat Maulana Yunus Patel Saheb (rahmatullah ‘alayh)
Once, a person asked me: “I am in my business from the morning; and from the business, I proceed to the Masjid for Zuhr, Asr, and Maghrib. I join the Salah with “Allahu Akbar”, but then it seems as if the whole business comes into that Salah. How do I get concentration?”
I replied: “You came out of business and went directly into Salah. At least your complaint is about your business consuming your thoughts while in Salah. Others complain of their Salah being contaminated with television, pornography, sport, video games, etc. They also hear the Azaan, enter into Salah, but their complaint is that the images of filthy women come before them in their Sajdas (Na ‘uzu Billah).”
People have written to me at a loss because their minds are picturing Haraam in that Sajda —that Sajda where they are supposed to be closest to Allah Ta'ala.”
I explained: “Allah Ta'ala's Ihsan (favour) is always all-embracing, so He granted the Sunnah Salah to us before the Fardh Salah. It is only Maghrib which is read immediately after the Azaan.
Regarding the Salah, we should not wait for the Azaan and proceed to the Masjid or Musallah.
If a person has no excuse, he should be in the Masjid by the time the Azaan is completed, preferably having completed his Wudhu. After responding to the Azaan and making a Du'aa (since this is a time of the acceptance of Dua), the Sunnah Salah should be read. Unfortunately, we complete 4 Rakats in one minute ‘flat'. We want to show speed in Salah since we cannot show speed in any marathon.
If carried out as Sunnah, the 4 Rakats of Sunnah will take about 5 minutes. After Sunnah Salah, there will still be a few minutes left before the Jamaat Salah commences. During those minutes, make Istighfaar, Taubah, think of Aakhirah and accountability and presentation of deeds on the Day of Qiyaamah. Reflect on one's life. What if my death has to come now?
Like this, you cut off the business and worldly thoughts as much as possible.
Now commences the Fardh Salah, by which 80% of the heart will be in that Salah, insha Allah. If the effort continues, the person will experience “Mi'raj” in his Salah.”
Alhamdulillah, many, having followed through with this advice, have found a world of difference in their Salah.
When the Sahabah (rahiyallahu ‘anhum) entered Salah, how is it that they were able to maintain their Khushu' (concentration) in Salah -why is it that they were not disturbed by worldly thoughts, like how we are plagued with worldly thoughts?
They, too, came into Salah from the business world yet proceeded directly into the Mi'raj of Salah. The Kaifiyyat was different. From the time they commenced preparation for their Salah, making Wudhu, etc., the kaifiyat was different. It was very unlike our condition: We are talking, joking and laughing, and we enter the Masjid in this manner. On the other hand, they truly understood and believed that they would now stand before Allah Ta'ala – as will be on the Day of Qiyamah.
The Ayah described their condition:
“And as for those who were in awe of standing before their Lord and restrained themselves from (evil) desires…”
[Surah Nazi'at 79:40]
So why was it that their Salah was not affected, and they were not diverted or distracted by what they were, until then, occupied with? After all, they were also in business and trade, agriculture, and other avenues of earning a living. They were also selling different items and animals, planting crops, moving into foreign lands and engaging in big business.
Allah Ta’ala says in Surah Nur:
“…men who are not distracted—either by buying or selling—from Allah’s remembrance, or performing prayer, or paying Zakah. They fear a Day when hearts and eyes will tremble,…”
[Surah Nur 24:37]
Men, whose businesses and transactions, exporting and importing, do not divert them from the remembrance of Allah Ta'ala, do not distract them from the establishment of Salah, and giving Zakah …
Allah Ta'ala brought to my heart a beautiful point concerning why the Sahabah (rahiyallahu ‘anhum) were not disturbed in their concentration. And that is that they were men – the true believing men, whose businesses did not prevent them from obedience or divert their attention.
Why was their Salah not affected even though they came out of business? Because they came out of one Ibaadah into another.
Therefore, from one Ibaadah, they entered into another Ibaadah. They were conscious of Allah Ta'ala's presence at all times, even in their businesses. Thus, their business was also “Zikrullah”. The same awareness was required for Salah, but this was their condition at all times.
In their businesses, they were cautious. Their trade, talking, selling, and purchasing were all carried out as sanctioned by Shari'ah.
Their intentions were noble, their efforts were clean, and their earnings were Halaal and pure. They worked not to extend their hands and beg of others. They worked to support their families, contribute to good causes, assist others, give Zakaah, go for Hajj, and so forth.
Their intentions were correct, and their businesses were conducted in the manner approved by Allah Ta'ala. That person who has made his business into Ibaadah, then his concentration will remain in Salah.
It does not mean that a person is just holding a Tasbih all the time and reading: ‘SubhanAllah, SubhanAllah…'.
Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (rahmatullah ‘alayh) mentioned that if a person is selling – for example, mangoes – and goes on repeating: “Mangoes, Mangoes …”, he will get the reward of Tasbeeh because the person's effort is to acquire Halaal sustenance.
So, the Sahabah (rahiyallahu ‘anhum) were conscious of Allah Ta'ala's presence and were mindful of all the Ahkaam (Laws) pertaining to trade and business, so they simply moved from one Ibaadah to another. Unlike us, our businesses are not Ibaadah. How many can say that their business is Ibaadah?
When does the business become Ibaadah?
When we apply the laws of Shari'ah in that business, that is, in the transactions, deals, importing and exporting, there is that conscious realization and understanding that we are slaves of Allah Ta'ala, and He is the one that sends Rizq (sustenance). He is sending customers as means of our livelihood.
For example, a person hands over a parcel or gift and pays the post office or courier service to deliver it. The parcel is thus delivered. Do we thank the postman or the courier for the parcel? We thank him for the delivery, but we understand that the postman was the means of us receiving the parcel. The giver was someone else. We understand that. So we do not forget the giver.
Similarly, Allah Ta'ala is the Provider. He uses people to deliver our Rizq – in different ways.
If we apply the laws of Shari'ah: We do not deal in Haraam, we are honest and truthful, we do not hide defects, we do not cheat, deceive and so forth, then that Tijarah becomes Ibadah – and from that Ibaadah, we enter the Ibaadah of Salah.
If we engage in Haraam, in interest, cheat, our dealings are not straight, our employees are strange women -dressed scantily, there is music playing, and we promote Christmas, Valentine's, and Diwali – then this is definitely and most certainly not Ibaadah. This will invite Allah Ta'ala's Anger and Curse and deprive the person of Barakah (blessings) in his business and earnings.
Haraam indicates that there is no conscious awareness of Allah Ta'ala. The person's concentration in Salah will be seriously affected.
It is left to us to turn business into Ibadah. It is not impossible. It is something that will always be workable and viable – at any time and age.
May Allah Ta'ala grant us the Taufiq of being Rijal – true believing men – who are not distracted by commerce or sale, from the remembrance of Allah Ta'ala, who perform Salah, give Zakah willingly and happily, and who fear Allah Ta'ala in their business undertakings, Aameen.