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Working With Excellence in Our 9-5 Jobs

Our jobs, our careers, our pay checks… are all blessings from God.

They are blessings that come in all shapes and sizes… though sometimes we may forget these blessings when getting stuck in a rut, falling into urban debt, or while we are struggling to keep up with deadlines and client requests at the same time.

How do we cultivate ihsan (excellence) at work in order for us to keep on the right track at all times?

It is not always easy being caught up in the rate race or stuck in the elevator of the corporate world. Or perhaps the mundane tasks that we face daily are nothing more than factory rounds and this can also be frustrating.

No matter how difficult things become, always remember to work on building excellence for your work – whether they are the typical 9-5 jobs, freelance work or part time stints at the local bakery.

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Everything we do requires perfection, and here are a few ways to help our Ihsan (excellence) brew to heights of God’s pleasure.

Ask God for Guidance

Seek for Ihsan (excellence) at work by asking God for guidance. There are many reasons why we could lose interest in our jobs as dissatisfaction comes from all sources – like a salary that doesn’t cover the expenses, unruly clients or colleagues, long hours and/or a poor quality of life.

Not everything can be changed overnight, but to help with our Ihsan (excellence) at work, we need to ask for Guidance from God. Perhaps, somewhere along the lines, our income is not completely lawful. Maybe our personal finances are out of sync. Maybe we are facing problems in our personal lives that are being reflected in our work. Or it could be we have just lost passion over our jobs, because it does not suit our interests. Maybe we have lost the goodwill that God has given us.

Ask God for guidance because this is the first step in making any positive change in your life. The good thing about our jobs and careers is that we can make the changes that we want – we just have to be brutally honest with ourselves, have focus on our goals and the will-power to see them through.

And the best thing about asking God for guidance is that things can’t go wrong – as long as we seek to make the changes ourselves. God tells us in the Quran that He will help change the state of people, as long as they help themselves first… so remember this first step.

Seek out Your Passion

To ensure you have ihsan (excellence) for work, remember that you have to follow your passion. Passion is what drives us. It builds on our interests, makes us happy and motivates us to work harder and in the right direction, with focus and enthusiasm.

Many people who feel disgruntled about their jobs feel like they’re trawling through the months without progress or achievements and just waiting for the pay check at the end of the month. This can slowly translate into demotivation, sluggishness and boredom. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) advised to do what we were interested in, as long as it did not cause embarrassment. (Al-Bukhari)

And this reminds Muslims on the wide range of disciplines that we can venture into, as long as we abide by what God has prescribed as lawful.

Keep Good Relations

To cultivate our ihsan for our work, we need to keep good relationships with everyone. This does not necessarily mean we have to be close friends with everyone and anyone who comes into contact with us, but we need to keep humble and respectful in all our interactions. The Prophet said:

“A believer will not be a believer until he or she wishes the same for his or her brother or sister.” (Al-Bukhari)

And similarly, the Quran reminds us to keep good relations with non-Muslims, and even in the case of adversity, to respond with kindness, lest they can become good companions. Keeping good relations is part and parcel of building a healthy and thriving nation – one that is all-encompassing and honors diversity as the will of God.

Be Grateful For the Good Days… and the Bad Days as Well

To nurture ihsan in our work, we always need to be grateful. It is almost impossible to feel gratitude and ingratitude at the same time. Feel grateful for all the small things that happen at work and feel grateful for the bad days as well, because we are able to learn from them. Feeling grateful reminds us of how small we are and that God gives us gifts every day in all shapes and sizes. It reminds us that God is our greatest sustainer and provider, even when things seem like they are going awry.

The Quran tells us that when we are grateful, God rewards us with more – and we all know that God’s rewards are subjective… it could be with a larger increment or bonus, a new job scope for development, better camaraderie, healthier family relations, more children… or even an opportunity to learn a new past time. But if we are ungrateful, God has the right to remove blessings that we have… so that is great motivation to remain grateful for all things, big and small.

Give in Charity to Please God

To create ihsan (excellence) in our work, it is important to always give in charity. Those who give more tend to have a lot more.

Giving in charity opens doors to gratitude and cleanses our money as well as any disappointments that we may have with our work and our lives.

Giving in charity also reminds us that there are those who have a lot less and are in need of our help. What an honor that God has chosen us to be amongst the people who help them.

Consider a Change as Something Good

If at the end of the day, you still feel like there is something missing in your life as far as ihsan at work goes, then make the decision to change.

Ask God to guide you through His best of plans and take the plunge for a change. We are designed to only stay in this world for a short period of time and as the days roll by, we do not get any younger… we grow older and older and come closer to meeting God – we might as well meet Him with vigor in the worship (i.e. work), knowing that we tried our best to bring the greater good out of ourselves while we roamed on His Land. Even more so, our careers are important, but we can change them. They are not rigid, fixed structures in our lives.

Every moment of work should constitute good worship for the sake of God, so it’s not healthy if we go through the motions just for worldly gains and remain disappointed about our accomplishments in the process.

It’s never too late to change, so make plans, lay them out, ask God for Guidance – and put your tracks in motions. If we have the right intentions to please God, inshallah we will never go wrong.

(From Discovering Islam archive)