Is That Your Profession—Or Just Your Title?

By Mariam Nawaz

I read a surah (chapter) from the Qur’an, a Surah that made me question a few things. It made me think about the purpose of my existence. One thing that crossed my mind was a person’s occupation. Even if I were qualified to be a teacher, if I don’t actually teach, would I still be a teacher? Or would a chef still be a chef, even if he had never actually cooked professionally? I suppose the logical answer is sure they are, but they don’t actually practice the profession they have trained in. For most people and professions, this is perfectly acceptable; people don’t necessarily build a career in their area of training. But, If someone doesn’t practice what they have been equipped to be able to practice, then all they have is a title; a title which at the very least allows them to feel a sense of accomplishment for their efforts.

But what if the title they hold isn’t a result of their own accomplishment? What if the title they hold is something they were born with, or something given to them? What if the title they hold is that of a ‘Muslim’? Then is that Muslim, still a Muslim even if he doesn’t do what a Muslim is supposed to do? If they do not actually practice Islam can they still hold the title of being Muslim? When you think about it, the immediate answer is ’no’. They can’t feel that sense of accomplishment because they didn’t accomplish anything that enables them to feel proud. Most of the time, they did not chose Islam; rather,  Islam was given to them—and alhamdulillah (all praise and thanks belongs to God) for that.

The teacher who holds only the title of a teacher can still be proud of the work they put in to become a teacher, and the chef who holds only the title of being a chef, can be proud of all of his training to become a chef—but the Muslim, who did nothing to be Muslim, nor does anything as a Muslim, has nothing but an empty and worthless title. If you handed in an essay to your professor and all your essay consisted of was a title, how do you think your professor would grade you? Most of us wouldn’t even dream of doing that! Yet so many of us will be in front of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He), with nothing but the title of ‘Muslim’, may Allah protect us from this.

It’s time we start acting on that which we claim to be; if we truly consider ourselves to be worthy of the title of a Muslim, then we need to ensure we practice that which we ought to practice. What is the purpose or the ‘occupation’ of a Muslim might you ask! Well, the surah that inspired this thought is one of the many that provide the answer: Surah Al-Asr.

  1. By  time,
  2. Indeed, mankind is in loss,
  3. Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds, and advised each other to truth1 , and advised each other to patience2 .”

May Allah make us amongst those whom He favours, those who have strong belief, follow through with good deeds, share the truth of Islam to others, and have sabr (patience).


  1. i.e. order one another to perform all kinds of good deeds which Allah has ordained, and abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which Allah has forbidden []
  2. for the sufferings, harms, and injuries which one may encounter in Allah’s cause []

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  • MashaAllah Sister Mariam.

    This article was deep!

    The teacher and the empty essay analogy was an intellectual slap to wake us up from being heedless.

    May Allah (swt) elevate our iman and help us station and maintatin our iman at a high level inshaAllah.


  • Salaams an awesome read, with a very thought provoking analogy. Insha’Allah we all hold the title of a mu’mim with its true content and get the highest of grades- Al’Firdous <3

  • As’Salaamwalaikum (peace be upon you).

    Amatullah; respectfully speaking…no it isn’t scary. The truth isn’t scary; it’s liberating. Lack of seeking the truth/understand is scary.

    What a great article serving up contemplation and critical thinking (which is a duty every human being should be in a constant state of…to critically think doing so will bring about so much insight and vision of that which was blinded by our own lack of critical analysis of this beautiful gift of life we’ve been given.)

    Whether a person may be a atheist, agnostic, muslim, jew, christian, hindu, etc…at least critically think; you owe yourself that as a human being.

  • Wa alaikumasalam,

    JazakAllah for reading, and it’s a reminder to myself before anyone else. Ameen to the du’as above 🙂

    • Shukran

      this article is the best i totally had a childhood flashback many of us who are born Muslim forget that is not the onle requirement that gives us the title as muslims but it is how we act that prove our alligence

      BIG TIME JazakAllah Khers to you and your family

  • growing up i would always ask how do i know that i am muslim or how can Allah (swt) decide or acknowlegde me as a muslim at the tender age of 2 years old my mother told me if you know the difference between right and wrong automatically Allah (swt) starts to see you as a muslim

  • Great article mash’Allah! Makes one think deeply about where they stand as a Muslim.

    Jazaki Allah khayr Sr. Mariam!

  • MashAllah jazakullah kair for this beautiful and powerful reminder. May Allah swt guide us all to the straight path. Ameen.

  • I urge everyone to read ‘A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose’. It answers all of these questions and leaves you with a deep sense of peace. And don’t worry, it’s not a replacement for religion, it simply highlights some universal truths which help you on your spiritual path. Many times even after having a strong belief system, true spirituality and inner peace is out of reach. This book will tell you the difference between beliefs and real inner spirituality.

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