Originally published September 2013
When people come together and struggle for a cause they have a tendency to focus on the details and materialistic aspects; in others words, they become consumed by the means. The potential downside of this is losing sight of one’s principles.
The message of Islam is based on principles; there are lines that cannot be crossed. An important concept that helps one stay true to their principles is to remember that it is Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) who gives victory, and it is Allah All-Mighty who controls all affairs. In doing so we put our focus on the principles and we work for the long term, without bending on our values in order to attain short term results.
This brings us to the lesson that that which is beneficial and sincerely done for Allah will remain. Allah (swt) mentions this in Surat Ar-Ra’d, “He sends down from the sky, rain, and valleys flow according to their capacity, and the torrent carries a rising foam…Thus Allah presents [the example of] truth and falsehood. As for the foam, it vanishes, [being] cast off; but as for that which benefits the people, it remains on the earth. Thus does Allah present examples.” (Qur’an 13:17)
In this example Allah (swt) compares that which is not beneficial to foam. At first glance it looks impressive and it takes up a lot of space, but when you try to test it there is no substance. It does not really consist of anything, and just as quick as it shows up, it disappears. He also gives the example of truth and says that it remains on the earth. Truth then has substance. It does not leave quickly. Its results do not wear off in fifteen minutes or an hour. It is the kind of thing that you can build on, and more importantly depend on.
In the realm of Islamic work there are at least three important ways to look at this. The first is that when we plan and organize we should always stick to our principles. This in and of itself is proof of our belief and our dependence upon Allah (swt). The second and third are things that we should focus on when developing as individuals. Those two things are correct knowledge and sound worship. These are evidences that a person is truly growing in their relationship with their Creator. Hype and large attendance are not indicators of success. That excitement should be directed into teaching people about their faith and encouraging them to increase and improve their relationship with Allah (swt). To do these things is to focus on what is beneficial and long lasting, putting emphasis on long-term growth. It is also a reminder of what we need to focus on in our own development.
May Allah (swt) put barakah (blessings) in all that we do for His sake and may He increase us in closeness to Him. Ameen.