His Role in Facing Idleness

Article translated to : العربية

first: establishing the values of both work & productivity:

allah’s messenger (pbuh) had established in the islamic society great social and developmental values like those of productivity and work. he settled the detest for idleness and the love of earning one’s living by one’s own hands in the souls of the muslims. allah’s messenger (pbuh) used to hate seeing someone idle with nothing to do, he even preferred the reward of one who is working to earn his living to another who is staying for prayer in the mosque. he even considered one who is seeking to feed himself and his family to be like one who sets out to struggle for the cause of allah. we see him in more than one situation encouraging a poor muslim to save his face from asking people for charity by setting out to earn his living through any legitimate means even if it was by collecting wood. allah’s messenger (pbuh), encouraging people to work and repulsing them from idleness, said "it is better for anyone of you to take a rope (and cut) and bring a bundle of wood (from the forest) over his back and sell it and allah will save his face (from the hell-fire) because of that, rather than to ask the people who may give him or not." (1)

al-qaradawy the scholar said “the above mentioned hadith had illustrated that even the career of cutting wood with all its toil and the contempt that surrounds it and the small return it brings is better than idleness and asking for charity”. (2)

second: fulfilling the needs of the un-employed (idle):

we find allah’s messenger (pbuh) thinking and planning for a poor youth in order to furnish him with an opportunity to earn his living from. narrated by anas ibn malik: “a man of the ansar (prophet's supporter from madiena) came to the prophet (pbuh) and begged from him. he (the prophet) asked: have you nothing in your house? he replied: yes, a piece of cloth, a part of which we wear and a part of which we spread (on the ground), and a wooden bowl from which we drink water. he said: bring them to me. he then brought these articles to him and he (the prophet) took them in his hands and asked: who will buy these? a man said: i shall buy them for one dirham. he said twice or thrice: who will offer more than one dirham? a man said: i shall buy them for two dirhams. he gave these to him and took the two dirhams and, giving them to the ansari, he said: buy food with one of them and hand it to your family, and buy an axe and bring it to me. he then brought it to him. allah’s messenger (pbuh) fixed a handle on it with his own hands and said: go, gather firewood and sell it, and do not let me see you for a fortnight. the man went away and gathered firewood and sold it.

when he had earned ten dirhams, he came to him and bought a garment with some of them and food with the others. allah’s messenger (pbuh) then said: this is better for you than that begging should come as a spot on your face on the day of judgment. begging is right only for three people: one who is in grinding poverty, one who is seriously in debt, or one who is responsible for compensation and finds it difficult to pay. “ (3)

observe how allah’s messenger (pbuh) had planned for a means to a provide such young man with an opportunity to let him earn his living.

third: his (pbuh) prohibition of idleness and unemployment:

allah’s messenger (pbuh) had battled against all manifestations of idleness and unemployment and the failure to gain a living in all possible means in order to combat against the spread of poverty in the society.

allah’s messenger (pbuh) had prohibited one who is able to gain his living and that of those whom he supports to be idle, he said “allah (swt) hates a man who is idle” and “idleness hardens the heart” (4)

fourth: his (pbuh) encouraging of adopting agriculture:

we find him encouraging agriculture in many blessed hadiths, like his saying "if any muslim plants any plant and a human being or an animal eats of it, he will be rewarded as if he had given that much in charity." (5)

fifth: his (pbuh) encouraging of adopting industry:

he encourages the adoption of industry saying "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." (6)

sixth: his (pbuh) encouraging of adopting commerce:

he encourages the adoption of commerce saying “the honest merchant is a companion of the prophets, the veracious and the martyrs (in paradise)”. (7)

al-bukhari had written down a book named the book of setting out for trade and in it had included allah (swt) verse “then spread abroad in the land, and seek of the grace of allah”. (8)


1) sahih al-bukhari hadeeth no.1933 and ibnu majah no. 1826

2) yousof al-qaradawy: the problem of poverty and how islam tackled it, 40

3) narrated by abu dawood no. 1398 & ibnu majah no. 2189 and was weakened by al-albany.

4) narrated by al-quada’ie in alshihab predicate from the hadeeth of abdullah ibn amr, no.278.

5) correct – narrated by ahmed no.12038 from anas. al-arna’ot said: correct predication on the condition of al-bukhari & muslim.

6) correct – narrated by al-bukhari no.1930 from al-miqdam (may allah be pleased with him) under the book named “earning a living by one’s own hands”.

7) fine – narrated by abi saeed no. 1130.

8) surat al-juma verse no.10.

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