Whether you are an up and coming Muslim professional, or a seasoned veteran this count down is for you. Sorry to disappoint, but these top ten actually are out of order, and what the top three will be will actually depend on who’s reading them. For this reason their value is not based on their numbering, but on their relevance to you the reader. They are however, written such that they build and reinforce the concepts of one another. But first, what is a Muslim professional? This is anyone who essentially has taken the time to learn (and intends to master) a trade, and considers themselves a practicing Muslim and holds themselves to this meritorious standard.
Number 2: Ensure You “Iqra (read) your bylaws
As a professional you will inevitably be part of a professional association, and that association will govern itself in a democratic and parliamentary manner according to a set of rules otherwise known as bylaws. Bylaws are usually those long list of points that you are “required” to read upon joining the association, but in reality many overlook and often disregard because they may seem (or truly are quite) dry and boring. That is of course until you find ourselves in some sort of conflict that could leave us in a precarious and unfavourable situation. Now you be thinking that’s not me and I’m not confrontational, or I can handle myself. This, I’m sure, is true, but what we’ve seen unfold over the past month since the murder of George Floyd is that systemic racism is alive and well and we as Muslims need to do what we can to mitigate this reality by being proactive (reading the bylaws and seeing the advices below) and not reactive (disregarding our professional obligation because we don’t have the complexion for protection).
There are numerous reasons why it is important that we familiarize ourselves with the professional rules and regulations of our association but I’d agree the main reason are that they outline:
i. Our responsibilities within the association.
ii. The expected standards of proficiency and knowledge competency for our respective fields.
iii. Our rights within the association.
iv. The standards of professional conduct with other members and the public.
Briefly familiarizing ourselves with our bylaws allows us to understand our responsibilities in order that we can not only meet those responsibilities, but aim and strive to exceed them as is most befitting of our Islamic principles of striving with Ihsan in all things.
i. Ihsan is that you worship Allah as though you see Him swt. For though you do not see Him, indeed He sees you”. [Bukhari]
Similarly by knowing what is the expected standard for our professional competencies we can ensure that we are not allowing ourselves to simply meet, but exceed in our professional competencies. Ideally we can take practical steps to develop praiseworthy habits of demonstrating leadership in our characters and actions, as well as trailblazing new paths of innovation in our respective fields. So long as this excellence is inspired by our Islamic adaab (mannerisms of respect) and akhlakh (morally upright character) this can very well be one of the easiest and fulfilling (spiritually, and financially) forms of giving dawah in a professional setting which only really feels challenging when we choose to other ideologies to inspire our pursuit of excellence.
It is also important to realize the importance of reading our bylaws for the purpose of understanding and appreciating our rights as a member in order that our rights are fulfilled and not transgressed. Additionally, we will be able to ensure that our rights are upheld, and that even when they’re not (which will likely be the case at one point in time in your career if you are following your Deen sincerely and with confidence), we be able to quickly recognize these violation and when we are being treated in a manner that does not meet the standards of professionalism within our association by our governing bodies or fellow members of the professional association.
However, by far the most important take away point is we need to make sure that before we even get into our own bylaws, which are no doubt important, we to regularly familiar ourselves with the “bylaws” set for us by Allah swt. This begins with familiarizing ourselves with the Quran and prophetic tradition, it is our most valuable sources of knowledge that we must acquire. You may be thinking, “Okay, that’s great, but where do I go from here?. Below I’ve included one of the most concise and pragmatic approaches to our faith which I found particularly beneficial in my 17 years of being Muslim.
i. It is the 3 Arabic words: Iqra (Read), Qom (Arise), Qom (Stand): which are derived from the following chapters of the Quran:
1. 96:1 Read in the name of your Lord who created
2. 74:2 “Arise and warn”
3. 73:3 “Stand at night (for prayer) except a little”
ii. In extreme brevity this methodology first advises Muslims to read and acquire sound Islamic knowledge that is needed to navigate through this life successfully and attain salvation in the next. Such knowledge will by its nature instruct and inspire one to act up one that knowledge to benefit of others and warning them out of love and mercy. Lastly and to ensure we are continually embarking upon a life long journey of self development.
We need to familiarize ourselves with the Quran. We need to have CME, which in in the medical field is Continuing Medical Education, but for Muslims it would be Continuing Muslim Education. We need to ensure that we are also meeting the of what it means to be an adult Muslim Man or Woman. Some have stated the standard that has been outlined for Muslim adults is that they:
i. Understand and communicate in conversational Arabic (6-8 months worth).
ii. Know and understand the 4 main components of basic Fiqh, which are divided into 36 of Fiqh in order to govern themselves appropriately
iii. Have a regular schedule for engaging in reading the Quran and reflecting on the tafsir. This is the standard.
The lifestyle that is associated with becoming professionals this makes learning ones Deen seemingly “difficult” or “overwhelming”, but in reality there has been many from our history who were polymaths and still did more for our profession than us while not sacrificing their Islamic education. Now many of you reading this may already be in your 20s, 30s, or even 40s and perhaps were never given the opportunity or to learn your faith or where never pushed in your younger years, but it is never too late and as we know from our profession nothing happens over night, and in fact, we are always taught that we that we are expected to be life long learners in our trade or profession. So, let us afford at least the same if not more for our Deen no matter what stage we are at as it is about the effort we put forth and our consistency in that effort. Our journey and involving ourselves in our Continuous Muslim Education (CME) will allow us to attain a more enriched and fulfilling life in this world as well as in the next. By reading first for our Deen and then our Dunya we will benefit personally and professionally, we will benefit our families, our profession, our communities, and the world as our Islamic legacy has in the past.