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 1: Your Professional Privilege
It is important to understand that in most of todays societies people are groomed to believe, and adopt, the notion that we are all defined primarily, or at least significantly by what occupational position we assume, the wealth it generates, and the power it wields. Furthermore, we see that professionals in the Western context are often given further privilege that can extend beyond the initial scope of their profession. The vast majority however, see these professions in the context of individual benefit and gain, and it therefore exists merely a worldly privilege where you have it, you enjoy it, eventually lose it, and you move on. The question is, move on to what? What is there left for one who has defined him or herself by something so finite, something so fragile? Be it retirement, industry change, or advances in technology, we aren’t guaranteed that our scope of expertise will always be needed. I think the pandemic has really shown this fragility through the many economic and societal changes that have significantly affect not only our professions by our entire lives.
This prevalent outlook is problematic at best and detrimental on a societal level at worst, but more importantly is contrary to our Islamic understanding that looks to the merit of a persons qualities, and of the sincerity and morality of their actions.
i. Abu Hurairah (ra) reported that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:“Allah does not look at your appearances or your financial status, but He looks at your hearts and your actions.” [Al-Bukhari]
ii. On the authority of Amir al-Mu’minin (Leader of the Believers), Abu Hafs ‘Umar bin al-Khattab (ra), who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say: “Surely, all actions are but driven by intentions, and verily every man shall have but that which he intended. Thus, he whose migration was for Allah and His messenger, the migration will be for the sake of Allah and his Messenger. And he whose migration was to achieve some worldly benefit or to marry a woman, then his migration will be for the sake of whatever he migrated for.”
As Muslim professionals in the West we are naturally subject to such environments that foster a culture as described in brief above that can lead many to erroneously and insidiously shed the teachings and principles that have informed Muslim thought and action for hundreds of years. This is why it is ever so important that we remind ourselves that all we have, including our professions, are merely a few of the countless blessings given to us by Allah (swt) out of His bounty and mercy.
i. [Quran 16:18] “And if you should count the favors of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful”
We and our families can and should benefit from the blessings and hard work that is associated with our professions, but so should the Muslim community. As a physician I realized that what is more valuable (for the Muslim community and cause of Islam) than the potential financial contributions one in the Muslim professional may contribute, is a professional who using his or her credentials to better advocate for the truth, and who’s actions, especially the treatment of others (patients, colleagues, administrations, etc) draws people closer to Islam, and the Muslim community. Muslim professionals should ideally attempt to use their platform to advocate, exemplify the principles of Islam, financially contribute to the causes of Islam within the community, and adopt a sense of service by way of time and strategic use of their expertise to further the causes of the Muslim community. This will become habitual and part of our characters only after one sees these as means to save ones self on the Day of Judgement, and believe they will be held to account for their actions and their blessings, including our professional titles and its associated privileges.
i. “…Yes indeed, by my Lord, you will be resurrected, and you will be held accountable for everything you have done. This is easy for God to do.” [Quran 64:7]
ii. “They consider it a favor to you that they have accepted Islam. Say, “Do not consider your Islam a favor to me. Rather, Allah has conferred favor upon you that He has guided you to the faith, if you should be truthful.” [Quran 49:17]
As such we should remember these realities in order to be strong and confident Muslims, and this must be done prior to embarking upon the journey of your trade or profession if one truly wants to avoid falling prey to becoming a professional who just so happens to be Muslim.