Choosing a good career is crucial, especially for Muslim men who must bear the Islamic responsibility of providing for their families. If you are a young bachelor just starting out, here are some important lessons on finance that many older men wish they had known when they were younger.
1. Get your priorities right
Allah has placed different sets of responsibilities upon us depending on our age, gender, and capabilities. As a young Muslim man thinking about what you would like to do in life, getting your priorities right will help you make sound decisions. You are coming out of your parents’ nest and building your own. The decisions you make at this point can have a lasting impact on how your next 40 years of life until retirement maybe, In sha Allah.
List all the things you would like to do according to their level of priority and then deal with the most important ones first. If the most important aspects of life are taken care of, you will be able to get other things done too, in sha Allah. Although none of our planning is guaranteed to give us the results we expect, we must nevertheless put considerable thought and research into this matter, pray istikharah, take the step, and place our trust in Allah. Allah may give us what we seek or choose something better for us.
2. What you must already know
Having said that, as a young Muslim man, you must have the following things in place already (if not, it’s never too late to start now):
a) You know the fundamentals of your faith. You have learned aqeedah and the pillars of Islam. You know the obligations on an adult Muslim man. You know the fiqh of taharah and salah (the rulings of purification and prayer) and you offer your prayers properly on time.
b) You know, or have started learning, the fiqh of trade – the halal and haram of earning money – because this knowledge will help you earn pure and blessed rizq. The body and the soul are nourished through halal earning. It has an impact on your deeds and actions.
c) You know the basic Islamic manners you must have when interacting with people.
3. If you already know what you want to do
If you already know what you want to do, then see if the career aligns well with your priorities in life. Discuss with experts in the field and see what advice they have for you. It’s good to be passionate about something. But it’s better to be aware of the financial prospects and what you can expect from it in your life. For example, if a priority for you is to get married and start a family, then see if the career you are passionate about will help you achieve that. And if it does, then how? What steps should you take and what does your roadmap look like?
If you are very interested in becoming an Islamic scholar, what can you expect the journey to be like? How do you plan to earn a livelihood and what steps must you take to secure a job as a scholar or a professor if that is what you intend? Do you come from a wealthy family, so money is not an obstacle for you, or do you need to quickly get on your feet and support your family?
Frankly embracing all your realities will help you make wise decisions. Yes, we may not be able to do certain things now because of our situation, and that’s fine because this is the best for us. We never know, if we are sincere, Allah may make a way out for us in the future to achieve what we are so passionate about. Allah’s plans work in ways we cannot perceive.
If what you are passionate about also aligns with your priorities, then excellent, go ahead and choose it. Make sure you have done your homework on how you should go about achieving your goals with the chosen path.
4. If you do not know what you want to do
If you are not sure what you want to do or what you are passionate about, that’s fine. Many don’t. So, what do we do in this case? Take steps to fulfill your priorities. You are on a journey and eventually will know what makes you tick. You can also try to understand the basics of many different subjects or fields. By getting exposed to several careers at a basic level, you will probably like one and want to get deeper into it. Learning many different things makes you creative as well.
5. What not to compromise on
Never get into something that will compromise your faith and values. Choose your next 40 years wisely. Your choice must help you achieve your goals without compromising your religion. Some may want fewer working hours so they can have time for other things in life, others may prefer careers that can be financially rewarding after a few years of taxing work, and yet others may want to switch into entrepreneurship.
Whatever your goals may be, just ensure what you get into doesn’t take you away from your obligations.
6. The Purpose
The last and most important of all is always check and correct your intentions. The “Why” of it. An extraordinary hadeeth makes this point crystal clear.
The Prophet ﷺ was sitting one day with his Companions, and they observed a strong, sturdy youth setting out early to work. They said, “Woe unto this man; would it that his youth and strength were spent in the path of Allah.” The Prophet ﷺ said, “Do not say this; for if he works for himself in order to restrain himself from begging and to be independent of people, then he is in the path of Allah. If he works for his impoverished parents or for his impoverished children so as to enrich and suffice them, then he is in the path of Allah. If [however] he works for the sake of showing off and accumulation [of wealth], then he is in the path of Satan.” [At-Ṭabarānī in his three Maʿājim (Itḥāf 6:252)]
As Muslims, our intentions should be correct. If we have the proper intention for Allah’s sake, our work and even our worldly pleasures can become worship and good deeds we will be rewarded for. May Allah guide us and bless us all with halal rizq. Aameen.