35. How can ‘Allotment of Sustenance on the Part of Allah’ and ‘Working for One’s Livelihood’ be Consistent with one Another?

In verse 26 of Surah al-Ra'd, we read:

اللَّهُ يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ وَيَقْدِرُ

“Allah amplifies and straitens the means of subsistence for whom He pleases.” (13:26).

Taking into consideration the above verse, the question, which arises, is: How can the fact, that Allah (s.w.t.) apportions the sustenance, be regarded to be consistent with 'expending effort for one's livelihood'?

It is not just this verse which declares the increase and decrease in sustenance to be dictated by Allah (s.w.t.), but from various other verses too it can be clearly inferred that Allah (s.w.t.) augments or diminishes it from whosoever He pleases. However, these words do not mean, as some ignorant individuals have conjectured, that one should stop one's efforts and sit down in a corner and wait for Allah (s.w.t.) to provide the allotted sustenance. Such individuals, whose negative thoughts provide an excellent excuse for those who look upon religion as being unconstructive, are oblivious of two fundamental points:

Firstly: The Divine Will and desire referred to in these verses is not something that is uncalculated; Allah's Will is not separate from His wisdom and always takes into account ability, competence and worthiness.

Secondly: This issue does not mean that we reject the Realm of Causes. This is because the Realm of Causes of the world of creation is also a consequence of Allah's Will and can never be separated from the Legislative will of Allah (s.w.t.).

Expressing it more clearly, Allah's (s.w.t.) will with respect to enlarging and straitening sustenance is bound by certain conditions, which are dominant over man's life - effort, sincerity and self-sacrifice and conversely, laziness and evil intentions play a determinative role in this regard. And this is why the Qur’an has repeatedly regarded man as being governed by his own effort and activity, and is of the opinion that the benefits which he derives out of life is in the measure of his endeavour.

It is for this reason that in the book Wasa'il al-Shi'a, in the section of trade, income and work, a chapter has been designated in connection with expending exertion for the purpose of procuring sustenance, and numerous traditions have been mentioned in this regard. In addition, another chapter has been devoted to traditions that reproach idleness, excessive sleep and laziness in the path of fulfilling the requirements of life.

In one of the traditions, the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) says: “In the very beginning, when entities entered into marriage, laziness and weakness married each other and an offspring, by the name of 'poverty', was born to them!”1

In a tradition, Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) says: “Do not exhibit indolence with respect to procuring sustenance and fulfilling the needs of the life, for our fathers and forefathers used to strive for it and endeavoured to procure it!”2

In another tradition Imam al-Baqir (a.s.) says: “I abhor the person, who is slothful with respect to his worldly work, for one who is lazy in his worldly work (despite the fact that he reaps its returns soon), is lazier in his work related the Hereafter.”3

It has also been reported that Imam Musa Ibn Ja'far (a.s.) said: “Allah (s.w.t.) detests one who sleeps excessively, and regards one who is idle (and does not work) as His enemy.” 4 and 5

  • 1. Wasa’il ash-Shi'a, vol. 12, pg. 38.
  • 2. Wasa’il ash-Shi'a, vol. 12, pg. 38.
  • 3. Wasa’il ash-Shi'a, vol. 12, pg. 37.
  • 4. Wasa’il ash-Shi'a, vol. 12, pg. 37.
  • 5. Tafsir-e-Namuna, vol. 10, pg. 204.