Earning Halaal Livelihood - 26th Ramadan 1434/2013

Surah Fatiha! A`udhu billahi min ash-shaytan ar-rajim. Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Rahim. Alhamdulillah Rab Al Alameen. Wassalat Wassalam a'la ashraf al anbiya wal mursaleen Khatam Al-Nabiyyin Abal Qasem Muhammad Wa a'la Aal baitikat tayyibin At-tahireen. Allahuma Salli A'la Muhammad Wa Ale Muhammad.

Respected brothers and sisters, my elders, learned scholars Assalam Alikum Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakatuhu. The concept of a halal livelihood is one that the Quran addresses in a number of verses.

Also one that is emphasized on by the Ahlul Bayt, alayhum assalam, whereby when we look at the lives of the Ahlul Bayt, alayhum assalam and we also look at the life of Rasullulah, who is the first of them we see that there is a great emphasis, both in practice and in preaching about earning a halal sustenance. And the reason for that is because your sustenance is what's going to provide your shelter. It is the thing that is going to provide food for yourself, which will serve as nourishment for your body and also the nourishment of your children.

So therefore, good and bad will show in your offspring and it will show in yourself based on the halal sustenance that you earn. Or if it's haram, then the haram or the bad will show in the children. This is very important for us, especially for those living in the West where we are in a capitalist society. Life is about quick money, becoming successful very quickly, becoming a millionaire or whatever it may be. So therefore, sometimes priority is not given to the means in which our livelihood is earned, but rather to the status that comes with earning a large amount of money.

Salawat! [Allahuma Salli A'la Muhammad Wa Ale Muhammad]

First, we want to establish what is halal when it comes to earning a livelihood. Halal livelihood means that when I earn my money, I do not oppress anyone, that my business should not be a means of oppression to any other human being, number one. Number two, my livelihood should not be usurped. For example, I may work for a company whose philosophy is about making people redundant and employing machinery - in that there is oppression.

Let's say, for example, at the moment I have a farm or whatever it may be, and I need the help of every person in this room to keep the farm going, to keep it producing crop. But then all of a sudden I decide to sit with a group of engineers in this room and we create one machine that only requires one individual to operate it. That's it. And maybe from time to time, it requires another individual to service it. So now all of a sudden, nobody in this room is required anymore and you all have to sit at home jobless.

I don't need you anymore. I don't need to pay you anymore. And there is no other job in the market. So I've only employed a machine and two individuals and I pay them their salary and I'm making millions because what I could have been giving you in wages - let's say, a thousand dollars per person in this room, that would equate to about a good 50 to 100 thousand right there every week or every month - that's now just sitting in my savings, I'm going out and buying myself the private cruise ships or whatever you want to call it, the private jets and the Lamborghinis and the Ferraris.

And I sit there at my mansion at the head of my table, and I boast about how successful I have become in life. And I put myself in a safety bubble where from my office I get into my car, from my car I drive home from my home, the moment the doors close, I don't know anybody else. This or rather these are the words of a good friend who I met today, a pastor in a church where they go out of their way to feed the poor.

And I want to touch on that very briefly, momentarily. But I don't want to kind of take a side note just yet. His words or rather the words of his community is that we as a society have begun to disconnect ourselves from our fellow human beings. From work to the car, from the car straight into the house. And we don't know about the suffering of anybody else. And we don't realize that our work and our means of earning a livelihood, and this is my part now, is the main reason why there's other human beings who are suffering. In the words of Amir Al-Momineen Ali Ibn AbuTalib (as) [Allahuma Salli A'la Muhammad Wa Ale Muhammad]. He says "By Allah, no individual goes hungry except that somebody else has usurped his right".

If I am living in a fast paced world and I know this might sound harsh to some of you because realistically we don't have the power or we haven't thought of a solution on how to come away from the society. This mentality of making people redundant, employing machinery and software so that I become rich and successful, but at the same time we are responsible. Just because I'm earning millions and I can't employ people and I can't change the system. It doesn't mean that millions that I earn should sit in my bank account collecting interest or it should go towards buying a Ferrari that I don't really need and I'm going to be held accountable for on the Day of Judgment.

Yes, there is no harm in earning a livelihood and there is no harm in becoming successful and rich in life. Rather, that is desired. As a Muslim, as a Momin, I don't need to live as a beggar all my life. I should show the level of my success. Because my success is an indication of Allah's bounties and blessings in my life. Because if every Muslim was poor and every Muslim was living a life of humility and humbleness, then realistically people may turn around and say, well, look at the Muslims.

They talk about a generous God, but they're all poor. So sometimes, yes, our wealth needs to be an indication that Allah is a generous Allah, is a blessing Allah, is a merciful Allah. But rather, I still need to go that step further to show Allah's blessing and mercy to the people who don't come to the mosque, the people who have given up hope in God, the people who say, well, if God was just why is there no job for me?

Why is there no one that cares for me? So my livelihood should be a means of salvation for others. I should be charitable, zakat and Khums, sadaqah. These are things that make your livelihood halal. These are things that make your earning Halal. Zakaat means to purify your wealth. You are purifying it by removing anything haraam from it. And you find that those people who don't pay their zakaat and their khums and sadaqah, though they may have amassed a great amount of wealth, the haraam shows. Though they might have earned it in a halal way, it becomes haram when they do not pay their zakat and their khums on it because these are the orders of Allah Subhana Wa Ta'ala.

If you do not purify your wealth, you will see its impurity in your children, because if you have purified your wealth, you would have given part of it to the poor, which means you would have had less to spend. But now that you have more to spend, your children can afford to go out and indulge in the expensive habits of life, such as cocaine and the VIP lounges and the nightclubs and so on and so forth.

And then you start to wonder and say to yourself, Oh Allah, I prayed, I went to Hajj, I go to Ziyarah of Aba Abdullah Husayn(AS). But why are my children doing harm? Because your children did not realize the meaning of earning a decent living, because Mummy and Daddy had a lot of wealth that was just sitting there and the children thought, well, you know what, I can take it off them and I don't need to work.

And, you know, in life, a penny that is earned with hardness and difficulty is always worth millions. But the millions that were given to you freely are always worth pennies because you don't know their value. So you spend them just like that. You're making another person rich and then you'll be held accountable for those riches. So as well as the means of earning determines halal and haram living, what we then do with that money also determines whether it is going to be considered halal or haram. Do I pay my zakat or not? Do I give Allah His due or not? Do I give the people of Allah their due or not? These are things that matter.

The second thing which we need to understand, especially from the Shia of Ahlul Bayt, alayhum assalam, is that we must know the Fiqh pertaining to our livelihood. So if I am a software engineer or if I work for a particular company such as the banking industry and the finance sector, or I am an architect or I am in any other public service, be it from the doctors to the nurse to the street cleaner. I need to know the Fiqh of my livelihood, because if I don't know the fiqh of my livelihood, I have made myself liable to Allah's punishment. Because Imam Ja'far Al-Sadiq Alaihis Salam says "If I find from amongst our Shi'ah those who do not know their fiqh, I would hit them until I hurt them. Another narration of Imam Baqir Alaihis Salam says "I would hit them with a sword". That means I will wage war on those who claim to be my followers, but they do not know the rulings of Allah.

Why is there such a great emphasis on learning the fiqh of your livelihood? Because you see, in Islam we believe strongly in the philosophy that you are what you eat more than any other religion. If I eat halal, halal shall come from my offspring. And if I eat haram, haram shall come from my offspring.

Now, why do I need to know the fiqh. Some people may turn around and say, well, I didn't know that my job was haram, so therefore I am not held liable before Allah. OK, point taken. But allow me to expand on that. I may have given this example here before. I may have not. But in any case, it's an example that we need to give today. If I was to give you a cup and within that cup there is what seems to be water.

It's tasteless, odourless and colourless. So you have no way of knowing if there is anything haram in this cup. You don't know it's alcohol because it doesn't taste like alcohol, it doesn't smell like alcohol, and it certainly doesn't look like alcohol. So from the outset, you don't know and you drink it. From a Halal - Haram point of view, will you go to Jahannam for it? No, because Allah will only judge you on what you know so we can agree on that.

So it's not haram for you to drink it. Fair enough, but the question now is, will you become intoxicated if you drink, whether you knew it was haram or whether you didn't know it was haram. You will become intoxicated no doubt, because my body doesn't need to know if what I'm drinking is, halal or haram. My body will process it and if it's an intoxicant, if it's alcohol, it will certainly intoxicate me. Now, off the back of the intoxication, I may do something of a great haram.

I may kill someone. I may be driving under the influence of alcohol. I may abuse someone who normally I would never abuse. I may do things that bring about the wrath of Allah that I normally would not do. So knowing it's halal or haram is one thing. But will the effects show in me is a reality. And indeed they will. If my livelihood is haram but I don't know if it's halal or haram. Maybe Allah won't punish me for that.

But will the intoxication show in my offspring? Most certainly it will. Will the food that I bring home earned by a haram living show in my children later on? Indeed it will. I narrate to you a story, an incident that took place in Iran and InshAllah that will go to some extent in highlighting to us the importance of halal -haram living. As you're aware, in the time of the Shah of Iran, being a Muslim wasn't really the utmost priority. And that's not a problem with the Iranian people.

Rasulullah (SAWS) has said [Allahuma Salli A'la Muhammad Wa Ale Muhammad] that if two groups of people in my community go straight, then the community goes straight. And if they go astray , the community goes astray. The political leaders and the spiritual leaders. And we found in Iran that the spiritual leaders were being killed and the political leaders were corrupt. So you cannot blame the masses if they were not overly religious. Iraq under the days of Saddam, same thing. One moment, I'm hitting my chest for Aba Abdalla Husayn (AS) and the next minute I'm drinking alcohol.

The same thing was in Iran. The same thing can be true in most parts of the world that yes, although we have religious inclination, we still were told by those "fake scholars", the Mickey Mouse Maulanas - it's a reality [there were scholars and there continue to be scholars who preach about Ahlul Bayt for the money that they earn not for the love that they have gained] so these individuals will say to you, do all the sins under the sun and cry for Imam Husayn and Allah will forgive you. I didn't know that we were Christians, Muslims. Imam Husayn died for our sins.

So the reality here was that before the days of Ayatollah Khomeini, quddusa sirra, before the Islamic revolution, Islam was of secondary importance. So there was one kid who was taken by the zeal of the revolution of the return to Islamic principles. So he began to implement his religion, but his parents would drink alcohol at the dinner table. So he went to the Sheikh and he said, sheikh, you know, you told us that Allah has cursed whoever drinks alcohol, whoever sells it, and whoever sits on a table where it's being consumed. I have a dilemma. I live with my parents and my parents drink alcohol. I've tried to tell them it's haram and they tell me the mullahs have brainwashed you. So what do I do? You know, I don't want to anger my parents because that's haram. But at the same time, I don't want to sit where they drink alcohol because that's haram. So the sheikh said to him, don't preach to your parents if preaching to them will bring their wrath, you know, Allah Subhana Wa Ta'ala, says, "And speak to them kindly"(4:8).

So be kind unto your parents. But when it comes to food, sit on the floor or go to your room and eat. That seems to be a peaceful resolution. So this kid decides I'm going to implement that resolution. And when he sits on the floor, his father looks at him. And for those of you who are Iranian, you'll know the term "Pedar Sokhte". It means your father is burnt. Ironically, it's an insult which was brought about against the Shia.

We'll talk about that at a different time. And, you know, Arabs and Iranian parents, and I think the Indo-Pak will also agree on this, for some reason, whenever they're angry with their kids, they swear at themselves. It's his son, but he's insulting himself "Pedar Sokhte" son of a burnt man. Do you think you're better than us that you eat away from us? He says, Father, I'm not trying to anger you, but I don't want to anger my God as well.

So he says, get out of my house. If you're too good to eat at my table, then maybe it's time you went and bought your own house. Now, I don't need to explain to you the financial situation of Iran as in finding a job wasn't a piece of cake. And this is a young man. So he decides to leave Tehran and he goes to Mashhad because there we know there is the generous of the generous, As-Sultan Abul Hasan Ali Ibn Musa Ar-Ridha (AS) [Allahuma Salli A'la Muhammad Wa Ale Muhammad] whose doors never close 24 hours. And every hand that stretches out to him comes back with more than it desired. May Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala grant us the Ziyarah of Imam Ridha (AS) in Dunya and his Shafa'a in the akhirah. Elahi Ameen. He goes to Imam Ridha (AS) and he decides to sleep in the courtyard. And when they give out the food, the niyaz, the tabarruk. He will eat from there. Whilst he was there, this kid, he has a beautiful voice, Mawhiba, from Allah Subhana Wa Ta'ala. So when he's reciting the Ziyarah the people will gather around him and they would cry because his voice just pulls at the strings of the heart.

So one of the caretakers there he says to him young man, we would like to employ you here. We would like to employ you to lead the Amaals on certain nights. You know, the people seem to love your voice. So we want you to recite in the service of the imam and we will give you a Hadiya. We will give you a gift, some money. So he says Okay. Time comes and goes. And the generosity of Ahlul Bayt has bestowed itself on this individual and he gathered enough wealth and he thinks now it's time to go back to my parents because Allah does not like the one who cuts the relationship with his parents.

So he goes back. On his way back, it just so happened to be that the time coincided with the month of Ashura, the month of Muharram. And those of you who know Iran and Iraq, we always make plays, a theatrical play to convey the message to the youth of what happened in Karbala, because sometimes their attention is very short.

So therefore, when you see a play before you, it kind of makes it that much more easier to interact. And it's something I recommend the youth to do here, to put together a theatrical play to pass on the values of Ahlul Bayt because in the West they appreciate theatres. So this guy is on his way back now, he wants to go see his family. Before he reaches his home, his friend grabs him. He says Allah sent you. He said, 'Why? What happened?'

He said, 'We're about to play the play of Ashura, but we're missing one person who is integral to this play. Without him, the show cannot go on'. He said, OK, so why can't you find somebody else? He said, No one wants to do it. You came, Allah sent you. You're going to be that person. He said, 'Who must I play? Imam Sajjad, Qasim Ibn Hasan, Ali Akbar?' You know, this is a guy who's just come back from Imam Ridha (AS).

So when you tell him God sent you, you will think it's one of those noble personalities. He tells him, 'I want you to play the role of Shimr Ibn Zil Jawshan' (LA). Now, if you told me that, I'd probably do something to you, but this guy's a better believer than me. So he says, 'Fulan, I thought we were friends. You really broke my heart when you told me that you want me to be Shimr Ibn Zil Jawshan.

But how can I play such a role? I'm sorry. I can't do it'. He said, 'Put aside your feelings and understand that if you don't play that role, there will be hundreds, if not thousands of kids who will go away not knowing what happened in Karbala. So put Imam Husayn before yourself and though that you despise it and Allah knows you despise it, the show must go on'. So this guy, before he gets to go home, he goes to the theatre.

Puts on the clothes, gets on the stage and the show begins to roll. He doesn't realize his mom and dad are at the front seats, so they see him. When he goes back. His father says, "Bah bah bah bah bah - the Alim comes back as a Zaalim. You know, you thought you were better than us and you were all high and mighty and you return to us as Shimr Ibn Zil Jawshan". You know what the son replied to his parents? He said, "Allah made me realize that the only reason I came back to you as Shimr Ibn Zil Jawshan is because of the haram that I ate at your table. Had you fed me Halal, I would have been Ali Akbar or Qasim Ibn Hasan".

And in that there is a lesson that we must learn that Shimr was only violent, evil from the haram that he consumed. Nutfat- Al- Mashbuh. His very essence, his seed. You have to understand one thing. You know, we believe in evolution to some extent. Human beings, we were nothing but leafs that were consumed, became energy. The energy became human cells that became the egg and the sperm, and then it became the embryo.

And then with more energy, with more leafs, with more power, it started to become a lump of flesh and a bone, and it developed. And when it came out into this world as a human being, it still continued to require the leaf and the meat that consumed and become more energy. And it becomes stronger until we return to becoming the food of the worms who will later on nourish the trees and is the cycle of life. Now, if I went and bought that food with haram money, then the very essence of the creation of my child, that very energy, its beginning was haram.

If I am buying food with halal money, but the food was grown in the occupied lands of Palestine, then that food was nourished with the blood of Muslims. Then my child will have no inclination towards the Muslims because his very essence was oppression or her very essence was oppression. So therefore, be careful of what you consume.

Don't just buy and eat food based on my living is halal. No. Ask yourself the origin of it. Was it fair trade? Were people in Africa enslaved for the food that I'm eating? Was child labour part of the food that I'm eating? This is all halal and haram rizq. And sometimes when you see bad in your children and you ask yourself ya Allah, I've done nothing wrong. You didn't do enough, is the question. So therefore, halal rizq is important. I always say rizq is risk, you take a risk with your rizq. It's very important because it's not just about me, it's about the future generations to come.

Those 72 people who were alongside Aba Abdallah Husayn alaihis salam, only managed to be alongside Aba Abdallah Husayn because their parents struggled day and night to make sure their children ate nothing except halal. That haram was far from them. That they were so pure that not only were they pure, but they purified those around them. Imam Ja'far Al-Sadiq alahis salam says to them, Tibtum wa tabat- al ardh Al-latee Fiha Tufintum.

You are pure. He's not talking to Imam Husayn alahis salam. This part comes in the ziyarah of the Ashab -al -Husayn. He's not talking to Abul-Fadhl Abbas, or Qasim Ibn Hasan or Ali Akbar or Aun and Muhammad. He is talking to the companions. People like me and you. We are not of the Ahlul Bayt , but yet Imam Ja'far stands at their grave and he says, " Bi Abi Antum Wa Ummi" , I ransom my mother and father for you. Imam Jafar, who is your mother and father? Ali and Fatima. I ransom my parents for you. Why? Because you are pure and you purified the land in which you died.

Such is the result of halal sustenance that you become so pure that you can purify the land of Karbala with that pure blood of yours. So again, halal sustenance is important. What does halal sustenance mean? Let's see, how do we earn halal sustenance? We spoke about halal food. We must be cautious that we don't buy food that is grown in occupied lands, food that is grown under child slavery or unfair trade, because then I am being party to human oppression and my children will be nourished by that food, which was the result of oppression. Number one.

Number two , how do I go on about earning a good livelihood? You know, now we are told you must look for a comfortable job. Sometimes you ask an individual, why don't you find a job that although it doesn't pay you well in comparison to sitting at a table behind a computer, it's a job where you put in more effort and you get half the wage. People will say, no, you know, it's OK. I'd rather just work smart and not work hard.

Let me tell you what Islam says about working hard. Number one, there was a young man who when Rasullulah shook his hand he continued to hold his hand and he wouldn't let go. Until the young child was like Ya Rasullulah I don't think you realize, but you're still holding my hand. So Rasullulah said "Yadun Yahubbu Allahu Wa Rasulah" 'A hand that is beloved to Allah and His Prophet' and that got the attention of the companions they said Ya Rasullulah, why? He said because it's a rough hand. It's a hand that works hard. It's a hand that seeks a livelihood and it struggles in the way of attaining that livelihood. That's point number one.

Point number two, let's talk about an easy livelihood. Again, I want to talk about scholars for those here. Not poor. I know some scholars who are good friends of mine and people complain that they earn a lot of money through preaching. But behind closed doors, I see what work they get up to, you don't see what they get up to. But there are particular scholars and I'm talking not the ones who take money or who charge much, but the ones whose sole intention and sole purpose is to become rich off the back of Imam Husayn alaihis salam. They're the ones I'm talking about. the ones who just preach but don't practice anything, the ones who preach to leech our community. There is one scholar who says he had a dream, and in this dream he saw Iblees and Iblees is preparing to make a rope. The thicker you want it, you get more ropes, three ropes and tie them together becomes one bundle. Another three makes another bundle another three make another bundle. So that's nine there. You use them to make another bundle. So nine just made one and you continue. And the stronger you want the rope, the more you join. And he says, I see Iblees just making bundles upon bundles upon bundles. And he's making this really strong and lengthy rope.

And I said, Iblees, who do you want to capture with this rope? I think Iblees is from Texas. The cowboy. He says, 'Satan, who do you want to hold with this rope?' He said 'That fisherman over there'. He said 'All this rope for the fisherman?' He said 'Yes'. He said, 'What about me? I'm a scholar'. He said, 'Oh, my friend, you [snaps a finger] like this will come to me.' He said, 'What do you mean like this? He said, 'You see that fisherman there? He has a family to feed. He has to go out and sit waiting for the fishes. You know we say 'plenty of fish in the sea' - that's what he's waiting for. And he's too busy or too preoccupied about earning a halal livelihood and sitting there under the sun, that if all men walk past him, he won't take his eyes on them because the moment he looks away, he'll miss the food for his family. When people want to backbite, he doesn't have time to listen, because he's too busy trying to earn a livelihood for his family. When people go out and gossip, he ain't got time for that. He's a man who's too busy and too preoccupied earning a halal livelihood.

Whereas you, Maulana , you know, you come you talk for an hour and then you've got 23 hours doing nothing but sitting and scratching. You start to indulge in the back biting under the pretense of, oh, come tell me your problems I'm, a scholar. You begin to know everything about the community. In fact, you become the vehicle of gossip. Rather than guiding people, you say to them 'Don't hang out with him why? Oh, you know, he is this and that. You begin to start looking at people's women when women have trust...' So halal livelihood determines whether you are the kind of person who sits at home indulging in Haram, you know, Idle fingers makes the devil's work easy. If my fingers are just sitting there twiddling my thumbs, I've got nothing else to do. The devil's work becomes very easy because he's got an extra pair of hands that should have been working for the sake of Allah, but now they're working for the sake of Iblees.

So a Halal livelihood is important. And even though it may be a struggle, sometimes, you know, we say to ourselves, I've been fired from one job, I've been made redundant. You know what? I'm not going to work until I find a job that matches my pay. Habibi! In the two months that you're sitting down, you open yourself to haram. It doesn't matter if you're even voluntary work. Just get up and do something. Don't be Idle. Don't sit there doing nothing. That's why Rasulullah emphasised when he shook the hand of that young man. He said, Yaddun Yahhubbu Allah wa Rasuluhu, a hand beloved to Allah and His Prophet.

Imam Ali alahihis salam, who was the leader of the Muslim world, worked as a farm boy for a Jewish man. He didn't care as long as he was not being idle. He worked hard to show us that it's about working hard. Number one.

Number two - some people come up with this mentality, Allahu yarazqu man yasha bila hisaab, since Allah can bestow His favour upon me without any effort, why must I work? You know, those very apologetic people, self-pity people. Oh, I am poor because Allah wants me to be poor. No, Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala says Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Rahim work hard in the Dunia, but do not forget your share in the akhira. Allah is telling us to earn our livelihood.

You see Maryam alaihis salam is the mother of one of the greatest prophets. A prophet who after Nabi Musa nobody else is mentioned more than him by the Ahlul Bayt and the Quran. You would think if Allah was going to give something free to anybody, He would give it to Maryam and to a certain extent you would be right, because Maryam in the Quran we are told that whenever Zakaria used to come into her room, her uncle, he would find in the winter there is summer fruits and in the summer there's winter fruits.

I mean, WalMart didn't exist in Bethenham, so you couldn't just go and buy food for any season. It had to grow in that season. There was no way to preserve fruits, at the very least for the next season you couldn't do that. So one of the miracles of Allah is that Maryam would have summer fruit in the winter and winter fruit in the summer. And whenever Zakaria would say to her 'O Maryam, from where did you get this?

She says, 'It is a blessing from my Lord'. And Zakaria would fall prostrating to Allah, thanking him for honouring this household.

Now, that's when Maryam was doing nothing but worshipping Allah. Maryam now is about to give birth to young Jesus. And sisters know and brothers who have wives will know when your wife's about to give birth - it ain't no joke. You're like this on your toes, constantly moving. You don't even have time to think about anything. I have a friend who broke his finger. He didn't realize until after his wife gave birth. He was running. He hit the door.

But your mind is so preoccupied because this is a life and death situation. If not done correctly, the child can die and so can the mother. It's no joke. So Maryam is about to give birth to Jesus. It's not a joke. When she's thirsty, Allah SWT says to her, shake the palm tree.

And I shall bestow upon you heavenly dates and a spring of water shall come forth from beneath your feet "Fa-kuli washrabi wa qarri 'ayna" so eat and drink and be pleased.(19:26) Hold on. Maryam was about to give birth. You think she's got time to go up to a tree? Number one. Number two, I can get all the men in this room and we'll add a thousand more and I will shake trees upon trees, ain't nothing going to drop from heaven. What's the relation? OK, let's say something did drop from heaven. How's shaking a tree going to make water come from underneath the ground. There's no relation.

So the only possible tafsir for this verse is Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala is trying to say to us, 'Maryam, I know you need food and water, but put some effort in. Just shake the tree and leave the rest to Me. Don't just sit there and say Ya Allah give me. Put some effort in and shake the tree and I will do the rest. Because if I give you now for free, then humanity will say, 'well, If the mother of Jesus can get things for free, why must we work? Allah is not being fair'. But when you now change the standard and say if Mary, the mother of Jesus, had to work for her livelihood, then who am I to sit down and complain?

And from that we can also take a philosophy. Sometimes you may say to yourself, I want this particular job. Why am I going to do anything else? Maryam shook a tree dates, from heaven came in. What's the relationship between the two? The point of the matter is, will you or will you not get food on the table to feed your family? Will you not obtain a halal livelihood? The means might change, but the end is one and the same.

Halal should be your objective. And finally, I want to say a message before we conclude and this is more to the youngsters. You know, I grew up in the West, so I know it can be very tempting, this fast life. You know, you're growing up and you look at a person who's driving a very nice car. You don't ask yourself, what's the age difference between me and him? Maybe this guy, when he was my age, he was on foot patrol just like I am.

Maybe he didn't have that car. Maybe he put time and effort. And now that Allah has blessed him, he has that car. No, we have a quick fix society. If he's got a nice car, I need a nice car, now. If he's wearing bling, I need bling right now. He's got a big house, I need a big house. We don't want to live in a small house at all. We don't want to go through difficulty - we just want the goods of this world without no efforts.

So Satan puts himself forward to us in the form of the good friend who says, hey, listen, there's no harm in moving some cocaine, you know, it's a one off. And you make a good, decent amount of money, just the one-off.

Hey, listen, it's no harm in going to the casino and gambling. It's a one-off repent thereafter.

There is no harm in picking up someone's phone and selling it. It's a one-off. But, you know, Allah SWT says if you do not fear Me in the small sin, how are you going to fear Me in the big one? The size of the sin is not what matters. The point is disobedience to Allah does matter. So I'm going to narrate to you a story of Imam Ali (AS) that inshAllah will highlight to you, no matter how hard you work - you will only get that which has been destined for you.

Before I begin, give a salawat in honour of Imam Ali (AS). [Allahuma Salle A'la Muhammad Wa Ale Muhammad] the story takes place when Imam Ali Ibn AbiTalib (AS) is walking and he has his camel with him or his horse, doesn't matter which.

But what matters was, is the saddle that he took off. In Arabia, you know, they didn't have car stereo systems. Sometimes you park your car, you got the new face off system where you take the face and one breaks in and takes the whole system up. They didn't have those. They used to have saddles which were expensive. So If I park my horse on my camel, my mule, and I leave the saddle there, and you're in the ghetto of Arabia, somebody is going to steal it.

So Imam Ali (SA) removes it and he goes into the masjid. As he's about to enter the Masjid there is a person sitting at the door. So Imam Ali alaihis salam says to him, 'oh brother, would you mind taking care of this for me while I go and supplicate my Lord?' He said yes. So we can understand it's not wajib salah this time. Because not everybody's praying, just Amir al Momineen.

And he comes out and the guy is gone. So Imam Ali makes an excuse, you know, practice what you preach, make 70 excuses for your brother. He makes an excuse. He says maybe the guy was in a rush. He had some work to attend to. Maybe my salah was a bit too long. Maybe the brother went and placed it back on my camel or my horse. So I'm not going to doubt him. And he goes to his animal of burden and he sees it's not there and neither is the guy.

So then he gives Imam Hasan (SA) some money, and he says, Imam Hasan go to the local market and by me another one. He gives him exactly two gold coins. Imam Hasan returns. Imam Ali looks at the saddle and he says, 'A'jaba' - amazing, astounding, astonishing. Imam Hasan says, 'Ya abatah, wa mal ajab?' 'Oh, father! And what is it that's astonishing you and astounding you?' He says 'By Allah! It is my own saddle.'

That's mine, that's the very same one. He says, describe the man to me. Actually, I think Imam describe the guy to Imam Hasan (AS). He said, was he looking such and such? He said yes. He said, Subhanallah the son of Adam is quick to take haram when Allah wrote it for him in halal. He said, 'Father, what do you mean?' He said, 'Son, when I gave this very saddle to this man to look after it for me, Allah is my witness, the very same two gold coins I gave you, I wanted to give it to him as a way of thanking him.' The very same two coins. I wanted to give it to him by way of thanking him for the service that he has done for me. But he was quick to go to haram, so he took it in haram, whereas he could have taken it in halal.

My brothers and sisters. I'll give you a story that is the reality of the same incident that if you worked in Halaal or haram, you will only get what Allah wrote for you. So better to take it in the halaal then take it in the haram. I have a friend in London who was involved in a fraudulent activity and this guy made a roundabout, I would say seventeen thousand pounds in about 17 seconds. 17000 would average a year's livlihood, decent earning, you know, you could work for McDonald's and probably make 13, put in some extra hours, you get your 17. So he's not working a fancy job. This brother makes 17.

He gets caught for it. He does three years of prison. Our justice system in the U.K., we count prison hours by 24 hour lot. So every 24 hours works as two days. Every 12 hours is the equivalent of one day. So three years you do a year and a half in prison. Good behavior, you come out of prison six months early. So he did exactly one year in prison, but he earned 17000 in haraam, which in the end he didn't get to spend a penny. Had he worked that year, he would have made it in the halal way and he would have enjoyed the fruits and in fact, it would have developed him as a person and in personality.

So halal rizq, to conclude, is of the utmost importance. And halal rizq should be halal in three ways. The way I earn it is halal. The way I spend it is halal and that I pay my zakat and khums, I purify my wealth and what I purchase with it should also be Halal.

I don't buy food from occupied lands. I don't buy stolen goods. You know, I don't buy a stolen plasma TV because it costs 300 pounds less or 300 dollars less. I'd rather buy Halal because if I buy from a Haram means believe me, my children will not see anything but haram on that TV. And then you'll sit there pulling your hairs out wondering why your children have gone astray in a country where haram is already making itself very easy for us. So we must strive and work hard to ensure that there is halal sustenance into our houses and only halal sustenance is brought into our houses.

And finally, my brothers and sisters, as a point of conclusion from the story that we have just heard about Imam Ali (AS), no matter what opportunity presents itself in life for you, always choose the difficult one, because the difficult one will be the halal.

Easy money 99 percent of the time will be haram money. So always go with a difficult option and I mean easy money as a quick fix money because in the end you will not take a penny more than what Allah has destined for you.

So don't sell your soul for proxy dollars that today a dollar might buy you, you know, a pack of cigarettes and tomorrow it won't even buy you a sweet because it's fluctuating, it's moving. And the final word is a word, a reminder of what is your worth? Imam Husayn (as)[Allahuma Salli A'la Muhammad Wa Ale Muhammad] says "you are worth Jannat al firdous, so do not sell your soul for anything less" an indication to the ayah of the Quran. Bismillah, Al-Rahman, Al-Rahim Inna Allaha Ashtara Minal Mu'umineena 'Anfusahum Wa 'Amwalahum Bi anna Lahum AlJannah.(9:111)

I might be paraphrasing it here. But the point is Allah has purchased from the believing men and women their wealth. So how you earn your livelihood and their souls, Bi anna Lahum Al Jannah that for them is jannah Allah has made a bargain. And the bargain is give Me your wealth and give Me your halal livelihood and earn it in My pleasure and give Me your soul. Render yourself in my service and I will give you Jannat al firdous that is an eternity. So now when you want to earn your livelihood, remember, your soul is not worth dollars by the hour or a salary by the year or a quick fix money. It is worthy of Jannat al firdous and so is the soul of your children. And I conclude with that, and I pray to Allah Subhana Wa Ta'ala, by the waseela of Muhammad ad Ale Muhammad that if there has been Haram money in our lives going forward from today, that shall never be the case.

We pray to Allah Subhana Wa Ta'ala, that He does not trial us with severe poverty, a poverty that will shake our faith and make us go towards haram livelihood. We ask Allah Subhana Wa Ta'ala to hasten the reappearance of one who will show us that earning a livelihood should not be our concern. But earning jannah should be our main concern Al-Hujjah ibn Al-Hasan (ajtfs).

Finally, as is always the due that we must pay when we come to these majalis, there are people who have given time and effort and spent from their halal money in feeding us for nothing except the love of Allah Subhana Wa Ta'ala.

So let us repay them the best we can with Surah Fatiha for their marhomeen and our marhomeen. Rahim Allahu man qara suratul Mubarakatul fatiha before a tilawat of salawat. Allahumma salli ala Muhammad wa aali Muhammad.[Allahuma Salli A'la Muhammad Wa Ale Muhammad]