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The Ways of Asking for Sustenance

Source: Ain-al-Hayat, By: Allama Muhammad Baqir Majlisi

The Prophet (S) has said, “O Abu Dharr! One who is sluggish in seeking sustenance, the other person will not be able to grab his share. To the contrary one who is avaricious in his search and makes undue efforts may not get more than Allah has allocated for him.”
“One who has the inclination of doing a good turn, that has Allah’s approval and when the person abstains from committing foul deeds, he must be thankful to Allah for His Help.”
Many verses of the Qur’an and traditions of the Prophet (S) and the Imams (as) go to prove that the things essential for sustenance of life are the gifts of Allah. The jurists differ about the Haram (illegitimate) acquisition of the means by some having Allah’s approval. It is a fact that Allah has apportioned Halal (legitimate).sustenance for everyone. If a person, in his greed does not use illegitimate means to acquire his needs, he can certainly get them through fair means.
Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (as) narrates that the Prophet (S), on the day of Hajjat al Vidha (the Last Pilgrimage), had said, “Jibrael has told me that no living creature dies till it uses the quota of food apportioned by Allah for its lifetime. O people! Have fear of Allah! Adopt equity! Don’t make haste in acquiring means of sustenence. If there is delay in getting the food, don’t use illicit means to get it. Don’t earn Allah’s ire by recourse to foul means.
Allah has promised fair sustenance to everyone. When one waits patiently and makes fair trials, he certainly gets his needs. One who uses cunning and stratagem to acquire and hoard more than his needs, Allah might reduce what he has been allocated to receive legitimately. Further, on the Day of Judgement, one will have to account for the use of the sources of livelihood in his lifetime. It is wrong to think that there is no need to strive to acquire sustenance when Allah has promised the daily bread to all. There are certain means of livelihood that reach a person only with sincere efforts. There are certain other things that a person gets without trying for them. Some other can come through sincere prayers to Allah.
It is narrated from Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (as) that a true Muslim is one who doesn’t displease Allah to gain favor with men. He should also not blame others for what Allah has not given to him. Avarice need not enhance the means of a person or abhorrence of the means of livelihood decrease it in any way. If a person runs away from the means of livelihood as one does from death, even then he will continue to live till the appointed time.

Making Supplications to Allah
It is reliably narrated from Husayn bin Alwan that he, along with some other students, was on a journey. On the way they ran out of the money for the expenses. One of his friends asked him, “Whom do you expect to come to our rescue in this time of need.” Husayn bin Alwan mentioned a person’s name. The other student said, “By Allah! You will not succeed in getting the help!” He asked, “How are you so sure about it?”
The other student said, “I have heard from Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (as) that Allah has observed in one of His Books, ‘I shall shatter the hopes of the person who expects help from anyone other than Me! I shall make him wretched and miserable in the eyes of his friends. I shall deprive him of My Bounties! I shall not allow him to come near Me. He expects to find succor from others when everything is in My Power! He is knocking at others doors when the keys to all the doors are with Me!
All the doors are locked and My Doors are always open for those who supplicate to Me! When did this person approach me in times of difficulty and I refused him help! Peoples needs and wishes are with me! I grant them whenever required! Are they not happy in My Protection! My Firmament is full of beings that busy themselves in My Prayer! I have ordered them to keep the doors of My Bounties open. Then why people don’t believe in My Munificence? Don’t they know that when a calamity comes, none other than Me can avert it for them! Why is man so forgetful of Me! I have bestowed on him lot of Bounties without asking for them!
Then why is he stretching his hand before others for help! Does he think that I would not give him what he asked for! Am I miserly? Is not Generosity My trait! Am I not the Provider of the needs of all the creations? Aren’t those who expect help from others afraid of Me! If all the inhabitants of the earth and the skies demand fulfillment of their wishes at one time, I can grant them instantaneously! This will not make the difference equal to the size of an ant in My Possessions! How unfortunate is the person who disobeys Me and has no fear of Mine!”

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