Wouldn’t it be great if there was a job that harnessed your specific interests/skills but was also something that has an impact and sits well with your faith?
I sincerely believe that there is such a job for each and every one of us.
I’ve been puzzling on a way to formalise how one approaches that quest since my last year at university.
At the time I came up with a rough career planning system which has since been refined over the years delivering talks to university students around the country. It’s a method that a surprising number of people have benefited from (here’s a link to a lecture).
And if I boil that 9-year-long conversation with hundreds of people down into two essential questions, they are:
1. Is my job halal?
As a Muslim, without a job that is permissible in Islamic law you will always be uncomfortable. We all know countless examples of Muslims who have gone into banking/finance jobs attracted by the glitz and the money and then have left, disillusioned and uncomfortable with their ethics, about 5 years later. For more on investment banking as viable option for a Muslim see here, here and here.
But this is a question not just for the banker. This is a question for any working professional. See here for a wider discussion.
And jobs are complicated right – they change and evolve and are increasingly technology-based in ways that mean that the Qur’an and Hadith need to be applied in a careful and novel way (usually best left to scholars). But you will also be doing unpredictable things day to day, so you need to know a decent working knowledge of Islamic law around your chosen profession – because you can’t ask a scholar when you’re working to a 1-hour deadline!
So if you’re a doctor you need to know Islamic medical ethics (e.g. by studying with these guys on their courses). If you’re a shop-keeper, you need to know the fiqh of buying and selling inside out. Here is a recent tafseer on financial ethics in Islam.
If you’re City professional working in the corporate and finance world, check out the linked items we already have, and if you’ve got a particularly specific question, then feel free to reach out to us via email. Also, let us know if you think a course would be helpful, breaking down in nitty-gritty detail what trades, products, businesses and/or practices in the corporate/finance world are actually haram/halal.
Ultimately we all need to take ownership over the “Islamic-ness” of our careers – and often that means putting in a little bit of study in order to properly understand what Islamic law has to say on the topic.
2. Is my job the best use of my time right now?
There is a concept the Japanese use called “ikigai”. The gist of it is that your job must be a meeting of 4 things:
- Something that makes you happy
- Something that the world needs
- Something that you’re good at; and
- Something that makes you money.
But the crucial thing to answer this question is to actually sit down and think about your career. Why are you doing what you are doing? What are the metrics of success for you? Where do you want to be in 5-10 years’ time?
Don’t just be a career zombie.
It is all too easy to get into a decent job with a clear career-progression trajectory and get blinkered by it. Just because the graduate recruitment officer at a blue-chip is telling you that this is how you should spend your life doesn’t mean that is the best way you could spend your life/time.
Now, as a corporate lawyer myself, I am not saying at all that you should up sticks and leave your job tomorrow! What I am saying is that being in a job must be a very conscious and active decision which is part of a long-term plan.
And by the way, that plan may never come to fruition or it’ll evolve. But that’s not the point. The point is you’ve thought about it and are now in a job because you know that is the best use of your time right now.
If you have a particular way you think/thought about your career – we’d love to hear from you in the comments below!