Balancing work with seeking Islamic knowledge
Getting a job and working hard so that you are able to become independent and support your family is undoubtedly a very noble and praiseworthy action, and should be appreciated. When it comes after completing a hard-earned education, or after a long period of unemployment, it is even more cherished. What we must definitely realise however, is that this is in fact a test for us; hence we must strive and be careful not to make this opportunity a reason for our own demise!
As a Muslim who works full-time, you will surely be faced with many challenges which must be dealt with correctly and appropriately. Alhamdulillāh I think a lot of these challenges have been discussed extensively in the past so I will not dwell into them. However, a challenge which I feel has been much neglected to the extent that many of us do not even realise we are failing into it, is the balance between working and seeking knowledge.
When we were at university or when we had more time, we used to spend a portion of our time reading the Qur’ān, attending circles of knowledge, attending Islamic events and watching/listening to educational Islamic lectures (I hope), but when we started working, this dramatically changed for many of us. Unfortunately some of us now feel it is sufficient for us to occasionally attend Islamic events, watch a few videos here and there, read a few articles or status updates on Facebook; and that is enough of seeking Islamic knowledge. Starting full-time work is undeniably a life changing experience that will most likely reduce the amount of time we spend seeking Islamic knowledge, but what is also clear is that it is not something that should have too adverse an effect, which sadly seems to be what many of us think.
After graduating from university, many brothers who would once attend circles both inside and outside university unfortunately abandoned all of this and sufficed themselves with occasional events. This is also partly because some of the circles are during work-hours so are impossible to attend, however they were mistaken in using this as an excuse while forgetting that the student should strive to seek Islamic knowledge and not expect it to come to his doorstep, and there are definitely many other circles around for them to attend. Alhamdulillāh we are blessed to live in a place where Islamic circles are held throughout the week and throughout the day so we will surely find a few circles in our free time, but it is the laziness and comfort of not having any commitments that takes over our minds!
In this life, as the days go pass, we are moving away from this dunya and closer to the hereafter, so we should seek to build what we are approaching and overlook that which we are leaving behind. The case with many of us is that during our early days we have this zeal for the dīn and are doing a lot of Islamic studies, but as we grow older and our responsibilities increase, we begin to let go of the Islamic studies that we used to do, forgetting that we need it more now, especially since we are closer to death than before!
The solution to this problem is to realise the reality of this life and the reality of the direction we are heading towards. It is only by internalising this and contemplating upon it that we will come to realise the importance of seeking knowledge and remembrance of Allāh, and this will help us in finding the right balance between that and work. I am not saying that if you are working full-time then you should still keep up the same level of Islamic studies that you had before, but I am saying that do not let work put you off it completely like the many Muslims of today whose life revolves around work, home and going out with no time for increase in Islamic knowledge. We go to work because it is important, but we must not use it as an excuse for not attending Islamic circles because it simply isn’t! We must also understand the difference between ongoing Islamic circles and reading up on Islamic material on the Internet, because the two don’t compare. Although I don’t need to mention it, but I will just in case: no matter how busy you are, you must find time to read the Qur’ān EVERY day.
I will finish off with two verses from the Qur’ān as from it we take the best reminders.
Say, what is with Allāh is better than play or trade. 
O you who believe, do not let your wealth or children divert you away from the remembrance of Allāh, And whoever does that are indeed the losers. 
Below are some action points gathered by some brothers to help us in maintaining the balance between work and Islamic Studies:
- Read a portion of the Qur’ān with translation every day for a minimum of 30 minutes;
- Ensure to pray at least Fajr and ‘Ishā in congregation in the Masjid, seeking Allāh’s Mercy and keeping yourself away from the traits of hypocrisy; 
- Have regular meetings with people who do not focus on the dunya all the time, but like to discuss Islamic topics;
- Go to bed early as motivation and confidence are much higher in those with good sleeping habits;
- Set yourself some short and long term goals and monitor your performance
- Make use of your free time when you get it;
- Commit to long-term classes as the benefits in that are far greater than one-off “hyped-up” events;
- Try to find someone that you can have a student/teacher relationship as this sways from complacency and laziness. If not, then find someone who you can really use as a mirror (and vice versa) in that you constantly point out each other’s shortcomings and motivate the good qualities/actions;
- Set up a personal calendar with your work hours and find all the classes that are held within your reach so that you can see which of those you can attend, and commit to it. In this calendar, also specify times for reading Qur’ān, reading daily adhkār, reading Islamic books, and personal reflection;
- Remember that sustenance is only from Allāh.
Notes: Al-Qur’ān 62:11  Al-Qur’ān 63:9  Narrated by al-Bukhāri: “No prayer is heavier (harder) for the hypocrites than the Fajr and the ‘Isha prayers,but if they knew the reward of these prayers at their respective times, they would certainly present themselves (in the mosques) even if they have to crawl…”
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