- Work, a God’s gift
- Work generating optimism
- The recognition of the dignity of labour
- All works are admirable Mental and physical labor
- Work for the love of work
- Blessings of work
- A golden example
Work is indeed God’s gift. Without it, life will become meaningless, flat, a useless thing. Work, here, does not stand for every sort of activity. Only useful and noble activity is a blessing. Negative action is a curse. Work is the prerogative of intelligence, the only means to manhood, and the measure of civilization. The sweeper’s work is as much sacred as that of either a lawyer or a shopkeeper. Joseph Conrad rightly remarked, “A man is a worker. If he is not, he is nothing”. In fact, a man cannot live without work.
A busy man is a healthy man. Idleness tells upon health. Even the persons blessed with supernatural powers do some sort of work in order to avoid boredom and sickness. Men do not break down from over-work, but from worry and dissipation. Work always generates optimism. All growth depends upon activity. It is work that leads to self-discovery and self-confidence.
A hard working man may till the ground, work at the mill, střike on the anvil, dig, drive, drag and do a lot of other works to keep his body and soul together. He may find manual labour hard and tedious, but there is no disrespect attached to it formally. The high and the low must do their duty as a matter of course.
King Janaka drove his own plough; the Roman dictators like Cincinnatus found nothing humiliating in tilling their ground and the Czar of Russia worked as a shipwright in the dock of Saardam. Illustrations may be multiplied to show that the highest men never disdained doing the humblest of works. In the words of a poet:
Honour and shame from no condition rise
Act well your part; there all the honour lies
The moment this truth is realized in their hearts, a change comes over working men. No more do they feel themselves depressed or unfortunate; no more does their work appear humiliating to them; a new joy bc is in their face, a new consciousness of power is felt, a new throbbing of life is perceived in them. The labourers now march forward to wield the scepter of the world. Behind the vast organization and power of the labouring class in modern times there is this conviction of the intrinsic value of their work. This has given meaning and significance to their life and activity.
The dignity of labour is now recognized at least in theory. When the workers are fully convinced of it in their heart then shall true salvation come to them? Then shall they learn that genuine work alone work done faithfully and joyously is their real saviour.
And there is more than sufficient reason for this recognition of the value and dignity of manual labour. It depends on the life of the world. If peasants refuse to grow corn and miners decline to dig, if drivers refuse to drive their engines and sailors to take their ship across the infinite seas, the world will topple down like a house of cards. The higher intellectual life is possible only because it is broad-based on manual labour. We cannot always live on the apex of a pyramid.
Moreover, the distinction between one work and another is purely man-made one. All works rank the same with God, because each has its own use and purpose in the organization. The man who drives the plough is as important in his place as he who rules a Kingdom. There are different kinds of work no doubt one requiring more brain and the other more brawn, but that is no reason why one should be regarded as dishonorable or ignoble and other honourable. Each is a necessity and; therefore, each has its own worth.
Behind our admiration for Hazrat Khalid bin Walid, Hercules and Samson of old and of the wrestlers and athletes of modern times, there is an unconscious homage to manual labour. We love, patronize and adore them and yet we look down on an ordinary manual labourer. Nothing can be more perverse than that. People who appreciate feats of strength have no justification for withholding their praise from that labour which clears jungle, sows the seeds, builds cities and roads and makes life happy and comfortable. It is not only perversity but also base ingratitude which denies dignity to labour.
In fact, life is action not contemplation. Man’s worth is only determined by his actions. Not only to know but also to act according to knowledge is the destination of man. Mere brooding will not do; all ambitions are empty unless materialized. For example, Churchill was a man of action and he became immortal because of his active and useful services to his nation and to the comity of nations.
One should work for the love of work and not for money only. Man must work. It will be better if he works gratefully and not grudgingly. He should work as a man and not as a machine. He should put his heart and soul into his work. In short, he should enliven it. Work done in the right spirit leads to happiness says Bertrand Russell, “Consistent purpose is an almost indispensable condition of a happy life. And consistent purpose embodies itself mainly in work”.
Happy is the man who like Sir Syed Ahmad Khan goes from door to door, bearing the torch of peace and non-violence before a war-torn and disillusioned world. And then constructive work provides us with more joy than a destructive one. In destruction, there may be joy, but that emerges from hate and is short-lived, and less satisfying though fierce. Great artists and scientists do work which is in itself delightful.
So Carlyle is perfectly right when he says in ‘Past and Present”, “Blessed is he who has found his work, let him ask no other blessedness”. Disinterested action is the best action. But let us not forget that, an excess of work is always very painful. It should alternate with play. Long fellow, in the following lines, idealizes the working habit of The Village Blacksmith.
Each morning sees some task begun,
Each evening sees it closes;
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night’s repose
Surely work is divine. In the words of a great scholar, “a God is there where the tiller is tilling the hard soil and the path-maker is breaking the stones.”
Truly has Scott said “Labour is the condition which God has imposed on us in every station of life”.
In fact, God is work and work is God
Life is a long and continuous obligation and there is no other way of achieving success in it. In the first flush of youth, we may dream and dream, but soon we shall be rudely awakened to acknowledge with the poet:
I slept and dreamt that life was beauty,
I worked and found that life was duty
“A man came to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) begging for anything to live on. The Prophet gave him an axe and a rope and advised him to collect some wood and sell it and live on its price. He further told the man to come back and report to him how he fared after the job entrusted to him. The next day, the man came to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and said that the hard work of felling trees gave him contentment and pleasure. The bread earned through his sweat was the sweetest he ever relished. He would never beg again”.
Now, some misguided people may be inclined to say that the above-mentioned tradition is just an individual example of no significance in the twentieth century. But such logic is surely a naive one. Actually Islam prescribed the sense of responsibility and ensured work for the man fourteen centuries ago and it is completely supported by the most modern economic and political theories. But where the state is unable to find work for the unemployed, the Public Treasury should support him until their circumstances improve.
Man is the heart and soul of universe. He has been bestowed with limitless capability, authority and potential. He is as deep as sea and as high as mountains. To do nothing negates the very philosophy of his presence on the earth. The impossible is often the untried. Therefore, we should work, work and work and we are then bound to succeed in life.