After talking to so many Muslim professionals online and in-person, I’ve come to realize that most of us don’t know what a good ‘balance’ between deen and dunya even looks like! I know I didn’t have a clue when I first started my quest of balancing Deen and Dunya. Maybe because that’s something we were never really taught in our schools.
If you look for the answers in the Islamic books on how our predecessors achieved a good balance, search our history, and pore over research papers, you’ll walk away with an exhaustive explanation of the roles and responsibilities of a Muslim.
Oh and also feeling like a worthless insect, unworthy of living another day on this planet Earth.
Gaining a lot of information about your roles/ responsibilities as a Muslim is all great but it’s vague and not very actionable.
So naturally, your next move is to look for the answers by hearing what the contemporary top Muslim scholars have to say…
So today I’ve decided to share with you the best pieces of advice and wisdom from some of our contemporary scholars and daees.
Watch what they have to say about balancing Deen and Dunya below!
For you busy-bees who don’t have the time to watch the full videos, I’ve even gone out of my way to timestamp the videos and share my favorite/ must-know excerpts from each of them.
Dr. Bilal Philips
3:00 Allah won’t burden a soul beyond its burden [meaning, this problem wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t a solution to it. Allah doesn’t expect us to be perfect]
3:35 How was it at the time of the Sahaba
4:00 Hadith of sahaba complaining of the lack of balance in their days
* This problem of creating balance in our lives is not just relevant today but is found all the way at the time of the Prophet SAW. It affected the Sahaba as well…
A Companion of the Prophet, Hanzala (RA) feared that he had become a hypocrite because, during his day-to-day activities pertaining to his family or his business, thoughts of Allah would slip from his mind. He shared this concern with Abu Bakr (RA) who admitted to feeling the same. So they both went to the Prophet (PBUH) and Hanzala (RA) inquired:
“Allah’s Messenger, when we are in your company, we are reminded of Hell-Fire and Paradise as if we are seeing them with our own eyes, but whenever we go away from you and attend to our wives, children, and business, much of these things go out of our minds.”
Thereupon, Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said:
“By Him in Whose Hand is my life, if your state of mind remains the same as it is in my presence and you are always busy in remembrance (of Allah), the Angels will shake hands with you in your beds and in your paths but, Hanzala, time should be devoted (to the worldly affairs) and time (should be devoted to prayer and meditation). He (the Holy Prophet) said this thrice.” (Sahih Muslim 2750)
5:38 The solution of achieving the balance given by the Prophet SAW
7:00 Balance is established by holding on to the Quran and Sunnah
* What is the solution for this given to us by the Prophet SAW?
“I am leaving two heavy things among you, that is, the Quran and Sunnah. Hold on to these two things, you will never go astray” (Muwatta Imam Malik, 2408a)
Allah SWT says in Surah Baqarah:
And among the people is he who says, “Our Lord, give us in this world,” and he will have in the Hereafter no share. Yet there are others who say, “Our Lord! Grant us the good of this world and the Hereafter, and protect us from the torment of the Fire.” Those will have a share of what they have earned, and Allah is swift in account.” (Surah Baqarah, 2:200-202).
8:37 Establishing the balance for the Quran: Bringing the Quran into the correct position in our lives
15:53 How to establish a spiritual relationship with the Quran
17:06 Establishing the balance for the Sunnah is to hold on to the Sunnah and practice it
19:56 Holding on firmly to the Sunnah requires making the effort to know the Sunnah. And that’s why Prophet SAW said: “Seeking knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim”
20:30 And then when you have learned it [the Sunnah], you hold on firmly to it by practicing it sincerely. Sincerity…To do it not just from our physical bodies but from our hearts.
27:48 [Power of dua] Asking Allah to help us to get back on the Deen… [to help us in] Holding on firmly to the Quran and understanding it. Letting it enter our hearts and make a difference – change our lives. And holding on firmly to the Sunnah of the Rasul SAW and making it the means for modifying the path that we’re on – to get us back to the Sirat al Mustaqeem
28:52 How do we get the Dunya in order…work worship – since most of our lives are work – then the key is – making it into worship. That’s how we find the balance. If we can turn our working life into worship, then we’ve done it. The rest has to do with family affairs, sleeping, eating, in accordance with the Sunnah, not violating the commands of Allah SWT – we’re balanced.
30:06 [The best type of work to do is that with Nafa.] And the main two principles that I gave for work: 1) Nafa – Meaning, let the work be beneficial. That whatever job we’ve taken is a beneficial job, not a job which is destructive or harmful to the society. Make sure the job is bringing benefit to the society and not harm…
Because the Prophet SAW said: “the best of people are those that are the most beneficial to the society”... 30:56 Meaning, beneficial as in defined by the Quran and Sunnah. It doesn’t mean beneficial as ‘people may perceive them’.
32:58…and the 2) other principle of work is ITQAN – meaning, doing the best [in your work]… people sign contracts… receive pay… but don’t do the work they signed for…that is dishonest work…
31:48 Being entertained with your family, your friends, travel… is acceptable [we’re talking about halal entertainment]. Islam doesn’t forbid entertainment. Prophet SAW used to race, horse race, camel race with his companions.
32:36 but there are many other things that come under entertainment which are haram – we need to know.
36:13 [DUAS] Ask Allah to give us the best of this life and the next…
Abdur Raheem McCarthy
Favorite excerpts from Abdur Raheem McCarthy [timestamped]:
4:50 Take a second and imagine, “what is it that you want from the Dunya – from this life? Now imagine if you could have the best of both worlds. You can obtain all that you want in this life, and all that you want in Jannah. Most Muslims believe – in order to reach the high levels of Jannah, or to reach Jannah… I will have to live miserably in this Dunya. Meaning, I can’t enjoy anything from this life, I can’t have fun, I’ll be restricted, I won’t be able to enjoy… But is this the true understanding of Islam? Does Islam really restrict us from being able to enjoy and benefit from the pleasures of this life that we live… If we have to attain the pleasures of the HereAfter, do we have to leave the pleasures of this life…”
9:00 Going back to the Quran and Sunnah… 2 meanings of the Ayah…
- You can take the opportunity that you have in order to prepare for the Hereafter
- Prepare for the Hereafter, but at the same time don’t forget to enjoy the pleasures in this life that are halal
Both meanings are correct [according to the scholars].
11:30 Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty. Arrogance is rejecting the Truth and belittling people… looking down upon them. 11:50 Allah loves to see His blessings upon His servants.
Going back to the question “If we have to attain the pleasures of the HereAfter, do we have to leave the pleasures of this life?”:
12:51 According to a hadith of Prophet SAW: there are 4 things that bring happiness…
- A pious spouse.
- A big house
- A good neighborhood
- A nice ride
13:55 4 things that bring unhappiness [the opposite of above]
- Unpious spouse
- Small house
- Bad neighborhood
- Bad ride
“But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and [yet], do not forget your share of the world. And do good as Allah has done good to you. And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters.” [Surah Qasas, Ayah 77]
[All these nice things] are supposed to help us on getting to the Hereafter, as tools… not to distract us from the Hereafter.
14:43 The Prophet SAW recommended to us: Give ⅓ for charity… or give less than that… Make sure your family is well taken care of even after your death.
15:21 Financial independence – Tony Robbins recommends having at least 6 months of expenses – AT LEAST – covered. [so if you’re to leave your job and look for another, it usually takes that much time to find one]
16:22 From the [finances] that would come to Prophet SAW… He would make sure his family expenses were covered for the entire year. The rest he would give in sadaqah. [Sahih Bukhari/ Muslim]
17:44 His idea of fun is doing slingshots with Sh. Muhammad Salah and Mufti Menk
Nouman Ali Khan
Favorite excerpts from Nouman Ali Khan [timestamped]:
0:08 “Everything we do in this world is for the Akhirah if your intention is right. If you’re going to work for the right reasons, if you’re staying away from evil deeds, if you’re remembering Allah when you’re supposed to, if you’re eating what you’re supposed to eat, if you’re saying what you’re supposed to say, you can live in this world and have a great time and still earn your Jannah.
00:30 “I don’t know why we have this concept that we have to kind of cut ourselves off from this world to earn Jannah. No… you have to make the most of this world to earn Jannah. We have very little time on this Earth… Half of our life is spent sleeping. And the few hours that I’m awake, take away the time I have to relieve myself, get dressed for work, commute to the job, put in the 8 hours at work, and come back… What do I have? 2-3 hours of “free time”, technically free time that I actually have some control over… how about I make the most of that free time? Those few hours could change my life…Have some small good routines in your life and how much good will come out of your life is amazing.”
Sheikh Ismail Kamdar
Favorite excerpts from Sheikh Ismail Kamdar [timestamped]:
00:50…We live in a time where Muslims seem to be one of the two extremes.
There are those Muslims who are very religious, but know nothing about this world. And then there are those who are very professional in their fields, but know nothing about their religion.
We have a group of Muslims today, who may master Fiqh, master Aqeedah, they may become Muftis they may become great scholars of Islam. But they have no understanding of how this world works, and that creates a disconnect between them and the average Muslim.
01:30 And then we have on the other hand, Muslims who may have become masters in the fields of mathematics or psychology, or English or accounting, but they want nothing to do with their religion. They don’t want to practice Islam at all. Now, this disconnect is very recent. This is a recent trend in Islamic history. This is not the way Muslims were for the majority of our history.
If you study Islamic history, you will find that especially during the Golden Ages of Islam, Muslims had a balance between Deen and dunya. Muslims excelled at this world and religion at the same time.
02:10 I want to give a few examples from the Islamic Golden Ages to show you how the Muslims of the past they found this balance between being religious and succeeding in this world doesn’t have to choose one or the other. And I believe it’s because they found this balance that the Muslims at their time were the most powerful people on earth.
03:35 …one of the reasons Muslims had a golden age at that time is because they had a balance between this world and the next. They succeeded in worldly sciences and religion at the same time. Their mentality was not one of this or that the idea that you had to choose between religious knowledge and worldly knowledge. I believe this is a colonial idea. This is an idea that came when the British colonized Muslim countries, and they secularized our education system.
04:06 But before that Muslims pursued both a man would become a scholar of Islam and a mathematician. A person will become a professor of medicine, and a professor of someone who become an expert in Hades and the expert in navigation astrology, it wasn’t considered separate in the Golden Ages of Islam.
Actually, I want to mention four examples of this. Four examples that clearly show that when the Muslims were at their best when they were at their peak, they did not have any differentiation between Deeni and junior knowledge and they excelled in both.
One example of this can be seen in the field of medicine…
06:49…So the pursuit of worldly knowledge was for the sake of religion, or because of the firm belief in this religion. So they saw no separation between the two.
07:10…The second example of this would be the invention of algebra…
10:47…the third example of how the Muslims excelled in Deen and dunya, in the Golden Ages. And that was the invention, the invention of the madrasa system. And by the madrasa system, I’m not talking about our watered down madressa system of the 21st century.
11:19 In the ancient times when the Muslims invented the madrasa system, it was a place where you could go to learn maths, science, medicine, religion, language, anything…. And there was no separation between this is Islamic Studies.
14:23 at the end… a very strange example, something where if you look at it, you wouldn’t think there’s any way to associate it with Islamic religion. Right? But even the invention of this thing comes from Islam and for Islamic reasons. And that’s coffee.
Why was coffee invented? Coffee the earliest usage we know of coffee as an actual drink is by Sufi mystics who were trying to find something to keep them awake at night for tahajjud and ridiculous for studying Islam.
15:36 Muslims invented coffee for a religious reason. And that shows again that in every aspect of life, from the simplest of things to the most grandest of things, Muslims of the past did not regard religion and worldly knowledge as separate. Everything from algebra to coffee to soap were all invented for religious reasons.
- The way to balance Deen and Dunya is to hold on to the Quran and the Sunnah.
- That means consistency in good practices is KEY to remaining on the true path as we work our way through Dunya.
- While rituals and routines bring consistency, sincerity by aligning intentions with our purpose is the way to convert efforts into Ibadah.
- The best Muslims who are truly winners in Dunya and Akhirah are excellent in everything they do and stay busy in gaining religious and scientific knowledge as well as being beneficial to society.
And Allah knows best!
Now, I understand that after listening to our scholars and learning the answers in the Quran and Sunnah, you can get a good sense of WHAT to do to create balance…
Also, how do you simplify all of those productivity principles and then practice them in your day-to-day life? How do you ‘practice’ balance between all the things you should be doing as a Muslim and the things you want to do in your career and personal life, without feeling so overwhelmed? Those are the questions I’d ask myself.