2. Removing the Hindrances
Due to the fact that there are things that are a hindrance to knowledge and actions, they must be studied in order to be removed; and one should begin by assiduously examining one's livelihood.
One should not forget one's goal in this worldly life, and that is to single out Allah swt in worship and uniqueness and fulfilling that which pleases Him for man was not created for any reason other than to worship Allah swt (1). Allah swt said:
"I did not create the jinns and men except they should worship Me (Alone)". (51:56)
So it is befitting that the Muslim looks into his own and his family's necessities as regards to wealth, and work accordingly, (2), because spending hours working for the sake of acquiring extra wealth will only be at the cost of knowledge or actions or inviting to Allah swt. So beware of this matter, then do as you please.
Also, it is not befitting, that a Muslim lolls out his tongue after extra work, while he is lacking knowledge in many aspects of his religion such as creed, fiqh, points regarding Islamic manners and other important pillars and compulsory actions. Yet it is astonishing to find such people justifying their actions to those that censure them, with the general texts encouraging righteous actions, saying: "Islam is a religion of action".
Yet I don't know what the consequence of this action is. Does it benefit by purifying and cleansing the soul? Or bring about some goodness for the Muslim Ummah? So, I say in replying to this:
Having sexual relations with one's wife, with the intention of keeping chaste and pure, is considered worship (3), but this does not mean that a person remains persistent upon this matter, neglecting Friday prayers, praying in congregation and other obligatory duties (!)
Likewise, eating with the intention of keeping strength for the sake of fulfilling acts of obedience to Allah, is a form of worship, but does it mean that eating becomes a major aspect of our lives?
Similarly, striving to find a lawful job, seeking pure earnings and refraining from begging, is all worship, but does it mean that we constantly engage ourselves in this, so much so that it hinders us from congregational prayers, joining ties of relationship, learning about Islam and inviting to Allah swt?
So look into this matter, may Allah have Mercy upon you, and if one job is enough for you, there is no need for a second; if one shift suffices your needs, don't take on another in overtime, and if you are able to cut the number of hours you work, don't hesitate. (4) Furthermore if you are from amongst those whom Allah has increased in provision and wealth, disengage yourself and whomsoever you are able to from your children and family, for the sake of worship, knowledge and inviting to Allah.
Let us remember together his saying (saw), "Verily Allah says: O son of Adam, free yourself for my worship, I will (in turn) fill your chest with satisfaction and remove your poverty, and if you don't I will fill your hands with distraction and will not remove your poverty." (Ahmad, no. 8681, at Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah no.4107, Ibn Hibban and others). In another narration, "I will fill your chest with distraction". (Sahih Ibn Majah no. 3315)
The explanation of this in Fayd ul Qadeer (5) is: "Free yourself of your interests in order to worship Me and do not busy yourself in earning that which exceeds your needs and the needs of those under your care".
This is the way a person should be, busying himself in obedience to Allah swt so that when he earns enough to fulfill his needs, the needs of those he is responsible for and whatever else is necessary, he does not busy himself in acquiring beyond that because in this way he will be establishing his worldly life but destroying his Hereafter.
Yet it is surprising to find people who have thousands and thousands of dollars or pounds, still running madly after the world and by so doing placing upon themselves difficulties and hardships, embarking upon business ventures, one after the other, which they could possibly do without.
(1) Worship (al Ibaadah) is a comprehensive word, encompassing everything that Allah loves and is pleased with, whether it be of speech or of actions - inward or outward. An example of speech is reciting the Qur'an, engaging in the remembrance of allah, ordering good and forbidding evil and rectifying differences. Examples of internal actions are hope, fear, turning to Allah in repentance, love and reliance. Outward actions are such as prayer, zakah, pilgrimage, giving charity, joining ties of relationship and visiting one another. All of these things must be directed by the servant to Allah alone. In the book al 'Uboodiyah by Shaykh ul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (which will, insh'Allah be serialised on this list soon also) is elaborate detail of that.
(2) I say this not forgetting that the Muslim is rewarded for working and for the difficulties and hardships which he faces due to that - as long as his work in itself is not haram or doubtful - but he should use it as a means to fulfill a goal, which is the worship of Allah swt.
(3) The proof for this is in the hadith of Abu Dharr wherein the Prophet (saw) said, "...and enjoining the good is charity, forbidding the evil is charity and in a man's sexual intercouse (with his wife) is charity." They (the companions) asked, "O Messenger of Allah! Is there reward for him who fulfills his sexual desires amongst us?" He (saw) replied, "Tell me, if he were to fulfill that in something forbidden would he not bear the burden of that (in sin)? Similarly if he were to fulfill that in something permissable he would be rewarded". (Sahih Muslim, Eng. trans. vol. 2, p. 482).
(4) This is intended for the self employed and their likes, it is not meant by this that people should evade their duties at work, as this is Islamically impermissable.
(5) Fayd al Qadeer by al Manaawee is a scholarly piece of work explaining al-Jaami' as-Saghir by al-Haafidh as-Suyuti.