Facing the Tidal Wave of Unemployment

You just graduated with honors and are as ready as can be for your dream job. The only challenge remaining, will you be able to find a job right away?

Another scenario, you have a quite comfortable and interesting job, well-paid and secured; or so you thought! Before you know it, you find yourself laid off! What to do?

Unemployment is one of the major challenges of our time. It has financial, social, psychological and health complications. Adjusting to a very low income at times leads to homelessness, separation or divorce, chronic depression, drug and/or alcohol addiction, etc.

How can we deal with unemployment from a Prophetic emotional wisdom perspective?

What would Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) have advised us to do in such a challenging situation?

How Should a Believer Face the Tide?

It is not the manner of a Mu’min (believer) to lose hope and mentally break down or even resort to drug or alcohol addiction in times of hardship.

As tempting as it may be to try to evade the trouble by temporarily blocking out the mind with such behavior, it is more fruitful and promising to turn to Allah instead, asking for His mercy and aid.

For after all, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) affirms that:

“Strange is the affair of the Mu’min (the believer), verily all his affairs are good for him. If something pleasing befalls him he thanks (Allah) and it becomes better for him. And if something harmful befalls him he is patient and it becomes better for him. And this is only for the Mu’min. ” (Muslim, 2999)

Tawakkul (Relying on Allah) and Tawaakul (Overdependence)

There is a clear cut line between Tawakkul (Relying on Allah) and Tawaakul (overdependence). The first thing you need to do if you are unemployed or laid off is implementing the Islamic manner of Tawakul (Relying on Allah).

That is, turn to Allah first and foremost and ask Him to provide someone as a medium to help you find a job. That is, you must have complete faith and trust that it is only Allah that will send you your provision:

And in the heaven is your provision and whatever you are promised. Then by the Lord of the heaven and earth, indeed, it is truth – just as [sure as] it is that you are speaking. (51:2223)

On the other hand, be careful not to fall into the trap of tawaakul (overdependence) on others. Do not lazily depend on others to provide for you.

One day Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it and he asked the Bedouin:

“Why don’t you tie down your camel?”

The Bedouin answered:

“I put my trust in Allah.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) then said:

Tie your camel first, then put your trust in Allah.” (At-Tirmidhi, 2517)

You are the one going through the trial, so you need to start taking action yourself to steadfastly get through it. Present your resume to various job openings you feel match your field of expertise.

In case you got laid off, connect with your previous co-workers or other workers of acquaintance, so they can put you in touch with workers in other companies to help you get a job.

The Upper Hand is Better than the Lower Hand

Sometimes unemployment may  present  a bigger challenge, when you are  unable to find a well-paying job or one that matches your field; like for example if you are a white collar worker and you find yourself only able to find blue collar jobs.

Assess the situation, if you have just started your search wait and try to find something that suits you. However, if you have been out there for an endless time you may need to understand that it is better to take this opportunity rather than presenting a financial burden on others or living under very harsh conditions.

It is more honorable having a job even if it may rank lower than your previous job or education level, than having no job at all and living on charity.

Abu Hurairah is reported to have heard Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as saying:

It is better for one among you to bring a load of firewood on his back and give charity out of it (and satisfy his own need) and be independent of people, than that he should beg from people, whether they give him anything or refuse him. Verily the upper hand is better than the lower hand, and begin (charity) with your dependants.” (Muslim, 1042)

Free Time?

Ibn Abbas reports that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“There are two blessings which many of the people lose: Health and Free time.” (Al-Bukhari, 6412)

As much as unemployment is an unfavorable condition, however if utilized wisely a fruitful outcome could be achieved. As strange as it may sound, free time that you possess while searching for a job could be a time that you could still develop intellectually, spiritually and humanely.

While searching and supplicating to Allah to give you a job, try to attend free job training courses to improve and increase your skills that will benefit you in your chances of finding jobs.

You also have the privilege of spending more time at the masjid and learning your religion while uplifting yourself spiritually. Now, it is also a very good time for volunteer work, whether it be at your local masjid or even in any other facilities, like libraries or schools for example.

Never Compromise your Faith

At times, you may have the conviction that it is your Islamic faith, for example your name or the fact that you pray at work, or your dress code as a Muslim woman, etc. that is keeping you from getting a job or got you laid off.

Whether it is true or not, do not fall into the trap of compromising your faith to reach your goal. Have trust in Allah and know that The Almighty will always give you a way out.

{And whoever fears Allah – He will make for him a way out. And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent.} (65:23)

May Allah aid you and guide you through your trial, and keep in mind that there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel.

(From Discovering Islam’s archive.)

About Suzana Nabil Saad, MA
Suzana Nabil Saad is the Ask About Islam Editor. She has many years of experience in dawah work. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from the Faculty of Languages, Ain Shams University, Egypt. She obtained her Master’s Degree of Arts in English Literature from Gothenburg University, Sweden. She currently resides in Texas, USA with her husband, and two kids. When she is not editing or writing, she enjoys reading, ideally followed by nature excursions.