There is an employee who has been working for the state for more than twenty years. He is an honest worker with a good attitude who tries to please his superiors and boss, and works hard so that he will receive his salary in full with nothing docked from his pay, and so that he will earn promotion. All of these efforts are only for the sake of his work, not for the sake of Allaah. But this employee worships Allaah and does good deeds sincerely for the sake of Allaah, outside of his work. He prays, fasts, gives charity, pays zakaah, goes for Hajj, reads Qur’aan, reads Tafseer and does all kinds of good things sincerely for the sake of Allaah and in accordance with His sharee’ah. So what is your opinion – may Allaah reward you with good – about this man’s attitude when he is at work? Is it permissible, or is it shirk , or what? Please advise us and tell us what he should do. Is there any sin on him for what he has done in the past in his work? May Allaah take care of you.
Praise be to Allaah.
It is known that employment and work is not called ‘ibaadah (worship), and it is not one of the kinds of worship that should be done only for Allaah. People work at their jobs in order to make their salaries halaal, and so that they will be deserving of what they are given, and so on. The intention cannot be described in terms of worship. But if he knows that it is a trust between him and Allaah, and that Allaah is always watching him, so he pays attention to the fact that his Lord is watching him in this work, so that what he takes as wages will be halaal beyond a doubt, then he will have the reward for this sincerity, even if his intention is that nothing should be docked from his pay and so on. Given that this employee undertakes his religious duties and keeps away from haraam things, he is to be commended for that. And Allaah multiplies the reward for whomsoever He wills. And Allaah is the Generous Bestower and All-Knowing.
Al-Lu’lu’ al-Makeen min Fataawaa al-Shaykh ‘Abd al-rahmaan ibn Al-Jibrin, p. 62