It is expected that the vast majority among you has limited resources, perhaps suffering from difficulties making a living, so you need money. This may prompt some of you to get work opportunities and to take advantage of them. This may also force many to work in demeaning jobs, even prohibited ones, such as serving wine at some places, selling pork, repairing instruments of entertainment, etc. We would like to say the following:
1. As for the prohibited, they must be avoided at any cost, for pleasing Allah is above everything, and nothing stands in the way of His wrath: "There is no god but He. Everything (that exists) will perish except His face. Command belongs to Him, and you will (all) be brought back to Him” (Qur'an, 28:88).Yet if the most High sees how His servant relies on Him in the proper way and avoids transgressing over His limits, his piety preventing him from committing what He has prohibited, always seeking to please Him, rising above lowly gains, resorting to Him, thinking well of Him, pleading for His help and mercy, He will not disappoint him, nor will He be miserly with him, for He is the most Kind, the most Merciful, the most Affectionate. Actually, He has already made it a promise to do so, and His promise is true, there is no turning back from it; He, the most Exalted One, says, "He (always) prepares a way out for those who fear Allah and He provides for him from (sources) which he can never imagine. And if anyone puts his trust in Allah, Allah suffices him: Allah will surely accomplish His purpose: Truly, Allah has appointed a due proportion for all things” (Qur'an, 65:2-3).
In the authenticated narration of Abu Hamzah al-Thumali, Imam al-Baqir (peace be upon him) quotes the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny) saying the following during the Farewell Pilgrimage: "Indeed, the Trusted Spirit (Gabriel) instilled in my heart that nobody dies until he receives his full sustenance; so, fear Allah and be good while seeking it. When some sustenance is slow in reaching you, do not seek it by disobeying Allah, for Allah, the most Exalted, the most Praised One, has divided sustenance among His servants for them to obtain it by lawful means; He did not divide it through unlawful means. One who fears Allah and is patient, Allah will grant him His sustenance from the lawful things which He has. One who tears down the veil of covering [one's faults] and acts hastily, taking from unlawful sources, He will deduct it from his lawful sustenance and will hold him accountable for it on the Judgment Day."[i] Texts in this meaning are too numerous to leave any excuse for anyone.
2. As regarding lowly and cheap means of gain, you have to rise above them as much as you can, for Allah, the most High, the most Exalted, has raised your status through His religion, raising your position by making you bearers of His Message. The most Exalted One has said, "… Honor belongs to Allah and His Messenger and the believers” (Qur'an, 63:8). So, do not humiliate yourselves, do not demean your status, for then you would be unfair and unjust. Dignity is above everything next to the Pleasure of Allah Almighty. In the reliable tradition narrated by Samma'ah, Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) is quoted as having said, "Allah, the most Exalted, the most Great, has granted liberty to the believer to fare with his own affairs but did not grant him the freedom to humiliate himself. Have you not heard this verse by Allah Almighty: 'Honor belongs to Allah and to His Messenger and to the believers' (Qur'an, 63:8)? So, a believer should be honorable, dignified, not humiliated. Allah grants him honor and dignity through faith and Islam."[ii]
The Master of Martyrs, Imam al-Hussain (peace be upon him) used to recite the following verses whenever he started his battles:
الموت أولى من ركوب العار و العار أولى من دخول النار
و الله من هذا و هذا جار[iii]
Death is better than riding shame,
Yet shame is better than entering Hell:
By Allah, neither is my destiny.
There are other verified texts that emphasize it.
This is so especially since you are living in lands of expatriation where your weakness is reflected in their societies and among their nations, on your righteous religion, the great Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny), the most revered Imams (peace be upon him) and the sublime sanctities. Actually, if you do so a great deal and what you do is repeated in a systematic way, it may attract the attention of some hidden forces hostile to you and to your religion, so they may focus on it and try hard through various means to give you a hard time, to close the respectable work opportunities in your faces, thus encouraging you to go to lowly methods of gain until you become used to them and your souls accept them, so much so that you will be identified by them, and this will be a stigma of shame on you, your religion and sanctities. Just as is known in our homeland that some entities are specialized in doing lowly jobs, so this became a cause for weakening [their image in public opinion]. It is something rejected by Islam's ardor, zeal of conviction and lofty moral ethics. Actually, it may get to the extent of reaching the limit of prohibition or disobedience of Allah Almighty.
The master of martyrs, Imam al-Hussain (Allah's blessings with him), has said: "Far removed from us is humiliation: Allah, His Messenger and the believers reject it, as do the righteous guardianship, chaste outfits, lofty souls and dignified spirits.”[iv]
So, beware of all of this, rise above it, look after your own affairs, suppress your anxiety and panic and shield yourselves with contentment and patience. Resort to Allah, the most Praised One, Who has dignified and honored the believers by opening for them the gates of His comfortablesustenance and honorable living. Plead to Him for it, rely on Him, think well of Him. He shall never betray you if He sees that you do so, by the will of Allah, the most Exalted One.
[i]Ibid., Vol. 12, p. 27.
[ii]Ibid., Vol. 11, p. 424.
[iii]Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 44, p. 196.
[iv] Sharh Nahjul-Balagha, Vol. 3, p. 250; Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 45, p. 83.