وَقُلِ اعْمَلُوا فَسَيَرَى اللَّهُ عَمَلَكُمْ وَرَسُولُهُ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ ۖ وَسَتُرَدُّونَ إِلَىٰ عَالِمِ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ فَيُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ
“And say, “Do [as you will], for Allah will see your deeds, and [so, will] His Messenger and the believers. And you will be returned to the Knower of the unseen and the witnessed, and He will inform you of what you used to do.” (Qur’an 9: 105)
عَنْ عُمَرَ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ إِنَّمَا الأَعْمَالُ بِالنِّيَّاتِ، وَإِنَّمَا لِكُلِّ امْرِئٍ مَا نَوَى، فَمَنْ كَانَتْ هِجْرَتُهُ إِلَى دُنْيَا يُصِيبُهَا أَوْ إِلَى امْرَأَةٍ يَنْكِحُهَا فَهِجْرَتُهُ إِلَى مَا هَاجَرَ إِلَيْهِ
Narrated ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab, RadhiAllahu Anhu: Allah’s Messenger ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said,
“The reward of deeds depends upon the intention and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for Allah and His Apostle, then his emigration was for Allah and His Apostle. And whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration was for what he emigrated for.” [Sahih al Bukhari]
Barakah culture is focused on delivering work that is pleasing to Allah. It focuses on the two conditions required for our actions to be accepted:
Sincere, good intentions; and,
Sincere effort & action.
Hustle culture, on the other hand, is focused on material results, where the ends justify the means.
Some readers might ask, “Surely focusing on material results is better than intentions and actions? What’s the point of having good intentions and working hard, if there are no results to show for it?”
The philosophical difference stems from recognizing “Who’s in control.” Individuals operating within Hustle culture, believe that we are in control of our own lives and the material results we achieve. Barakah focused individuals, on the other hand, recognize that Allah’s ultimately in charge and that our hard work is never wasted in this world or the next as long as our intentions are pure and we sincerely put our best efforts forward, regardless of the material results we achieve.
A metaphor to help you understand the difference is the Gardener Vs. A Carpenter: The Gardener plants his seeds, waters his land, and works hard on his garden, yet if the garden doesn’t bear fruit as expected, he accepts it as Allah’s decree, renews his intentions, and works harder (and smarter) for next season. He’s not upset at the outcome of his garden because his intentions were pure and he did everything possible to help his garden grow. He also knows that the rest was not up to him.
أَفَرَأَيْتُم مَّا تَحْرُثُونَ. أَأَنتُمْ تَزْرَعُونَهُ أَمْ نَحْنُ الزَّارِعُونَ
“And have you seen that [seed] which you sow? Is it you who makes it grow, or are We the grower?” (Qur’an 56:63-64)
A Carpenter has a fixed image of what his product needs to look like to be deemed a success. He’ll set out to achieve that perfect chair or table or cupboard. If the product fails to match his imagination, he’ll get annoyed with his tools, at himself, and might even get depressed because he thinks he’s not good enough. He finds the thought of not being in control overbearing.
In other words, Barakah culture is about focusing on what you can control—your intentions and your actions—and leaving what’s not within your control to Allah (SWT). Hustle culture is living the daily stress of trying to control the uncontrollable, under the false impression that expectations always meet reality. This issue becomes more pronounced with Parenting. Parents who adopt a “gardener mindset” with their children—do their best and do not stress about how they might turn out. They tend to be more successful than those parents who adopt a “carpenter mindset” and try to turn their children into the fixed image they have in their mind. These parents will feel like failures if their children don’t meet their expectations, regardless of how hard they worked to raise them well.
‘Barakah culture is about focusing on what you can control—your intentions and actions—and leaving the rest to Allah (SWT). Hustle culture is living the daily stress of trying to control the uncontrollable.’
Thought Experiments for Individuals
Do you have a Gardener mindset or Carpenter mindset? Ask your family.
When things don’t go according to your plan, how do you react? If you find yourself stressed, how can you shift your outlook?
Thought Experiments for Teams:
What failures have occurred in the past that were beyond your control? How did you react to those failures as a team? How did things turn out after the failure?
How can you shift your thinking from a focus on material results to focusing on intentions and quality work?