The news has been dire lately, with millions jobs lost in the United States every year. If we aren't among the newly unemployed, then we most certainly know at least one person who is.
There is excellent advice available about how to handle job loss financially, psychologically and emotionally. However, coping at this stage also requires a spiritual perspective that is not as easily accessible. Here are a couple of ideas on how to handle it Islamically.
1. Remember Who is the Real Provider of Everything You Have
It's easy to get caught up in the fear of ?how will I provide for my family??. While there are programs and unemployment benefits that can help you through the first months after a job loss, a broader view helps. Reminding ourselves that one of God's 99 Names is The Provider (Ar-Razzaq) will give us the comfort and confidence we need to remember that He is the One Who provides for us in all circumstances. Even when we were employed, it was by His Mercy and generosity that we had a job in the first place.
It would also be helpful when making Dua, to use this name of Allah (Ar-Razzaq) when calling on Him to help financially at this difficult time.
2. Revive the Practice of Daily Dua
In busier times, squeezing Dua into our day may have been difficult. Now, with more time available, it's critical to not only keep up our daily prayers, but to make? long, deep Duas for Allah's forgiveness, mercy and help. Pour your heart out to Him, express your fears, worries, hopes and desires in a way you never have, knowing that He can and will answer? your prayers. Sustained, concentrated Dua gives us a critical coping mechanism that helps deal with a major life stress like job loss.
3. Meet Once a Week After Juma with Other Unemployed Muslims
A number of newly unemployed Americans across the country have started or joined informal job loss groups that offer support and networking opportunities. Start something similar in your neighborhood or among your friends. After Juma prayers is a good time because those who attend are gathering as it is and you could easily step into a neighboring library, coffee shop or park to just check in with each other, offer spiritual advice and make a collective Dua for one another.
4. Encourage Your Masjid or Islamic Center to Start Its Own Unemployment Support Group
This would be a more formalized version of idea #3 above. It could include weekly spiritual pep talks by the Imam about the need to be steadfast in difficult times and trust in Allah, for example. It could also offer counseling to Muslims struggling with the emotional and psychological aftermath of job loss. Each meeting can end with a collective Dua by the group leader or Imam to help members and everyone who is suffering financially or otherwise during this difficult time.
5. Give Small, Steady Sadaqa
It's tempting to think that the only donations that matter are the large ones we can easily make when we've got a steady job and a large bank balance. But consider this: it's the small donations by hundreds of millions of nonbillionaire Americans that fuel most of? this country's nonprofits. In 2006, individuals accounted for about three-quarters of donations.
This is in line with the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him's saying: "the most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even though it were little" (Bukhari). It could be just a dollar a week, but do give it away in charity. If you and your family have cut an expensive habit to save money, consider giving a small percentage of that to the mosque charity box for the hungry next week.
6. Don't Neglect Non-Monetary Charity
Giving charity has an interesting psychological effect: a sense of empowerment and upliftment. Most of us feel great giving but embarrassed asking from others, even in need. But don't think that being charitable is limited to dollars and cents.? The Prophet, in response to a question about how to fulfill the Islamic obligation of giving charity daily, answered: "The doors of goodness are many...enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one's legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one's arms--all of these are charity prescribed for you." He also said: "Your smile for your brother is charity."
Volunteering of all kinds to help those in need, even as you are in need, will not only help fight depression, but it will help you regain a sense of empowerment.
7. Reconnect with Your Family
With more time on your hands, use the hours and minutes you are not looking for another job to reconnect with your parents, spouse and children in a way you could not when you were employed. Call your parents everyday, thanking Allah for the blessing of their presence in your life; drop off and pick up your kids from school and strike up interesting conversations with them about the meaning of life; take on bedtime story duty; start praying the five daily prayers together as a family; go out with your spouse to a free activity; plan a one-day getaway to a free, local attraction with the whole family. It is especially important to reconnect in difficult times. Otherwise, the stress can lead to a negative family atmosphere that kills love and mercy between spouses, parents and children.
8. Be Like the Birds
The Prophet said "If only you relied on Allah a true reliance, He would provide sustenance for you just as He does the birds: They fly out in the morning empty and return in the afternoon with full stomachs" (At-Tirmidhi). Trust in Allah, and keep relying on Him through Dua and good deeds. Even with bad news upon bad news about the economy, remember His Mercy and His ability to provide for you from means you could never have imagined (Quran 65:3).
9. Make Dua for Others Coping with Job Loss
The Prophet said: "The Dua of a Muslim for his brother in his absence is readily accepted. An angel is appointed to his side. Whenever he makes a beneficial Dua for his brother the appointed angel says, 'Ameen. And may you also be blessed with the same'" (Muslim).
Photo Attribution: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b6/A_BLACK_MAN_WHO_IS_JOBLESS_SITS_ON_THE_WINDOWSILL_OF_A_BUILDING_IN_A_HIGH_CRIME_AREA_ON_CHICAGO%27S_SOUTH_SIDE._HE_HAS..._-_NARA_-_556156.tif
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