Islamic values in the workplace

The author: Mohammed holding a copy of ‘Seeking A Life Balance’ during the book launch in Petaling Jaya.

RELIGION is regarded as an important factor that forms and directs an individual’s ethical values. Work ethics that relate to religious teachings can be rewarding as they can encourage employees to be highly involved in their jobs while enjoying a balanced life.

This will also be beneficial to any organisation as such employees will be a dedicated workforce. They can play a greater role in contributing to the progress of the community.Islamic work ethics (IWE) is an essential component of the character of an individual who believes in carrying out work to the best of one’s capability as a duty to God.

Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Bhd (CGC) chairman Datuk Mohammed Hussein, who recently retired after serving nine years as Gamuda Bhd chairman, has written a book to share his journey of “re-learning Islam, focusing on Islamic work ethics”.

He authored the 217-page book, entitled Seeking A Life Balance, under the pen name Elm Edge.

Written through the lens of a corporate figure with a deep knowledge and extensive experience of work cultures and organisational effectiveness, the book provides a personalised and engaging narrative of the critical importance of Islamic core values and work ethics in seeking a balanced life.

Among others, he explained that there are many benefits to applying IWE mindfully and sincerely in the daily life of the individual, organisation and the community.

This includes achieving a balanced life focusing on the path of moderation.

Asked what prompted him to write the book, Mohammed said it was a scene on TV when he was in the holding lounge in Jakarta airport, waiting to board a flight a few years ago.

The scene featured an elderly farmer who was asked by a younger man why he was working so hard in his padi field under the hot sun.

The farmer replied: “Kerja itu ialah suatu ibadah (work is worship).”

“I pondered on those words. It was a powerful message – that work is part of our religious obligations,” he told The Star.

He figured that his over 40 years’ experience in the corporate world would allow him to share some practical insights into work ethics.

“I needed to re-learn the Quran and have a deeper understanding of Islam to give it some Islamic perspective,” he added.

He took two years to study the Quran, focusing on meanings rather than recitation and research.

He also met the late academician and Islamic scholar Emeritus Prof Tan Sri Dr Mohd Kamal Hassan, who shared his thoughts and handed over his book Voice of Islamic Moderation from the Malay World, and slides from his talk on Core Values in Islam.

“I remembered the joy when I was finally able to write the magic words ‘The End’. But there was another 10 months of revisions and editing after consultations and validations with a few syariah scholars to ensure that I was not off-tangent or deviated from the teachings of the Quran or the Sunnah.

“Then, another three months of finding a publisher, and another two months of final editing and proofreading,” he said.

On the key messages from his book, among others, Mohammed said: “We have not brought out the best of Islam in terms of building an ecosystem cultivating the culture of learning, creativity and tolerance.

“We should not be complacent with seeking goodness for the Hereafter alone and forsaking success in this world. We must also aspire to succeed at various levels in this world so that as a strong and successful ummah, we can contribute further to the cause of Allah.

“A strong Muslim society displaying strong work ethics and core values will result in a vibrant economy creating jobs and business opportunities for the ummah, and save them from unemployment and enforced idleness, which could foster unhealthy and even un-Islamic radical activities, often unfairly associated with Islam.

“A multi-faith country with a successful Muslim community able to peacefully co-exist with other faiths will project to the rest of the world the true teachings of Islam embodied in the Quran and the Hadiths of Prophet Muhammad SAW.

“It will be a role model to show the rest of the world that Islam is indeed a way of life covering all aspects of our lives and our behavior towards our fellow human beings. A progressive religion that can make us the best ummah in the world – an example to the rest of mankind.

“Clearly, one contributing factor that allowed great Islamic thinkers, inventors and writers to flourish and search for innovations and greatness was the ecosystem of that period, represented by the openness of the minds of the governing class to tolerate differences of culture, absorb knowledge from other cultures, that fed the enquiring minds and their thirst for knowledge, not restricted nor inhibited by Islamic orthodoxy of the ultra-conservatives,” he concluded.

The eight-chapter book was launched during an event held at Bangunan CGC in Petaling Jaya yesterday, in the presence of invited guests, his wife Datin Tengku Anisah Tengku Abdul Hamid, his three children, five grandchildren and other family members.

Also present at the event was Star Media Group Bhd chief business officer Lydia Wang.

Asked about his expectations for his book, Mohammed said he hoped it would be a worthwhile read for people from various religious faiths.

He said the book’s translation into Malay is expected to be completed by September.

He added that he was also in the midst of writing his next book on the “alignment of our policies, strategies with country’s vision”, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

The book is priced at RM60 (paperback) and RM80 (hardcover).

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book , Mohammed Hussein , Gamuda


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