Working is the means by which we provide for ourselves in this fleeting world. Yet what about the afterlife? Does working benefit our afterlife as well or is it only for this world?
The answer lies on whether or not you own the key which transforms your work hours into hours of worship, that “key” being the five daily prayers (salat).
Question: How do the five daily prayers transform your work into good deeds?
Everything in Islam has deep and numerous wisdoms and it is not possible for us humans to fully comprehend them. Nonetheless some wisdoms are observable to us.
For instance, Islam has placed an immense emphasis on the five daily prayers so much so that it is considered to be the most important type of worship. There are many hadiths pointing to this and we mention a few.
حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو بَكْرٍ، مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ زَنْجَوَيْهِ الْبَغْدَادِيُّ وَغَيْرُ وَاحِدٍ قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا الْحُسَيْنُ بْنُ مُحَمَّدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا سُلَيْمَانُ بْنُ قَرْمٍ، عَنْ أَبِي يَحْيَى الْقَتَّاتِ، عَنْ مُجَاهِدٍ، عَنْ جَابِرِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، رضى الله عنهما قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ مِفْتَاحُ الْجَنَّةِ الصَّلاَةُ وَمِفْتَاحُ الصَّلاَةِ الْوُضُوءُ ‏”‏
Allah’s Messenger said: “The key to Paradise is Salat, and the key to Salat is Wudu’.” 
(Grade: Hasan (Darussalam); Reference: Jami` at-Tirmidhi 4; In-book reference
: Book 1, Hadith 4; English translation: Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 4)
 أَخْبَرَنَا أَحْمَدُ بْنُ حَرْبٍ، حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ رَبِيعَةَ، عَنِ ابْنِ جُرَيْجٍ، عَنْ أَبِي الزُّبَيْرِ، عَنْ جَابِرٍ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ لَيْسَ بَيْنَ الْعَبْدِ وَبَيْنَ الْكُفْرِ إِلاَّ تَرْكُ الصَّلاَةِ ‏
 The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘There is nothing between a person and disbelief except abandoning Salah.’
(Grade: Sahih (Darussalam);  Reference: Sunan an-Nasa’i 464; In-book reference : Book 5, Hadith 17;  English translation: Vol. 1, Book 5, Hadith 465
أول ما يحاسب به العبد يوم القيامة الصلاة، فإن صلحت صلح سائر عمله وإن فسدت فسد سائر عمله
‘The first matter that the slave will be brought to account for on the Day of Judgment is the prayer. If it is sound, then the rest of his deeds will be sound. And if it is bad, then the rest of his deeds will be bad.’ [al Tabarani].
So for an individual who performs their prayers, their purpose of this life will more or less be fulfilled. It will be a life that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) will be pleased with.
Now, since working serves one’s life and their life serves God, it logically follows that working serves God and is therefore virtuous. In fact, anything which serves life (e.g. sleeping, eating) also transforms into good deeds.
As for one who does not pray, daily activities such as working, eating and sleeping will be nothing more than a means to continue one’s life in this passing world. It will be a time which is lost and wasted in terms of the hereafter.

RELEVANT PASSAGE FROM THE NINTH WORD

And in the time of Dhuhr – that time is the peak of day and an inclination to decline and the peak of time for daily tasks and a temporary time of relief from the stress of work and a necessary time of recess for the soul from the heedlessness and light-headedness coming from the passing and burdensome works of the transient world and a moment when divine favors become apparent. A human being is not human who does not comprehend how beautiful, how pleasant, how necessary and appropriate it is to perform the Dhuhr prayer which means for a human soul to escape that stress, to elude that heedlessness, to come off those meaningless and transient things… (Ninth Word, Fifth Subtle Point

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