In the supplication we make every morning and evening, we say: “O Allah I ask You for the good of this day/night, for its victory and its help, for its light and its barakah, and its guidance…”
Before eating we say: “O Allah, give barakah in it for us and give us more of it.”
A guest supplicates for his host: “O Allah, give them barakah in that which you have provided them, forgive them and have mercy on them.”
When we congratulate someone on their acquisitions or successes, we say: “May Allah give you barakah in it.”
We even congratulate a newly-wedded couple with this supplication: “ May Allah give barakah (in your spouse) and give you barakah and may He unite both of you in goodness.”
So what does this word ‘barakah’ for which we supplicate to Allah for ourselves and others so often mean?
The word ‘barakah’ has a variety of meanings: blessings, benefit, abundance, plentitude, something that gives you contentment or joy etc. Essentially, in terms of our everyday life activities, it means that if you have barakah, a little suffices and gives you far more satisfaction and happiness and that it comes trouble-free or with minimum problems related to it.
We so often use terms like, “It’s what you save and not what you earn that matters,” “It’s about quality rather than just quantity” etc. and these help to explain the concept of barakah which is really about value addition.
Barakah is an intangible thing and because we cannot really see it or measure it, we are not really conscious of its significance and true impact on our lives. Yet barakah is the real end-result required as the things we supplicate for and congratulate others for are merely the means to an end. If something that you have or acquire cannot give you the required results which may range from a healthy life, effective use of available resources, rest, satisfaction, contentment, peace of mind, happiness, etc, then despite having acquired the means, the desired end-result has not been achieved. Examples of the results of barakah in life range from little food or sleep sufficing for one’s needs, freedom from stress, bad health or wrong choices which deplete our savings, energy and happiness, the wisdom and ability to work smart and not just hard, and being saved from time wasters in our life lives.
For example, if you get an increment at work but most of it ends up being spent in say, unforeseen expenses like medical bills, extravagance and expenditures which do not bring real value addition to your life, then the gain lacked barakah. Similarly if you have spent your life toiling hard to educate your children in the ‘best’ schools, only to find them to be lacking in the values you expect from them, your efforts were without barakah. A laborer on daily wages who enjoys his simple fare due to a healthy appetite and a good night’s sleep and has a family who appreciates how hard he works for them may have more barakah than a rich man whose family is never satiated and whose stress makes him unable to relax, eat or sleep despite having all the material means of luxury available to him. Also within the definition of barakah is the element of continuity rather than a limited enjoyment as would be the case of someone who enjoys himself on ill-gotten means for a while, only to have the law catching up on him.
Yet another important aspect of barakah is that the end result should also be productive for a person not only in this world, but also hold benefit for him in the Hereafter. Therefore, short term gains that result in disasters in the Hereafter, even if they appear profitable in this world definitely lack barakah.
Another thing that is important to know about barakah is that while two people can possess the same thing, the same time, money or other resources, yet the amount of barakah that the two have may vary. While the resources we have or acquire may be within our control, the barakah that results from them is a bestowal from Allah as is clear from all the supplications for barakah that we have been taught.
It is actually the barakah in the means which provides us with abundance and peace of mind, contentment and happiness which is the desired end-result of all acquisitions. But barakah is lacking in our lives because instead of focusing on the end-result we are exhausting ourselves in pursuing the means. We are busy acquiring and spending our resources without giving a second thought to where they are coming from, at what cost they are acquired, whether they are Islamically permissible and for what purpose they are used. Unable to understand our own goals and motivation, we therefore find ourselves deprived of the wisdom to make the right choices. Hence we need to constantly remind ourselves that it is the barakah that really matters for that is what adds true value to our efforts and should never forget to supplicate continuously to Allah for it in the many areas in our lives. .
“O Allah! Put affection amongst our hearts, set right our matters between ourselves, guide us to the ways of peace, save us from the darknesses towards the light, save us from all kinds of indecency; the apparent as well as the hidden, and give us barakah in our hearing, our seeing, our hearts, our spouses, our children, and turn in mercy upon us. Indeed You are the One who greatly accepts repentance, One who is repeatedly Merciful.” (Al- Hakim)
By Zainab Habib