Amanah in the workplace, re-published in September 2018
First published in 2016 the Amanah manuscript has been updated with additional commonplace scenarios and world developments of an impending new order to better reflect the nature of what is written in the scriptures relative to modern times. It can now be a reference text to prompt discussion topics in any comparative religious study in college and high schools.
In addition there are more anecdotes on living an abundant life. In Chapters 3 and 5 the passages of “very personal anecdotes” are taken from a fun novel with a twist on ideas and anecdotes for small business pitching – “Man from Quaint City” (published in 2016). With Harris as the main biographical persona it is about a professional quixotic character immersed in living life to its fullest yet in passive enthusiasm he churns up situations where commoners can excel in their role of fulfilling their obligations to their maker. Amanah in the workplace then ensues with robust vigor.
Similar to the book title “Leading and Control attuned with the Quran” – published in late 2015, Amanah in the workplace galvanizes practical workplace illustrations to inexorably highlight the Islamic precept of Amanah (referencing Q33:72, clarified here as the trust given by God and intrinsically accepted by man) interlocking with the functions of management effectively.
Heeding to Islamic values when we “Bismillah-al-Rahman-al-Rahim” we become mindful of waste. Pope Francis says you’re a thief if you have ever thrown out good food.
. . . (After the Bismillah vocalization) . . before a meal it becomes incumbent upon yourself not to over indulge and you ought to be very mindful of waste.
. . . When retired corrupt officials donate to places of worship in the name of the Almighty their misplaced contribution is mere taking the name of God in vain. How wrong they are. Only good deeds can nullify evil deeds. Noble values is the basis of righteousness. Honesty leads to righteousness which in turn leads to paradise or serenity on earth. The Bismillah al Rahman al Rahim vocalization then fastens righteous acts and any contribution from coffers of honest work.
Excerpts from the foreword of the book:
When we galvanize our thinking about our trust with God or Amanah with the functions of management the case for Islamic principles at the workplace becomes obvious. The planning, organizing, leading and control roles and responsibilities will be shouldered with the greatest of resolve and determination thereby making the practitioner leaders and supervisors role models that disbelievers are exasperated by. In addition there must be innovation otherwise set ways are perpetuated hence no improvement takes place. With greater benign focus the four functions of management will go beyond just incremental improvements to become true organizational transformation.
. . . Controlling which involves monitoring progress of work or projects and taking corrective action on a timely basis is equally important for all three levels of management. Converting resources, material and information inputs into outputs must be done efficiently and meet quality standards as well as goals to lower wastage and improve customer satisfaction along the thinking and quality precepts of Edwards Deming, the total quality management guru. He equates quality non-conformance as wastage because the quantum of wastage resulting from rejects and rework will negatively impact on attainment of organizational goals.
The conscience embedded moral responsibility in place makes the managers hold themselves accountable for any avoidable lost opportunities for greater revenues or cost effectiveness. Their attitude is that it is they who are letting the organization down and they shall be accountable to God. Simply the higher your position the greater is the ‘conscience embedded moral responsibility’ and hence many a person will not want a Department Head position because the moral responsibility that comes with it might not be bearable. There is nothing to fear for the righteous persons who are sincere and dedicated to their work.
Stressing on the development of one’s skills-range expertise we also need to savor one’s place at each stage of one’s development and current circumstances as destined in context of God’s grand scheme of things. The postscript Addendum B consists of food for thought pointers which can be a listing of easy reference in one place for teachers and students to pick at least a dozen discussion topics in any comparative religious study.
Excerpts from Chapter 5 (Upholding the path of ease):
. . . In the novel, Harris has a younger co-consultant mate Zul who epitomes the Amanah in the workplace characterization. Harris had taken Zul under his wings in 1989 doing a consulting job involving analysis of newsprint usage in regard to material variance and eventually engaging in a hands-on change program to reduce wastage in printing newspapers.
Zul, then a fresh university graduate was not handsomely paid. Nonetheless his work ethic of striving the extra mile in anything that was assigned to him greatly contributed to the program success in a very traditional business environment where employees had been in service for no less than a decade or two. Work methods and holding on to set procedures were presumed to be cast in stone and change was a vulgarity of untold proportions in the eyes of near retirement department heads. The lower managers and leading hands were however excited with change and took a liking for Zul’s simple mannerism and very pleasing personality. They did not fail to see that he rolled up his sleeves and functioned as they would as he seek to understanding the intricacies of churning out early daily newspaper editions and second editions.
The project outcome brought immense pride to the supervisors and workers because from a high adverse standard material variance of eight percent they became on par with the then industrial norm of four percent in spite of their near obsolete machinery. Zul’s in-depth sequencing of activities and prevailing practices of newsprint loading and supervision of press run stoppages, as well as ingrained policies of putting aside fixed quantities of collated newspaper copies for the commercial division and other recipients of free copies enabled recommendations by Harris to be more straight forward and the Managing Director had no qualms in pushing what appeared to be no brainier changes in practices and policies based on common sense and astute observations.
It was a case of why slice off more than a centimeter depth of newsprint paper rolls before loading onto the printing press? Clarifying full focusing on signaling press run ends reduced excess printed copies. Analysis of performance using more expensive quality newsprint rolls against cheaper Indonesian brands showed the true cost effectiveness too.
When Harris was engaged by a top level consulting outfit in 1996 he brought Zul on board with a remuneration package worthy of his skills sets. His earlier five years consulting exposure with Harris stood him in good stead. His career progress in the firm was limited though due to a lacking of high profile communication proficiency. Still at his level of competency he excelled. The last time Harris touched base with him circa 2002, Zul had joined the internal auditing team of Malaysia’s leading shipping multi-national company. That’s the work of universal energies dispensing cause and effect recompense.
The Islamicity Index of Scheherazade S Rehman and Hossein Askari contains plentiful citations and quotations of traditional reasoning which are not cited in this manuscript. The passages related to business and economics in Amanah in the workplace focus on the implementation framework needed to actualize and be mindful of not crossing over transgression bounds. In life the level of simplicity separates the great from the average and this offers everyone opportunities to ponder and at the very least propels us to live up to our skills-range expertise.
Malaysia was ranked 38th, the highest among Muslim countries. To see if they were founded on Islamic principles, the policies and governance of 208 countries were assessed on criteria such as corruption, financial systems, human liberties, economic opportunity and economic freedom. New Zealand was rated 1st and Luxembourg came second.
Generally communities focusing on upright conduct will induce them to energize effectual actions in accordance with the teachings of the Quran (or other scriptures), and hence the diversity in interpreting God’s message does not cloud their orientation to become decent and more benevolent. They constantly are endeared on virtues.
Excerpts from Chapter 4 (Realizing the abundant life through one’s skills range):
Pertaining to picking winning investment trades to grow his portfolio of investments, Warren Buffett said: “You don’t have to be an expert on every company or even many. You only have to be able to evaluate companies with your circle of competence. The size of that circle is not very important; knowing its boundaries, however, is vital”
The size of our circle of competence must not distract us in pursuit of an abundant life. Like Warren Buffet said, knowing its boundaries is vital. If you are restrained (perhaps due to lack of intellect or just being disabled) focus with ferocious intensity on something simple (yet noble) which is within your capacity to excel – and spare not your basic capacity (‘ro’usu’ which also relates to “of your wealth”) until you yourself are satisfied that you have reached your forte in life, within your skills range.
Each person’s “skills-range expertise” sets him ablaze to play his role in God’s grand scheme of things. One’s life is uplifted. With concerted discipline and proper organization of tasks even washing dishes can be a meaningful vocation.
In George Town, Penang, Malaysia there is a coffee shop next to the “One Hotel” at Transfer Road. You will notice how the dish washer (circa 2016) engages the cleaning routine very methodologically and takes joy from constantly maintaining his work area neat and “in perfect order”.
In fact the outcome of cleanliness and having everything – the cups and glasses, saucers; cleaning paraphernalia all in their set places is superior to any done in any household. That’s vocation in the truest sense.
You will be especially impressed that the dish washer appeared to be glowing each time he douses a cup or glass after its first wash into a vessel filled with water saturated with a cleansing agent. He lets the cups and glasses in the vessel rest a while and then removes them for rinsing with fresh running water under a tap.
He is unaware of the sum of the attractive or repulsive forces between water and dirt molecules nor has he heard of Van der Waals but he knows that running water is more effective for cleansing than the stationary water in a bucket.
After he wipes them dry and places them neatly on the shelf space earmarked for them he beams with inner satisfaction of a task well done. Most certainly he does not dread each morning needing to spend hours at work. He will be dismayed if he missed out on the elation of dish washing.
Teaching can be a vocation of the highest order but most take it as a mundane job and they are teachers by default not for the interest or love of it. Oh how uncommon it is to find a teacher whose face is always radiant from dedication to the role of educating youths, winning the crowning adoration of students. Perhaps all they need are the creative tools of the trade and a focus on innovation at the workplace.
Scheduled to be published before October 2018 is the title “21st Century Don Quixote” whereby the Harris character is replaced by Don Q. Much of “Amanah in the workplace” is rehashed to provide readers scriptural guidance interspersed in story telling. The Don Q atypical anecdotes provoke the layman to view the scriptural philosophy beyond dogmatic religious notions by also using current world events and high profile recalcitrant characters involved in new world reform to illustrate the mild epithet of fighting rogue windmills.
The premise of new world order headwinds in 2018 and Brexit being a positive development underscore nations surviving by learning in order to avoid crude madness that history has so far counted. A brighter future of humanity and advancement of the grand scheme of things will be shaped by peculiarly startling efforts of real action of world leaders as they balance their duty to their own citizens with their responsibility to the wider world.
Philosophically, a basic explanation of the nature of what is written in the scriptures is expounded with mid-1960s and the most current commonplace events, together with everyday life anecdotes and observations. Will these help imbibe a habit of pondering and innovation? Specific references in particular to verses of the Quran are made because the author is not conversant with other scriptures.
Throughout the three books you will note that galvanizing the system concept shadows most postulations. Let’s note that a system is a way of working, organizing or doing something in which people follow a plan or set of rules whether working, organizing events or partaking in leisure activities therein situations and activities then have a sense of orderliness.
Religiously speaking it becomes a pathway to paradise if you will, provided the system is cleansed of falsehood and you constantly adhere to God’s commands. There is no doubt a designated system as providence for mankind and serenity. It starts with being committed and embracing the straight pathway or method needed for success. There are summations of this theme in Chapters 4 and 5.
Why is there a high tolerance for corrupting the land and leaders of loose characters? Even common folks are implicated because fair trading and an equitable economic system interlocks with the individual work ethic, honest work and everyone’s skills expertise range. None must fall into the ambit of corrupting the land – one of four core decrees that permeates the teachings of the Creed of Abraham.
The system concept is explicitly explained in relation to governance policies and their implementation for the present and longer range governance of society in Chapter 1. Our discourse on corollaries of the Amanah doctrine in the Quran next delves onto the subject of profiteering (riba) inter alia “contribute” in Chapter 2, clarifying the context charity, exploitation and exceeding the permitted bounds. Chapter 1 covers the true meaning of serving God re Q51:56 inter alia fair trading and equitable economic system thereby not “corrupting the land”. Honest work and connection of one’s skills-range expertise in Chapter 4 and summations of the modern economic system aligned with God’s decrees in Chapter 5 neatly wraps up the Amanah tapestry.
The diversity of opinions and general thinking relating to God’s message in the Quran become the quintessence of utter disconnection with the wholesome nature of the teachings of the Reminder. The seldom quoted Reminder verse Q39:37 “Whomsoever He guides none can misguide” is a telling upshot (end result) of an upright person having realized tranquility.
What’s to fear in reading books of various religions? We seek the common values which resonate well with our God-endowed conscience. Our hearts are touched with truth as we ascertain that certain values underscore the scriptural message and the readings as a reminder. Some consider the Quran the seal (meaning the conclusive rendering of divine rules and customs that are truth and what are not) thus God’s words (also found in other scriptures) are further crystallized.
Still, we use our minds to dissect touted values and stipulated rulings and whether they trouble our conscience as to their benefits, as a source for reducing perceived sufferings and promoting happiness for having a peaceful life. Another verse, Q5:105 states: “Your souls are in your own care. No one gone astray can harm you if you are guided.”
Addendum A of our postscript highlights edited extracts from Chapter 1 of the Don Q biographical novel (published in 2017). The Don started to post “Gold investment on Hold Money” feature articles in the style and title of Bespoke Investing in his blog Hope Tribute Malaysia. Coreligionists normally hold silence on the trappings of purely investing as in one of the production factors – capital. It is placed as an addendum in the new Amanah book because it is voluminous and certain subject matters might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
A commentary on seedy ponzi Bitcoin transactions is added because it is on the opposite polar end of bespoke investing. Readers ought to also read in Chapter 3 some excerpts of the latest bespoke investing features.
The postscript Addendum B consists of food for thought pointers which can be a listing of easy reference in one place for teachers and students to pick at least a dozen discussion topics in any comparative religious study.
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