The Arabic word ‘barakat’ is loosely translated as ‘blessing’ in English, but unfortunately the word blessing does not connote all the intricacies of the meaning of barakat.

I’m no Arabic scholar, but from my understanding the term barakat has to do with blessings of plenty, abundance, providence.

And it comes down to whether or not your means of livelihood is halal, permissible.

I remember arguing with one of my son in laws, years and years ago, about Vince Carter’s behaviour when he was with the Raptors.

Prior to inking his contract deal, Vince played like a phenom! He was AMAZING!

Even the sportcast announcers would marvel at something he’d just done!

And then soon as he inked his 100 million dollar deal, he began to fade.

So many times he sat on the sidelines wearing a business suit, claiming he was injured. And even with him out of service, the Raptors made the playoffs but never quite advanced to the finals. Just think what they could have done with Vince actually playing whole-heartedly! Who knows, maybe that could have been his one chance to win it all! We’ll never know. It wasn’t meant to be.

My son in law said Vince was totally justified. He was being jerked around by the owners of the team.

I said, “But by not playing, he’s reneging on his responsibility! His part of the contract! There’s no barakat in it!”

My son in law laughed. What did this have to do with the Islamic principle of barakat?

But notice something.

As soon as Vince was traded–which was precisely what he wanted–to New Jersey, he started playing like a phenom again! No sign of any injury! And whenever he arrived in Toronto, boy did the Toronto fans boo!

I just shook my head thinking, that guy just doesn’t get it.

Did New Jersey ever make the finals? Even with Vince and the other heavy player Jason Kidd on it?  Nope.

Did Vince Carter ever again make it to the finals???

Not that I know of.

Has he ever earned a playoff ring?

Nope, nope, and nope!

What happened to him?

Who knows.

Nobody ever talks about him any more.

100 million is a lot of money, but if there’s no barakat to it, if you haven’t really *earned* it by honouring your part of the deal, then it’ll slip through your fingers like really dry sand.

It will never make you satisfied!

Barakat is about satisfaction.

It’s about the feeling of goodness and well-being you get when knowing that you’ve earned the bread you’re putting into your mouth with the sweat of your own hard work.

THAT is blessing!

I’ve seen people who live on infinitessimal amounts per day and yet they are happy. They have barakat because they earned their food in a halal permissible manner.

And I’ve seen people who are on welfare, who don’t deserve to be on welfare, who should be out working, who are making a lot more than that piddly amount and yet have no barakat, no sense of satisfaction!

When I was walking in the courtyard of the grand masjid, the Kaaba, in Mecca, back in 2008 when I was doing umrah, there were a lot of beggars, and there was a sign on the side, one of those digital LED signs with a scrawl in red-dot letters that quoted a hadith, a saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that said, Those who take charity when they are not truly in need open the door to poverty.

Ooh, just typing that gives me goosebumps!

It’s SO true!

The hundreds of dollars they might get in welfare won’t go nearly as far as the forty dollars they earn with the sweat of their labour.

I am fortunate that I have never been in the position to stretch out my hand in charity.

I’ve only ever given it.

I pray to God that it continues for the rest of my life.

I look around at my life, at all the blessings God has bestowed on me, and I’m overwhelmed in barakat.

And I’m particularly grateful that I learned a lesson that Vince Carter never seemed to have learned. I FULFILL my contracts! I try to make sure that the value I give to whoever may hire me is my very very best effort! No matter how lowly a venue it might be.