Rasulullah SallAllahu alayhi wa sallam has said: “The quest of Halaal earning is a duty after a duty” which implies that seeking Halaal sustenance is a religious obligation second in importance to religious observances like prayer, fasting, etc. Economic activity in the life of a Muslim is therefore regulated by divine principles, principles that are premised on commercial morality. Commercial morality is intrinsically bound to religion and is as important to faith, as Wudhu is to Salaah.
The Qur’an describes upright merchants in the following words: “Men whom neither business nor sale can divert them from the remembrance of Allah, or from regularity in Salaah or from giving Zakah. True believers are not recluses or mystics; they are people of action distinguished by their moral fibre. They steer clear from unbecoming business ethics or ill-gotten gain.
Commercial Morality comprises of four fundamental ethics:
Legal activity; Justice; Kindness and the Fear of Allah.
Trade by definition entails dealing with people; it forges mutual association between buyer and seller. This association must be sustained by ‘Mutual Consent’. The Noble Qur’an states: “O you who believe, do not eat up each other’s property by wrong means except by way of trade based on mutual consent.”
Rasulullah SallAllahu alayhi wa sallam has said: “Beware of excessive oaths in trade, it (may help) to secure a deal but will subsequently wipe out blessings.”
Rasulullah SallAllahu alayhi wa sallam has said: “May Allah show compassion to a man who is lenient when he sells, buys or demands payment.” (Bukhari)
A Muslim may only sell items that he himself is allowed to use or consume. Umar RadhiAllahu anhu was once informed that a certain person was selling alcohol. Umar RadhiAllahu anhu) said: “May Allah curse him! Does he not know that Allah had prohibited them to consume fat of animals, yet they melted it and sold it.” (Bukhari).
JUSTICE – Hoarding
Sayyidina Ali RadhiAllahu anhu said: “When a man hoards food stuff (refuses to sell) even for a day, in order to gain from a price hike, his heart becomes hard.”
Uqba bin Amir RadhiAllahu anhu says: “It is illegal for a person to knowingly sell defective (flawed) merchandise, without informing him (the buyer of the defect). Rasulullah SallAllahu alayhi wa sallam said: “He who regards the unlawful as lawful, does not believe in the Qur’an. Deceit in buying and selling is unlawful.”
A Muslim therefore earns his bread with the believe that the proportion of sustenance is determined by Allah. It is an act of worship to trade in order to avoid depending on others. Greed leads to perpetual poverty. Lawful earnings draw the blessing of Allah, even though it may seem meagre. Kindness is more virtuous then obsession with wealth. Commit yourself to equity, justice and compassion.