Business and commerce is an essential part of society. Islam makes the trading of goods and services one of the best means of earning our rizq.
Raafi’ ibn Khadeej (ra) said: “It was said: 'O Messenger of Allah, what kind of earning is best?' He said: 'For a man to work with his hands and every honest transaction.'”
(Hadith hassan, Ahmed)
In fact, Islam makes it fard ayn (individual obligation) for the man to earn for himself and his family, in order to fulfill their basic needs. However, he is allowed to earn beyond his basic needs, as long as he does not hoard this excess wealth, but instead makes use of it (e.g., through spending, reinvestment, charity, etc). Allah (swt) encourages the believers to spend and forbids being stingy for oneself.
"Say, who has forbidden the beautiful gifts of Allah, which He has brought forth for his servants and the good provisions?"
On the other hand, Islam does not promote the idea of the Western ‘get rich or die trying’ mentality. In fact, Islam forbids the pursuit of wealth for wealth’s sake.
"It is not poverty which I fear for you, but that you might desire the world as others before you desired it, and it might destroy you, as it destroyed them."
[Hadith, Sahih Muslim]
Even to think that pursuing wealth (beyond one’s basic needs) will bring happiness is also a misguided thought.
“Richness does not mean having a great amount of property, but richness is self-contentment.”
(Hadith, Sahih Bukhari)
The truth about man is that “if you give him a valley of gold, he’ll want another.” Hence, the earth is far too small for even a single man to completely satisfy his desire for wealth and status, even though wealth can bring him some material comfort.
It has been narrated in a hassan (good) hadith that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “An honest and sincere businessman will be raised with the prophets, siddiqin, and the shuhada.”
It may be difficult to understand why the honest (sadiq) businessman is given such a high recognition when, after all, he is simply interested in his own worldly affairs. However, if we study the reality of businesses and the various benefits entrepreneurial activity brings to society, we can see that businesses produce many of the essential products and services people need for day-to-day living. They create jobs and opportunities and allow investment in research and industry. The effort spent in search of Allah (swt)’s rizq through work and trade drives the economy forward, and with the right political system in place, it can make the nation prosperous and self-reliant. All of these are essential for any progressive society.
Money matters make up a large portion of our lives. Furthermore, what we do in this life will have a direct bearing on our life in this dunya and the Hereafter. Therefore, it's important to make sure we conduct ourselves according to Islam. Only then will our rizq will be blessed, and only then will we feel a sense of contentment (sakina) with whatever Allah (swt) gives us.
When a person conducts business according to Islam, he is a good role model for his family. He is also an example to emulate for those he does business with, as well as to the wider community. Since ”the best dawah is by way of example,”
and all dawah is sadaqah jaariya (continuous charity), then this (teaching people how to do business according to Islam) will continue to benefit us, even after we die. Reading the life of the Prophet (pbuh), of the sahabas, and of the renowned Muslims of the past, we can find many examples of what it means to be an Islamic entrepreneur. They were not only successful business people, but were also some of the most charitable of people in their communities.
Finally, it's important to understand that a Muslim cannot spend all his time in business, as he has other Islamic duties that he needs to fulfill, such as those toward his family, to the Ummah, and to the Deen.
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