Business and commerce is an essential part of society. Islam makes the trading 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) on the man to earn for himself and his family in order to fulfil the basic needs. However, he is allowed to earn beyond his basic needs as long as he does not hoard this excess wealth and makes use of it (e.g. through reinvestment, charity etc).
Allah (swt) encourages the believers to spend, and forbids being stingy on oneself.
"Say, who has forbidden the beautiful gifts of Allah which He has brought forth for his servants and the good provisions?" [Qur'an 7:32]
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 even for 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.‟ (Hadith, Tirmidhi)
It may be hard to understand why the honest (sadiq) businessman is given such a high honour, who after all, is simply interested in his own worldly affair. However, if we study the reality of businesses and the various benefits entrepreneurial activity brings to the society, we can see that businesses produce many of the essential products and services people need for day-to-day living. It creates jobs and opportunities, and allows investment in research & 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, can make the nation become prosperous and self-reliant. All of these are essential for any progressive society.
Money matters make up a large portion of our life. And, what we do in this life will have a direct bearing on our life in this dunya and the Hearafter. Therefore, it's important to make sure we conduct ourselves according to Islam. Only then, our rizq will be blessed, and we will 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 to those he does business with and 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 famous 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 community.
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 fulfil, i.e. towards his family, to the Ummah and to the Deen.
And Allah (swt) knows best.
Compiled by/ Author/ Source: Abid Choudhury (Seed.org.uk)