Islam and business
Professions in the Quran (Part 2)
Maulana Abdur-Rahman ‘Attari Madani
Mention of brick-making
Allah Almighty states:
فَاَوْقِدْ لِیْ یٰهَامٰنُ عَلَى الطِّیْنِ فَاجْعَلْ لِّیْ صَرْحًا
O Haamaan, after baking the clay (bricks), build a (tall) palace for me,
The context of this verse is that Sayyiduna Musa عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام invited Fir’awn to bring faith in Allah Almighty being one and to worship Him alone, but Fir’awn refused and said to his vizier, Haaman, ‘O Haaman! Prepare a mudbrick for me over a fire and make a very tall palace, perhaps I will reach the Lord of Musa.’ In reality, Fir’awn had imagined that (مَـعَـاذَ الـلّٰـه) Allah Almighty has a home and that He has a body, which he was capable of reaching. This is why he ordered Haaman to construct a building for him. Thus, acting upon the command of Fir’awn, Haaman gathered thousands of specialists and labourers, had them make bricks and gathered enough building supplies to construct a building so tall that there was nothing equal to it in the world (at that time). They say that the first person to make a brick in the world is Haaman, and it did not exist before him.
Mention of jewellery-making
Allah Almighty states:
وَ اتَّخَذَ قَوْمُ مُوْسٰى مِنْۢ بَعْدِهٖ مِنْ حُلِیِّهِمْ عِجْلًا جَسَدًا لَّهٗ خُوَارٌؕ-
And in the absence of Moosa, his people moulded a calf from their ornaments; a lifeless body making sounds like a cow.
The context of this is verse is that when Sayyiduna Musa عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام went to Mount Toor to converse with Allah Almighty, 30 days after he left, Samiri gathered all the jewellery from Bani Israel that they had taken from the Qibtis (the nation of Fir’awn) to use on their day of Eid. As Fir’awn had perished along with his people, this gold was in the possession of Bani Israel. The people would give importance to the words of Samiri and act upon them too, and as Samiri worked as a gold forger, he took all of the gold and silver and forged it into a lifeless calf (and Bani Israel began to worship it).
Mention of glass-making
Allah Almighty states:
قَالَ اِنَّهٗ صَرْحٌ مُّمَرَّدٌ مِّنْ قَوَارِیْرَ۬ؕ-
Said Sulaimaan, 'This is only a smooth courtyard, paved with glass.'
The context of this verse is that when Bilqees (Queen of Sheba) came to Sayyiduna Sulayman عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم, she was told to come into the courtyard, and in the centre of the courtyard, Sayyiduna Sulayman عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم was sitting on a throne. That courtyard was made from clear glass and there was water flowing beneath it in which fish were swimming. When Bilqees saw this courtyard, she thought that it was deep water, which is why she raised her garments above her ankles so that she could cross the water and go to Sayyiduna Sulayman عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم. Whereupon, Sayyiduna Sulayman عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم said to her, ‘This is not water, rather, this is a smooth courtyard studded with glass.’
Mention of yarn-spinning
It is stated in the Holy Quran:
وَ لَا تَكُوْنُوْا كَالَّتِیْ نَقَضَتْ غَزْلَهَا مِنْۢ بَعْدِ قُوَّةٍ اَنْكَاثًاؕ-
do not be like the woman who broke her spun thread into pieces after it had become strong.
It is written in Tafseer Khaza`in-ul-Irfan under this verse: There was a woman from Makkah Mukarramah known as Reeta Bint ‘Amr who was very suspicious and had a weak intellect. She would work until noon by spinning yarn, and would have her slave-girls spin it too, and then at the time of noon, she would tear it to pieces and tell her slave-girls to do the same; this was her habit. The meaning of the verse is that do not be foolish like that woman by breaking your promise.
Mention of seamanship, i.e. the art of operating a boat
Allah Almighty states:
اَمَّا السَّفِیْنَةُ فَكَانَتْ لِمَسٰكِیْنَ یَعْمَلُوْنَ فِی الْبَحْرِ فَاَرَدْتُّ اَنْ اَعِیْبَهَا وَ كَانَ وَرَآءَهُمْ مَّلِكٌ یَّاْخُذُ كُلَّ سَفِیْنَةٍ غَصْبًا(۷۹)
'As for the boat, it belonged to some poor people who were working at the river; so, I wished to make it (appear) defective, and behind them was a king who would capture every fault-free boat by force.'
The context of this verse is that from the wondrous occurrences that took place in the account of Sayyiduna Khidr and Sayyiduna Musa عَـلَيْهِمَا الـسَّلَام, one of them was that when both of them were sailing on a boat, Sayyiduna Khidr عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام removed one or two planks from the boat using an axe in such a way that no water entered the boat, then revealing the reality of this action of his, he mentioned the following wisdom behind it, ‘My purpose (of making a hole) was not to drown the people on the ship, rather, the ship belonged to 10 poor brothers, 5 of them were crippled and could not do anything, and the other 5 were fine, and they would work at sea and their income depended upon this. There was a king ahead who they would have passed on their return journey; he was not aware of the state of the ship owners and it was his way to forcibly seize sound boats, and if they were defective, he would leave them, thus, I made the boat defective so that it would be saved for these poor people.’
Mention of carpentry
Whilst commanding His Beloved Prophet, Sayyiduna Nuh عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام, to build an ark, Allah Almighty stated:
وَ اصْنَعِ الْفُلْكَ بِاَعْیُنِنَا وَ وَحْیِنَا
'And build the Ark under Our observation, and by Our command,
Hence, with the command of Allah Almighty, Sayyiduna Nuh عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام planted teak trees, which took 20 years to become ready, then he عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام began to make an ark (from these trees) which took 2 years to complete. The length of this ark was 300 yards, its width was 50 yards and its height was 30 yards. When Sayyiduna Nuh عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام was making the ark and one of the chiefs from his tribe would pass by him, they would mock him and say, ‘O Nuh! What are you doing?’
He عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام would reply, ‘I am making a house which can move on the water.’ Hearing this, they would laugh because he عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام was making the ark in such a place in the jungle where there was no sign of water for a long distance, and they would also mockingly say, ‘First you were a Prophet and now you are a carpenter.’ مَـعَـاذَ الـلّٰـه.
 [Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 20, Surah Al-Qasas, Verse 38)
 (Siraat-ul-Jinaan, vol. 7, pp. 284, 285, summarised)
 [Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 9, Surah Al-A’raf, Verse 148)
 Siraat-ul-Jinaan, vol. 3, pp. 434, 435
 [Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 19, Surah Al-Naml, Verse 44)
 (Siraat-ul-Jinaan, vol. 7, p. 208, summarised)
 [Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 14, Surah An-Nahl, Verse 92)
 [Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 16, Surah Al-Kahf, Verse 79)
 (Sirat-ul-Jinaan, vol. 6, p. 20, summarised)