Syed Owais Asad Ali
Trade plays a vital role in human life. It has a leading role in the economy of every society. No one can live on their own in any society as everyone has to perform many things collectively and trade is one of them. Islam, which is the complete code of life, has given great importance to it and provided crystal clear instructions about it.
Directly or indirectly, trade is related to many aspects of human life. A country can make a tremendous progress if its traders and trading centers are fair and follow the principles of Islam. Trade has been playing a significant role in both individual and collective life from ancient times. The Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم himself was a trader. Trading was the means of livelihood of the family of the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم. As he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم had made many trade journeys in childhood with Abu Taalib, gaining enough experience of trading, he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم chose trading as a means of livelihood. He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم went on trade journeys to Syria, Busra and Yemen. He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم did trade and business so honestly, truthfully and justly that his business partners and all other traders started calling him ‘Ameen’.
Honesty, truthfulness, and fulfilment of promise when doing trade
Honesty, truthfulness, fulfilment of promises and good manners are the lifeblood of trade and are essential for a successful trader. Our Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم had all of these qualities. He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم has set excellent examples in the history of the world. A blessed companion, Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah Bin Abil Hamsa رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ has narrated: ‘Before he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم received revelation and made the declaration of his Prophethood, I made a trade deal with him. I made a part payment and promised him that I would come back shortly and would pay the remaining amount. By chance, I forgot my promise. After three days, when I reached the place where I had promised to come, I found him standing, waiting. I could not keep my promise, but he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم did not mind it at all. He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم only said, ‘Where have you been? I have been waiting for you here for three days.’ (Sunan Abi Dawood, Kitab-ul-Adab, vol. 4, p. 388, Hadith 4996)
Similarly, when Sayyiduna Saaib رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ, a companion of the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, embraced Islam and came to the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, people began to praise him. The Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said, ‘You do not know him as much as I know him.’ Sayyiduna Saaib رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ humbly said, ‘May my parents be sacrificed for you! You have spoken the truth. Before the declaration of Prophethood, you were my trading partner. You were very nice to me and never quarrelled with me.’ (Sunan Abi Dawood, Kitab-ul-Adab, vol. 4, p. 342, Hadith 4836)
Parable of the Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم about trade
As we know that the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, before receiving the Divine revelation, was doing trade. At the age of 25, he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم was very widely known as a trustworthy and truthful individual. Sayyidatuna Khadijah رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْھَا was a very wealthy woman in Makkah. Her husband had already died. She رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْھَا needed a trustworthy person to take her trade goods to Syria. She رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْھَا was very impressed by the truthfulness and trustworthiness of the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم. She chose him and sent him a message, offering him double wage due to his honesty and sincerity. He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم accepted her offer and took her trade goods to Syria. She رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْھَا also sent a reliable slave, Maysarah, so that he would serve the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم during the journey. He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم went to Syria, sold the goods, bought new goods and returned to Makkah. And he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم did it in an absolute fair way which amazed her. She رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْھَا sold those goods and earned double profit.
Good intention of doing trade
Dear readers! Intention, as we know, plays a vital role in the life of humans, especially in an Islamic society. Sayyiduna Umar Bin Al-Khattab رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ has narrated, ‘I heard Allah’s Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم saying, ‘The reward for deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he intends. So whoever migrates for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his migration is for what he migrates for.’ (Sahih al-Bukhari 1, Hadith 1)
Many traders make their buyers believe that the odds are in their favour, but in actuality, such traders only care for their good. They may fool their buyers, but Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ knows even their true intentions existing in their hearts, as is stated in the Holy Quran:
یَعْلَمُ مَا فِی السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الْاَرْضِ وَ یَعْلَمُ مَا تُسِرُّوْنَ وَ مَا تُعْلِنُوْنَؕ-وَ اللّٰهُ عَلِیْمٌۢ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُوْرِ(۴)
He knows whatever is in the heavens and in the earth, and He knows what you hide and what you disclose, and Allah knows what is within the hearts.
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 28, Surah Al-Taghabun, Verse 4)
Islam lays great emphasis on Halal morsel. Just as filthy food spoils our physical health, similarly, food earned through Haraam means spoils our spirituality. The man who lives on the income earned through Haraam means cannot be spiritually elevated. On the other hand, if the business is conducted by strictly following the Islamic principles of commerce, there will be no scope for any kind of commercial dishonesty varying from business fraud to profiteering which is often masked under a semblance of honesty. This can be further elaborated by the following Hadiths: ‘Whoever sells defective goods without showing it [i.e. its defects], he will always remain subject to the wrath of Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ), or he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said the angels would curse him forever.’ (Ibn Majah, vol. 3, p. 59, Hadith 2237) ‘Jannah is for the one who has pure earnings.’ (Ibid, p. 72, Hadith 4616)
There are some fundamental guidelines for the person wishing to be a good trader. The following are the blessed sayings of the Greatest Trader صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم which shed light on the matter of trade and Halal and Haraam means:
* The purest food is that which you eat from your own earnings. (Jami’ Tirmizi, vol. 3, Hadith 1363)
* Sayyiduna Abu Zar Ghifari رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ has narrated that the Rasool of Rahmah, the Intercessor of the Ummah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم has stated, ‘There are three types of people to whom Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ will not speak, nor will He عَزَّوَجَلَّ see them with mercy, and nor will He عَزَّوَجَلَّ purify them; in fact, there is severe punishment for them.’ Sayyiduna Abu Zar Ghifari رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ has further stated, ‘The Beloved Rasool صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said this three times, so I said that these people would be ruined. Who are they?’ He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said [that those three types of people are]:
1. The one who lets down his lower garment (below his ankles) out of arrogance.
2. The one boasting of the favour [he did for someone].
3. The one selling his goods by swearing a false oath.
(Sahih Muslim, pp. 67, Hadees 171 (106))
In short, trade plays a significant and vital role in the world. Our Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم was the greatest trader in the world. He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم did trade honestly. He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم has set such examples which the traders of the entire world should follow if they want to succeed. Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ has given complete guidelines on trade through the Holy Quran and the teachings of the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم. Now it is compulsory for anyone doing trade to learn about these rules and regulations as ignorance will result in sins or Haraam earnings.