Virtues of Trade &?Business
CHAPTER THREE VARIOUS FORMS OF EARNING AND THE BEST AMONG THEM
Among the elders of Islam, there has been considerable differences of opinion as to which means of earning a livelihood is best. Imam Shafi Rahmatullah Alayh says that business is the best occupation. Imam Abul Hasan Mawardi Rahmatullah Alayh and others like him are of the opinion that agricultural farming is best. Imam Nawawi Rahmatullah Alayh says that the best is to earn your living through your hands. This of course, includes business as well as farming.
The author of ‘Bahr’ says: “According to our learned ones of the Hanafi School, the best occupation after Jihad is business, thereafter industry and then skilled labour.” In my humble opinion, occupations may be divided into three kinds: business, farming and labour. Many are the Hadeeth expounding the virtues in each of these. Some have even included, industry and skilled labour with these. But I feel that these two latter ones are not ways of earning a living, but ways of earning an income and income may be acquired in numerous ways, e.g. through presents, inheritance, charity etc. I feel that it is a mistake to include all those ways of getting hold of wealth in the ways of earning a living. The reason for that is if a man knows how to manufacture shoes, it does not necessarily mean that he has earned a living. If he does manufacture shoes, of what benefit will it be for him unless he is able to sell those shoes? So either, he sells those shoes, which makes him a businessman or he manufactures shoes for people according to their likes and specifications, which in turn makes him a hired skilled labourer.
Those who call Jihad a form of earning a living, has indeed insulted the lofty institution of Jihad. If a person participates in Jihad with the intention of earning a living therefrom, he makes his Jihad null and void. Once, a woman asked Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, “Can a man go forth in Jihad and also have the intention of gaining some worldly benefit therefrom?”
Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam replied: “He shall not receive any reward.”
Abu Moosa Ash’ary Radiallahu Anhu reports that a man asked Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam: “A certain man goes for Jihad for the sake of gaining booty. Another man fights in Jihad in order to show off his bravery. Which of these two is the real mujahid?”
Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam replied: “The one who strives that Allah’s name be super-imposed above all else, he is the true fighter in the path of Allah.”
Sayyidina Abu Umaamah Radiallahu Anhu says: “What do you say regarding that man who goes forth into Jihad for fame or booty?”
Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam replied: “There shall be no reward for him.”
This same man asked the same question three times and all three times Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam replied:
“There shall be no reward for him” and then said further: “Allah only accepts that deed which is done solely and sincerely for His sake alone.”
EMPLOYMENT TO SERVE THE DEEN
I have already stated that business is the best form of occupation. It is the type of profession wherein a person is his own boss as far as his time is concerned. He can also keep himself busy with studies, teaching, tableegh, giving fatwas etc. If a person is occupied in such labour where he serves the Deen, such labour is even more virtuous than business because this labourer is involved with helping the Deen. But there is a major condition attached to this, namely that the labourer so occupied, should have as his intention, the intention to serve the Deen and not to earn money, accepting money only as a last resort and out of need. This was the system of our elders of Deoband. They considered their service to the Deen as their primary objective and looked upon the salary received as a gift from Allah. For this reason, if a person receives a certain sum per month for teaching in a certain madressa and is offered a higher sum for services in another madressa, he should never accept it, and should never leave the one madressa and accept a position in another. I have seen our elders being very steadfast and, particular about this principle and have made special mention thereof in my autobiography (Ab Beti p 156).
Those elders never made the earning of a good salary their main objective. We have already made mention of my Ustad Maulana Khalil Ahmad and Shaikhul Hind Rahmatullah Alayhim. The former’s last salary used to be 40 rupees (8 South African Rands or 3 American Dollars or 2.50 British Pounds), and the great Shaikhul Hind’s Rahmatullah Alayh last salary in Deoband as the highest professor was 50 rupees (the equivalent of 10 South African Rands or 4 American Dollars or 3.30 British Pounds). Whenever the madressa authorities wished to discuss any increase to their monthly salaries they refused any offer of an increase, saying that even that meagre salary was too much. The result was that the other teachers received increases until such a time that the junior lecturers received as much as the principal lecturers. The system was such that the junior lecturers received as much as the principal lectures.
This resulted in the fact that the salaries of the other teachers could not be raised any further. At last, when the authorities pointed out to them that their refusal meant that the other teachers were harmed in that they could not receive any increases until the salaries of the principal lecturers were increased, they reluctantly accepted increases.
My respected elder and Ustad Maulana Khalil Ahmad Saharan-puri Rahmatullah Alayh once stayed in Mecca for a whole year and returned in 1334 Hijri to resume his lectureship once more in Madressa Mazahirul-Uloom, Saharanpur.’My late father Maulana Mohammad Yahya Saheb Rahmatullah Alayh had already passed away in the early part of Zil-Qadh that year. The news was relayed to Maulana by telegram on his arrival in Bombay. In a letter to the madressa he declined to accept any renumeration from the madressa, saying: “For several years, because of my own bodily weakness and ill-health, I have not been able to perform my duties as best as I would have liked. On my behalf Maulana Mohammad Yahya taught Daura (the six Hadeeth kitabs) and he never accepted any renumerations for his services. The two of us together did as much (or more) than one lecturer. Now he is no more with us and as such I will not be able to perform the duties of this lectureship properly. For this reason, I would like to be excused from accepting any salary.”
In answer to that, Maulana Raipuri Rahmatullah Alayh wrote him a long letter, explaining to him that the madressa was in great need of his presence, stating among other things: “Through your presence the madressa’s organisational system will prosper. For this reason, the madressa will not give you a teacher’s renumeration, but a salary for being its director and managing agent. Should you refuse to return to the madressa, it will cause great harm to the madressa’s system and a setback to its supervisors of the madressa.
In my autobiography ‘Ab Beti’ I have discussed the attitude of Maulana Thanwy Rahmatullah Alayh. A certain wealthy man from Aligarh, Maulana Ismail once expressed the desire to study Hadeeth. He wrote a letter to Maulana Thanwy Rahmatullah Alayh with the request that some dependable scholar be sent to Aligarh so that he may study under him. In reply, Maulana Thanwy Rahmatullah Alayh wrote: “Where is there an Alim, who not only has the time but will also agree that I should send him to you? However, if nothing else, then this humble will be prepared to serve you.”
Moivy Ismail was extremely pleased on learning that Hazrat himself had offered his services. It is said that for the sole purpose of teaching Moivy Ismail, Maulana Thanwy Rahmatullah Alayh stayed in Aligarh and taught him whatever books he desired to study. When the question of renumeration came up, Moivy Ismail eagerly inquired as to what the renumeratin will be, saying: “Whatever you should demand, I am prepared to give.” To this Hazrat replied: “As long as I remain here, I would like you to give me Rs 15 per month which I would like to send home.”
When Moivy Ismail heard this meagre amount, he became embarrassed, but because he had previously agreed that whatever Hazrat would demand, he will give. Nothing could be altered. He had to accept and be silent. Several months passed this way at Rs 15 per month. One day as he sat down for lessons, Hazrat said to him: “Ismail Bhai, up to now the sum of fifteen rupees has been the fixed amount. The time has now come to review the salary arrangements.”
Hearing this, Moivy Ismail felt pleased, thinking that possibly Hazrat will now be agreeable to accept a higher salary. Hazrat continued: “Of fifteen rupees you have kindly given me, I have sent ten rupees home every month for my family
Now I have received a letter which informed me of the sad news that she had passed away. So this five rupees is now no more necessary. From now on, please, do not give me fifteen rupees anymore. Ten will suffice.”
Moivy Ismail was greatly surprised, saying that it was no great sacrifice for him to pay fifteen rupees (and would gladly pay it and even more). But Hazrat would have nothing of that and said:
“Why should I accept the extra burden of five more rupees on my head. “Finally, it was fixed at ten.
Maulana Qari Mohammad Tayyeb Rahmatullah Alayh, the Rector of Darul-Uloom Deoband personally heard this story from Nawab Yar Jung. Qari Saheb, however, has some doubt as to the veracity of this story because he says he knew that Hazrat never accepted any renumeration for teaching and lecturing, except for correction and checking religious books.? This is the attitude of the Ulema of Deoband.
Further in ‘Ab Beti’ p. 109 it is reported that Moivy Ameeruddin said: “Once there was a call for Maulana Qasim Nanotwi Rahmatullah Alayh from Bhophal where they wished to employ him at a salary of five hundred rupees per month. I said to him:
‘Qasim, why do you not accept.’ He replied: ‘I am being made this offer because they consider me a man of special qualities and for this they are prepared to pay me five hundred rupees per month. But for myself, I find no special qualities with myself. So why should I accept and go?’ I continued to urge him to go but he still refused.”
Amongst my elders, there are numerous incidents to indicate that as far as they were concerned, the salary was never considered the most important consideration in the acceptance or rejection of a position of employment. They only looked upon it as a gift from Allah (alas this is not found in all of us today). This is the reason for my writing earlier that for someone to be hired for the purpose of religious instruction is the best manner of earning a living.
But now we come across a Hadeeth of Abu Dawood in Kitabul Ijaarah, which presents us with a bit of a problem.
Sayyidina Abu Ubaadah bin Saamit Radiallahu anhu reports: “I used to teach the Quraan to some of the Ahlis Suffah (those poor ones who lived in the Mosque) and one of them gave me a bow as a present. Within myself I reasoned that this was no costly possession. With it I shall shoot arrows in Jihad. But when I reckoned it would, in any case, be better for me to inquire from Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam about the permissibility of accepting such a gift. Therefore I asked him: “Ya Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, a man whom I taught the Quraan has given me this bow as a present. It is not money. I shall shoot arrows with it in Jihad. (May I accept it)?”
Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam replied: “If you desire that it should become a collar of fire (of hell) around your neck, then you may, accept it.”
Because of the contents of this Hadeeth, there is considerable difference of opinion regarding the permissibility of accepting
renumeration for teaching, especially the teaching of religious subjects. Imam Shafi Rahmatullah Alayh says it is permissible. Imam Ahmad Rahmatullah Alayh has two differing opinions, one agreeing with Imam Shafi and another in agreement with Imam Malik and Imam Abu Haneefa Rahmatullah Alayhim, saying that it is not permissible. Because of the great need and importance of education and the need for teachers and the present day conditions, the latter Hanafi scholars have also, of necessity, given a verdict (fatwa) of permissibility.
The basis of the argument of those who say it is permissible, is the Hadeeth reported by Sayyidina Sahl bin Saad Radiallahu anhu; “A certain lady once offered herself in marriage to Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, who remained silent. The lady remained standing (waiting for a reply) and after a while one of the Sahaba Radiallahu anhu said: “Ya Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, if you are not inclined towards accepting the offer, then allow me to marry her,”
Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam asked him: “Do you possess anything which you can give her as mahr?”
He replied: “I possess nothing except my lunghi.”
Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said: “If you should give her you lunghi (loin-cloth) then surely you will have no lunghi with which to cover yourself. So go forth and search for something else as mahr.”
The Sahabi Radiallahu anhu replied: “I have absolutely nothing else.”
Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam again said: “Go and seek even if it be an iron ring.”
The Sahabi Radiallahu anhu went to search but found nothing.
Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam then inquired: “Do you know anything of the puran by heart?”
He replied: “Yes, I know some chapters.” He named them,
Thereupon Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said: “I have thus, given her to you in marriage, for those chapters of the Holy Quran.”
In Durr Manthoor where the same incident is related by Abdullah bin Masood Radiallahu anhu, the wording of the last part of this Hadeeth, is as follows:”I have performed a nikah between yourself and her on the condition that you teach her that which you know of the Holy Quran.”
In ‘Mishkat’ page 258 there is an incident related about a Sahabi Radiallahu anhu, having recited Surah Fatiha whereby a sick person became healed of his afflictation. He received renumeration for it and wanted to know if he could eat of that which he received. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam was asked about it and said: “Whoever eats from that obtained from falsely having recited incantations for exorcising, have done evil, but as for you, you have done so rightly.”
According to another Hadeeth, reporting the same incident, the following words have been added: “The most worthy renumeration is that given for the Quran.”
Commenting on these words, we find the following quotation in the commentary on Mishkat called Lama-aat: “This is an indication that to use the words of the Quran for reciting incantations for removing the effects of some afflictions and to receive renumeration therefore is permissible. In this there is no doubt. And this is also the verdict of the Ulema regarding the teaching of the Qur’an and copying it for a salary. However, there is still some difference of opinion among the Ulema.” (Baab Ijaarah p 258)
For a complete discussion on this topic refer to Bazal Majhood (Kitaabun Nikah, Kitaabul Ijaarah, Kitaabut Tib) and in Owjazul Masaalik (Kitaabun Nikah the complete discussion with the views of the Ulema can be found. See also Laami-ud-Dari volume 2 (Kitaabul Ijaarah) for further detail. 52
My own, personal humble opinion on this issue (by way of conclusion) is this: During the time of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam the qualities of tawakkul, trust in Allah and the ascetic way of life was quite widespread. We have already seen some typical examples of this from the lives of the Allah-fearing ones. Then, also that was a time when the deeply religious ones were generally quite generous in the giving of presents while the BaituI Maal was a properly functioning institution. Hence, the prohibition of accepting renumeration for Deeni work did not cause any harm to the Deen. However, in these days the BaituI Maal is almost non-existant and the fine qualities of piety, abstinence, tawakkul and devotion to the cause of the Deen have become lost from most men. For this reason, it is today well-nigh, impossible to work for the Deen without renumeration. Hence, in the Majmoo-a-Rasaail of Ibn Abideen No. 7, I have found what is virtually a corroboration of my view. He writes in his Shifaa-ul-Aleel: “Muhammad bin FadI said: The former elders considered the accepting of renumeration for teaching the Quran as something bad because at that time, they used to receive grants from the BaituI Maal, and furthermore, people were generally inclined towards works of nature. Now in our times, this is no more the case.” (P 158).
In fact, it has been my general practice for many years to advise madressa authorities not to appoint any teachers without salaries. My personal experience is this: Initially I used to have a system of assisting the teachers financially. This implied that the teacher should teach one or two subjects in the madressa and then spend the rest of his time in some business venture. But the result was always that the teacher’s attention would shift away from teaching towards business only, with the result that eventually he became lost to the teaching profession. On the other hand, I found that teachers teaching without accepting salaries, were generally so unconcerned and unmindful in their attitude, which is generally not the case with those working for salaries.
We should never try to compare ourselves with our saintly predecessors, whose teaching was of such a nature that even in the event of themselves becoming involved with worldly affairs for the earning of their bare necessities, they never allowed themselves to be swayed from serving Islam. Whatever other work they had to do was considered secondary in nature to their service to Islam. Now things have changed to such an extent among ourselves, that even for the sake of necessity a person has to be involved with commercial activities, while also serving Islam by teaching Deen. Our weakness and lack of tawakkul is of such a nature that it causes us in the end to divert all our attention towards the business world. In such cases, complete interest in religious service is lost.
This is also the main reason for my opposition to the introduction of industrial training and training in other skills into the curriculum of any madressa. The possibility and the danger is always there that the religious duties students and teachers are to perform (with or without dedication) may be discarded in favour of the acquired skills in other fields.
Maulana Rumi says:
Hence, until such time that a person has acquired the tawakkul and piety of our saintly predecessors (without just imitating outward appearances), he should not opt for a life of tawakkul and abstinence. When he has reached (internally as well as externally) and has complete faith in his ability to remain steadfast in adversity and has the ability and knowledge that he can do both things (Deeni service as well as business), then of course, this will be a better way. This is what our saintly Elders did. For this reason, Hazrat Gangohi Rahmatullah Alayh initially used to teach children at a salary of ten rupees per month. For this reason too, Hazrat Nanotwi Rahmatullah Alayh used to accept a salary for teaching Hadeeth and for correcting and reviewing Deeni books. In this respect, the story of Hazrat Thanwy Rahmatullah Alayh is also well known. Initially, in Kanpur he used to accept renumeration for teaching. Thereafter, he consulted Hazrat Gangohi Rahmatullah Alayh, saying that he now wished to refuse accepting a salary for his services. During the correspondence with Hazrat, he thrice wrote to Hazrat in this regard and thrice did Hazrat advise him against it. However, of his own accord Maulana Thanwy Rahmatullah Alayh left the teaching profession and returned to Thanabawan. He wrote to Hazrat informing him of his decision saying: “I have now left my previous profession and have returned home.” When Hazrat read this, he was extremely pleased and prayed for his success. ‘Hazrat replied the letter: “Inshallah, you will not be cast into difficulty and want through lack of sustenance.”
My late father used to be Hazrat’s scribe. He found this quite strange and thus inquired: “Hazrat this man thrice sought your permission to leave the job where he worked for a salary and thrice you have refused him permission to do so. Now that he has left of his own accord, I see you are pleased, praising him and making duaa for his success. How is that?”
Hazrat replied: “Advice is given to him who is hesitant and in doubt. But as for him who takes a decisive step, no advice need to be given.”
On page 36 of his book Majaalisu Hakeemul Ummat, Maulana Mohammad Shafee Rahmatullah Alayh writes: “After leaving employment in Kanpur, Maulana Thanwy Rahmatullah Alayh passed a life of complete reliance (tawakkul) on Allah in the sanctuary (khanqah) of Thanabawan. In this manner, a debt of one hundred and fifty rupees had accumulated on him as a result of goods purchased on credit for domestic needs. At that time, his spiritual mentor Hajee Imdadullah Rahmatullah Alayh had already passed away and Maulana Thanwy Rahmatullah Alayh had begun to look upon Hazrat Gangohi Rahmatullah Alayh as his consultant and adviser in cases of difficulty. He therefore wrote to Hazrat Gangohi Rahmatullah Alayh to pray that his debt be settled in some way. Hazrat wrote back: “There is a vacancy for a teacher in Darul Uloom, Deoband. If you so wish, I will write to them, recommending to them your name for appointment to that post.”
Hazrat Thanwy Rahmatullah Alayh says about this: “This put me in an awkward spot because, if I should accept employment in Deoband, it would entail acting contrary to the wishes of my Shaikh, Hajee Imdadullah Rahmatullah Alayh, and if I should refuse to accept, it would mean a certain amount of disrespect to Hazrat Gangohi Rahmatullah Alayh, who had suggested it. However, Allah had cast the correct answer to the problem in my heart. I wrote back: ‘Hazrat, my aim in writing to you was merely to ask you to pray that somehow my debt tie settled. It was not my intention that Hazrat should be troubled by helping me find a way towards earning a living through employment, because it had been the wish of Hazrat Imdadullah Rahmatullah Alayh that I should withdraw from salaried employment in Kanpur and not to be involved in any form of salaried employment in future. Now that my guide and mentor, Hazrat Hajee Saheb is no more, I consider you as his successor and my guide. If you shouk: .-wish that I again accept employment, I will also consider this as if it is Hajee Saheb’s instruction and wish and act accordingly. I will then consider the former piece of advice by Hajee Saheb as having been abrogated by this new instruction.”
Hazrat Gangohi Rahmatullah Alayh replied: “Do not accept any employment. Insha-Allah you shall experience no difficulty.”
In this same book Majaalisu Hakeemul Ummat page 35 Maulana Shafee Rahmatullah Alayh writes about Maulana Nanotwi Rahmatullah Alayh: “Perhaps there are few Muslims who are unacquainted with the great qualities of Maulana Nanotwi Rahmatullah Alayh. His self-denial was such that when there arose the need for the bare basic necessities of life, he went to work in the Mujataba’ee Bookshop in Delhi, proof-reading manuscripts at a mere ten rupees per month. (Two Rand in S.A. currency, 0.75 British Pence and 3 American Dollars). Then he became troubled over accepting this salary, worrying about the advisability of accepting it. He consulted Hajee Imdadullah Saheb Rahmatullah Alayh about it and in future refusing to accept even this, so that whatever he did in future would be without a salary and be solely for the sake of Allah. At that time, Hajee Saheb Rahmatullah Alayh was the undisputed Shaikh and Imam
of the moment. He replied: “You seek my advice about refusing to accept a monthly wage. This shows indecision, doubt and hesitation on your part. It also shows that if you should reject the adoption of means towards earning a living, you will probably land in great distress and trouble. You should only steer clear of means for the purpose of earning a living when you are confident and quite certain of yourself,”
It is said that Hazrat Haj’ee Saheb Rahmatullah Alayh himself lived a life of tawakkul after having already passed all the stages of poverty, hunger and starvation. But he always desired that his students should not suffer any undue distress.
In the Maktoobaat-e-lmdadia page 2 letter number 2, Hajee Saheb is himself reported to have written to Maulana Thanwy Rahmatullah Alayh: “It is not one’s interest to cut oneself off completely from worldly means. It is not the appropriate thing to do except when one is single and has no responsibility to others. To leave one’s family members in want and distress is something regarding which one should fear Allah. There is no benefit therein. The act that brings one nearest to Allah is to teach mankind to serve Allah and to benefit them in this way. I also advise you to visit our beloved Maulana Rashid Ahmad Rahmatullah Alayh and to explain your problems to him because this shall eventually prove beneficial for you.”
The sum total of all this is that the person who has not trained himself towards proper tawakkul through abstinence and piety, should not cast the worldly means aside, otherwise there is a strong possibility that he shall land in distress and become disillusioned with that which Allah had predestined. And when a person lands in doubt, any deed that is done in doubt, will not be satisfactorily performed. When on the other hand, such spiritual strength had been created within so that one has complete faith in the truth emanating from Allah, casting aside worldly means and provisions become permissible.
There is, however, one more condition attached to the matter:
One should never be hasty. The qualities should first be allowed to enter ourselves properly. And secondly, one’s spiritual guide should give permission to do so.
After employment to serve Deen, trade and business is the next best occupation. The main reason is that the trader and the man in the commercial field of activity is the master of his own time and he is thus also able to serve his Deen through teaching, studying, conveying the message of Islam* in spite of also being involved in trade. Apart from this, there are also numerous verses of the Quran and Hadeeth, wherein the virtues of trade are expounded:
“Verily Allah purchases from the believers their selves and their wealth so that for them shall be Jannat…”
In the Hadeeth we read: “Verily the truthful and trustworthy trader will be counted among the Truthful and the Martyrs…” (Tir-mithy and Targheeb)
Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam is also reported to have said: “Verily the best earnings are the earnings of the traders who utter no untruth when they speak, who deceive not when they are put in trust, who default not when they promise, who do not discredit goods when they buy, and praise not their own goods unduly when they sell, and do not take unnecessary evasive action when they are called upon to pay and do not pester unduly when they have to receive that which is their due.” (Targheeb Vol. 3 P 586)
Sayyidina Anas Radiallahu anhu reports that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said: “Indeed the honest and truthful trader shall be under the shade of the Throne of Allah on the Day of Qiyamat.” (Targheeb Vol. 3 P 555)
Sayyidina Abu-Umaamah Radiallahu anhu reports that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said: “When four qualities are found in a trader, his earnings are sound, if he does not discredit the quality of the goods he buys, if he does not unduly praise the goods he sells, if he does not cheat when he sells and does not take oaths when he buys and sells.”
Sayyidina Hakeem bin Hizaam Radiallahu anhu reports that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said: “The buyer and the seller has the right to cancel the sale as long as they do not separate (from each other after having contracted). If they both spoke the truth and explained (any defects in the goods sold and in the price), they will be blessed in their contract of sale. And if they spoke untruths and covered up defects, they will probably earn profit but will destroy the blessings of their sale.” (Bukhary, Muslim, Targheeb)
Imam Saeed bin Mansoor reports that Naeem bin Abdir Rahman and Yahya bin Jaabir Radiallahu anhuma reported the Hadeeth in which Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam is reported to have said: “Nine tenths of sustenance (rizq) is derived from trade and one tenth from pastoral farming.” (Taraateeb-al-ldaariya Vol. 2 P 10)
Imam Day lam i Rahmatullah Alayh reports that Ibn Abbas Radiallahu anhu said: “I advise you to treat the traders well for they are the messengers between the horizons and the trusted ones of Allah on earth.” (Taraateeb-al-ldaariya Vol. 2 P 11)
It Is reported in Atabiya that Imam Malik Rahmatullah Alayh reported that Sayyidina Umar Radiallahu anhu said: “I advise you to participate in trade, so that these red ones (non-Arabs) do not become an obstacle for you in your worldly affairs.”
NOTE: Imam Ash-hab Maliky Rahmatullah Alayh says: “The people of Quraish were keenly involved in business, while the Arabs looked upon business as a low form of earning a living. The term ‘red ones’ refers to those non-Arab slaves who generally had reddish glow in their skins.”
In his well-known book AI-Mab-Khal, Ibn Ameerul Haaj Rahmatullah Alayh reports that Sayyidina Umar Radiallahu anhu once visited the market-place. There he noticed that the majority of those who were trading, were foreigners and people from the ordinary ranks of people. This saddened him and as a result, when some close companions gathered around him he said what is quoted above.
Some people inquired: “But sire, Allah had through conquests of lands and the arrival of conquered treasures made us independent of trade for our needs.”
Umar Radiallahu anhu replied: “If you are going to do that and discard trade as a profession, you will find that your men will be in need of their men and your women will be in need of then women.”
Allama Abdul Hay Kuttany Rahmatullah Alayh says: “The prphecy of Sayyidina Umar Radiallahu anhu regarding the future of this Ummat proved to be absolutely true. Hence, when the Muslims left trading according to the Shariat and gave up trade and commerce as a profession, others took hold of it and controlled the business world to such an extent that the entire Ummat came to be in need of others. For everything, from the most insignificant to the most important, they had to be dependant upon others. (Taraateebul Idariya Vol. P21)
Imam Tirmithi Rahmatullah Alayh started a special chapter in his famous Saheeh kitab and titled it thus: “Commencing trade early in the morning.” In it we find a Hadeeth wherein Sayyidina Sakhar Ghamidy Radiallahu anhu reports that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam used to pray: “0 Allah bless this Ummat in their efforts in the early morning hours.”
Sayyidina Sakhar Radiallahu anhu also reports that when Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam used to send off an army into battle, he always did so in the early hours of the morning. Sayyidina Sakhar Radiallahu anhu was also a trader and whenever he used to send his employees for trade, he despatched them early in the morning. In this manner, he made tremendous profit and greatly increased his wealth.
Sayyidina Saeed bin Hurayth Radiallahu anhu says that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said: “Whoever sells land or a house and does not invest the amount obtained therefrom in something similar, will not be blessed therein.” (Ibn Mafah, Taraateeb)
Among the Sahabah Radiallahu anhum, Sayyidina Abu Bakr Radiallahu anhu was a well-known trader and businessman. We are told in Isaabah that before the advent of Islam, he possessed forty thousand dirhams for which he utilised to purchase slaves, with the aim of setting them free and do general welfare work. He did so much of charitable works, that at the time of his arrival at Medina after the Hijrat, he had only five thousand left, but at the time of his death, he had absolutely nothing.
It is reported in the Tareekh of Ibn Asaakir Radiallahu anhu that Umme Salmah Radiallah anha states that: Sayyidina Abu Bakr Radiallahu anhu used to travel for trade purposes to Basra, even during the lifetime of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam. We are all aware of how much love he had for the Rasul of Allah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam and in spite of that love, he was prepared to undertake this vast journey to Basra.
Ibn Saad Radiallahu anhu writes that early in the morning just after he had been elected as Khalifa, Sayyidina Abu Bakr Radiallahu anhu was seen carrying a large bundle of cloth, which he was taking to the market-place for sale. On the way he was met by Sayyidina Umar and Sayyidina Abu Ubaidah bin Jarrah Radiallahu anhuma. They said: “How can you now keep yourself busy with this trade when the responsibility of organising the affairs and administration of the Ummat has been cast upon you?”
He replied: “How will I then feed my family?” They replied: “We shall fix a salary for you.”
Hence the result was that they fixed for him a salary which was equal to the price of one sheep.
in the commentary on Saheeh Bukhary, Ibn Zakary Rahmatullah Alayh writes that this should be done in the case of everyone who has the responsibility of handling the affairs of the Muslims and refers to the qadi, (the judge), mufti, teacher etc. All of them should receive fixed salaries for their duties.
Sayyidina Umar Radiallahu anhu also used to be a trader. There were some Hadeeth about which he was unaware and regarding the reason for not knowing them, he used to say: “My involvement with trade kept me so busy in the market-place that I was unable to come to know some things.”
He also reported to have said on numerous occasions: “Except to die in Jihad in the path of Allah, nothing is more beloved to me than to earn my living through my own hard work and efforts.” By way of substantiating this, he used to recite:
“He (Allah) knows….others travelling through the land seeking bounty of Allah.” (Surah 73:20)
Sayyidina Uthman Radiallahu anhu also used to be a trader, both before Islam and thereafter. In Mishkat, we are told that at the time of the Expedition to Tabuk, Sayyidina Uthman Radiali’ahu anhu, of his own, provided 300 camels plus all the equipment. According to another Hadeeth, we are told that for this same expedition he also brought forth one thousand dinars which he presented to Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam for preparing this expedition. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam told him: “After this day, no deed of Uthman Radiallahu anhu will ever cause him any harm.”
The Rasul Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam repeated this twice. According to another Hadeeth, it is stated that Sayyidina Uthman Radiallahu anhu brought a thousand camels as well as seventy horses.
In Taraateeb-al-ldariya in the list of traders among the Sahabah Radiallahu anhum, the name of Sayyidah Khadija Radiallahu anha, the mother of the Mumineen, is also mentioned. The story is well-known of how she used to send caravans to Syria to buy and sell goods. She also sent Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, together with her slave Maysara, with goods to Syria and promised them, double the share of profits, which she normally offered to her business managers. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam proceeded to the north and sold goods in the market-places of Basra, where he again bought goods to return to Mecca. On this caravan journey, they made twice the amount of profit as was made before and she indeed gave him twice the share of profit which she normally gave.
Another famous trader among the Sahabah Radiallahu anhum was Sayyidina Zubair bin Owam Radiallahu anhu. Once someone asked him: “How is it that you made so much profit from trade?”
He replied: “I never purchased faulty things for trade and never desired to make profit. But Allah grants profit to whomsoever He wishes.”
Ibn Abdul Bar Rahmatullah Alayh wrote that Sayyidina Zubair Radiallahu anhu used to have one thousand slaves who worked for him for a share of the profits from their daily dealings. They brought his daily share of the profits to him.
Another famous trader was Sayyidina Abdur Rahman bin Owf Radiallahu anhu. In Saheeh Bukhary he is reported to tell his own story: “When we arrived in Medina, Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam effected a bond of brotherhood between myself and Saad bin Rabee’a Radiallahu anhu. Saad said to me: ‘Among the Ansarls, I am the wealthiest one and will gladly give you half of my possessions. I have two wives, for your sake, I shall divorce
one of them. Whomsoever one of them you choose, I shall divorce her (after her iddat) so that you may marry her.
I said: May Allah bless you in your wealth, your family and in your household. There is no need for such upheaval. Just show me where the market-place is where the people trade.” I was shown the market-place of Bani Qaynuqah.
Abdur Rahman Radiallahu anhu started trading there and soon had such success, that he brought home quite a bit of cheese and ghee. On the second day, the same thing happened. Soon thereafter he was in a position to get married. After marriage he came to Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam who saw a yellowish colour on his clothes (which had appeared after his clothes had touched that of the wife’s).
Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam asked him; “What is this, 0 Abdur Rahman?”
He replied: “Ya Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam I have married a girl from the Ansaris.”
Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam again inquired: “What did you give her as Mahr (dowry)?”
He replied: “A piece of gold the size of a date pit.”
Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam commanded: “Arrange a wedding feast, even if it be with the meat of one goat.”
Allah had given Sayyidina Abdur Rahman Radiallahu anhu so much that when he divorced his wives at the time prior to his death, a settlement had to be made for them. It is reported that when one third of one eigth of his wealth was granted to each wife, each of them still received 83,000 dirhams. (Taraateebul Idariya Vol. 2 P27)
Yes, Abdur Rahman Radiallahu anhu was rich but at the same time he was also exceptionally generous. Once Sayyidah
Ayesha Radiallahu anha said to his son, Abu Salma Radiallahu anhu:
“May Allah cause your father to drink happily from the fountain Salsabeel in Jannat.”
The reason for this duaa was the fact that Sayyidina Abdur Rahman Radiallahu anhu gave to Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam an orchard as a gift. This orchard was later sold for a sum of forty thousand dirhams. (Mishkat P567)
In Taraateeb the name of Sayyidina Sa’ad bin Aa-iz Radiallahu anhu is also mentioned among the traders. He was a freed slave of Sayyidina Ammaar bin Yaasir Radiallahu anhu. According to the author of Isaabah, he was a dealer in qarz o a name given to the leaves of a certain tree, which are used for the dyeing of skins of animals. For tnis reason he is also known as Saad-al-qarz Radiallahu anhu. Once he complained to Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam about his extreme poverty. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam recommended that he proceed to the market-place and start trading. Thereupon he went there, bought some qarz and started selling it. In this way, he made some profit. When Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam came to hear of it, he advised him to remain in that form of business. (Imam Baghawy)
Another trader is Sayyidina Abu Maa’liq al Ansari Radiallahu anhu. He used to take his own goods, as well as the goods of others, to trade in far places. But in spite of being on long Journeys, he was always occupied in ibaadah and was one of those who were known as ‘mustajaabul daawaat’, those whose duas were readily accepted.
Apart from these, there was Sayyidina Talha bin Ubaydullah Radiallahu anhu, who traded in cloth. Sayyidina Sufyan bin Uyaynah Radiatlahu anhu reported that the daily profit of Sayyidina Talha Radiallahu anhu came to one thousand wafias, one wafia being equal to about one dinar (gold coin).
In Saheeh Bukhary Sayyidina Abu Hurairah Radiallahu anhu is reported to have said: “You people say that Abu Hurairah Radiallahu anhu reports many Ahaadeeth, whereas the Ansaar and the Muhaajireen do not report so many. But my Muhaajireen brothers were busy in the market-places (with trade), while I, with a mere piece of bread to fill my stomach (which I also could not always do), used to attach myself to the very footsteps of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, following him everywhere…. and I was one of those poor ones from among the Companions of Suffah (who for being homeless and destitute) lived in the mosque. I had no possessions, whatsoever, to divert my attention and occupy time with them. All I had interest in was to learn from Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam. Therefore, I remembered while they forgot. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam once said during a conversation: ‘Whosoever spreads his cloth during this conversation of mine and folds it after my conversation had terminated, will remember my words.’ On hearing that, I spread my chadar (sheet) and after Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam had ended his conversation, I folded it and hugged it to my breast. Since then none of his words ever left my memory.” (Bukhary and Muslim)
In Taraateeb, we find mention of the fact that the Sahabah Radiallahu anhum traded in numerous types of goods. In this same book, we find various chapters wherein the names of various Sahabah Radiallahu anhum are mentioned.
AGRICULTURE AND FARMING
In my opinion, the next best occupation after trade is agriculture. Sayyidina Anas Radiallahu anhu reports that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said: “Should a man plant a tree or busy himself with farming and a person, or a bird or an animal eats thereof, then that shall be an act of charity for him.”
In this same report by Muslim, there is an addition: “And if anything thereof gets stolen, then too, it shall be considered a sadaqah.” (Mishkat Vol. 1 P168)
Agriculture is of paramount importance, because if there is no such farming, none will ever find anything to eat. The virtues of agricultural farming is expounded in many places in the Quran. While enumerating His great bounty on mankind, Allah time and again mentions how He sends down rains from the Heavens. “And It Is He who sendeth down the rain from the skies: With it, We produce vegetation of all kinds. From some, We produce green (crops) out of which, We produce grain, heaped up (at harvest time). Out of the date palm and its sheaths, come clusters of dates, hanging low and near, and then there are gardens of grapes and olives and pomegranates, each similar in kind, yet different In variety. When they begin to bear fruit, feast your eyes with the fruit and ripeness thereof. Behold, there are signs in these things for people who believe.” (Surah 6:99)
There are many other verses like these in the Quran, where mention is made of gardens and orchards and how Allah, in bringing these forth, has indeed shown favour to mankind. In Surah Hud He says:
“It is He who produced you from the earth and settled you therein. Then ask forgiveness of Him and turn to Him in repentance, for My Lord is always near, ready to answer.” (Surah 11 v 61)
Iman Abu Bakr Jussaas Razi Radiallahu anhu says: “From this verse, the conclusion may be drawn that it is Waajib to fill the earth with crops, gardens and orchards or even with buildings.”
In the Hadeeth dealing with things that may be left behind as a sadaqah Jaariya (a continuously reward-giving charity even after one’s death) we also find the words: “Or a plant or a tree which he planted”. In other words, such a person will also receive reward, even after his death, for having planted a tree, from which any kind of benefit is derived, (see Taraateeb as quoted from Abu Naeem).
Sayyidlna Anas Radiallahu anhu reports that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said: “If the hour of Qiyamat should suddenly come, while anyone of you has a seedling of a date-palm in his hand, which he wishes to plant, then if it is at all possible for him to do so before Qiyamat arrives, let him plant it.”
Sayyidina Mauwiya bin Qurrah Radiallahu anhu reports that Sayyidina Umar Radiallahu anhu once met some people from Yemen. He asked them: “Who are you?”
They replied: “We are those who rely on Allah for our sustenance.”
Umar Radiallahu anhu said: “You are liars. You are not those who rely on Allah. The true one who relies on Allah is he who plants the seed in the earth and then relies on Allah.”
Looking at this Hadeeth and comparing it with another reported by Abu Umaama Radiallahu anhu in Saheeh Bukhary, we find what seems like an open contradiction. In the other Hadeeth it is reported that Sayyidina Umar Radiallahu anhu once saw a
plough and some agricultural farming equipment in the possessions of some people. He then said: “I have heard Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam say: ‘Verily into the house into which these things enter, dishonour and disgrace also enter’.” (Mishkat, Bukhary)
In actual fact, there is no contradiction. The commentary on Bukhary, Lami-ud-Dari states: “This Hadeeth and others like it, with similar contents refer actually to those farmers who farm or who have to pay tribute to the real owner, which is not a very honourable occupation under normal circumstances. It also refers to those people who are struggling so hard under this feudal-like system, that in both Deeni and worldly affairs they are despised in the eyes of men.”
Many scholars have taken this to be the true meaning of that Hadeeth. Hafiz ibn Hajar Rahmatullah Alayh writes that in the Mus-takh-raj of Abu Naeem, quoting this same Hadeeth, the following words are added: “Such dishonour comes over them, which will not leave them till the Day of Qiyamat.” This dishonour refers to the tribute which the feudal lords extract and demand from the serfs. Farming of this nature was previously confined to the zimmis (those non-Muslims living under Muslim rule in Muslim-controlled lands). This was a reason why the Sahabah Radiallahu anhum did not consider farming to be an honourable profession. Allama Ibnul Teen states that this is one of the miracles of prophecy from the tongue of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, regarding future events, because today we see the truth thereof in that it is unbelieveble as to what amount of injustice is meted out against the farmers and what amount of indignities are showered upon them, (especially in lands under the feudal system).
Imam Bukhary Rahmatullah Alayh also tried to bring about reconciliation between the meaning of the two Hadeeth. He indicated that farming will eventually result in dishonour and disgrace when in the course of following this, otherwise, fine occupation a person becomes so involved in it, that he neglects to perform those things which he should uphold and protect, or if he exceeds the limits of moderation. Abu Umaama’s Radiallahu anhu Hadeeth does not mean one should not occupy oneself with farming. If he does so while being alone, problems may arise which he may not be able to overcome alone. However, if he has many workers under him, this Hadeeth does not refer to him. Another explanation is given by Dawoodi, who says that it refers to the one who farms lands attached to or in close proximity to the lands of the enemies of Islam. If he farms there, his enemies will overcome him.
In this regard we should make a clear distinction between farming by oneself on one’s own land, which is called Zaraa-at and giving one’s land to others to farm, which is called Muzaara-at. There is a great difference in meaning between these two forms of farming. There are rules and regulations to be observed in all these forms of farming as has been dealth with at length in Ow-jazul Masaalik Vol. 5 P220 under the chapter Baab Kiraarul Ard, dealing with the ‘hiring of land’. At all times and in all affairs, should the laws of Shariat be observed and the niyat be kept clean and proper.
In a another Hadeeth, we are told that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said that on the Day of Qiyamat, of the cases of those who will be judged first, will be those cases of three types of people: First of all, a martyr (who had been killed in the path of Allah in Jihad) will be brought forward. All Allah’s favours to him shall be brought to his notice and he will admit them. Then Allah will ask him: “In return for that, what righteousness did you bring?”
He will reply: “I have fought in Your path until I became martyred (for Your sake).”
Allah will reply: “You have spoken an untruth. You have only fought so that men may say you were brave. And so it was said.”
Then Allah shall command that he be pulled headlong on his face and cast into the fire of jahannam.
Thereafter, a learned scholar shall be brought forth, an Alim, who had studied and taught and had spent time teaching the Holy Quran. To him, Allah will also mention His favours, which he will recognise and admit. He too shall be asked: “In return for these favours, what righteousness did you perform?”
He will reply: “I have studied and have taught the Holy Quran (for Your sake).
Allah will say: “You have spoken an untruth. You studied so that people will call you an Alim, a scholar and you read the Quran so that people will call you an eminent qari. And so it was said.”
Then Allah will command that he too, be pulled headlong on his face and cast into jahannam.
Then will be brought forth a rich man to whom Allah had given an abundance of wealth. Allah will enumerate all His favours upon him and he too, will recognise them and admit them. Then he will be asked: “In return for these favours, what righteousness did you perform?”
He will reply: “I have never neglected any cause wherein You desire that money be spent. I have given in charity (for Your sake).
Allah will say: “You have spoken an untruth. You have spent so that men may say you were generous. And so it was said.”
Then Allah will command that he too, be pulled along his face and cast into jahannam.
Here we have seen the wonderful qualities of knowledge, and the teaching of the Quran, and martyrdom and generosity. Yet, because of the incorrectness of the intentions, these will be the first persons to be cast into jahannam.
In previous pages, we have mentioned many virtues in trade and business. But if interest money (riba, usury) enter into the business, then instead of reward, the trader becomes the recipient of great punishment. Look at martyrdom; Look at knowledge! The greatness and praiseworthiness of these qualities are accepted by all of us. Yet, because of the intentions being bad, the bearers of those qualities are the first to enter jahannam. Similarly, we have seen the great virtue of being employed in such a position where one is serving the Deen as a teacher instructor or lecturer. But, if, during the time when one is supposed to be teaching, the employee is guilty of default or neglect, it can prove disastrous.
Hazrat Maulana Mazhar Nanotwi, Rahmatullah Alayh was a very Allah-fearing person as well as a very conscientious teacher. It is said that whenever a person came to see him during the cause of his teaching time for something of a personal nature, he checked the time and at the end of the interview or discussion he again checked the time to see how much of time was spent. He used to make a note of every minute that went in such interviews. At the end of the month, he used to calculate the total and had his salary adjusted in such a way that he was not paid for such minutes.
Hazrat Maulana Qasim Nanotwi’s Rahmatullah Alayh practice is noted on page 427 (Vol. 1) of his biography: Munshi Mumtaz All Saheb had established a press in Meerut. Because of their previous close relationship he called upon Hazrat to assist him in the proof-reading and correcting of manuscripts. It appears that Munshi Saheb, as owner of the press, had no strict regulations and conditions under which Hazrat had to work. In fact, he had such love and respect for Hazrat that he considered it sufficient honour just to be blessed with Hazrat’s presence and company. This of course also points to his appreciation of the great scholar as well as Munshi Saheb’s own nobleness. However, Maulana Nanotwi Rahmatullah Alayh was a man with such a sense of responsibility and duty that he considered his work in the press of paramount importance. It may not be mentioned in his biography, but in the circles of the Ulema of Deoband, it is well-known that if ever he had been late for work, he took note of the time. At the end of the month, he used to present these minutes added together into hours and insisted that his salary be adjusted so as to exclude payment for those hours not worked. Such was his taqwa, fear of Allah! This is no surprise, if we bear in mind that at the time considered his work in the press as more important than any other.
The position of my late Shaikh Maulana Khalil Ahmad Saharan-puri Rahmatullah Alayh is also well-known and I have already mentioned it ‘n some of my books as well as in the previous pages of this one. When he returned from a year’s residence in Hejaz, he was informed of the demise of my late father on his arrival in Bombay. Refusing to accept a salary for teaching in Mazahirul Uloom, Saharanpur, he wrote: “For many years I have been unable to perform my duties as a lecturer properly because of my weakness and ill-health. Maulana Yahya Rahmatullah Alayh used to teach the Saheeh Kitabs on my behalf and he never accepted a salary. When he did so, he did it as if it was my duty he was performing. We both, together, used to do more work than one lecturer. Now that he is no more, I will not be able to do my work properly. For this reason I wish to be excused from accepting any form of remuneration for my services.”
A long series of letters passed between himself and Maulana Raipuri Rahmatullah Alayh and in the end the question of remuneration for services was shelved and it was decided to remunerate him for services rendered in connection with the administration of the madressa.
In the special copy of the AI-Jamiat – the Shaikhul Islam Edition, which was issued on the death of Shaikhul Islam, Maulana Hus-sain Ahmad Madam Rahmatullah Alayh, we read that Maulana Madani Rahmatullah Alayh only used to accept a salary for the number of days on which he was on duty and never accepted any payment for days on which he did not teach. He went on numerous journeys to all parts of India, but always accepted a salary for the working days only. In the end when he fell ill, he was still entitled to one month’s leave which he had not taken. Because he was entitled to one month’s leave, the madressa sent his salary to him. Maulana Madani Rahmatullah Alayh sent it back, saying: “How can I accept this salary? I have not been working this month.”
After the demise of Hazrat Madani Rahmatullah Alayh, the Rector of Darul Uloom, Deoband, Maulana Mohammad Tayyeb Rahmatullah Alayh took the salary and offered it to his widow, saying: “By the laws of Shariat, it is permissible to accept this month’s salary. The truth of the matter is that Maulana Madani Rahmatullah Alayh declined to accept it because of his great piety. If you should now wish to accept it, I shall be most pleased to present it to you.”
Gracefully she thanked him but declined to accept the offer. She said: “When our Hazrat found himself unable and unwilling to accept anything, how can I now accept it?”
In the year 1349 Hijri (1930), Maulana Madani Rahmatullah Alayh was offered the post of Shaikhul-Hadeeth of Darul Uloom, Deoband. He stipulated that his acceptance would be subject to twenty conditions. The council accepted all his conditions. The nineteenth of these conditions, read thus: “In the event of there being any times of my hours of lecturing, when I should fail to appear in order to do my duty, such times will be cut from my schedule and my salary will be adjusted accordingly.”
In the Maktoobaat of Shaikhul Islam, that is, the letters of Maulana Madani Rahmatullah Alayh, arranged for publication by Janab Ifdaal llahi Deobandi, we read that on 30th ofZil Hijja 1363, Hazrat sent a letter to the Rector of the madressa in which he stated: “Kindly continue to calculate the days of my absence according to the agreement and subtract from my salary and also include therein those days which according to my conditions were accepted for non-payment.
Further regarding agriculture, Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam is reported to have said:
“Whoever usurps one finger’s length of land unjustly will find that on the Day of Qlyamat, this piece of land from the seven earths will be made a collar around his neck.” (Mishkat 9 254)
After having mentioned all this, it is necessary to note that in the earning of a living as well as in all affairs, it is necessary that the laws of Shariat be observed. In the Ihya-ul-Uloom, a special chapter has been included on this.
Imam Ghazali Rahmatullah Alayh writes in Vol. 2 page 64:
“It is compulsory upon every Muslim, who is involved with it, to learn the laws of buying and selling, because the seeking of knowledge is a duty upon every Muslim. When we say the seeking of knowledge is such a duty, we also mean knowledge of all these affairs of trade and business etc. Those in service and employment should know the laws applying to them and those who work for a living should know their laws, no matter what occupation he has. In such a way, they will become aware of the things which cause their acts to become illegal by Shariat. So they will be able to avoid these acts. When some cases do come along which are rare and uncommon, and one knows not whether it is permissible or not, one should not act until such time as he had had the opportunity of inquiring from the learned scholars. It stands to reason that when a person is not aware of the general laws of Halaal and Haraam, he will not even be able to know when he should avoid acting and when he should inquire. A person may say: “I will not seek knowledge before hand until such time that a special occasion arises and when such a situation arises, I will ask.”
Such a person should be answered thus: “When you do not know basically, the laws and the things which causes trade contracts to become null and void, then how will you be able to know when it is necessary for you to ask about their permissibility or otherwise?”
“Those who do not know the basic laws of business, will continue in business, considering everything they do to be correctly done. Hence, in business for example, it is necessary for a trader to know at least what is permissible, what is not and what is doubtful.”
In Taraateebul Idariya Vol. 2 page 16 we find the following statement: “In the early days of Islam, people never became involved with trade and commerce until such time that they knew the basic, general laws pertaining to business and knew how they could avoid interest (usury) in buying and selling.”
It goes further: “Imam Shafi Rahmatullah Alayh wrote Al-Risaalah and Imam Ghazali Rahmatullah Alayh wrote in Ihya that all the UIema have reached general consensus that it is impermissible for anyone (any mukallaf person) to start any affair until he had come to know what Allah’s verdict is on that specific affair and Imam Qaraakhi Maliki Rahmatullah Alayh has written in Kitaabul Furooq: “For anyone who wishes to occupy himself with buying and selling, it is compulsory to inquire as to what Allah had ordained and for those who wish to accept any form of employment for remuneration, it is necessary to know the laws pertaining to hiring contracts. For those who have business based on borrowing and lending of finances, they should know the laws in that connection. Similarly those on whom Salaah is compulsory, should definitely know the rules and regulations of Salaah.”
In this regard, we have the guidance and also of the verse where Allah informs us of the duaa of Nabi Nooh Alayhis Salaam, who said:
” seek refuge in Thee from asking Thee questions of that of which I have no knowledge.”
This was in connection with his son. Nabi Nooh Alayhis Salaam inquired about his son at the time of the great flood. He had been admonished by Allah for inquiring about his son who was drowned while being an unbeliever. Without first having inquired about the permissibility of asking for his son to be taken aboard the ship to be saved from the flood, he mentioned the son and his fate. Now this admonishing by Allah and the answer given by Nabi Nooh Alayhis Salaam on being reprimanded is clear proof,for the fact, that before commencing any action, it is most necessary that one should know the permissibility of that act or its non-permissibility.
In another verse it is stated:
“And do not follow that about which you have no knowledge.”
In this verse, Allah prohibited His Nabi from following that about which he has no knowledge. Therefore knowledge is a prerequisite in all things. In this respect, we also have the saying of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam:
“The seeking of knowledge is incumbent upon every Muslim.”
Imam Shafi Rahmatullah Alayh had said: “The duty of seeking knowledge is of two kinds: Fard ‘Ayn and Fard Kifaayah. Fard ‘Ayn refers to those things which one is required to know in his daily life and are indispensible to him. Apart from that, the knowledge of all other things is a Fard Kifaayah.”
According to the book Rowhatul-mush-Tabikah Sayyidina Ibn Umar Radial lahu anhu is reported to have said: “These ignorant non-Arabs are not of us, until they know the laws of buying and selling.” The gist of this is also found in the practice of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam. Whenever any one of the Sahabah Radiallahu anhu wanted to do any kind of work, Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam used to teach him the rules and regulations pertaining to that specific work.
In the commentary on Mukhtasar of Ibn Abi Jumrah, Majaji wrote that it is the unanimous verdict of the Ulema, that whoever wishes to get involved with buying and selling in trade, should know the laws of Islamic business before they can trade in the market places. They should learn the rules and regulations, the
prescriptions and prohibitions even before they start trading. Among the Ulema there is a general consensus of opinion on this issue. Imam Malik Rahmatullah Alayh has said the same in his book, Kitaabul Qiraaz. He also wrote in Mudowwanah: “In my opinion, trade is not permissible for that person, who, because of his lack of knowledge, considers Haraam things to be Halaal and cannot differentiate between the two, even if he be a Muslim.
It is reported that Sayyidina Umar Radiallahu anhu once sent a man to the market place, telling him: “If there is anyone there, who does not know the laws of Islam pertaining to buying and selling, remove him from there.”
In Mad-Khal of Ibn Ameerul Haaj Rahmatullah Alayh it is reported that Sayyidina Umar Radiallahu anhu from time to time, used to lash and whip those who did not know the laws and used to say to them: “No such a person should be allowed to sit in the market-places, doing business, who knows not what is usury.”
Even Imam Malik Rahmatullah Alayh too had persons removed from the market places for not knowing the laws so that others may be saved from dealing in interest.
I have heard from Sayyidina Abu Muhammad, that during his time, an inspector, he used to frequent the market place, stopping at each trader to ask him certain questions as to how trade and commercial contracts may contain aspects of interest and how to avoid such evils. If the shopkeeper answered correctly, he was left to continue trading there, but if ever he expressed ignorance about such matters, he was forcibly evicted with these words: “It is not permissible for you to trade in the market places of the Muslim community. You feed usury to people and cause them to devour that which is unclean.”
Maulana Thanwy Rahmatullah Alayh wrote a detailed book on business dealing called Safaa-i-Muaamalaat. Many necessary details are mentioned therein and the study of this book is of tremendous benefit. At the end, Hazrat wrote: “The correctness of our business dealings is a major portion of our Deen and in the
introduction to this book, attention has already been drawn to the indifference of people to these things nowadays. It should be noted that the main reason for explaining these things is to ensure the consuming of Halaal. It is advisable here, to indicate the virtue of the blessings of Halaal foods and to point out the evils of eating Haraam. For this reason, we shall quote the meanings of five Ahadeeth, plus seven ‘ines of poetry from the Mathnawi as well as fifteen couplets from the poem Naan-wo-Halwa, all of which are connected with the subject under discussion, so that readers may take warning and cast aside their negligence and indifference and take heed.
It is reported in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad, Shehbul Imaan of Imam Bayhaqi and the Sunan of Daylami Rahmatullah Alayh that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam had said: “The earning of Halaal is also a Fard duty after the other duties of Salaah and Fasting and that a person’s duas become acceptable to Allah through Halaal earnings. If any one morsel of food that is Haraam, enters the mouth, the result will be that for forty days his duas will not be answered, and that if the clothes he wears, one dirham out of ten is from Haraam sources, his Salaah will not be accepted for as long as those clothes remain on his body. No charity from Haraam wealth will be accepted, nor will there be any blessing in spending out of Haraam possessions. Whatever Haraam wealth is left behind for heirs after a person’s death, will for that person, become a guide towards hell. And the flesh that grows on anyone’s body nourished by Haraam means, will not enter Jannat but be dispatched to hell.”
Having then quoted the poem Naan-wo-halwa Hazrat Thanw? Rahmatullah Alayh continued: “In these lines of poetry the author mentions the beneficial fruits and results of Halaal earnings as being enlightenment, perfection of knowledge, love for Allah, righteous thoughts, courage and attentiveness. On the other hand, the fruits of Haraam earnings are irreligiousness, being deprived of knowledge of Allah, being overcome by one’s own base desires, absence of courage to proceed towards obedience and destruction of one’s faith.”
In those same lines, a remedy has been prescribed to fend off the desire for Haraam earnings, such persons should be satisfied with what they have and what they receive, and they should enjoin upon themselves simplicity of food, clothes and in their daily domestic needs. They should avoid all forms of pompousness, show and excessive comforts. Therefore, looking at the warnings given of the dangers, Muslims should take care of themselves from the evils of Haraam earnings.”
Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafee Saheb Rahmatullah Alayh wrote a series of booklets called, Jawaahirul-Fiqah. In one of these, he wrote about the non-permissible business contracts, and in the introduction to it, Maulana Mufti Saheb Rahmatullah Alayh wrote: “This is a clear indication that the objection against Islamic Law, i.e. that it is narrow, rigid and very hard to implement, is indeed unfounded and is in fact, a false accusation against Islam. Whatever narrow-mindedness is felt, is because of the ultra-liberal and rebellious attitude that has taken hold of the general Muslim public (through the infiltration of ultra modern ideas from Europe). It is because they do not want to make the distinction between Haraam and Halaal. One will find that, in cases, where with a little change, certain business contracts would have become permissible according to Shariat, they have continued to persist with those same cases in its non-Islamic manner. Yet, they continue to object, whether in effect the narrow-mindedness lies within themselves or whether the actual objection is their own indifference to Islamic values. However, even today, the Allah-fearing ones find difficulty in earning Halaal sustenance. What should they do? My first answer to them is: No doubt, you have difficulty in earning Halaal. But look at it from this point of view. For the mere comforts of this world, which in any case lasts only for a couple of days, and in order to please some people, a man sometimes casts himself into tremendous difficulties. If he casts his attention towards the never-ending favours of Allah in the Hereafter, and with this in mind and to please his Lord and Creator, he meets with a certain amount of difficulty, then surely the sacrifice is not too great! This should not be too much to expect of Him, especially when we bear in mind that in earning Halaal, means, his reward is also
magnified as is promised in the Hadeeth. The person who occupies his mind with thoughts of pleasing Allah, will find that his problems are eased. And Allah says:
“And for those who strive in Our path, We shall guide them to our paths.”
If one wishes to experience the truth of that, then take all the business contracts which are illegal in the eyes of Shariat and also take all the forms of employment where persons are forced to earn a living by employment, which according to Shariat, are not permissible. Make a list of all and write to the Ulema, asking them to explain how a Muslim may avoid getting involved in sinful acts. Also suggest ways and means as to how they can avoid acting illegally in the light of Shariat. I do not claim that in all the illegal contracts, they will be able to suggest Islamically legal ways of doing the same things. But what I do say is this; that in the vast majority of those illegal contracts, it will be possible to have a similar, Islamically permissible contract after changing its nature slightly or after a few changes in the clauses of the contract. In other words, the Haraam that they do, could be made Halaal with some minor changes. But if a person is not interested in Halaal or Haraam, then what medicine is there with which to treat him?” (Jawaahirul-Fiqah Vol. 2 P362)
In my one book Akaabir Uiema-e-Deoband, I have already explained how at the age of twelve years, I moved with my mother from Gangoh to Saharanpur. At that time, my father used to stay at the madressa during the madressa times. At other times, he used to sleep and eat at home. Apart from the times he spent in the madressa and at home, the rest of the time was always spent in the Shoemaker’s Mosque near the madressa. One day after Asar >alaah, my father was sitting near the well in the Mosque. Two or three students were drawing buckets of water from the well and throwing it over him for him to cool off. Moivy Imdad’s father the late Hafiz Maqbool, who was a great admirer of my father asked:
“Is this not an act of extravagance?”
My father replied: “For you it will be extravagance, but not for me.”
Hafez Saheb asked: “How is that?” My father replied: “You are ignorant while I am a Molvy.”
Hafez Saheb said: “But this is exactly what some people will say, that the Molvis make permissible for themselves that from which they prohibit the others.”
My father answered: “There is no need for you to be ashamed of this statement. The same act, if you are doing it while being unacquainted with the laws of Shariat will be a sin upon you, while a Molvy will do the same thing perhaps slightly different, yet knowing it to be permissible.”
When Hafez Saheb again asked how, my father said: “Study Arabic.”
(My late father always used to say: “If those people who are so busy with their worldly pursuits, like the lawyers and teachers in the secular schools, will only give me 72 hours, then I will make them Molvis.” This was no mere idle boast because quite a few lawyers had become quite knowledgable Molvis in less than 72 hours after having followed his syllabus. He did not demand 72 hours continuously but wanted only two hours every Sunday. This week he lectured to them and gave them some homework to prepare, which he checked the following week. The well-known lawyer, of our time Molvy Shahabuddin and Molvy Manfaat Ali, who later became the chairman of the Saharanpur branch of the Muslim League and was also Khalifa to Maulana Thanwy Rahmatullah Alayh, both became Molvis in this way. Even Molvy Shabbir All, whose letter I quoted in Ikmalus Shiyam became a Molvy in this manner.)
Hafez Maqbool again insisted on a better answer but my father insisted that he should study Arabic and become an Alim. At that time, I too, could not understand the incident of the “extravagance” properly. But later while studying Mishkat, we came across a Hadeeth, wherein is stated that Sayyidina Bilal Radiallahu anhu once brought to Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam some very nice dates, of excellent quality.
Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam asked him: “O Bilal, from where did you obtain these?”
Bilal Radiallahu anhu replied: “I gave the measure of two sau’ of lesser quality dates in exchange for one sau”of these.”
Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said: “No never! But that is usury in its true form! Do not ever do that. If you have to do something, then why did you not sell your two sau’ of inferior dates and then with the money obtained bought one sau’ of these better quality dates?”
When I came upon this Hadeeth, I remembered the incident in the Mosque of the Shoemakers and understood the difference between and Alim and a jahil. There is no doubt, that exchanging the two sau’ of inferior dates for one sau’ of superior ones is usury and not permissible. On the other hand, first selling the inferior dates for a price (e.g. one rupee) and then using that one rupee to buy superior dates, looks like it is exactly the same thing. However, the first contract is not permissible while the second one is. Now if a jahil (ignorant one) sells his two sau’, it will be usury and if a Moivy sells his two sau’ for money and therewith purchases one sau’ of superior dates, it will be a perfectly permissible act. Both contracts would appear to be the same on the outside, but in the technique applied by Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, a slight change made a world of difference.
The first Rector of our Madressa was Maulana Inayat llahi Rahmatullah Alayh. Whenever any jewellery came to the Madressa as grants from the public, he never allowed anyone else to exchange it for money. He used to do it himself on the way from the Madressa to his home. There was a certain man called Heera, with whom Maulana used to deal. He had a large business. He was not a Muslim but had much respect for Maulana. When the Maulana sold gold jewellery to him, he did it in this way: First of all, Maulana borrowed some silver rupees from him and then after the contract had been concluded and the price had been fixed, he used to return the money he had borrowed.
The Hindu used to think this over very thoroughly. When Maulana sold silver jewellery to him, he first of all borrowed some gold coins from him and after concluding the sale and after having fixed the price, he returned the gold coins to him.
Once he asked: “Maulana Saheb, what is the need for all this roundabout way? With or without it, the contract is the same.”
Maulana explained to him the whole proceedure, so much so, that he became an expert in bay-us-sarf. He always used to explain the mas-ala to the general Muslim public before dealing with them. But when a knowledgeable Molvy-like person entered his shop, he used to first complete all the dealings in the manner in which it is generally done. Then having, concluded the sale, before the person could leave his shop, he used to call him back and say:
“Maulana Saheb, will you kindly be seated. The manner in which I have bought from you, is not permissible according to your religion.”
Many a Moivy, on hearing such a statement would become puzzled and some would even become enraged, shouting: “Am I supposed to know my religion or you?”
He would reply: “Maulana Saheb, kindly be seated. Do not become angry and listen to me.”
Then Heera, the Hindu, would explain the whole mas-ala properly, pointing out how it would be permissible in Islam. Generally, the Moivy would then start to think and finally feel ashamed. The point of the matter is that in the mas-ala of selling and buying of gold and silver, the Moivy in question would be a jahil and the Hindu money-changer would know the real mas-ala.
Now look at this case just mentioned. Just as in the case of Sayyidina Bilal Radiallahu anhu, there are two forms of the same contract of sale. Both look exactly alike. But the one is not permissible, while the other, with a slight change in form, becomes permissible. There are so many similar cases as are mentioned in the books of Islamic scholars. It would make this booklet a much lengthier book if we should mention them all.
It is, however, our duty to distinguish the permissible from the prohibited cases, whether in trade, farming, leasing or hiring. Perhaps it is not for the general Muslim public to study these books, but as for the Ulema and the Arabic scholars, it is encumbent upon them to check. They will find much needed guidance in Kitaabul Kabaa-ir of Imam Thahaby and Al Zawaajir ‘An Iqtiraafil Kaabair of Ibn Hajar Makki and in Kitaabul Haraam-wa-Halaal inthe Ihya of Imam Ghazali Rahmatullah Alayh.
In his book, Imam Thahaby first wrote down:
The twenty eighth major sin is the consuming and the usage of Haraam In whatever manner it may be.
Then he discussed the meaning of the verse, namely that none is allowed to eat the possessions of another in an unpermitted manner, through unlawful ways. This may take place in two ways, either through seizing someone else’s property unjustly as in the case of theft, deceit, fraud robbery etc., or secondly it may be done in jest as in the case of gambling, betting and games.
In Saheeh Bukhary, Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam is reported to have said: “Verily many people take hold of Allah’s possessions through unjust means and on the Day of Qiyaamat, hell will be for them.”
In Muslim Shareef, we have a Hadeeth wherein that man is mentioned, who is on a long journey with dishevelled hair and his whole body is covered in dust. He lifts his hands in prayer: ‘0 My Lord, 0 My Lord!’ He does all this while his food is of Haraam, his drink is Haraam and his clothes too. How can his duaa be accepted?
Sayyidina Anas Radiallahu anhu reports: “I once said: Ya Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam pray to Allah to make me of those whose duas are directly accepted.”
Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam replied: “0 Anas, keep your earnings Halaal and pure and your duas will be accepted because if a man places one morsel of Haraam food in his mouth, his duas will not be accepted for a period of forty days.”
Imam Bayhaqi Rahmatullah Alayh reports that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said: “Allah has indeed divided good character and manners among you in the same manner as He has divided sustenance among you. And verily He gives it to those whom He loves as well as to those whom He does not love. But indeed, He only gives His Deen to those whom He loves. So whomsoever He has made a man of the Deen, him has He made His beloved. And whoever earns Haraam wealth and then spends thereof, for him there shall be no blessings therein. And should he give thereof in charity, it shall not be accepted of him. And if he leaves thereof in inheritance for his heirs, it shall be a guide for him towards hell. For verily Allah does not wipe away evil with evil. He only removes evil with righteousness.” (Bayhaqi)
Ibn Umar Radiallahu anhu reports that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said:
“The world is sweet and fertile. Whoever has earned thereof by Halaal means and spends thereof in righteousness, shall be rewarded and Allah will grant him entrance into Jannat. And whoever has earned thereof in ways other than Halaal means and spends thereof in evil paths, will enter into the abode of disgrace. Many are the ones, who for the sake of satisfying their base desires, enter into Haraam earning and for them on the Day of Qiyamat there will be hell-fire awaiting them.”
In another Hadeeth we read: “Whoever cares not how his earnings are, Allah will not care through which door he enters hell.”
Sayyidina Abu Hurayrah Radiallahu anhu used to say: “It is better for any of you that his mouth be filled with dust than that he should cause to enter into his mouth anything of Haraam.”
Yusuf bin Asbaat Radiallahu anhu said* “When a young man becomes a righteous worshipper of Allah, shaytaan says to his assistants: ‘Find out from where his food comes,’ When they find that his food comes from Haraam sources, shaytaan says to them: ‘Leave him alone to tire himself out in Ibaadah, and waste not your energy on him. About him you should not worry, because while he consumes Haraam, this Ibaadah of his will not benefit him in the least.'”
The words of the above Hadeeth are also corroborated by the Hadeeth about the traveller in the desert whose food, drink and clothes are from Haraam sources. Another Hadeeth states:
“From BaituI Muqaddas, the Angels exclaim every day and night:
‘From that person who ate of Haraam, Allah accepts neither his compulsory nor his voluntary acts.'”
Hazrat Abdullah bin Mubarak Radiallahu anhu said: “It is more acceptable for me to return to (its owner) one dirham which is of doubtful origin than to give one hundred thousand and one hundred dirhams in charity.
It is also reported that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said: “When a person performing Ha] with Haraam earnings recite the Labbaik, the Angels reply to him: ‘Your Labbaik is not accepted and there is no pleasure in you arrival here. And your Haj is thrown back in your face.'”
Imam Ahmad Rahmatullah Alayh also quoted a Hadeeth in his Musnad: “When a person buys clothing to the value of ten dirhams of which one dirham is of Haraam, not a single one of his Salaah is accepted for as long as those clothes cover his body.”
Wahb bin Ward said: “Even if you should stand in Salaah like a pillar, tha-t Salaah will not benefit you in the least until such time that you carefully ascertain what enters your stomach – Haraam or Halaal.”
Sayyidina Abdullah bin Abbas Radiallahu anhu said: “Allah does not accept the Salaah of a person who had caused Haraam to enter his stomach until he repents.”
Hazrat Sufyan Thowry Rahmatullah Alayh said: “A person who distributes Haraam things in charity is like that person who cleanses his clothing with urine, whereas in actual fact dirty clothes are only cleansed with clean water. Similarly, sins can only be washed off by Halaal charity.”
Sayyidina Umar Radiallahu anhu said: “We used to avoid making use of nine-tenths of Halaal things for fear of perhaps falling into Haraam.”
Sayyidina Ka’ab bin Ujrah Radiallahu anhu reports that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said: “That body will never enter Jannat which had been nourished with foods from Haraam sources.”
The Ulema have listed all the following persons as being of those who consume Haraam. They are the one who impose and accept taxes, those who defraud and deceive, theives, robbers, those who take interest on money or goods lent or borrowed, those who pay interest, those who fraudulently eat the possessions of orphans, those who give false evidence, those who bear false witness, those who refuse to pay or return goods sold or lent to them, those who accept bribes, those who give short measure when they sell, those who sell faulty goods after purposely hiding faults therein, gamblers, sorcerers, astrologers, fortune-tellers, painters of pictures, prostitutes, those women who for material gain are professional mourners and criers at funerals, those agents, who without permission of the sellers, take a share of the price of goods for selling articles to buyers at higher prices, those who sell free men as slaves. All these people are consumers and earners of Haraam.
It is reported that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said:
“On the Day of Qiyaamat some such people will be brought forth, with whom shall be righteous deeds, the size of the mountain of Tihaamah. But when they shall be called to account, Allah will destroy all those deeds. Thereafter, they will be cast into Jahannam.
The Sahabah Radiallahu anhum inquired: “Ya Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam , why will that be so?”
Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam replied: “These people performed their Salaah, they kept the Fast of Ramadaan and they gave out their Zakaah and their Haj duty. But on the other hand, if any Haraam earnings came to hand, they accepted without reservations. For this reason Allah has destroyed all their good deeds.”
An incident is related about a certain saint who was seen in a dream after his death. He was asked: “How were you dealt with by Allah?”
He replied: “Allah has dealt with me most graciously. However, because of one needle, I have been stopped from entering Jannat. I had borrowed it from someone and failed to return it to the
We have quoted extensively from Allama Thabahy. In another chapter, he states (while speaking about the 62nd major sin, viz., the sin of giving short measure):
“Allah has said:
“Woe unto those who deal in fraud, those who, when they have to receive by measure from men, demand exactly full measure, but when they have to give by measure, or weight, give less than due.”
Sayyidina Abdullah bin Abbas Radiallahu anhu reports that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said: “Five things are given in exchange for five things.” When the Sahabah Radiallahu anhum inquired about the meaning thereof, Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said: “Whenever a nation breaks its agreements, Allah causes its enemies to overcome it. Whenever a nation judges by any other law, other than that which Allah revealed, need and poverty become their general ordeal. Whenever in a nation the evil of immorality and permissiveness (fornication and adultery) become widespread, Allah causes plagues and epidemics to be suffered by them. Whenever a nation defrauds others by giving short measure, Allah destroys their affluence and causes famine and starvation to overcome them. And when a nation defaults in the giving of Zakaah, Allah causes the rains to be withheld from them.”
Hazrat Malik bin Dinar Rahmatullah Alayh says: “I once went to visit one of my neighbours, who was in the last moments of his life. He said to me: “I see two mountains of fire, two mountains of fire!”
Noticing his great anguish, I asked: “What is this you are saying?”
He replied: “I had two measuring cups. I used the one for measuring off when buying for myself and the other when I measured for selling to others. The first one was bigger than the one I used for measuring to others.”
Malik says: “I took the two cups and started beating the one against the other.”
At this, the man exclaimed: “No! stop! By beating the one against the other you are causing my punishment to become even more severe.”
Then in that condition the man passed away.
The person who gives short measure, defrauding others is called a ‘mutaffif. This means small and insignificant and he is thus called, because he is able to increase the amount of a small, insignificant thing. This giving of less than the correct and due measure, falls in the same category of sins as deceit, fraud theft and eating Haraam. Allah has expressed ‘wayl’ (woe) unto him. That is, severe punishment and a grave warning.
Some Ulema have said that this ‘wayl’ is the name of a valley in jahannam, which is so full of horror, that even if all the mountains of the earth should be cast therein, they will all melt and become liquid.
One of the saintly elders said: “I sincerely believe that anyone giving short measure will enter hell, because this is such a general practice that very few can save themselves from it except those whom Allah protects.”
Another said: “I once visited a man on his deathbed. I recited the Kalima Shahaadah to him, that he may read and that it should be the last words spoken by him, but his tongue just could not pronounce the Kalima. Then when he became a bit more lucid and conscious, I asked him: “0 My brother, what is the matter? I am trying to get you to recite the Kalima, but your tongue does not seem able to pronounce it?”
He replied: “The weight of a scale comes onto my tongue which prevents me from speaking.”
I asked: “Did you then give short measure to others?”
He replied: “No, I did not. All I did was that when I weighed I did not wait for the scales balance to return to its propper place before weighing.”
This is what happens to one who was not careful in weighing. What do you think will be the case of him who purposely gave less than what he should have given?
Hazrat Naafi Rahmatullah Alayh says that Sayyidina Umar Radiallahu anhu used to pass by the shopkeepers and tell them:
“Do be careful and fear Allah in your measuring and weighing. Give full measure for on the Day of Qiyaamat those who used these two to be less will stand before Allah in their own sweat, which will rise from their ankles upto the middle of their ear-lobes.”
This will also be the position of that cloth-merchant, who when he measures for others, stretches the material so severely, that nothing extra is given. But when he measures for himself, keeps the material loosely (and even full of folds) so that something extra is gained.
One of our elders said: “Woe unto that merchant who, because of one seed, cast aside such a great Jannat, which is wider than the heavens and earth. And great is the sorrow for that person who, because of one seed which he takes extra, buys destruction for himself.”
In conclusion I so much wanted to write this booklet in much more detail, but unfortunately, I have lately been so much overcome with illness that at the commencement of every chapter I have wondered whether it shall ever be completed or not. Hence today, Saturday 5th Safar I have completed this book.
May Allah in His Infinite Mercy, accept this humble effort. May Allah help the Muslims to eat of Halaal and to avoid the eating of Haraam. And may He grant this humble servant of His the same ability. Aameen.