Business Etiquette’s and Ethics
TAKING TRADE as a means of earning livelihood is encouraged in Islam.
The Holy Prophet(peace be upon him) said: Take to trade, because there are nine portions in trade out of ten portions of provisions. ►(Reported in Ihya-ul-Uloom by Imam Ghazali).
Islam laid much stress on honesty in almost all dealings especially in trade and commerce. Ethical and moral codes in Islam are part of the overall Islamic faith and observing them will not only lead to a happy state of affairs in this world but also holds the promise of manifold returns in the Hereafter. Islamic ethical and moral codes thus create a sense of responsibility and accountability in the minds of the believers, be they buyers or sellers.
Prophet Muhammad(peace be upon him) himself traded in goods. The Companions of the Holy Prophet carried on maritime and land trade throughout the then known world and thus Arab merchants carried the torch of new light to the darkest corners of the world. The Holy Prophet himself carried on trade on behalf of the famous Arab Lady Hazrat Khadijah(Radiyallahu Anha). The major Caliphs, Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique(Radiyallahu Anhu) was a cloth merchant, while Hazrat Umar Farooque(Radiyallahu Anhu), the Second Caliph carried on corn trade. Hazrat Usman Ghani(Radiyallahu Anhu) had a business in textiles. The fundamental codes of moral behaviour such as truthfulness, trustworthiness, generosity and leniency, adherence to business commitments and contracts, fair treatment of workers, avoidance of evil practices (such as fraud, cheating, deceit, hoarding of foodstuff, exploitations, giving short measures etc.) provide, to a large extent, the general background of Islamic business ethics.
In this article we look at the following aspects related to trade in Islam:
– Unlawfulness of storing up food stuff in expectation of high prices
– Weighing and giving extra(Showing Generosity towards buyer)
– Unlawfulness of hiding the defects in the product
– Commands to refrain from cheating in business transactions
– Being easy on people facing financial difficulties
– Glad tidings for a just trader
Unlawfulness of storing up food stuff in expectation of high prices
Islam has forbidden monopoly, which means storing up of food-grains for getting higher price in times of need and scarcity. Except foodgrains and necessities of life, other commodities may lawfully be stored up.
Hazrat Ma’mar(Radiyallahu Anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah(peace be upon him) said: Whoever monopolizes is a sinner. ►(Sahih Muslim)
Hazrat Anas(Radiyallahu Anhu) reported that the current price once became dear at the time of the Holy Prophet(peace be upon him).
They asked: O Messenger of Allah! Fix a rate for us.
The Holy Prophet(peace be upon him) said: Verily Allah is One Who controls price, curtails, gives amply and provides sustenance; and certainly I hope that I should meet my Lord while there will be none amongst you who will hold me responsible either for blood or for property. ►(Sunan Tirmidhi)
Hazrat Umar Bin Al-Khattab reported that the Holy Prophet(peace be upon him) said: “Whoever monopolizes over the Muslims their foodgrains, Allah will inflict them with epidemics and bankruptcy. “
Unlawfulness of hiding the defects in the product
Hazrat Abu Hurayrah(Radiyallahu Anhu) reported that the Holy Prophet(peace be upon him) passed by a heap of corns. He thrust his hand therein but his fingers touched moisture.
He asked: O Owner of corn! What is this?
He replied: Rain fell on it, O Messenger of Allah!
He enquired: Have you not done so over the corn so that people may see it? Whoso acts with deceit is not of me. ►(Sahih Muslim)
Hazrat Waselah Bin Asqa’(Radiyallahu Anhu) reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah(peace be upon him) saying: Whoso sells a defective thing without disclosing it continues to be in the wrath of Allah or angels continue to curse him. ►(Sunan Ibn-e-Majah)
Weighing and giving extra(Showing Generosity towards buyer)
Hazrat Jabir reported the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “May Allah show mercy to a man who is generous when he sells, when he buys and when he asks for settlement.” ►[Sahih al-Bukhari]
Hazrat Jabir reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, bought a camel from him for [two uqiyyas and a dirham or two dirhams] and he weighed it out for him and then gave extra.” ►[Agreed upon]
Abu Safwan Suwayd ibn Qays said, “Makhrama al-‘Abdi and I brought some clothes from Hajar and the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came to us and bargained with us over some trousers.
I had a weigher who was paid to weigh.
The Prophet(peace be upon him) said to the weigher, ‘Weigh and give more.’” ►[Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi]
Commands to refrain from cheating in business transactions
Hazrat Hakim Bin Hizam reported that the Messenger of Allah(peace be upon him) said:
The buyer and seller have got option so long as they do not part away.
If they speak the truth and disclose (defect), they are blessed in their sale transaction, and
if they conceal and speak falsely, the blessing of their sale is decreased. ►(Agreed)
Being easy on people facing financial difficulties
Abu Qatada said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say,
“Whoever wants Allah to save him from the calamity of the Day of Rising should give more time to someone in financial difficulties or absolve him.”
Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said,
“There was a man who used give people credit.
He used to say to his slave, “When you come to someone in difficulties, give him more time, perhaps Allah will excuse us.’
Then he met Allah and He did excuse him.”►[Agreed upon]
Glad tidings for a just trader
The Holy Prophet(Peace be upon him) classed an honest merchant with a Prophet on account of the merchant’s following the Shariat rules in trade, classed him with the truthful on account of his being steadfast to truth and classed him with martyr on account of his fighting with heavy odds in treading the path of virtue and honesty in his profession.
Hazrat Abu Sa’eed reported that the Messenger of Allah said: The truthful trustworthy merchant will be with the prophets, truthful and martyrs. ►(Sunan Tirmidhi)