On Monetary Affairs
The guidance, rules and regulations that have reached us through the holy Prophet concerning our monetary affairs, or Muamlaat as it is called, are, as far as we know, based upon four fundamental principles: public good, justice, honesty and truthfulness, and compassion. Moreover, as a consequence of Islam’s strict injunctions in this matter, the management of these affairs and interests, in conformity with Divine guidance and the laws of the Shariat, has ceased merely to be a worldly matter and instead has been elevated to Faith itself, and, in a sense, to worship. There is, now, upon it, the promise of Divine recompense and elevation in ranks in the Hereafter in the same way as on acts of worship, such as, Namaz, Roza, Zikr, Tilawat and Jehad, and on the cultivation of moral virtues, and preaching and propagation of Faith.
(1) It is related by Abdullah bin Masud that the Apostle of God said: “to earn a clean living is, also, a duty next (only) to the principal duties of Faith.”
As most commentators agree, what this Tradition seeks to emphasise is that after the testimony that there is no deity save God, and Mohammad is the Apostle of God, and Namaz, Roza etc., which are the fundamental tenets of Islam, it is the earning of one’s livelihood through honest means and by engaging oneself cleanly in a trade or profession that comes first. Whoever is heedlees of it incurs the danger of succumbing to the temptation of earning money or acquiring wealth from illegitimate sources, and, then, his end, in the Hereafter, will be what has been indicated in the Quran and the Traditions with regard to those who live on unclean income. Again, to perform a duty enjoined by God, obviously, is an act of worship, and the bondsman who does so is deserving of the Divine reward a person becomes entitled to on doing anything he is required to do by the Lord. Hence, to strive towards earning one’s livelihood through honest means is virtually identical to worship and worthy of Divine recompense. What good tidings does it contain, indeed, for the conscientious traders, artisans, workers and peasants who make a clean living! It may, however, be remembered that the emphasis in this Tradition is on the seeking of a clean livelihood and not merely on making an income. The object of this saying is to warn against everything in connection with subsistence that is forbidden and unlawful.
(2) It is related, on the authority of Miqdaam bin M’adi Karab, that he heard the Apostle of God say: “A time will come when money, alone, will avail.”
The narrator of this Tradition is a Tab’ee called Abu Bakr bin Abi Mariyam. He has related it on the authority of Hazrat Miqdaam bin M’adi Karab. The incident he has mentioned in this context is that Hazrat Miqdaam bin M’adi Karab had some milch cattle, the milk of which was sold by his slave-girl while the price was collected by Hazrat Miqdaam himself. Some people felt that it was unbecoming of Hazrat Miqdaam to make money by selling milk, and they objected to it. Hazrat Miqdaam admitted that he did so, and, in his support, referred to the aforementioned saying of the Prophet. He felt there was no harm in selling what was his property. Had the holy Prophet not said that a time was to come when money, alone, would be of use to men? What Hazrat Miqdaam meant was that it might not be a highminded act to make money by selling milk, but, it, surely; was permissible.
(3) It is related by Abu Saeed Khudri that the Apostle of God said: “The trader who plies his trade cleanly find honestly will rise, in the Hereafter, in the company of the Prophets, the Truthful, and the Martyrs.”
– Tirmizi, Daarmi, and Daar-Qutni
Says the Qur’an, “Whosoever obeyeth Allah and the Messenger, they are with those unto whom Allah hath shown special favour, of the Prophets and the Sincere and the Martyrs and the Righteous. The best of company they are.” (IV: 69).
The life of a trader is beset with numerous trials and temptations. He is, often, confronted with a situation in which there, apparently, is the danger of loss if he remains steadfast and follows the path of honesty, as enjoined by the Almighty, and a good chance of profit if he disregards the Divine commandments and allows himself to be guided solely by material considerations. Thus, the trader who observes his duty to God in business dealings comes out successful in the trial prescribed by the Lord, and, for him, there is the promise that he will be in the company of the most favourite bondsmen of the Lord in the life hereafter: the Prophets, the Truthful and the Martyrs. This will be the reward of the upright traders in the world to come.
(4) It is related by Miqdaam bin M’adi Karab that the Apostle of God said: “The cleanest food is that which has been earned by the labour of one’s hand, In fact, the Prophet Dawood (David) used to work with his hands for his living.”
It stresses the dignity of labour and cites the example of Prophet Dawood to bring home the point. It is told in the Qur’an that Hazrat Dawood used to make chain-armours, and, from the above Tradition, we, further, learn that he did it for a living.
(5) Narrates Rafey bin Khadeej that a person (once) enquired from the Apostle of God which income was better and more clean (i.e., what was a better way of earning one’s livelihood)? “That a man worked with his hands, and every trade that was (done) with honesty,” replied the Apostle of God.
(6) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God said: “Whatever believing bondsman grew a crop or planted a tree, and a bird, animal or man ate from it, it would be charity on his part”.
– Bukhari and Muslim
(7) Amr bin el-‘Aas related to us, saying that the Apostle of God said to him: “I intend to send you, (on a military expedition), as the commander of the army, and, then, by the grace of God, you return safe and sound (and victorious) and take the spoils of war (from the enemy), and receive a good grant of wealth from God,” Upon it, (Amr bin el-Aas went on to relate that he said): “Oh Apostle of God! I have not embraced Islam for worldly goods, but for the liking and attachment I have for it and for the reason that I am blessed with your company.” “Oh Amr!” the Prophet replied, “Clean and lawful wealth is a good thing (and a blessing) for a virtuous bondsman.”
It tells that wealth acquired through legitimate means is a special favour of the Lord. On the other hand, in the earlier volumes, we saw Traditions, under the headings of ‘Asceticism’ and ‘Soft-heartedness’, to the effect that poverty was preferable to riches and the poor of the Ummah were more blessed than the well-to-do. Both the view-points, however, are correct in their context. If contentment and willing acceptance of what has been decreed by the Lord falls to the lot of anyone, along with poverty, it, doubtlessly, is an enviable state. It was preferred by the holy Prophet for himself, and he used to pray for it. At the same time, if the Lord bestows riches on anyone, through lawful means, and he is, also, blessed with a grateful heart and the prudence to make a proper use of his wealth, it, too, is a special favour of God.
(8) It is related by Abdullah bin Masud that the Apostle of God said: “On the Last Day (when people will be brought together for the Final Requital), no one’s feet will move until he has been questioned about five things: about his life, and how he lived it; about his youth, and wherein he wasted it; about his wealth, and wherefrom he acquired it.. and on what he spent it; and about what he did in what he was given the knowledge of.”
Stressing the importance of monetary affairs, this tradition explains that everyone will have to render a full account of his conduct in that field on the Day of Judgement, as to how he earned or acquired wealth in his life and in what manner did he spend it.