People's Newsroom

Business Way of Just Societies

Islam is an entire way of life, and its guidance extends into all areas of life. It has given detailed principles to guide and control the various economic aspects of society. Muslims are to recognize that wealth, earnings and material goods are the property of God, and humans are merely His trustees. These principles, which aim at establishing a just society wherein everyone will behave responsibly and honestly, including the following.

Prohibition of bribery. According to the teachings of Islam, bribery is a form of corruption and is strongly condemned. The burden is on both those demanding and accepting the bribe and those offering it. All, givers, takers, and facilitators are strongly warned against engaging in this practice. ‘Allah’s curse be on those who give and those who take bribes’ (Prophet Mohammad).

Prohibition of fraud and cheating. Islam stresses the importance of honesty and warns sellers against exaggerating or lying about their products or services. It is forbidden to gain property or wealth by fraud, deceit, theft, or other falsehoods. Sellers involved in fraud are committing a sin. Chapter 83 in the Quran (The Dealers In Fraud) contains the following verses:

‘Woe to those who deal in fraud.’

‘Those who, when they have to receive by measure from men, exact full measure.’

‘But when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due.’

Other clear Islamic teachings in this regard include

‘God permits selling but forbids usurious gain’ (Quran 2:275).

‘O my people! Give full measure and full weight in justice, and wrong not people in respect of their goods’ (Quran 11:85).

‘Oh ye who believe! Eat not up each other’s property by unfair and dishonest means’ (Quran 4:29).

‘On the day of judgment, the honest Muslim merchant will stand side by side with the martyrs’ (Prophet Mohammad).

‘Sell the good and bad separately. He who deceives is not of us’ (Prophet Mohammad).

‘Swearing produces ready sale but blots out a blessing’ (Prophet Mohammad).

Yusuf Ali (1991), cited in Quddus et al. (2009), states that:

Fraud must be taken in a wide general sense … it is the spirit of injustice that is condemned – giving too little and asking too much. This may be shown in commercial dealings, where a man exacts a higher standard in his own favor than he is willing to concede as against him … legal and social sanctions against fraud depend for their efficacy on whether there is a chance of being found out. Moral and religious sanctions are of a different kind … Whether other people know anything about your wrong or not, you are guilty before God.

Prohibition of discrimination. Islam considers all forms of discrimination unjust and opposes it in all aspects of life. ‘No Arab has superiority over any non-Arab and no non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; no black person has superiority over a white person and no white person has superiority over a black person. The criterion for honor in the sight of God is righteousness and honest living’ (Prophet Mohammad).

Greater social responsibility. The importance given to community welfare in Islam breathes new life into the concept of corporate social responsibility and relates it much more closely to the business than what is usual in world business today. An organization’s social responsibility in Islam emphasizes its responsibility in three domains: towards its stakeholders, the natural environment, and the community. Where stakeholders are involved, e.g., Islam stresses the importance of putting contractual obligations with employees, partners, suppliers, or clients in writing in order to protect the rights of all those involved and affected by the dealing, ‘And fulfill (every) covenant. Verily, the covenant will be questioned about’ (Quran 17:34), ‘Give a laborer his wages before his sweat dries’ (Prophet Mohammad). The longest verse in the Quran is dedicated to specifically explaining the importance of documentation as a means of reducing conflict and ensuring compliance.

Similarly, specific guidelines exist to direct the organization in fulfilling its obligations and responsibilities towards the natural environment. A business engaging the Muslim market is not just a profit-making machine; it is an institution of the Muslim community and thus must abide by its rules or guidelines. These guidelines relate to, among others, the treatment of animals, such as prohibiting animal-based pharmaceutical research and prohibiting causing all kinds of environmental pollution (Beekun 1996). The Quran states: ‘Mischief has appeared on land and sea because of (the meed) that the hands of men have earned. That (Allah) may give them a taste of some of their deeds: in order that they may turn back (from Evil)’ (Quran 30:41).

In fact, the punishment in Islam for causing ruination could amount to death: ‘he who kills a soul without that soul being convicted of killing another, or without being convicted of causing ruination in the earth’ (Quran 5:32).

Prohibition of interest. Islam prohibits all interest-based transactions, whether giving or receiving, and whether dealing with Muslims or non-Muslims. Prophet Mohammad says that Allah curses those who pay interest, those who receive it, those who write a contract based on it, and those who witness such a contract, ‘Allah will deprive usury of all blessing but will give increase for deeds of charity’ (Quran 2:277).

Prohibition of certain earnings. Islam prohibits making earnings from gambling, lotteries, and the production, sale, and distribution of alcohol. Prohibition of hoarding. Both money hoarding and goods hoarding are impermissible, ‘and there are those who bury gold and silver and spend it not in the Way of Allah: announce unto them a most grievous penalty’ (Quran 43:33). People should take only what they need, no more. Moreover, Islam encourages reasonable spending. The word ‘spend’ is repeated in the Quran 53 times, ‘Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men; for Allah loves those who do good’ (Quran 4:38).

Prohibition of extravagance and waste. A Muslim should be responsible in spending money. Extravagance and waste are strongly discouraged. ‘[The Servants of Allah are] Those who, when they spend, are not extravagant and not stingy, but hold a just balance between those extremes’ (Quran 25:67). ‘O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer. Eat and drink, but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters’ (Quran 7:31).

Payment of alms. Every Muslim who owns wealth, more than a certain amount to meet his or her needs, must pay a fixed rate (2.5 percent) of Zakat to those in need. Alms are a method of narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor, and of making sure that the needs of the needy in the society are met.

Payment of charity. Muslims are encouraged to give constantly in charity. Prophet Mohammad said that ‘Nobody’s assets are reduced by charity.

Cleanliness. Prophet Mohammad says ‘Cleanliness invites towards faith (Iman) and faith leads its possessor to paradise.’ Cleanliness does not just apply to those areas of a business a customer sees; it includes backstage operations, equipment, and storage areas as well.

Back to top button