Dear brothers, Islam is not just about worship but it is a deen, i.e. it is about how to live in every aspect of our lives. One of those is how we work, trade or do business with others and this has been highlighted in both the book of Allah SWT and through the teachings of the Prophet SAWS.
The imam chose a few pointers to remind us all of the manners and etiquettes of dealing with others.
Firstly, the imam mentioned a hadith in which the prophet SAWS said:
And he who treats us dishonestly does not belong to us
Dear brothers, this is the cornerstone of our ethics in trade. A Muslim can often be distinguished by the hijab or the beard but in the case of business, a Muslim ought to be distinguished by the level of honesty and trust that they inspire in others. We need to be mindful that business is something accountable and in this country a form of Dawah as well.
Second hadith was translated to say:
“If anyone with-holds grain for forty days thereby desiring a high price, he has renounced God and God has renounced him.”
Dear brothers, this is an important concept. Trade is about making a profit. You buy low and sell high. This is basic stuff. But what the economic schools don’t teach you is that as a trader you have both a responsibility to your own pocket but also to society in which you conduct business. You must strike the balance between seeking profit but not at the cost of harming others. Withholding food, medication, warm clothing, other essentials at a time when the buyer needs it most, just so that you can make the extra dollar is both unethical and forbidden in Islam.
This leads nicely onto the selection of the Quran mentioned by the imam also. Ayat 282 of Sura Baqara which is translated to say:
O you who have believed, when you contract (i.e. when you have or contract a debt) a debt one upon another for a stated term, then write it down. And let a writer write it down between you with justice, and let not any writer refuse to write it down, as Allah has taught him. So let him write and let the one upon whom is the truthful duty of payment (i.e. the debtor) dictate, and let him be pious to Allah his Lord and not depreciate anything therein. So, in case the one upon whom is the truthful duty is foolish, or weak, or unable to dictate himself, then let his patron dictate with justice. And call in to witness two witnesses of your men; yet, in case the two are not two men, then one man and two women from among the witnesses you are satisfied with, so that (in case) one of the two women should err, then either of the two should remind the other, and let the witnesses not refuse whenever they are called (upon). And be not too loath to write it down, (whether) it is small or great, with (Literally: to is term) its term. That is more equitable in the Providence of Allah, and more upright for testimony, and likelier that you will not be suspicious. Except (when) it is commerce present that you transact among yourselves, then it shall be no fault in you if you do not write it down. And take witnesses when you sell one to another, and let not either writer or witness be harmed, and in case you perform (that), then that is evident immorality in you. And be pious to Allah, and Allah teaches you; and Allah is Ever-Knowing of everything.
Dear brothers, there are so many lessons in this ayat but one to take away today is to understand that all transactions require a contract – even between friends and family – this is because money is one of those toxic things that can bring disagreements between the closest of people and so keep things formal and transparent when it comes to money so that you give no opportunity to Shaitaan to come between yourselves.
We need to remember that Islam is about etiquettes as well as worship. Let us apply these principles so that we are known as those with whom business and trade ought to be done because of our faith and our manners.