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Ethical Guidelines for Muslims in Business

Iqbal Ebrahim
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

Working and striving for a living in is a very important part in the life of each and every one of us. Islam respects and encourages sincere and honest efforts and work of any kind, provided it is not within those prohibited activities. In whatever business a Muslim may be in, they are required to behave in an honest manner in their business dealings but they are not to indulge in things that are considered Haraam (forbidden in Islam):

Islam permits a Muslim to acquire wealth and property through honest and clean hard work, and to   enjoy the use of those possessions so earned, however this should be in a sense of proportion and in moderation. We should not become so involved that these interfere with our relationship with our Creator. ‘Alluring to men is the love of the things they covet – women, sons, hoarded treasures of gold and silver, highly bred horses, cattle and land. This is the provision of this world’s life. Yet with Allah is a better Abode’ (Qur’an 3:14)

In his business dealings a true Muslim is one that keeps his word and fulfils his promises, avoids lies and deceit, respects the rights of others, abstains from making money from illegal corrupt and dishonest means such as fraud, bribery, dishonest trading, embezzlement, speculation, gambling, pornography, selling liquor, proceeds from interest (usury) and other such unlawful practices that Islam condemns.

Among the guidance on how we should live our daily lives, Islam has also given us detailed guidelines in the Quran for the conduct of our economic life, which should be balanced and fair. ‘In whatever business you may be…… and whatever deed you may be doing…… We are Witnesses thereof when you are deeply engrossed therein. Nor is hidden from your Lord so much as the weight of an atom (Quran-10:61).

Muslims have to recognize and accept that whatever wealth, earnings, and material goods we have are the property of Allah, and we are merely His trustees. The aim of these principles is in establishing a just society wherein everyone will behave responsibly and honestly. The Qur’an says: ‘…man has nothing but what he strives for, and that striving will be seen, and afterwards he will be repaid for it with the fullest repayment, and that to thy Lord is the goal (Quran 53: 39-42)’.

Here are some of the fundamental principles of the Islamic economic system:

Be Honest and Truthful. Honesty and truthfulness are qualities which a Muslim businessman should develop and practise himself. Islam encourages the virtues of seeking one’s livelihood honestly and cleanly. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: ‘The cleanest food is that which has been earned by the labour of one’s hand’, and ‘to earn a clean living is also a duty next only to the prescribed duties of faith’ and ‘the trader who plies his trade cleanly and honestly will rise in the Hereafter in the company of Prophets, saints and martyrs’.

Muslims are not to deal in interest. ‘Those who devour usury will not stand….Allah has permitted trade and forbidden usury…. Allah will deprive usury of all blessing….’ (Qur'an 2:275-6) ‘O you who believe! Devour not usury, doubled and multiplied. But fear Allah that you may really prosper.’ (Qur’an 3:130) This prohibition is for all interest-based transactions, whether giving or receiving, whether dealing with Muslims or non-Muslims. Any interest earned cannot be used for personal needs it should be given away as charity. It is for this reason that Islamic banking which aims at being compliant with Islamic principles is being introduced in many parts of the world to cater for those who wish to follow these principles.

•     It is forbidden to gain property or wealth by fraud, deceit, theft, or other falsehoods. They should treat others in the same righteous and fair manner that they themselves would like to be treated. The Qur’an issues this warning for those who cheat while weighing: ‘Woe to those that deal in fraud, those who when they have to receive by measure, exact full measure, but when they have to give by measure or weight, give less than due. Do they not think that they will be called to account when all Mankind will stand before the Lord of the worlds?’ (C 83: v 1 – 6).’…Give just measure and weight, and do not withhold from people the things that are their due. And do not do mischief on the earth after it has been set in order. That will be best for you, if you have faith.’ (Qur’an 7:85)

Forbidden too are any earnings from gambling, lotteries, and the production, sale, and distribution of alcohol. ‘O you who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, sacrificing to stones, and divination by arrows are an abomination of Satan's handiwork. Eschew such abomination, that you may prosper.’ (Qur’an 5:90)

It is unlawful to hoard food and other basic necessities. Everyone should take what they need and no more. ‘And let those who covetously withhold of the gifts which Allah has given them of His Grace, think that it is good for them. No, it will be the worse for them. Soon it will be tied to their necks like a twisted collar, on the Day of Judgment. To Allah belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth, and Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do.’ (Qur’an 3:180)

Be Humble in how You Conduct Your Life. Muslims must not lead a life of   extravagance, and must exhibit good-will in any transactions among themselves. ‘O you who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves in vanities: but let there be amongst you traffic and trade by mutual good-will: nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: for verily Allah has been to you Most Merciful. (Quran-4:29).

Do Not Bribe. Businessmen may sometimes be tempted to offer bribes in order to persuade another party to give them special favours or to allow them to get away with dishonest practices. The practice of bribery is forbidden in Islam. Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) cursed the one who bribes and the one who takes bribes. As for bribery the Prophet (PBUH) cursed the giver and taker of bribes.

Deal Justly. The general principle that applies across all transactions including those pertaining to businesses is that of justice. Allah emphasizes this point in the Qur’an: Deal not unjustly, and you shall not be dealt with unjustly. (Quran: 2:279).

Keep Your Word.  The Prophet (pbuh) said, ‘If you guarantee me six things on your part, I shall guarantee you Paradise. Speak the truth when you talk, keep a promise when you make it, when you are trusted with something, fulfil your trust, avoid sexual immorality, lower your eyes, and restrain your hands from injustice.’


Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was asked what type of earning was best, and he replied: ‘A man’s work with his hands and every (lawful) business transaction. And, ‘A truthful and trustworthy merchant is associated with the prophets.’

These, briefly are some of the basic guidelines given to Muslims but naturally there some misguided ones amongst us who will ignore these guidelines, at their own peril.

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020
Samson

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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