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Business Ethics in Islam

IQBAL EBRAHIM

UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

As Muslims, we are required to adhere to honesty and to maintain the highest ethical standards; this is not only related to business but also in all aspects of our life. When a Muslim sticks to honesty and ethics in their daily lives, they will become good examples to follow and emulate.

Honesty is an essential ingredient of the Muslim character on a broader scale it includes being truthful towards God by worshipping Him sincerely; being truthful to oneself, by adhering to God’s laws; and being truthful with others by speaking the truth and being honest in all dealings, such as buying, selling and most importantly in marriage.  There should be no deceiving, cheating, falsifying or withholding of information this means that a person should be the same on the inside as he is on the outside.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) warned us of the dangers of dishonesty, and the benefits of living in an honest way.  He said: “Truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise”.  In addition; “A man keeps on telling the truth until he becomes a truthful person.  Falsehood leads to wickedness and evil-doing, and wickedness leads to the (Hell) Fire, and a man may keep on telling lies till he is written before God, as a liar”.

Uprightness and honesty in business and monetary dealings forms a vital part of the teachings of Islam. The Qur’an as well as the Hadeeth (Traditions) of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are clear that a true Muslim is he who is honest and upright in every aspect of his daily living including business.

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 other unlawful (Haraam) practices that Islam condemns.

A true Islamic society must be based upon honesty and justice, and should be intolerant of dishonesty in all its various forms. The Muslim society has to refrain from all forms of deceit in their dealings with others. We should be society of honesty, sincerity and straight-forward ness. Honesty in all business transactions is emphasised and the Prophet Muhammad exhorts Muslims to be scrupulously honest in all their dealings

Deceit and dishonesty are prohibited in Islam, The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said ‘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’. As for bribery the Prophet (PBUH) cursed the giver and taker of bribes.

One verse in the Qur’an captures this warning for those who cheat while weighing:  “Woe unto those who give short measure, those who, when they are to receive their due from people, demand that it be given in full but when they have to measure or weigh whatever they owe to others, give less than what is due.  Do they not know that they are bound to be raised from the dead (and called to account) on an awesome Day, the Day when all men shall stand before the Sustainer of all the worlds?” (Quran 83:1-6)

For those who remember the old days when there were no weighed prepacked foods like we have today. For example in the past sugar, mealie meal, flour and other such items when they were bought, were weighed on a ‘balance’ scale; on one side will be the weight on the other the product you were buying. Some unscrupulous people used to fiddle with the scale so that what you wanted was short weighed and they benefited from their illegal actions. Today it could be that we are being sold foods way past their sell by date. As hard as it is to believe we hear of allegations in the media that some of the genuine rice we buy is mixed with ‘fake’ rice made from plastic!    

The Prophet (pbuh) emphasized that honesty and kind dealings with customers are the secrets of success in business. He said, “The truthful and honest merchant is associated with the Prophets, the upright and the martyrs”. “God shows mercy to a person who is kindly when he sells, when he buys and when he makes a claim”. The Prophet gave many teachings on business and issues that covered almost every aspect of business and economics. Here are only a few major principles of fair business dealings according to Islam.

No fraud or deceit, the Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said; “When a sale is held, say, “There’s no cheating” Sellers must avoid making too many oaths when selling merchandise. The Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said, “Be careful of excessive oaths in a sale. Though it finds markets, it reduces abundance”. Mutual consent is necessary. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “The sale is complete when the two parties involved depart with mutual consent”.

To be strict in regard to weights and measures. The Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said, “When people cheat in weight and measures, their provision is cut off from them”. He told the owners of measures and weights, “You have been entrusted with affairs over which some nations before you were destroyed”. The Prophet forbade monopolies. “Whoever monopolizes is a sinner”. Free enterprise, the price of the commodities should not be fixed unless there is a situation of crisis or extreme necessity. Hoarding merchandise in order to increase the prices is forbidden.

Transactions of haraam items, such as intoxicants are forbidden. The Prophet’s general advice to all people was, “What is lawful is clear and what is unlawful is clear, but between them are certain doubtful things which many people do not recognize. He who guards against the doubtful things keep his religion and his honour blameless, but he who falls into doubtful things falls into what is unlawful, just as a shepherd who pastures his flocks round a sanctuary will soon pasture them in it. Every king has a sanctuary, and God’s sanctuary is the things he had declared unlawful”.

Muslim businesses and their enterprises need to be reminded about their role and responsibilities. Businesses should promote ethical standards in their enterprise, People involved in business should always be honest, truthful, and fulfil all promises and commitments. Almighty Allah has directed us to purify our economic dealings. While following this in letter and in spirit, a person may encounter financial difficulties, and he may have to sacrifice his ‘profits’. The real reward for this is what the Almighty will grant him on the Day of Judgement.

He has promised that if the Muslims in their collective capacity adhere to faith and adopt a God-fearing attitude, the Almighty shall provide them abundantly in this world as well:  

‘Ask forgiveness from your Lord. He is oft-forgiving. [As a result], He shall send rain upon you in abundance and give you increase in wealth and children and bestow on you gardens and shall bring forth for you springs of water’. (71:10-12)  


Remember this saying?
* If you plant honesty, you will reap trust
 * If you plant goodness, you will reap friends
 * If you plant humility, you will reap greatness
 * If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment
 * If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective
 * If you plant hard work, you will reap success
 * If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation
 * If you plant faith in Allah, you will reap a harvest.
 So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap later. "Whatever You Give To Life, Life Gives You Back"

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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