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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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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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