ISLAM ON TRADE & COMMERCE
-MJ Mohammed Iqbal
Islam provides a comprehensive code of conduct and perfect way of life for entire mankind of all times. It conforms to naturality and shuns ostensibility. Unity, universality, rationality, internationality, practicality, honesty, simplicity and moderation are some of the sound factors of the faith of Islam. Most of the main character of the ideals of universal brotherhood, international citizenship and the concept of one world are the most important and the unique characteristic of Islam and it is the fusion of spirit and matter.
It is a clear truth that some of the faiths in the world are sound in theory and feeble otherwise. Islam being the natural religion promotes and infers temperance and moderation in all walks of life and in all spheres of human activity.. Its teachings are simple, easy and understandable to believe, accept and practice as Holy Qur'an says: "Allah desireth for your ease; He desireth not hardship for you" (2:185)
It works over to the credit of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to have established by precept and practice a deep feeling for divine inherent in the social order and in the row of heirachy in the dealings of politics, human rights and economic transaction. Thus Almighty unfolded the gate of divine laws to prepare honest, sincere, good and useful citizen in the state.
The rights of life, liberty and property of an individual are firmly established so as to promote maximum identity of the public and private interest in the polity of Islam. Qur'an and sunnah are ways and means to guide mankind on straight path as Holy Qur'an says: "Say (to them) by whose order have you denied yourself those amentities which God had created for His people and those good things to eat and use (which he made for you)" (7:32)
"Eat and drink, but exceed not (and become extravagant)" (7:31).
"Our Lord give us the good in this world and the good in hereafter" (2:201).
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: "The Muslim who lives in the midst of society and bears with fortitude the afflictions that come to him is better than the one who shuns society and cannot bear any wrong done to him".
Role of Trade and Commerce
Commerce plays an important role in the Islamic economic system. The Prophet (PBUH) was once asked which was the best income, and he said: “A man’s handiwork and all clean sales”. Thus the goal which Islam strives for in commerce is exchange of utilities among the members of the society, based on brotherhood and justice. Towards this goal, Islam has set certain regulations and principles, which control the activities of merchants. There are many references made by the Prophet, such as :
“God Blesses a person who is God conscious when he sells, buys and examines”. And,“Trade is by mutual consent as long as the parties do not dispute. If they are faithful and announce their dealings, they are blessed, but if they conceal them and tell lies, the blessing is blotted out.”
The Prophet has strongly warned whomever plays foul or indulges in corrupt practices in business because it is offending the principles of Islam. He said : “Whoever corrupts us is not one of us”. It is also reported through Hazrat Abdulla Bin Masoud that the Prophet had said : “Charity given from income earned illegally is not acceptable, if one spends it, it is not blessed, and if he carries it on his back, he is then carrying a load of fire. God does not blot out sin with sin but blots out sin with good deeds”.
The Law has set the principles, which ensure the brotherly understanding and solidarity among the parties to the business. For example, the law requires that business dealings should be contracted between the parties to ensure justice. The Prophet has also recommended that merchants should sell at justifiable prices so that the poor should be able to purchase their requirements. He said: “A person would enter in the Heavens because during his life time he used to sell to people at justifiable price, grant them loans, give them relief and forgive the poor.”
It is essential that merchant’s activities should emerge from spiritual consciousness especially when he is dealing with the poor and the oppressed. This is God’s cause, and in this regard the Prophet places such type of people in the same class with those who fight in the cause of God, who slay and be slain. He said: “Glad tidings; he who comes to our market is like one who strives in the cause of God, but the monopolist in our market is like a pagan in the God’s Book.”
The law stipulates that the price of a commodity must be the same whether in cash transactions or on account, because those who purchase on loan are poor people who cannot afford to pay in cash, thus it is improper to exploit them by taking advantage of their poverty. The Quran says :
“If the debtor is in a difficulty, grant him time till it is easy for him to repay, but if ye remit it by way of charity, that is best for y our if ye only knew.” [2 : 280]
On the other hand, the law provides many benefits to merchants in return for their obligations. Those who suffer financial difficulties are to be treated with patience. The Prophet had ordered that the government should assist merchants who have become bankrupt; and in the event of death of a bankrupt merchant, the government should pay off his debts. Also the law forbids the sale of the property of the deceased merchant in order to pay his debts. The Prophet said: “I am the most exalted among the believers, if believer dies, I have to pay his debts, and if he leaves property, it is for his heirs.” Thus it is clear that the law has made the Commercial relations between the seller and the buyer based on the principle of justice to ensure unity and brotherhood. Those principles are as follows:
(a) All merchants in the market must have equal opportunities. The Prophet had ordered that all commercial activities should take place only in the market, so that there would be no chance for some merchants to divert the market in order to increase the prices.
(b) The prices should be decided according to the law of supply and demand. If, in any event, some merchants take advantage of certain situations, then the government must intervene to ensure justice n prices.
(c) The law forbids any type of monopoly and it considers it a serious crime because it prevents lawful transactions and equal opportunities for al engaged in business. It also leads to centralization of authority and power in the hands of a few rich people who always take advantage of such opportunities for their own benefit as against the general good of the society. And because of the danger of this offence, the Prophet has warned saying:”Whoever monopolizes (by hoarding) food things for 40 days will be isolated from God, and God Himself will isolate from him.”
(d) Prophet has prohibited any type of price competition, because competition only serves personal selfish ends, and causes conflicts and divisions between the merchants. The competition, which is allowed, is that which seeks to improve the quality of the commodities. That will be a healthy and lawful competition.
Hence, it is understood that Islam developed very wonderful trade, fifteen centuries before itself and standing as a role model for the current day’s system. Also one should note that Islam's economic development is based on the principle of solidarity, brotherhood and justice and always propagates the practice of good moral and ethical values.
Courtesy: Gulf Today