Faith and Fair Trading, Generosity and Piety, Issues to Address
Issue 919 » November 4, 2016 - Safar 4, 1438
Faith and Fair Trading
Hud (Hud) - Chapter 11: Verse 84 (partial)
The people of Madyan, whose country was an enclave of land lying between Hijaz and Syria, used to give short measure and weight, thus wronging other people in respect of what was rightfully theirs. That is, they used to give other people less than the value of their goods. Their misconduct reflected badly on their integrity and honour and showed that they were far from clean both externally and at heart. Their geographical position meant that they were able to control the trade route of the caravans moving between the north and the south of Arabia. This enabled them to dictate unfair terms on other people's trade.
Here we see the link between believing in God's oneness and submission to Him alone on the one hand, and honesty, fair trading, honourable transactions and combating all kinds of cheating and stealing, whether perpetrated by individuals or governments, on the other. This relationship appears to be a safeguard ensuring a better human life, justice and peace among people. It is the only safeguard based on fearing God and seeking His pleasure. Hence, it has a very solid foundation which cannot be influenced by special interests or personal desires.
In the Islamic view, business dealings, and morality generally, must have a solid basis which is not influenced by changeable factors. Thus Islam differs fundamentally with all other social and moral theories devised by human beings and governed by their differing bents of thought and their temporary interest.
When business dealings and morality have such a solid basis, they are not influenced by immediate or material interests or by differing environments with different factors and considerations. Hence, rules of morality and those that govern human dealings are not subject to whether people are nomadic, agrarian or industrialized. Such changeable factors lose their influence on the moral concepts of society or the moral values which govern business transactions when the basis of legislation for all spheres of life is Divine law. Then the essential basis of morality is to seek God's pleasure, hoping to win His reward and avoid His punishment. All that is advanced by human-made theories and doctrines about morality being the product of the economic situation and the social conditions prevailing in a particular society become meaningless in the light of Islamic moral theory.
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 9, pp. 235, 236
Generosity and Piety
Righteous deeds of all kinds bring us closer to Allah, but this is especially true of our acts of kindness to others. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
There was a merchant who used to extend credit to people. If he found one of his customers to be in straightened means, he would say to his assistants: "Forgive them their debt, perhaps Allah will forgive us." Allah did forgive him. [Bukhari, Muslim]
Allah has made the hearts of those who are honest sensitive to what is kind and to what is generous, so that the heart becomes itself a guide to what Allah wants from us.
This is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Piety is what the heart feels comfortable with, while sin is what disquiets the heart and makes it hesitate, even if people say that it is alright." [Musnad, Al-Darimi]
A pure, honest heart is like a mirror, except that what it reflects is truth through the light of knowledge and understanding. A corrupted heart, by contrast, gets nothing from good advice or instruction, because it is unreceptive. Allah loves the benevolent heart, and likewise He loves the pious actions that such a heart inspires its possessor to perform.
"Allah is al-Barr" - Salman al-Oadah
Issues to Address
The true challenge of the day is to choose the right battle - to mobilize the creative energy of the peoples in the attempt to find real solutions to real problems. The march toward democracy in the Global South entails a thorough reconsideration of the three "fundamentals": economic (and agricultural) policy, educational policy, and cultural and media policy (in the general sense). The secularist elite would be well advised to acknowledge that it truly has nothing new to offer in these three vital policy categories. There can be no true political democracy without a profound restructuring of the economic priorities of each country, which in turn can only come about by combating corruption, limiting the prerogatives of the military, and, above all, reconsidering economic ties with other countries as well as the modalities of domestic wealth distribution.
Concern for free, analytical, and critical thought must take the form of educational policies founded upon the construction of schools and universities, revising the curriculum and enabling women to study, work, and become financially independent. Despite their parents' fulsome declarations, the children of the secular elites often end up pursuing their studies in the West. While progressive statements about women have never troubled entrenched traditional and patriarchal attitudes within those elites, their fine words must at last be translated into genuine social and educational policy at the local and national level. These are the issues; they must now be addressed.
"Islam and the Arab Awakening" - Tariq Ramadan, p. 88