Adab: Etiquettes of Trade and Business Transactions

 Points to cover include:

  1. Virtues and allurement to trade and business
  2. Etiquettes of trade
  3. Artisanship
  4. The permitted and prohibited of trade and business
  1. A Muslim must view Trade and business transaction as:
    1. A means of seeking livelihood
    2. A cause to seek the pleasure of Allah
  2. In Q78:11 and Q7:10 Allah mentioned that He has made provision in nature for men to trade as a blessing that requires better utilization and gratitude.
  3. In Q2:198 Allah mentioned how direct worship and trade should be managed
  4. In Sahih Bukhari, the prophet (SAW) said: the best food for a man to consume is that which he obtained from the gains of his work/struggle.
  5. The prophet (SAW) also said that prophet Dawud (AS) will like to eat from the gain of his handwork.
  6. Ibn Abbas (RA) said: Our Father Adam (AS) is a farmer; Prophet Nuh (AS) a carpenter; Prophet Idrees (AS) a tailor; Prophets Ibraheem and Lut (AS) were farmers; Prophet Soolih (AS) a trader; Prophet Dawud (AS) an ironsmith; Prophets Musa, Shuaib and Muhammad (AS) were shepherds.
  7. (Prophet) Luqman once advised his son on seeking means of sustenance through trade to save himself from three: (1) disgrace to his religion (2) weakness in intellect (3) loss of dignity or inability to protect his dignity. The worst of the three is the last.
  8. Imam Ahmad ibn Hambal was asked about one man who chose to remain devoted to worship in the mosque and not work. He replied that the man has acted on ignorance. He continues by saying that Allah has placed my sustenance under my spear. The Muslim warriors occupied in jihad strategies and execution to defend Islam will gain their sustenance from war booty.
  9. Seeking means of sustenance and livelihood is part of every moving creature. An example of the birds that scout the surface of the earth for food while flying in the air. It is a routine activity.
  10. The companions of the prophet were devoted worshippers of Allah yet they will source for sustenance and livelihood on the land and on the sea, indicating their view of seeking sustenance as a type of worship
  11. Abu Darda’ was reported to have said that he had difficulty in combining worship and trade and he chose worship and left trade. The explanation is that the intent for work is not just for the sake of working to accumulate wealth but rather (1) to seek the pleasure of Allah (2) to protect the dignity of oneself from the abuse of joblessness (3) to sustain one’s family and prevent them from the lowliness of begging (4) to attain a significant status of recognition among the family. Oncethese aims have been achieved then the intent of trade and transactions will be considered accomplished. Hence, leaders of an Islamic state and the scholars may suffice themselves with the noble task of administration and scholarship training while their needs were been catered for by government.
  12. Any trade and business transactions must comply with the following requirements: (1) it must be in line with what is permitted in the Shariah of Islam (2) Justice must be established with it (3) it must be for some goodness or benefit (4) it must not prevent the practice/establishment of the religion.
  13. Trade has the following pillars: (1) the buyer or the seller (2) the item of trade/business itself (3) the statement or conclusion of transactions
  14. The buyer or seller: (1) must be of sound mind (not insane) (2) must not be a slave (except after confirmation from his/her master to buy or sell) (3) must not be a youngster (except with a written instruction from his parent/guardian to buy from him or sell to him).
  15. It is permissible to sell to or buy from a blind person if the later can describe the product of the trade.
  16. It is not permissible to buy from one who is known tosteal other people’s property.
  17. The item of trade: (1) it must be what is permitted in the Shariah (2) it must not support vices and corruption (eg, fireworks, xmas tree, cigarette, etc) (3) it must be an existing and present item. i.e, a flying bird cannot be sold until it is caught; a foetus of animal cannot be sold until it is born (4) it must be definite and specific (by accurate description or appreciation) (5) it must not cause harm (eg, a breastfeeding animal cannot be sold without its mother, the mother cannot be sold without the child) (6) it must be present at the point of sale (except large goods, i.e, stored in the warehouse, airplane on the airport; a document of authorization to pick-up the goods must be issued after payment).
  18. Concerning online shopping, the “pay on delivery” is the most suitable option. The goods will be examined and appreciated by the buyer, the payment will be made and the transaction will be concluded with mutual satisfaction on a face-to-face basis).
  19. The statement of transaction: Both the buyer and the seller must issue a definite, clear and conclusive statement of interest to buy or sell by spoken or written expressions. Note: This type of definite statement is common to most contracts in Islam, e.g., marriage.
  20. Trade or business involving usury is invalid and cursed. Any agreement on such will also be invalid.
  21. A Muslim trader, artisan or business owner must understand the rules of the Shariah governing the type of his chosen trade or profession.
  22. Injustice associated with trade and business transactions: There are some tactics of trade and business transactions understood by the traders and artisans. These tactics can be manipulated to cause harm and injustice. A Muslim trader or artisans must be careful on the following:
  23. Hoarding: it is impermissible to cause artificial scarcity by stockpiling valuable common public items until they become rare with the intention to hike the price. However, it is permissible to preserve and store excess produce until when the people are in need.
  24. Cheating/Deception: The intent here is when the seller hides the defect of the item of sale or service in order to gain a value above it’s worth. This also includes exploiting on the buyers’ surprise at the availability of the item. It is also not permissible to mix items of low quality with high one. The prophet (SAW) said: Whoever deceives us is not from us (ie. is not having our standard).
  1. Goodness and mercy in trade: it is important that a trader be gentle and merciful and accepts sold goods from the buyer if the later has a valid reason for the return. This reason may include the buyer having other urgent need to attend to with the money other than what he has bought. If the time of purchase is reasonably short and the item is undamaged, the seller should consider accepting the return as a benevolent gesture to save the buyer from distress. This is because the ultimate intent of trade is not for profit but for seeking the pleasure of Allah through obeying his commands and making livelihood easy by participating in the unavoidable human needs contained in trade.

In conclusion, the trader must understand the following points to succeed in the accomplishment of the aforementioned(1) Sincere intention (2) to consider it as fard kifaayah (collective obligation) (3) the market of this world must not hinder us from the market of the hereafter (mosque) (4) the remembrance of Allah should be part of trade and business (5) we should not be the first to enter the market and the last to leave (6) must not involve himself in what is doubtful.

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