Seeking Halal Earning
By Khalid Baig
to Abdullah ibn Masud, Radi-Allahu unhu, The Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu
alayhi wa sallam, said: 'Seeking halal earning
is a duty after the duty.' In other words working to earn a halal living
is itself a religious obligation second in importance after the primary
religious obligations like prayers, fasting and hajj.
brief hadith contains three very important messages. First, it points to
the Islamic way out of the apparent dichotomy between the material and the
spiritual worlds. We often see them working in opposite directions.
Indulgence in the material world does lead one away from the spiritual
world. Spiritual uplifting seems to accompany a tendency to distance
oneself from the material pleasures. There is a conflict, but is there a
contradiction also? Is it possible to resolve the conflict in a way that
one can take care of both? Or are they mutually exclusive? This has been a
central question for all religions and many in the past suggested the
second answer, making hermits as the ideal for the humanity. Unfortunately
not much humanity is left when one moves too far in this direction. One
can read today the horror stories of Christian and Hindu monks, among
others, who tried to seek spiritual purification this way.
a reaction, others took the other course, making material pleasures the
goal of this life. The western civilization today is the prime example of
that. Its toll on human spirit and morality is well known and is a
constant reminder that something is wrong here as well.
between the two extremes Islam points out the Straight Path. Man is both a
material and a spiritual being. The solution does not lie in denying the
material needs and desires but in denying their claim to primacy. They are
part of being but not the reason or goal of being. As long as they are
kept in place, they are an important part of our life. The problem is not
money but the love of it. Wealth itself is not bad. In fact Qur'an refers
to it as ' ... your wealth which Allah has made for you a means of
support.' [Al-Nisa, 4:5]. And another hadith praises the merits of 'the
halal wealth of a pious person.' The effort to earn a living is not
only not against spirituality, it is a religious obligation!
this earning must be through halal means. This is the second message of
this hadith. Our obligation is not just to make money but to make halal
money. This is a broad statement that is the basis for Islamization of a
society's economic life. Not every business idea or possible business
enterprise is good for the society. And the decision regarding right and
wrong here cannot be left to the so-called market forces. Right and wrong
in the economic life, as in all life, must be determined by a higher
source. Shariah guides us as to the halal and haram business enterprises
and practices, and at both individual and collective levels we must follow
times that guidance may conflict with the prevailing practices. For
example riba (interest), gambling, pornography, and liquor are haram, and
no matter how attractive the financial rewards of engaging in those
enterprises may seem to be, a Muslim must refrain from them. This is the
economic struggle of a believer, and it is obvious why it should be
carried out as a religious obligation. At the individual level the
obligation is to engage is halal professions and businesses. At the
collective level the obligation is to establish a system that facilitates
such individual efforts and discourages their opposite.
we lose the balance between obligations at the two levels. Obviously our
ultimate responsibility is at the individual level; in the hereafter we
will be asked about what we did in our personal lives. At the same time,
in the era of multi-national companies, CNN, IMF, World bank,
and GATT, it is obvious that individual efforts alone cannot steer the
economic life of a society in the direction of halal. Why avoiding
interest has become so difficult today? Not because of its inherent merits
as a healthy financial instrument but because it is entrenched in the
system. Can we build an Islamic life style when the CNN is advertising a
western life style in the most enticing ways 24 hours a day in our homes?
Can we resolve the issues of halal and haram in taxation in Muslim
countries when the national budgets and tax decisions are dictated to
these countries by the IMF and the World Bank? (Jurists say that taxes may
be permissible if they are necessary, reasonable, fair, within the ability
of the payers, and if the means of collection are not harsh. Otherwise
they are unjust and haram). Obviously the struggle to avoid haram
individually must, of necessity, include the struggle to change the system
that forces haram.
all this effort for halal earning should not eclipse our primary religious
obligations. Indulgence even in a purely halal enterprise should not make
us miss our Salat, or hajj, for example.
point is more important than we may realize at first. In this century,
some Islamic movements made the error of suggesting that the primary acts
of worship. like Salat were not meant for their
own sake, but were there to prepare us for the real challenge of
establishing an Islamic state. It was stated to persuade the audiences to
join such movements but the speakers had gone carried away and in effect
it would result in an inversion of the relationship between the two. The
result is that those drawn to collective struggles, in political or
economic arenas, sometimes may ignore their primary religious
responsibilities, in favor of the 'bigger' struggle. This hadith may help
us set our priorities right: The economic endeavor is a duty after the
primary duties. And let us remember: In economics, as well as in religion,
getting the priorities right is part of being right.
Article taken (with Thanks) from Albalagh.net
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