The purpose of business is to make profit - to increase the bottom line. This is the maxim that is well-known to every businessman. To put it starkly, the soul of business is to make more money, and then more money and more money still. Indeed;
"the mutual rivalry for piling up of wealth (worldly things) diverts you until you visit the graves! Nay! You shall come to know ... Nay! If you knew with a sure knowledge... (i.e. the end result of piling up, you would not have occupied yourselves in worldly things)". (Q102: 1-5)
"Recent" business theories/practices suggest a fresh reason for being in business. According to the 'new' thinking. the purpose of business is to create and keep a customer. in this thinking, you can only create a customer by producing something or offering a service that is of good quality and has a utility value from the user's perspective. The logic is that when you create and keep a customer, and then create and keep another and another your business turnover increases continously and you make profit each year. Undoubtedly, this is current in modern businesses
but it is neither a recent practice nor a new thinking.
The principle of business and economic life in Islam rests squarely on this very foundation: to offer just value to your customer and to receive fair value from him for what you have offered. That way, you can keep him and then create another - even through him; for the relationship is mutually beneficial. Hakim ibn Hizam (RA) reported that the Noble Prophet (PBUH) said:
"The two parties to a sale have the option to rescind so long as they have not parted company. If both are truthful and honest. they will be blessed in their sale; but if they are secretive and lie, then the blessing of their sale will be destroyed". (Bukhari)
RIGHT MEASuRE, RIGHT VALUUE: Troth. honestIy and the fear of Allah are the basic ethics of business in Islam. Allah says:
This means that cheating other parties in a sale transaction does not make one only fraudulent but also poor in the sight of Allah. Prophet Shu' aib (PBUH) gave this command of Allah to his people:
It is imperative to give the right measure of goods or the. correct value of service to receive the appropriate value from the customers. Remember,
guides not the plot of the betrayers". (Q12:52)
ILLEGAL TRANSACTIONS: Certain types of transactions are forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (PBUH); an ethical Muslim businessman will do well to distance himself from such transactions. All transactions of usury (riba) and transactions of hazard (maysir) are forbidden. Forbidden arc both the ribaof delay (i.e. increase of the value of money or goods lent only on account of time interval e.g. interest rate, given increase of goods, exchange of gold for silver etc.) and the riba of excess (i.e. exchange or lending of goods or money based on the definite return of a higher quantity or value). Further, the Prophet (PBUH) said:
"Unlawful are loan and sale combined, two conditions in one sale, the acquisition of profit from that which one is liable and the sale of what one does not possess" (Tirmidhi).
He (PBUH) also said:
"lf someone makes two sales in one, then he is either losing by it or making unjustified profit". (Abu Daud)
Forbidden transactions of hazard include bay'al haram (speculative sale), mulamasa (the sale of an unknown or unquantifiable product e.g. the unborn calf or sale at a touch). Future sale of commodities or currencies are similarly forbidden just as any sale based on any form of misrepresentation. Also illegal is the najash - speculative increase in price particularly by an accomplice of the seller who bids up the price without the intention of buying. This is quite instructive for the capital and commodities market.
MIDDLEMANSHIP: Crass middlemanship ie. intercepting goods before they reach the market is an improper practice proscribed by the Prophet (PBUH) because of the risk to the seller who may not know the regular price of the goods. He reportedly said:
"The townsman may not sell for the nomad. Leave people alone and Allah will see that they provide for one another. " (Bukhari& Muslim)
Ibn Abbas (RA) explained that this meant that the townsman may not act as the nomads' middleman (lbn Taymiyyah). Similarly, marketers are not allowed to sell for one price to those who bargain and for a higher price to the mustansil (who does not bargain) or to those who may be ignorant of the regular price.
Ma'mar ibn Abdullah reported that the Prophet (PBUH) also stamped out hoarding which is hand-inglove with middllemanship;
"Only the misguided hoard" (Muslim).
The hoarder is one who buys up food which people need and keeps it in store with the intention of putting up the price. He is a clear oppressor of the buying public and the authorities are empowered to compel him to sell the hoarded goods for a fair value.
PRICE CONTROL: Anas related the following: "The market price rose in the time of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and the people said to him: 'Messenger of Allah (PBUH), if only you would fix the prices (i.e. lower them)!' But he replied:
"Allah is the Taker. the Disposer. the Succour and the Controller of prices. I very much hope that when I meet Allah, no one will claim against me for an injury I have caused him in blood and property. "(Abu Daud)
Hence if people are selling their goods in a fitting manner, causing no injury, and the current price happens to rise either because of shortage of the goods or on account of increased demand, then that is the Will of Allah,' However, price control would not be left to the dictates
of demand and supply where the owners of merchandise refused to sell except for a high value particularly at a time of urgent need by the people. In such circumstance, it is incumbent on the public officers to ensure that the goods are sold for fair value.
NO BRIBERY, NO INDUCEMENT: Whatever role you play Within the economy, fear Allah and remember that Islam forbids bribery or inducement for you to discharge your duties. The Prophet (PBUH) appointed ibn al-Latbiya to collect alms. On his return, he called him to account and the man said: "this is for
'you and this was a gift to me".
"What sort of man is this?" said the Prophet (pBUH).
"We appoint him to a task with which Allah has charged us and he says: This is for you - this was a gift to me. Did he then sit down in the house of his father and mother. waiting to see whether or not gifts would be brought to him? By Him in whose Hand is my soul; if we appoint a man to a task with which Allah has charged us and he embezzles anything at all, then surely he will bear it on his neck on the Day of Resurrection ". (Bukhari & Muslim)
Do good in your business and be transparent and honest. Be a member of the Muslim League for Accountability and Honesty (MULAH). Know that;
"If you do good openly or conceal it or pardon evil, Allah is All-Forgiving, All-Powerful", (Q4:149)
Do good business for, as the Prophet (PBUH) said:
"Allah is good and accepts only good";
make sure your income is clean and lawful for he also said:
"Allah is clean and loves cleanliness".
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited