Examples of Business Ethics which Islam Has Stressed

Islam instructs its followers to observe certain ethics when they engage in financial transactions, including the following:

Honesty

Islam requires its adherents to be honest in their dealings with Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Indeed, honesty is one of the most important moral principles which testifies to a Muslim’s devoutness. Its importance is indicated in a number of Qur’anic verses and traditions of the Prophet r , including the following:

  • Allah says, “Allah commands you to deliver trusts back to their owners.” (Soorat An-Nisaa’, 4:58)
  • The Prophet r considers betraying the trust as one of the signs of hypocrisy: “The signs of the hypocrite are three: when he speaks he lies, when he promises he breaks his promise and when he is entrusted he betrays the trust.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 33; Saheeh Muslim: 59)
  • Honesty is among the characteristics of the believers whom Allah calls ‘‘successful’’ because they “honour their trusts and their contracts”, among other traits. (Soorat Al-Mu’minoon, 23:8)
  • It is for this reason that the Prophet r considers those who do not fulfil the terms and conditions of the trusts which are placed in their charge to have no faith: “The person who does not fulfil the terms of his trust has no faith.” (Sunan Ahmad: 12567)
  • The Prophet r was known by his honorific title of As-Saadiq al-Ameen (the truthful and trustworthy) before the advent of Islam, for he was the epitome of honesty in all his dealings.

Truthfulness

Truthfulness and transparency are among the virtues that Islam has stressed

  • The Prophet r said, “The seller and the buyer have the right to keep or return goods as long as they have not parted; and if both parties speak the truth and describe the defects and qualities of the goods, their transaction will be blessed; however, if they tell lies or hide something, their transaction will be deprived of all blessings.”(Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 1973; Saheeh Muslim: 1532)
  • He also said, “Be truthful, for truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise. A man keeps on telling the truth until he becomes known as a truthful person.”(Saheeh Muslim: 2607)
  • Some traders often have recourse to swearing falsely claiming that their merchandise is of good quality in order to persuade the buyers to purchase it. Islam considers such an act one of the major sins, as the Prophet r said, “Allah will not speak to three types of people on the Day of Judgement, nor will He look at them, nor purify them and they will have a severe punishment.” Amongst these types he mentioned those who “swear falsely in order to sell their goods.”(Saheeh Muslim: 106)

Proficiency

A Muslim, no matter what his occupation may be, must carry out his duties with efficiency and to the best of his ability, making efficiency his guiding principle in all his endeavours

  • Allah I has prescribed proficiency in all things and requires Muslims to observe it in all aspects of life, even when doing things that may, on the surface, seem unimportant, such as hunting and slaughtering. The Prophet r said in this regard, “Allah has prescribed proficiency in all things. Thus, if you kill, kill well; and if you slaughter, slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters.” (Saheeh Muslim: 1955)
  • Once, he attended the funeral of a man and gave instructions to his companions to level the grave and carry out the burial process efficiently. Then he turned to them and said, “Doing so will neither benefit the deceased, nor harm him; however, if a worker does any work, Allah loves to see him do it well and with efficiency.” (Al-Bayhaqee’sShu‛ab Al-Eemaan: 5315) Another narration reads, “If any of you undertakes to do any work, Allah loves to see him do it well and with efficiency.” (Musnad Abu Ya‛laa: 4386; Al-Bayhaqee’sShu‛ab Al-Eemaan: 4312) Read more about moral character on page 225