The model example of adhernce to business ethics
Business Ethics in Islam
The model example of adherence to Business Ethics
The Muslim businessman is very fortunate in that Islamic Business Ethics is not just some theoretical text book philosophy that has no practical application. The Muslims have a model who practically demonstrated Business Ethics. This model was none other than Prophet Muhammad (saw). Many of the other faiths do not have the advantage of this luxury. Typically in Christianity, the life of Hazrat Essa (as) has been documented very sparsely and hence the model example phenomenon is not as prominent as it is in Islam.
The Prophet (saw) gave practical application for one to become a successful businessman. He demonstrated business ethics both prior to Prophet Hood and after attaining Prophet Hood. He was a very successful businessman and most of his business transactions and ventures were recorded prior to Prophet Hood. After attaining Prophet Hood his life’s mission changed and attention was focussed more on spreading the message of Islam rather than on business.
The Prophet (saw) was twelve years old when he went on his first trading trip to Syria with his beloved uncle, Abu Talib. When the Prophet (saw) grew and became mature he began to trade on his own account in Makkah. He grazed the sheep of the Quraish when he was very young in order to take some of the financial burden from his uncle who was not very well off. Muhammad (saw) was very hardworking and conscientious and was well known for his honesty and integrity. As a young man he was called Sadiq (truthful) and Ameen (honest).
The Prophet (saw) was a poor man who started his business from scratch. At times he would work for a wage and at other times he acted as agent for wealthy traders in Makkah.
The keeping of promises was an integral part of the Prophet’s (saw) noble character. Abdullah bin Abul Hamza related: “I bought something from the Prophet (saw) before he received his Prophet Hood. There was something still due to him and I promised him I would bring it to him to the place, but I forgot. When I remembered three days later, I went to that place and found him there. He said to me that I had grieved him as he had been there for three days waiting for me.“ (Abu Dawood)
Prior to marrying Hazrat Khadijah (ra), he traded as her agent in neighbouring countries such as Syria, Yemen and Jerusalem. In these trade missions he amassed considerable profits for Hazrat Khadija (ra). He traded with absolute honesty and did not misappropriate any of her funds. She had employed many agents prior to appointing the Prophet (saw) and never had she seen such growth in her earnings.
Hazrat Khadijah (ra) was so pleased with the integrity and honesty he displayed and the superior character he demonstrated that she proposed marriage to him (through a slave) which proposal he accepted. He was 25 years old at that stage and she was a forty year old widow.
Then Prophet (saw) earned his lawful earnings with hard work in his youth and even when he attained manhood. He laid down the following business principles:
“No one has ever eaten better food than what he eats as a result of the labour of his hands. Allah’s Prophet Dawood (as) used to eat from what he had worked for with his hands.” (Bukhari). The Prophet (saw) said, “Trying to earn a lawful livelihood is an obligatory duty in addition to other duties which are obligatory.” (Baihaqi)
The Prophet (saw) engaged in many credit transactions but always displayed generosity when repaying the debt. In one example Abu Hurrairah (ra) reported that a man demanded payment of a debt from the Prophet (saw) in a harsh manner and his companions were very upset about this manner of treatment of Nabi (saw). The Prophet (saw) said, ”Leave him alone, as the one who has a right is entitled to demand his due. Buy him a camel and give it to him.” When they advised him that all they could find was one of a better age than the man was entitled to, he said,” Buy it and give it to him, for the best person among you is he who discharges his debt in the best manner.” (Bukhari & Muslim).
Another advice of the Prophet (saw) recorded in Bukhari is: “Allah shows Mercy to a man who is kind when he sells, when he purchases and whenever he makes a claim.”
It can be seen that the Prophet (saw) was a model businessman and he practically demonstrated good ethical practice in business. A Muslim needs to follow this example and implement the teachings in his own business dealings.

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