How honest are you in business transactions?
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) praised honesty in business. He said:
The truthful and trustworthy business owner will be in the company of Prophets, saints and martyrs on the Day of Judgment. (At-Tirmidhi)
In West Africa, as was the case with Southeast Asia, it was traders who introduced Islam, and many rulers accepted it first, followed by their followers.
In East Africa, traders had spread Islam down the coast by the tenth century, and it gradually developed further in the following centuries…” (The Role of Merchants in Spreading Islam)
The role of honest trade was paramount not only in the spread of Islam, but also in preserving its credibility.
But who was the most trustworthy business owner of all times?
Indeed, it was no doubt the best human that tread upon this earth, Muhammad ibn Abdullah, the seal of Prophets.
Prophet Muhammad’s Trustworthiness in Commerce
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) becomes independent from a young age. His father dies before he is even born. His mother dies when he was six.
He then moves to his grandfather’s house dwelling for a very short period upon his death. So, when he finally moves into his uncle Abu Talib’s household, it is not long before he starts work.
The noble Prophet (peace be upon him) proves to be very efficient in commerce. Not only due to his intelligent personality, but owing as well to his virtuous embodiment of excellence:
Ihsan is that you should serve Allah as though you could see Him, for though you cannot see Him yet He sees you. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The following was a transaction between Prophet Muhammad and one of his companions. It is mentioned that Al-‘Adda’ ibn Khalid said:
“The Prophet Muhammad wrote for me:
This is what Muhammad, Messenger of Allah, has purchased from Al-‘Adda’ ibn Khalid, a sale from one Muslim to another, with no hidden defect, no taint and no wickedness (gha’ila) (i.e. in the slave sold.)
Qatada said: “Gha’ila means fornication, theft and being a runaway.” (Al-Bukhari)
Returning Trusts to Those Who Harmed Him
Verily! Allah commands that you should render back the trusts to those, to whom they are due; and that when you judge between men, you judge with justice. (Quran 4: 58)
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was highly trusted by the people of Makkah. Anyone that owned money or valuable property and was afraid that it might be stolen or lost, would entrust him with it.
The Prophet used to keep these deposited trusts and return them to their owners whenever they asked for them. When he was severely harmed by the disbelievers in Makkah, Allah gave him permission to migrate to Madinah.
The Prophet had many things that non-Muslims and other people had deposited with him. The trustworthy Prophet did not migrate until he had entrusted his cousin, Ali Ibn Abi Talib to stay in Makkah in order to return these trusts back to their owners.
Ali fulfilled this mission with excellence. Indeed, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was very keen on giving back the rights to their owners, even though the owners of these valuable items were plotting against him and conspiring to kill him.
The Role of Muslim Businessmen in Spreading Islam
“As was the case in most of the areas to which Islam spread, peaceful and voluntary conversion was far more important than conquest and force in spreading the faith in Southeast Asia.
Almost everywhere in the islands of the region, trading contacts paved the way for conversion. Muslim merchants and sailors introduced local people to the ideas and rituals of the new faith…” (The Spread of Islam to Southeast Asia: Islam from the Beginning To 1300: 2002)
“The adage: “Actions speak louder than words” was well embodied in Muslim history, namely the spread of Islam in many non-Muslim countries – like parts of Asia, Africa and Europe – through the good conduct of Muslim merchants who came into commercial contacts with the people of those countries.
In the year 1500, the historian Anthony Reid notes that Muslim influence was present in coastal ports of Sumatra, Java, and Malaysia. Southeast Asian people came into direct contact with Muslim traders who had been not just to India, but also to Arabia. Arabic scholars also came to Malaysia and Indonesia, facilitating information about the new religion. (The Role of Merchants in Spreading Islam)
Honest Contemporary Muslim Business Owners
Today we have many positive examples of honest contemporary Muslim business owners.
An American Muslim of Palestinian origin has been praised as a role model for honesty after he returned a stolen MacBook Air to a Jewish family. (Muslim Returns Stolen MacBook to Jewish Owner).
In New York In 2008, a world-class violinist gave a free concert at an airport taxi stand to show his gratitude to an honest Muslim cab driver who reunited him with his lost 4-million-dollar violin. (Muslim Returns Stolen MacBook to Jewish Owner).
In November 2014, a Muslim owner of a Burger King branch in San Jose returned to police a backpack which contained US$100,000. (Muslim Returns Stolen MacBook to Jewish Owner).
In Germany, a Syrian refugee in Minden near Hannover, the hero who handed €50,000 (£41,000) cash he found hidden in a donated wardrobe over to the authorities. (Syrian Refugee in Germany Hailed Hero After Returning €50K).
A Muslim taxi driver has won praise and thumbs up, thus becoming a hero, after returning life savings to an elderly pensioner, who fell victim to a scam. They told him to withdraw £12,000 – £8,000 in £50 notes and £4,128 worth of euros – and hand it over to a taxi driver. (Muslim Taxi Driver Hailed for Returning £12K to Pensioner)
More recently in Dubai, a Pakistani Muslim was praised for his honesty after returning Dh50,000 he found at an ATM machine. (Muslim Returns Stolen MacBook to Jewish Owner).
Returning to the Sunnah of Honesty and Trustworthiness
Indeed humankind’s salvation lies upon returning to the teachings of the noble Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). So let’s follow the Sunnah for a better Ummah.
Today we have learned the Sunnah of honesty and trustworthiness, how to make sure to stay away from hypocrisy and to have Ihsan in our words and dealings.
Stay tuned for a new Sunnah coming soon.