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Chapter 2: Islamic Business Ethics

By Dr. Yahia Abdul Rahman

Islam is the religion of submitting our will to the will of God.

All Prophets-- Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed (S) (ppbu-THEM)-- came to train people to be better submittors to God's will and custodians/trustees on God's property; i.e. earth and its resources.


Human nature, if untamed, is characterized by selfishness and greed.

Islam focuses on training the individual spiritually and ethically to suppress selfishness and greed and to promote goodness.

The government is responsible for justice, economic justice and justice in all aspects of life.

Following, are some important concepts:


Success lies in both material achievements and in being virtuous.

Virtue implies a positive attitude towards life and other beings.

The results are peace of mind, contentment and a sense of security.

The true image of success is not how much money one has in the bank or the kind of car one drives.

Success is realizing a track record as a pious person who can be trusted and is close to God; a person who feels for the neediest and the poorest in the community.

Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.


The horizon of time in Islam extends beyond this life to the life after death; i.e. the hereafter.

Wealth, power, position and affluence do not come with us to our graves after death.

When one dies he/she leaves behind (as per Prophet Muhammad's (S) teaching):

A family and descendants who perpetuate the laws of God

A permanent contribution which will benefit the community

A Source of income for the poor and the needy and/or to generate job opportunities for future generations.


The globe belongs to God and it is wide open and full of resources and opportunities.

Oppression in one location does not justify acceptance.

It is the responsibility of everyone in particular Muslims to find another location where freedom and human dignity are prevalent.

In doing so, a Muslim in his/her pursuit of business, carries with him/her the way of life of Islam.



Islam requires every individual to work and to produce.

Prophet Muhammad (S) teaches: "Never be lazy and helpless". There is no good in an individual who does not want to produce and earn money.

And it is known that the unproductive hand is an unclean impure hand.

Products should be useful and not harmful as defined in the Qur'an and the Islamic laws (Sharia).


In its efforts to do away with classes in the society based on wealth and affluence, and reshaping it through distribution into an integrated society, Islam makes the following points:

God owns wealth, power and natural resources.

The individual or the institution is appointed by God as a trustee and custodian to manage them.

Every being, human or not, has a minimum requirement to be able to live in dignity.

This should be provided by the government to anyone who cannot meet his or her own needs.

Islam respects private property and the right of ownership is protected.

The system is paid back and balanced out through the act of Zakah (Alms giving as an essential part of the system and faith).

If this source is not enough, the Islamic government would apply a temporary tax on the rich and affluent to balance the budget as a religious duty (Fard Kefaya).

Zakah is spent by the Islamic Government and distributed to the poor, the needy, the traveller (wayfarer), administrators and to help the oppressed indebtors to pay off their debts.

The individuals are trained to feel socially responsible for others in the community.

He/she can not enjoy life while others cannot.

The government is responsible for the basic needs of every citizen.

These are food, shelter, clothing, education and health care.

The only road to richness and to achievement is hard work and assumption of risk.

It is not through inheritance.

That is why Islamic law (by a detailed description in the Holy Qur'an Chapter 4) defines exactly how the estate is distributed after death.

No one can make a will that attempts to alter the predefined distribution rates.

In addition, if one wanted to include in his/her will a payout to others outside what the law requires, this is limited to a maximum of 1/3 of the total estate.

This way money is always distributed and trickled down through the system every time it is accumulated, not through inheritance taxes to the government but through direct distribution to those who are entitled to it, hence reducing government and waste.


Islam preaches moderation and a balanced pattern of consumption.

Islam is a way of life.

Over-consumption is condemned as the work of satan.

Spending in the wrong way (bribery, illegal profits and/or reckless spending) and extravagant over-consumption of lawful matter are not allowed.

Everyone is trained to plan for the future and to be careful.

The story of prophet Joseph in the Holy Qur'an Chapter 12, is an important lesson in long range planning.


Goals of the Business

Maximize profits and services in a legal way to realize freedom and independence of the individual and the society using interdependence and interaction with other nations, communities and businesses.

Islam promotes free markets and free international trade as the natural mechanism of getting people to know each other in order to promote peace and prosperity through communications, trading and mutual benefits.

Develop new and improved ways and means to improve the quality of life and preserve the individual's most valuable asset, which is time.

Time is life for a Muslim.

Protection of the environment is a sacred duty of the Muslim.

Focus on a long-term view of investing in the future without speculation, to provide long term job opportunities for generations to come.

Provide flexibility through strategic planning and training to prevent business cycles from negatively impacting the community, as we learn from the story of prophet Joseph in the Holy Qur'an (Chapter 12).


Markets should be free and open to everyone provided that other laws of the system are not violated.

Information about products, goods and services should be made readily available, complete and known to all parties.

Indeed, information is considered a part of the contract.

Misrepresentations are punishable both in this life and in the hereafter.

Full disclosure is a must.

Monopoly and hoarding are strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Prices are set on the basis of supply/demand using the auction open market system.

Speculation in commodities is strictly forbidden.

Markets are designed to bring a buyer (end user) and a seller (producer) together to consummate a deal.

No speculation or interference with market forces of supply and demand is allowed.


A manager is looked upon as a custodian on God's trust given to him/her to manage.

He/she, on the other hand is considered a shepherd of his/her employees.

He/she provides guidance, vision and care for his/her subordinates to maximize their output, and keep the values of the religion and system intact.

In fact prayers are part of the system, with the manager leading the prayer or at least pro-actively participating in it.

A manager is chosen with strict qualifications;

Excellence in professionalism and knowledge

Performance and trust over time and piety

Good interpersonal relations as guided by the ultimate example of Prophet Mohammed (S) and all other prophets of God.

A manager/owner of the work place is required to provide employees with maximum job security through continual training, through optimization and through community interrelationships.



Money is not looked at as a commodity that commands a price, that is called interest as in the RIBA system.

Money does not reproduce and give birth to money.

Production and trading produce economic activity.

Money is a means of transacting business and is used to measure the efficiency of doing business through the use of "rate of return on investment.".

Monetary policy is based on actual achievement of economic growth and productivity not on perceived future rates of growth, since the future is only known to God.

Banks are required to operate on a 100% reserve basis; i.e. on an all cash transaction basis.

If money is entrusted with a bank then it is a trust and should be returned intact as is.

It also cannot be disposed of in the form of a facility to others without the consent of the owner.

A service fee can be charged, however.

Investment banks provide the role of bringing the owner of capital together with the owner of an idea or expertise to invest together and realize long term economic growth.

The investment bankers' role is education, evaluation, promotion and follow-up for the benefit of long term growth not for a commission.

The purpose is to realize the Islamic goal of making capital circulate within the community and to prevent the freezing of assets and capital.

Islam prohibits trading paper instruments, speculation and manipulation.

The objective is long term investing.

Finally, there is one underlying holistic concept of producing income: "Halal" which means lawful and "Haram" which means unlawful.

Individuals who eat from "Haram" unlawful sources of income are believed to be as if eating the hell fire in his/her body in this life and more in the hereafter.



Professionalism is the talent of taking power through God, the source of all powers, to love what we do, to improve ourselves, to add to our experiences and to do the best we can at what we promised to do.

Professionalism is making promises that can be delivered and, if possible, delivering them better than promised.

Professionalism is Islam at work.

It is the pride of doing what we know, the strength of being able to say "we do not know", when we do not, and the determination to try to learn more.


Concentration is the ability to focus and listen.

It speaks to you quietly above the roar of your mind.

Concentration in prayers, in Duaa'(sublication), in remembering God, and in our work trains us to ignore the extraneous, to dismiss the distractions, to avoid the pessimists and focusses at will.

Concentration is part of Ibada (worship).

It is clarity.

It is what keeps our emotions from getting the better of us.

Concentration keeps pressure from becoming paralysis, and keeps us away from diluting our efforts by spreading ourselves too thin.

Concentration is what keeps our eyes on our goals, allows us to turn reaction into action, disadvantage into opportunity and opportunity into success.

Our goals should be crystal clear.

We need to build the foundation of a world-wide LARIBA Islamic financial system to bring the masses (Alnas) back to the basic values of trust, humbleness, sincerity and non-wasting through the LARIBA financial system.


Consistency is unimpressed with a single success.

Consistency confers medals only upon those who burn brightly with the repetition of achievement.

It is more than a promise.

It is performance over time.

Consistency means never resting, never taking our talents, the gifts of God, for granted.

Consistency is the practical proof that we are believers in God.


Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality.

We need to promise God to build the financial infrastructure of our communities world-wide.

Commitment is the word that speaks of our intentions and the action which speaks louder than words.

Commitment is making the time when there is none.

Commitment is coming through time after time, year after year for the whole of our life.

Commitment is what character is made of.

It is the power to change.

It is the daily triumph of integrity, of belief in God, and belief in the future over skepticism.

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