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Honest Livelihood, Kasb al-Halal

Source: Ain-al-Hayat, By: Allama Muhammad Baqir Majlisi


Authentic traditions indicate that striving to acquire wealth through fair means is legitimate and necessary. It is the duty of a person to make his best efforts and the success or failure is in the hands of Allah. One should always have his sights on, Assayee minni wa itmam min Allah. One who trusts on Allah, Allah is sufficient for him!
If a person is not able to earn sufficiently after all the efforts, he should be contented with what he has. If the honest livelihood (Kasb al-Halal) is meagre, one should prune his expenses by avoiding unnecessary luxeries. He should not be attracted to riches if they are coming through unfair means. If he gets huge sums through fair means, he should first disburse the Prescribed Rights and then spend the rest for his family and other needy persons. He should eat well, live well but avoid waste and lavishness!
The Prophet (S) has said that if a person has five dates or five naans or five Dirhams, the best way of expending them is to first use them for his parents. Secondly on himself and his family, then on relatives and neighbours and lastly on the poor and needy. Allah has warned people against extravagance and He doesn’t like miserliness too. One should not spend so little as to keep the family half fed, nor waste money extravagantly.
When Salman Farsi (r.a.) used to receive his allowance, he used to keep aside sufficient to meet the expenses for the year and distribute the remainder to the needy. Someone said, “Salman! Because you are a very old and pious person, you can afford to be charitable!” Salman said, O ignorant person! You don’t know that like death, life too is unpredictable. Don’t you know that when a person has no means of livelihood, he will be worried? When the person has with him the means of sustenance, he will be contented and at rest.
Abu Dharr (r.a.) used to earn his livelihood from sheep rearing. He used to entertain his guests by slaughtering his sheep. When there used to be more persons to feed, he used to slaughter more animals. He used to distribute portions to everyone and keep an equal portion for himself. It has to be noted that these two, Salman and Abu Dharr, were very dear and highly respected companions of the Prophet (S). They were charitable and frugal at the same time. They did help the needy but saved something for themselves that they didn’t suffer penury because of extravagance.
Amir’ul-Mu’mineen ‘Ali (as) freed a thousand slaves with his earnings from hard physical labor.
A reliable source narrates that Asbat bin Salim went to the presence of Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (as). The Imam (as) inquired about Omer bin Muslim. Asbat said, “O Imam (as)! He is in good health but has stopped his business activity!” The Imam (as) said, “This is the work of Satan!” The Imam (as) repeated the sentence thrice, and added, “Doesn\'t Omer know that the Prophet of Allah (S) himself used to do trading? Once a caravan arrived from Syria. The Prophet (S) bought some merchandize from them. He got so much profit from that deal that he cleared all his debt. The remainder he distributed to his kith and kin.”
It is narrated that Omer bin Yazid told to Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (as), “O Imam (as)! A person says that he always remains at home. He keeps himself occupied with prayers and fasting. He says that his livelihood comes to him without stirring out!” Hearing this the Imam (as) said, “He is one of the three persons whose prayer is never answered!”
Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (as) has said, “A person who works hard to earn and provide sustenance to his family, to help his neighbors and friends, will have a face as bright as the full moon on the Day of Judgement.”
The Prophet of Islam (S) has said, “Allah’s worship is of seventy types. The best of them is striving to earn a legitimate livelihood!”
It is narrated from Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (as), On a warm day my father was coming from the environs of Medina, reclining on two slaves. Muhammad bin Mankandar saw him, came close to him and said,’ It is a pity that at your advanced age you are striving to get worldly gains. What if the strain causes your death?’ Wiping sweat from his face the Imam (as) said, ‘If I meet with death at this time, I shall be thankful to Allah that I died striving to provide sustenance to my children that they don’t have to stretch there hands before you for help!’
Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (as) enquired about a particular person from his companions. They replied that the person was well and busy praying night and day sitting at home. He says that his livelihood reaches him without stirring out of his house. The Imam (as) said, “The person is one of those, whose prayers are not accepted!” The Imam (as) inquired about another person. The companions said that he too was well and staying at home all the time busy in prayer. They also told that the person was provided livelihood by his neighbors. The prayers of this person too will not be answered. The act of the persons who provide him livelihood is more acceptable to Allah than all his prayers!
A jeweler asked Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq (as) that how a person should earn his livelihood? The Imam (as) replied, “He should open a shop and organize it properly. He has done what he must. The rest is in the hands of the Provider!”

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