The Importance of Trade and Industry in Islam
Author: Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn at-Tabataba\'i
Endeavour and work are the base and foundation upon which the world of creation is established and these are the only guarantee for the survival of every creature. The Almighty Allah has equipped His creatures with suitable means with which they derive benefits and avoid losses.
Man, who is the most astonishing and sophisticated design of creation, has more requirements than any other creature. Thus he needs more endeavors with which he could meet his countless requirements and also maintain the family that he should naturally administer.
That is why Islam, which is a natural and social religion, considers working and earning as wajib for the people.
The Holy Prophet (S) states: \"It is wajib upon every Muslim man and woman to earn halal money for his or her livelihood and subsistence3 .\"
Islam has not attached any importance to those who spend their lives idly. Whenever the Holy Prophet (S) saw a man whose strength and capability were surprising, he would ask: \"Does he work?\" If they said: \"No, he is idle.\", the Holy Prophet (S) would state: \"To me, he has no respect.\", meaning that an idle youth had no value to the Prophet (S)4.
In Islam, every individual should choose one of the many professions and industries towards which the Almighty Allah has guided him to choose according to his own aptitude and interest. He should earn his living in this way, carry one of the burdens of society on his back, and try to provide the people with comfort.
The Almighty Allah states: \"And that man shall have nothing but what he strives for (53:39).\"
In short, Islam has made the strongest recommendations about working and acquiring sustenance and has not disregarded the importance of economic activities even in the most critical moments so much so that Al-\'Imam al-Sadiq (A) said to his friend Hisham: \"Even during the war, when soldiers array in line and when the fire of battle is fanned, do not neglect your economic duty and necessary activities for providing your subsistence and follow your financial efforts in such difficult situations5 .
Thus idleness due to laziness is strictly forbidden in Islam.
Denouncement of Idleness
It is clear from what has been discussed earlier that working and making effort is a right path that creation has provided for man to attain his prosperity by following it. Surely, deviation from the path of creation and nature, no matter how minor it is, will only lead to the detriment of man. In this case, deviation from a matter upon which the very foundation of life is established will lead to nothing but misery in this world and in the Akhirah.
This is why the seventh infallible Imam Musa al-Kazim (as) states: \"Do not show sluggishness and tiredness in your work or else you will lose in this world and in the Akhirah.\"
The Holy Prophet (S) has cursed those who have got used to idleness and who put the burden of their life on the shoulders of others.
Today, psychological and social experiments have thoroughly clarified that most social corruptions are generated by idleness. It is idleness that disrupts the economic and cultural activities of the society and gives rise to all kinds of moral decadence and superstitions.
Agriculture and Its Advantages
Farming, which is the means for providing food for the society, is one of the most praiseworthy human professions due to its importance. Therefore, Islam has laid down great emphasis for choosing this profession.
The sixth infallible Imam Ja\'far al-Sadiq (as) states: \"Farmers would enjoy more respectable positions than others on the Day of Qiyamah.\"
The fifth infallible Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as) states: \"There is no job better than farming and there is no benefit better than the benefit of farming, because benevolent and malevolent grazing animals and birds benefit from it and pray for the farmer.\"
The Holy Prophet (S) states: \"A Muslim who plants a tree or cultivates a land from which people, birds, and grazing animals eat will have the reward of sadaqah (charity).\"
Muslims are obliged to use their natural energy to the maximum, i.e., to the point where one of the religious leaders states: \"If at the time when the world is to come to an end and the solar system is to collapse any one of you has a small plant in hand, he should plant it if he has enough time to do so6 . This means that the idea of the collapse of the world should not prevent you from performing this noble deed.
\'Ali (as) states: \"Curse and imprecation of Allah be upon one who has land and water, i.e., one who has natural resources at his disposal but does not use his human skill to take advantage of them and consequently lives in poverty and beggary7 .\"
It has been repeatedly mentioned under the section on \"Beliefs\" that the general planning of Islam is that man should worship none except Allah and should not pay homage and bow down to anyone but He Who is the Creator of the world.
All are the creatures of Allah and receive their subsistence from Him. No one has privileges over others except in respect of those things which are done for the sake of Allah.
Every Muslim should have self-confidence and should take advantage of the blessing of independence given to him by the Almighty Allah. Man must use all the means that Allah has bestowed on him to pass his life. He should not rely upon others and consider a partner for Allah and worship a new idol each day.
The servant should realize that he eats his own bread and not of the master. He should know that he receives the reward of his labor, not the tip from his master or lord. Every employee should believe that he receives the wages of his hard work, not the gift and gratuity from his boss, his office, the government, or the society.
After all, a free man should not rely on and pay homage to any but Allah; otherwise, internally, he will have the same meanness and servitude of polytheism that the idol-worshippers have openly.
Finally, it should be noted that self-confidence means that man should use his intrinsic capability in his life and should not rely on others. It doesn\'t mean that he should dissociate from the Almighty Allah and consider himself to be really effective as the source of all hopes and desires.
The Disadvantages of Relying On Others
Relying on others, that is, living on the support of others, means giving up human pride, honor, independence, and freedom. It is the source of all kinds of offences and social misdeeds which originate from meanness and degradation.
Whoever relies on others and fixes his eyes upon this or that person, indeed offers his will and commonsense for sale, for he should commit flattery and should do whatever (right or wrong, decent or indecent) they demand of him or order him to do.
He should resign himself to any disdain and scorn. He must practice xenophilism, agree to do any injustice and oppression, and at last consider all the limits and human laws as naught.
Asking for help in unnecessary cases is haram in Islam. Financial contribution to the needy, which is a part of Islamic provisions, only applies to those needy people whose earning is less than their expenses or to those who are disabled.
1. Holy Qur\'an, Surah 3, Ayah 28 and Surah 16, Ayah 106
2. the Jews, the Christians, and the Magians
3. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 23, p 6
4. Al-Mustadrak, vol. 2, p 501
5. Wasa\'il al-Shi\'ah, vol. 4, p 101
6. Al-Mustadrak, vol. 2, p 501
7. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 23, p 19