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What Is the Balance Between Justice and Forgiveness in Business?

Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Question: Asslamu Alaykum

I work at a for-profit organization. Suppliers and business partners sometimes do not meet their commitment (for example do not deliver on agreed timelines), even when the agreement is clearly written down and agreed upon. Islam calls for forgiveness and extols the virtues of forgiveness. But, Islam also calls for justice and this makes the situation tricky. What is the best thing to do in this situation?

Answer: Wa ‘alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh

Thank you for your question.

Mutual agreement and consent

The basis for all business transactions in Islam is that both sides are mutually consenting and pleased with the contract. This is taken directly from the verse of sura al-Nisāʾ, ‘Believers, do not consume your wealth among yourselves wrongfully, unless it be [gained] through trade based on mutual consent.’ (4,29). The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘Clearly trade is only based on mutual agreement and consent’ (Ibn Majah).

Based on these and other sources the jurists have laid down principles which entail that the rights of both parties are fulfilled in any financial transaction. If one party is given an unfair advantage in a scenario then the other party has a right to continue with the transaction of cancel it. If there is an element of risk, uncertainty, or if certain details, if left unclear, would lead to a dispute then these transactions are not endorsed by the Shariʿa, and both parties must cancel the sale (Marginānī, al-Hidāya).

In light of the above, both parties should look at their agreements and if either side has fallen short in delivering what the contracts entailed then they may either agree on a form of compensation for any deficiency in service, or overlook the deficiencies in favour of a healthy working relationship.

Justice and Forgiveness

A believer’s attitude is that he always strives to be just and fair in his dealings with other people, no matter what the scenario. The reason behind this is that Allah Most High loves those who are fair and just (al-Mumtaḥina,8). However, the believer is always willing to overlook the faults and and missteps of others, but this is usually reserved for his personal life. At work, one should act in a professional manner and not assume one has the liberty to waive financial rights without approval from the owners of the company.

Moving forward

For future contracts, all parties should clarify everything before that contract is finalised; they should also clarify what would be done if either party falls short on any aspect of the agreement. If any grievances do occur is it wise to resort to an independent third party for a settlement, and then accept their decision once it has been made.

May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.

[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 to study and sit at the feet of some of the most erudite scholars of our time.

Over the following eighteen months he studied a traditional curriculum, studying with scholars such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish.

In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years, in Fiqh, Usul al-Fiqh, Theology, Hadith Methodology and Commentary, Shama’il, and Logic with teachers such as Dr Ashraf Muneeb, Dr Salah Abu’l-Hajj, Dr Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr Mansur Abu Zina amongst others. He was also given two licences of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabr and Shaykh Yahya Qandil.

His true passion, however, arose in the presence of Shaykh Ali Hani, considered by many to be one of the foremost tafsir scholars of our time who provided him with the keys to the vast knowledge of the Quran. With Shaykh Ali, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic Sciences, Tafsir, Arabic Grammar, and Rhetoric.

When he finally left Jordan for the UK in 2014, Shaykh Ali gave him his distinct blessing and still recommends students in the UK to seek out Shaykh Abdul-Rahim for Quranic studies. Since his return he has trained as a therapist and has helped a number of people overcome emotional and psychosomatic issues. He is a keen promoter of emotional and mental health.

Seeking nearness to Allah, the ultimate aim in our worldly work

90105_prayer2“Therefore, when you wish to go to your market or do something for your livelihood, or take up a craft or become an agent (wakālah) or engage in some other vocations in order to seek the licit and to imitate the practice of Allāh’s Messenger—Allāh bless him and grant him peace—and to seek recompense (thawāb) for yourself and your dependents, to earn provision for them, and in order to be independent of people while showing compassion to brethren and neighbours, and to pay the obligatory alms and discharge every obligatory right, then hold out hope through these efforts that you shall meet Allāh—glorified and exalted be He—while your countenance is as the moon on the night when it is full.”

Imam Al-Hārith ibn Asad Al-Muhāsibī in his Kitab al-Makasib wa al-Wara’

 

Resources for Seekers:
What Does it Mean to Have “Beautiful Restraint and Balance” in one’s Work, Career, and in Seeking one’s Provision?
Are There Any Invocations To Help Me Find A Job?
Trust in Allah and Provisions for Seekers of Knowledge
Is There a Prayer I Can Make So That My Co-Workers Will Cooperate and Work Better With Me?

What Are the Qualities of a Friend?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: According to Islam what is the purpose of a friend? How does one show gratitude to Allah for a friend?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

One’s friends should be people who are helping one draw closer to one’s Lord.

Ghazali in his Beginning of Guidance (Bidayat al-Hidaya) lists a number of qualities to look for in a friend noting the words of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), “A person’s religious life is only as good as that of his friend, so let one of you consider well whom he befriends.” [Tirmidhi]

[1] Intellect

– As there is no good friendship with a foolish person;

– Specifically seek someone with practical intelligence who has the capacity to seek benefit, even if worldly;

[2] Good Character

– Ghazali states that someone of bad character is one who cannot restrain their [i] anger or [ii] desire;

– Somebody who truly cares for others. “The religion is sincere counsel.”

[3] Righteousness

– “Do not obey someone whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance, who follows his inclinations, whose case has gone beyond all bounds.” [Qur’an, 18:28]

– As witnessing the transgression of a wrongdoer on a regular basis will remove from your heart all sense of the enormity of the crimes and make them seem insignificant.

[4] Lack of Greed

– Someone concerned with amassing “things” of this world

– Human nature is designed to imitate and follow (by example), so one person’s nature may take from another without even realizing it.

[5] Honesty

– As one will always face deception from the liar.

Ghazali continues that after finding a decent friend, one should uphold, respect and fulfill the duties of being a friend.

Gratitude and Growing

Allah Most High says in the Qur’an, ‘If you are thankful, I will surely increase you’ [Qur’an, 14:7] The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, ‘Whoever does not thank people has not thanked Allah’. [Tirmidhi]

Be grateful for them, appreciate them, and grow in love for one another — the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, narrating from His Lord, “My love is incumbent for those who love one another for my sake; those who sit with one another for My sake; those who visit each other for My sake; and those who spend on each other for My sake.” [Musnad Ahmad]

And Allah knows best.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Is It Permissible for Me to Accept Hourly Wages for Time That I Don’t Spend Working?

Answered by Sidi Faraz A. Khan

Question: I work part time as I am also a student. During the assignments, there is always a period in which I am not doing any work, as I always finish assignments early. I usually just check email, surf online, etc. The company rule is that as long as you are in the office/online, you are getting paid.

Is it permissible for me to accept the hourly rate of the amount of hours that I spent goofing off? Although it is my employer’s fault for not giving me enough assignments in a day and not telling me to go home to save himself the labor costs, I still feel uneasy about accepting that money.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and faith.

A key foundational principle in Islamic commercial law is that transactions are based on mutual consent and approval (taradi). [Majalla, Article 175]

Allah Most High states in the Qur’an, “O ye who believe! Squander not your wealth among yourselves in vanity, except it be a trade by mutual consent” (4:29).

In light of this principle, since your company approves of this, it is acceptable and the money you earn is halal, inshaAllah.

And Allah alone gives success.

wassalam

Faraz A. Khan

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Key Principles in Financial Transactions: Honesty & Dealing With Excellence

Answered by Ustadh Faraz A. Khan

Question: I was being paid to work at a boat launch to educate people about invasive species in the lakes by going through a survey with them. Some days, I did not work there, and my mother filled in for me as a substitute. She put the hours that she worked onto my time sheet. Is it permissible for me to take money for the hours that my mom worked? She informed one of the directors that she would be filling in for me. However, she did not explicitly tell them that she would put the hours that she worked onto my time sheet.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this reaches you in the best of health and faith.

You should inform the director of what happened and leave the matter to him. It seems that his approval of her filling in for you was implicit approval of counting those hours as your work, yet you should confirm nevertheless, as clarity is best in financial transactions.

Being Honest in One’s Financial Transactions

It is rigorously-authenticated (sahih) that our Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) stated the following when describing sales, “So if the two parties are honest and clear, then they will find blessing in their sale; yet if they conceal [aspects of the sale item or payment] and are dishonest, the blessing of their sale will be effaced.” [Bukhari, Muslim]

This prophetic narration, although dealing specifically with the sale contract, serves as a general principle for all types of financial transactions, including the lease or hiring contract between employer and employee. Transactions should be clear and transparent, and both parties should be fully honest therein. As the hadith states, such conduct is the key to open the door of Allah’s blessing (baraka) in the transaction, while dishonesty and concealment lead to its absence. Hence, one should exercise caution in making sure there is clarity, yet do so in a balanced manner without being excessive. With respect to your question specifically, this is why the director’s approval should be sought.

Excellence in One’s Dealings

Another general principle of financial transactions is maintaining excellence in one’s dealings. Our entire religion is based on excellence (ihsan or itqan), a virtue which informs the believer’s behavior in private and public, both with His Creator and with all of creation. Allah Most High repeatedly praises the people of excellence (muhsinin) in the Qur’an, and our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “Verily Allah loves, when one of you engages in a task, that he do so with excellence and perfection” [Tabarani/Awsat, Bayhaqi/Shuab] as well as “Indeed, Allah has enjoined excellence in all matters” [Muslim, Tirmidhi].

Contracts are binding obligations that deal with the financial rights of others, and therefore one should strive not merely to fulfill those rights, but to do so with excellence. If one keeps this virtue in mind when engaging in financial transactions, one will find much blessing therein, whereby one’s dealings serve not only as a means of fulfilling needs, but also as a means for attaining unto Allah’s good pleasure.

And Allah alone gives success.

wassalam
Faraz A. Khan

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Faraz A. Khan has lived in Amman, Jordan, for several years studying and teaching traditional Islamic sciences, with a focus on Hanafi jurisprudence, hadith studies, theology, logic, and Arabic grammar. He translated and annotated the classical Hanafi primer “Ascent to Felicity” (Maraqi ‘l-Sa`adat) by Imam Shurunbulali, recently published by White Thread Press.