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The True Spirit of Islamic Finance

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(Highlights of Mufti Ebrahim Salejee’s majlis - Saturday 28th March)

1. Someone came to a businessman to offer some rolls of fabric complaining that he couldn’t get it selling. So the businessman in turn tells him that there is actually a demand for this fabric, and he then shows him a particular c.m.t. and tells him how he should go about doing the deal. In the end, this person who could not get the fabric selling makes half a million. However, another way that this businessman could have looked at this situation was that this person is hard-pressed to sell and I can get the fabric at a bargain and make a huge profit. He will then go about bragging in front of his friends telling them how he had helped that person out and did him a favour by paying him cash for the fabric. In all of this, we have to see whether we are Muslim tradesmen or tradesmen first and then Muslims. If we are Muslim tradesmen then Islam comes first and then trade.

2. Islam teaches us that if a man is in a problem and needs the cash then let me see how I can create an opportunity for him. Deen is not confined to the musjid. It extends to the workplace, the home and in every other quarter. When we will carry the deen to all places then people will see that Islam is complete and comprehensive. Otherwise, they will feel it is restricted to a few ritual practices. It gives people an opportunity of seeing Islam broadly.

When we will follow this way then that person will appreciate it that the businessman saw that I was in need and he helped me out. On the other hand, a person who is a tradesman first will think that I will buy out that person and the profit that I make, I will use it for ‘Umrah or for some charitable cause. What we need to understand is that deen is naseehah, wishing well for others. What is the spirit of deen and how will this wishing well feature in this particular case? This person did not know how to do business, so you opened out the avenue for him. Now, this is true Islamic finance. If we are not going to go by this, then we will be stretching limits and we will just be looking to see whether the deal is haraam or not, but in the deal is there any spirit and essence of deen? It has been totally destroyed.  If the person who sold it to you comes to know what you did he will not feel nice. So, Alhamdulillah, there is an awakening in the finance sector regarding halaal dealings etc., but the even greater aspect is that what should be the true essence of Islamic finance. In this way, there will be much more barkat.

3. We don’t realise that the Quraan commences with the lesson of believing in the unseen. Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) has spoken of gaining barkat etc. but we cannot see how it ties up. Therefore, in our actions we are outwardly telling Allah Ta‘ala that we only believe in the seen because I can see that half a million coming; I cannot see the barkat. The hadeeth speaks of the disposition of a businessman; he shows generosity and kindness. Start of your generosity in sequence by showing the generosity to those that are closest to you and so forth. The hadeeth says “isna’ li akhraq” (assist the akhraq). Akhraq refers to someone who is unprofessional. So for example, you are an accountant and you are going through the books of a person. You then realise that he is paying a million more in taxes. Hence, you explain to him how he can legally end up paying only 50 000 and you charge him your normal hourly charge of 500 per hour or whatever it may normally be. However, this will only happen if your attitude is Islamic. On the other hand, if you are capitalistic, you will tell the person that I saved you from so much, therefore you must pay me half of the amount of what you were supposed to be paying in taxes. Now if you had an Islamic attitude, you can well imagine how much du‘aas you will receive from this person.

This can apply to all professions. A doctor also falls under this. For example, he gets a patient at an odd hour who is really worried. So he thinks to himself, that I got a good chance of charging him an exorbitant fee. Though he will readily pay it, since he is in a genuine problem, but deep down, think how will that person feel. This is what is called stretching parameters – if you take it to any Moulana he will not tell you that what you did is haraam, but the point to consider is that is the spirit of Islam there; will you be able to get the barkat? If for jumu‘ah salaah the Imaam just wears a bermuda pants that covers the area from his navel to his knee, will any person allow him to lead the jumuah salaah? Despite him having his ‘aurah (private area) covered no person will allow him to do so, for it is not in keeping with the spirit of deen.

4. In essence, we have restricted our deen to a few rituals. We have not applied it to other facets of life to show that Islam stands for kindness and affection. What people wish to see is the true spirit of Islam. They want to see the truth and honesty of Islam.

5. We have the option of doing business just to see digits turning and to gain material progress, and the other is that you are doing it purely for the sake of Allah Ta‘ala and in the manner that is pleasing to Allah Ta‘ala, not just for Allah Ta‘ala. When this is the outlook, then Allah Ta‘ala becomes yours, and if you do it for the material then you will get the material. If you do it for Allah Ta‘ala then you will get Allah Ta‘ala and Allah Ta‘ala is forever, so He will see to you forever. The material will only see to you for as long as it lasts. Otherwise, it will not bring that honour and respect that you are desirous of.

6. Very often you get complaints of a person squeezing the worker as much as he can. So what Islam are we showing him? He will be left without having any respect for you or for your religion. Our niyyat needs to be correct. Islamic values need to be extended in everything, not only in our dealings but also in how we interact and conduct ourselves especially with the opposite sex, whether it is white or black.  They will respect us for our modesty and honour that we show. If we flirt then how can we be an advertisement for Islam? Our Buzurgaan-e-deen don’t emphasise too much on nawaafil, but they emphasise on how we deal and interact with people. If a woman has cancer in the advanced stages and other sicknesses, and she then puts on jewellery etc. will that enhance her beauty in any way? The same applies with nawaafil etc. while we have the decay and rot that has entered our systems.

7. Now this is only possible if we have conviction in the words of Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). Our businesses will then become an invitation to Islam. The hadeeth teaches us that we should give exactly what is due to the other person and charge only what is due. This applies to all spheres, even a lawyer or any other professional. Don’t take out more from the person than what is due. A person once explained that at work he does not even look at the internet, for that time is a trust. He does not want to cheat his employer. Imagine what respect the employer will then show him.

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