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There are no two opinions that the trade and commerce play a very crucial role in the acquisition of wealth. It is next to Jihad, but superior to industry, agriculture and service. Commerce is a harbinger of good news and prosperity and forms the backbone of acquisition of wealth.  

The Holy Quraan says: “We have made the day a means of earning livelihood.” (78:11) The Holy Quraan also gives us encouragement to take up business by saying: There is no sin on you to seek wealth from your Lord. 

Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Take to trade, because there are nine portions in trade out of ten portions of provisions.” (Ihya-ul-Uloom by Imam Ghazzali - alaihir rahmah) 

The Companions of the Glorious Prophet of Islam (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) carried on maritime and land trade throughout the then known world and thus Arab merchants carried the torch of new light to the darkest corners of the world.  Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) himself carried on trade as an agent of the famous Arab lady, Sayyidah Khadijah (radi Allahu anhu). The major Caliphs, Sayyiduna Abu Bakr Siddique (radi Allahu anhu) was a cloth merchant, while Sayyiduna Omar Farooq (radi Allahu anhu), the Second Caliph of the Islamic Commonwealth carried on corn trade. Sayyiduna Usman Ghani (radi Allahu anhu) had a business in textiles.  

Islam laid much stress on honesty in almost all dealings especially in trade and commerce. Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) classed an honest merchant with a Prophet on account of the merchant’s following the Sharee’ah rules in trade, classed him with the truthful on account of his being steadfast to truth, and classed him with a Martyr on account of his fighting with heavy odds in treading the path of virtue and honesty in his profession.

Sayyiduna Jaabir (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “There was a man amongst those who were before you. The Angel came to him to take his breath. He was questioned, ‘Have you done any good deed?’ He replied, ‘I don’t know.’ The Angel said, ‘Try to remember.’  He said, ‘I don’t know anything except that I used to carry on business with the people in the world, show kindness to them, give time to the solvent and remit the needy’. Then Allah admitted him in Paradise.” (Agreed) 

Sayyiduna Abu Sa’eed (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “The truthful trustworthy merchant will be with the Prophets, Truthful and Martyrs”. (Tirmidi) 

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Holy Prophet of Islam (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Oath is a means of bargain for the commodities but a cause of deterioration in blessing.” (Agreed) 

Buy and Sale:  

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (radi Allahu anhu) reported from the Glorious Messenger (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) who said: “The two (seller and buyer) must not part away except by mutual consent.” (Abu Da’ood)  

Sale is contracted by a declaration and acceptance expressed unequivocally in words or in expressions conveying the same meaning. The acceptance may be deferred until the breaking up of the meeting whether the declaration be made personally or by letter or message. An offer made by the purchaser cannot be restricted by the seller or to any particular parts of the goods. A little deviation from the offer or acceptance will not make the sale complete. A sale may be entered into either for ready money or for payment within a fixed time. Gains may be sold for other gains of different species.  

There are four kinds of sale:

  1. Sale of kind for kind,
  2. Sale of cash or sale of gold for silver,
  3. Sale of a credit for kind in cash as crops are taken for payment in future and
  4. Free sale as sale of a thing in cash for price in cash.

A purchaser has got the right of option to reject an article upon inspection of the article if he has not seen it at the time of purchase. A seller has no option of inspection after sale. Sayyiduna Abdullah Ibn-e-Omar (radi Allahu anhuma) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “The buyer and the seller each of them has got option on his partner so long as they have not separated themselves except the option of buying”. (Agreed) 

Sayyiduna Hakim bin Hizam (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Prophet of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “The buyer and seller have got option so long as they do not part away. If they speak the truth and disclose (defect), they are blessed in their sale transaction, and if they conceal and speak falsely, the blessing of their sale is decreased.” (Agreed) 

The following things have been declared unlawful in trade:

  1. Sale of known quantity of price. It is applicable to fruits, corns and lands. It is also a sale of fruits upon trees for one-third or one-fourth of the produce.
  2. Sale of fruits upon trees after leaving some fruits from the subject matter of sale.
  3. Transfer of a limited and not absolute interest in land. It is a kind of lease or tenancy. Imam-e-A’zam Abu Hanifa (alaihir rahmah) held such leases as unlawful, while his disciples held them lawful. According to Imam-e-A’zam Abu Hanifa (alaihir rahmah), Adha Bhagi is, however, lawful.
  4. Sale of corn in exchange of a like quantity of wheat by conjecture.
  5. Sale of fruits while upon the trees for one year, two years or more whether the fruits appear or not.
  6. Sale by touch. It was the custom of the Pre-Islamic Arabs that a sale was held to be complete as soon as the purchaser touched a cloth or other commodity for purchase. The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) abolished it as unlawful.
  7. No sale is lawful over another sale to another for a higher price offered or for any other cause.
  8. Sale of goods without delivery and cash price, i.e. sale with a promise of delivery of goods for a promise of price.
  9. Sale of wine, pork, etc.

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Nobody shall bargain over the bargain of his Muslim brother.” (Sahih Muslim) This means that after a man sets a value to anything and after agreement is reached for sale and purchase, another man comes forward and sets a higher price for the thing. The latter is prohibited for Muslims and non-Muslims. 

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (radi Allahu anhu) reported that Rasoolullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) passed by a heap of corns. He thrust his hand therein but his fingers touched moisture. He asked: “O Owner of corn! What is this?” He replied: “Rain fell on it, O Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam)!” He enquired: “Have you not done so over the corn so that people may see it? Whoso acts with deceit is not of me”. (Muslim)  

Sayyiduna Waselah Bin Asqa’ (radi Allahu anhu) reported: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) saying, ‘Whoso sells a defective thing without disclosing it continues to be in the wrath of Allah or Angels continue to curse him.’” (Ibn-e-Majah) 

The sale, in short, requires that the genus be specified and that the species, quality, quantity, period of delivery, rate and place of delivery be all determined.

Islam has forbidden monopoly, which means storing up of food-grains for getting higher price in times of need and scarcity. Except food-grains and necessities of life, other commodities may lawfully be stored up.  

Sayyiduna Ma’mar (radi Allahu anhu) reported that Allah’s Messenger (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Whoever monopolizes is a sinner”. (Sahih Muslim)

 Sayyiduna Anas (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the current price once became dear at the time of Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam). They asked: “O Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam)! Fix a rate for us”. Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Verily, Allah  is One Who controls price, curtails, gives amply and provides sustenance; and certainly I hope that I should meet my Lord while there will be none amongst you who will hold me responsible either for blood or for property”. (Tirmidi) 

Sayyiduna Omar Bin Al-Khattab (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Glorious Prophet of Islam (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Whoever monopolizes over the Muslims their food-grains, Allah will inflict them with epidemics and bankruptcy.” (Ibn-e-Majah) 

Shares and Stocks: 

It is certainly permissible to invest one’s money in buying and selling shares, provided that the shares you buy or sell are that of a business, which is permissible to operate. Thus, it is perfectly permissible to own shares in a furniture company, an iron and steel corporation, a supermarket, a travel agency, a computer business, etc. The list is endless. 

It is not permissible, however, to own share in a wine company, a brewery, a gambling shop, etc. because all these either sell things that are forbidden or provide services that are also forbidden. That makes any profits earned from such business forbidden to have.

A Bank that operates on the capitalist system of finance belongs to this second category, because much of its operations are interest charging. When you buy shares in a Bank, you are actually owning a portion of that Bank which means you are involved in all its operations, in a way, you are actually helping in all its operation. Therefore, it is forbidden to own shares in a Bank where interest is the basis for most of its transactions. 

Measurement and Weight:  

Islam has attached great importance to weight and measurement in commercial transactions. The Holy Quraan lays special stress: “Fulfill your weight and measure with just balance; this is good and better in interpretation.” (17:35)  

The Holy Quraan warns us of the severe punishment that is incurred by violation of the principles. The people of the Prophet Shu’aib (alaihis salaam) were destroyed for this very reason. The Holy Quraan says: “Woe to the defaulters who, when they measure from people, take it with full measure, and when they measure out to them or weigh out for them, decrease. Do not these think that they shall be raised up for a great day?” (83:1-4) 


The Holy Prophet Muhammad (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Never has anyone eaten a better thing than what he has eaten of the labour of his own hands.” He said: “Verily the purest of what you eat is of your own earnings.” This important pronouncement of Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) made in an age quite remote from ours has brought a revolution in the industrial world. What order can be greater than his magnificent utterance that the purest of what we earn is of our own earnings. This led the Emperors and Saints to take up works and live upon their wages. This injunction led the Muslims to invent machineries of works and various ways of workmanship and manufacturing articles and commodities of common and extraordinary use. According to the instruction of Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam), we should ourselves manufacture these articles and supply our needs therewith.  


The people of Madina were mostly agriculturists and those of Mecca tradesmen. Allah’s Messenger (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) himself entered into a contract with the people of Khyber that they should manage and cultivate the gardens and lands of Khyber and enjoy in return half of the produce and give the other half to him.

The following rules should be observed in agricultural and horticultural leases:

  1. The ground should be capable of cultivation and gardening.
  2. The contracting parties must be mature and duly qualified.
  3. The terms of lease shall be express.
  4. The parties shall comply as to who is to supply seeds.
  5. Shares of the parties to the produce shall be fixed.
  6. The land shall be delivered to the possession of the cultivator.

Payment of Wages:  

The wages of a labourer and the hire of a thing rented should be paid up before the sweat of the labourer dries up or the term for the payment of the hire expires. Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “The Almighty Allah said, ‘There will be three persons whose opponent I shall become on the Resurrection Day: A man who gave in My name and then broke trust, and a man who sold a free man and enjoyed his price, and a man who engaged a labourer and enjoyed full labour from him but did not pay him his wages.’”  


Debt implies want and all creatures including men are in want of something or the other. Man should extend his helping hand to his brother who is in want, irrespective of his seeking it or not.   

This may be done in two ways: Loan with condition of repayment or gratuitous loan without any compensation, or gift. Islam, however, does not recognize loan with interest. It recognizes only gratuitous loan called “Qarz-e-Hasanah”. The Holy Quraan and Hadith speak of great merits in Qarz-e-Hasanah. It is a loan without compensation or interest for benefit of the debtor. The Holy Quraan says: “If you offer to Allah a gratuitous loan, He will double it for you and forgive you.” (64:17) “Surely (those who) extend a gratuitous loan to Allah, it shall be doubled for them, and they shall have a noble reward”. (57:18) “Who is there that will extend to Allah a good loan, that He may double it for him, and he may have an excellent reward?” (57) “Who is it that will offer to Allah a good loan, so He will multiply it to him manifold? And Allah straitens and amplifies, and to Him you will return.” (2:245) 

Islam lays special emphasis against indebtedness of men in general and Muslims in particular. The principle is applicable to all nations and states.    

Generally Neglected Debts:  

The following are some of the neglected debts to which men attach little importance:

  1. Dower-debt: It is a debt of the husband as consideration of his marriage. It is just like other bonafide debts. Other creditors cannot take property given to a wife in lieu of dower.
  2. Dues of Co-Sharers: This specially happens in cases of females who are generally deprived of their due and legitimate shares in paternal property. No account among several co-owners of a property or business is regularly kept in majority of cases. This is suicidal from a secular and religious point of view.
  3. Dues of Servants and Slaves: These dues should be paid as early as possible. The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Give the labourer his dues before his sweat dries up.”
  4. Debts of Honour: These are presents of those who gave them at the time of marriage or other ceremonies in expectation of return on similar occasions.

The following formalities must be observed in a loan:

  1. It must be put in black and white.
  2. The scribe is to write according to the dictates of the debtor himself, or if he is unsound or minor, of his guardian.
  3. There shall be at least two witnesses to the transaction.
  4. There should be clear mention of time when the loan will be repaid. The Holy Quraan says to this effect: “O you who believe! When you deal with each other in contracting a debt for a fixed time, write it down and let a scribe between you write down with fairness.” (2:282)

Duties of Creditors:  

As Islam lays special stress towards satisfaction of debts and loans, it does not forget to regulate the duties of creditors towards debtors. The debtors who are unable to pay should be shown absolute leniency; and in fit cases, the entire debt should be remitted.  The Holy Quraan says: “And if the debtor is in straitness, then let there be postponement until he is in ease, and if you remit it as alms, it is better for you if you know.” (2:280)  

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Holy Prophet of Islam (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “There was a man who used to give loan to the people. He used often to say to his son, ‘When you come to a needy man, grant him remission, so that Allah may remit us (of sins)’. He said that he then met Allah and He granted him pardon.” (Agreed) 

Sayyiduna Abul Yassar (radi Allahu anhu) reported: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) saying, ‘Whoso grants respite to a debtor or grants him remission, Allah will give him shade under His Shade’”. (Muslim) 

Sayyiduna Abu Qetadah (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Whoso gives respite to a debtor or grants him remission. Allah will save him from the calamities of the Resurrection Day.” (Muslim) 

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (radi Allahu anhu) reported that a man demanded of Rasoolullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) for repayment of a loan and was greatly harsh to him. His companions were about to attack him, but he said: “Leave him, as the creditor has got a demand. Buy a camel for him and give it to him.” They said: “We don’t but find senior to it in years.” He said: “They buy it and give it to him, and verily the best of you is he who is the best of you in repayment of loan.” (Agreed) 


The Islamic law of Insolvency is that the creditors can take possession of everything of the debtor except his person, which is free from being molested or sent to prison. There is no civil prison in Islam for a debtor, as by imprisonment the loan cannot be realized owing to the insolvent’s possessing no property of any kind. If a man sells a thing to a man on credit, and the purchaser becomes insolvent, the buyer can take hold of the exact property sold to him, if it was not consumed before-hand. If, however, no identical property is found, it will not be lawful for a creditor to take possession of his entire property to the exclusion of others.  

Usury and Interest:

The Holy Quraan says: “Believers! Fear Allah and waive what remains outstanding of usury, if you are truly believers. If you do not, then take notice that you are at war with Allah and His Messenger (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam). If you repent, you may have only your principal loans, neither inflicting nor suffering injustice.” (2: 278,279) 

The Quraanic verse is clear in requiring a lender to get back only what he has advanced. (It takes into account all usury, regardless of the extent; whether nominal or exorbitant.) The Holy Prophet of Islam (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) has disapproved of selling two measures of low quality dates for one measure of high quality dates, because he considered that as usury. He told his companions to do each transaction separately for cash, so that there is no element of usury in the deal. 

Usury means an addition over and above the principal thing lent. In other words, it is excess, according to legal standard of measurement and weight, in one of two homogenous articles in which such excess is stipulated as an obligatory obligation on one of the contracting parties. Usury includes all kinds of interest whether the rate is high or low and whether the interest is or not added to the principal sum after fixed periods.   

The following are, therefore, the ingredients of usurious transactions:

  1. The two things of exchange between the parties must be homogenous or of same character, viz., gold for gold or corn for corn.
  2. They must be unequal in measurement and weight. If gold is exchanged for gold of the same weight and quality in hand to hand transactions, it is not interest. If unequal, the excess must be interest. 
  3. They must not be in hand to hand transactions. If a guinea is given for one a half guinea to be paid at a future date, the excess will be considered as interest.
  4. There must be stipulation or demand for the excess. If excess is paid by way of thanks and gratitude willingly and voluntarily, it will not be considered as interest.
  5. The two contracting parties must be Muslims or one Muslim and another non-Muslim in Darul-Aman (peaceful country) or a protected non-Muslim.

Creditors using anything of debtors will add interest to the loan advanced. The relation between creditor and debtor is sacred, and any advantage, however insignificant, gained over debtors by creditors in any shape or form will be tinged with the dust of usury. The Holy Quraan declares:

  1. “Those who swallow down usury arise except as one whom the devil has prostrated by his touch does arise; that is because they say: Trading is only like usury and Allah has allowed trading and prohibited usury”. (2:275)
  2. “And whatever you lay out in usury, so that it may increase in the property of men, it shall not increase with Allah, and whatever you give in charity desiring Allah’s pleasure, it is these that shall get manifold.” (30:39)
  3. “Allah does not bless usury and He causes charitable deeds to prosper”. (2:276)

Sayyiduna Jaabir (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) cursed the devourer of usury, its payer, its scribe and its two witnesses. And he said that they are equal (in sins). (Muslim) 

Sayyiduna Ubadah bin Samit (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Apostle of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Gold for gold, silver for silver, wheat for wheat, barley for barley, date for date, and salt for salt and like for like, equally in hand to hand transactions. When these kinds differ, then sell them as you wish when it is in hand to hand (transaction)”. (Muslim) This tradition shows that except the six things enumerated above – gold, silver, wheat, barley, date and salt, all other things may be sold in unequal quantity and quality without being guilty of usurious transaction. Thus, one good slave for two black slaves may be sold irrespective of homogeneity or different character. Imam-e-A’zam Abu Hanifa (alaihir rahmah) holds, however, that an animal may not be sold for a promise of payment of price.  

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Apostle of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Usury has got seventy divisions. The easiest division of them is a man’s marrying his mother”. (Ibn-e-Majah) 

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (radi Allahu anhu) reported that Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “I came across a people in the night in which I was taken to heaven. Their bellies are like houses wherein there are serpents which can be seen from outside their bellies. I asked, ‘O Sayyiduna Jibra’eel! Who are they?’ He said, ‘These are those who devoured usury’”. (Ibn-e-Majah) 

Interest on Bank deposits:  

In interest-infected countries, interest from hostile non-Muslims or from those non-Muslims whose avowed object is to destroy the Muslims whenever opportunity arises is quite legal. What is true of non-Muslim individuals is true also of non-Muslim Banks and organizations. 

Mortgage and Pawn:  

Mortgage literally signifies detaining a thing on any account whatsoever. In the language of law, it means detention of a thing on account of a claim, which may be satisfied by means of that thing in case of default. This is unanimously legal. Sayyidah Ayesha (radi Allahu anha) reported that Allah’s Messenger (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) purchased food-grains from a Jew up to a fixed term, and he kept his coat of mail of iron in pawn. (Agreed)  

Mortgage is established by declaration and acceptance and confirmed by receipt of the pledge. Upon the pawnee taking possession of the pledge, the contract becomes binding. The pawnee is responsible for the pledge. The pawnee is entitled to detain the pledge until he receives payment of debt. The pawner cannot reclaim the pledge on the plea of selling it for discharge of his debt. According to Imam-e-A’zam Abu Hanifa (alaihir rahmah), a pawnee is not authorized to sell the pledge unless with the desire of the pawner. The pawnee is not entitled to use the mortgaged property except in exchange of paying rents.  


Usurpation in its literal sense means forcibly taking a thing from another. Usurpation is unlawful. Any person knowingly and willfully usurping the property of another is held to be a criminal and a sinner, and therefore, he becomes liable for compensation. Forcible possession is oppression in an extreme form of which there is a strong condemnation both in the Holy Quraan and Hadith.

Sayyiduna Salem (radi Allahu anhu) from his father reported: “Whoso extorts any portion of land unjustly will be sunk down unto seven earths on the Resurrection Day”. (Bukhari) 

Sayyiduna Yah’li Bin Murrah (radi Allahu anhu) reported: “I heard Rasoolullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) saying, ‘Whoso encroaches upon a land without title therein will be put to near the burden of its earth on the Congregation Day.’” (Ahmad) Same reported: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) saying, ‘Whoso takes a span of land by oppression, the Glorious and Almighty Allah will give him the trouble of digging it till he reaches the last of the seven earths, and then he will be thrown down till the Resurrection Day till he will be brought for judgment among men.’” (Ahmad)