May 28, 2003

Your Employment & Expenditure: Keeping it Halal!

 

[A Young Muslim’s Guide to Halal
Employment]
 
 
 
Every summer young Muslim students go through stressful
times trying to find a means of earning that is decent, professional,
yet Islamically lawful. In a period of perpetual
economic recession, especially in the IT industry, such as the one we are
currently witnessing, it is indeed challenging to find such a combo. While
many do land good and Halal jobs, others resort to any sort of work
or industry, often out of desperation or hopes of ‘quick and big cash’, that
may not necessarily be pleasing to Allah, the source of all our Rizq
(wealth, sustenance and blessings).
 
It is important that we, the Muslim youth, work hard and
honestly to earn money, instead of sitting idle at home or stealing other’s
money. Our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once reminded us, “It
is better that a person should a take a rope and bring bundles of wood on his
back to sell so that Allah may preserve his honour, than that he should beg
from people
.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
 
Consumerism’s Promise: You will
never be ‘Content’
 
However, while we strive hard to sustain ourselves with
part time jobs, we need to also learn the ethics of ‘right’ and ‘pure’ earning
and spending. How many youth are out there whose sole purpose of
earning is to buy a new set of shoes, pair of trousers, or nail polish, every
week! This is indeed the destructive outcome of our consumer teen culture.
 
Why is it crucial not to be corrupted by the greed of our
materialistic society? The Prophet (pbuh) has told us, “Riches are
sweet, and a source of blessing to those who acquire them (lawfully) by the
way; but those who seek them out of greed are like people who eat but are
never full (or satisfied).
 
” 
 
Therefore, this kind of greed to have ‘everything cool or
every fad out there’ will never satisfy you, no matter how much of it you
have. Ever wonder, why the music and film industry never loses money? The idea
is to keep every young person in our society ‘hooked’ on the music, lyrics,
and the ‘stars’, that are strategically released to the public gradually, in
stages, so that everyone keeps coming back for ‘more’.
 
Reality of ‘Entertainment’ and
your Employment
 
At the end of the day, a music or movie addict realizes
how hollow and temporary this ‘entertainment’ is— something that destroys
one’s soul by taking his or her  mind and feelings to another realm of
fantasy, only to realize that he or she is back to the same harsh realities of
this life as soon as the tape is turn off!
 
The way we ‘kill our time’ in our leisure activities has
a great influence on what type of job we would look for. If our priority in
life is to serve our family, community and Islam, as well as improving our own
relationship with Allah, then certainly we would look for a job or profession
that accommodates all such commitments.
 
It helps to keep in mind the following portrayal of
reality by our Prophet (peace be upon him): “Whoever sets this
world as his goal, Allah divides his affairs for him. He will place poverty
between his eyes, and nothing will come to him from this world except what
Allah has written for him. Whoever sets the Hereafter as his goal, Allah
gathers his affairs for him, gives him richness of the heart and the world
will come to him grudgingly and submissively
.” [Ibn Majah &
Ibn Hibban
]
 
“It is not poverty which I
fear….”
 
Is it any wonder that the beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
once commented, “It is not poverty which I fear for you, but that
you might desire the world as others before you desired it, and it might
destroy you, as it destroyed them
.”
 
How do we suppress our desire or love for this world? We
can certainly do so by spending less on ourselves and contributing as much as
possible to those in need. Even a regular, nominal donation to your local
masjid, charity organization, youth group, Islamic publication, or a poor
person would greatly bless your limited income from employment as a student;
it will also serve a profound reminder to cut the greed. Your regular
contribution to other’s well-being will make you think, every time you are
widow shopping in a mall, “Do I really need it? Or am I tempted to buy this
shirt or game because my friend always talks about it?
 
5 Reasons to avoid working for
Riba (interest) based institutions
  1. Riba (interest) involves earning income
    without actually working to earn it;
  2. Riba based companies involve taking
    advantage of the need or financial circumstances of the borrower of loan;
  3. Taking Riba, or working for institutions
    that promote it, contribute to great injustice and devastation, as we have
    already witnessed, both at individual and global level, such as, bankruptcy,
    corporate scandals, economic recession, inability to repay loans, and
    staggering unemployment to name a few.
  4. Daily toil has become a never-ending struggle to pay
    off interest on mortgages or business loans, and societies have become
    class-ridden structures in which huge wealth is concentrated in the hands of a
    few.
  5. As Shaykh Salih Al-Munajjid argues, “Perhaps all this
    is a manifestation of the war threatened by Allah to those who deal in
    Riba
    ….The least harm that a job involving Riba does is to
    destroy the blessing (Barakah) of the money, even if a person’s
    income is great, The Prophet (pbuh) himself once said, ‘Even if
    Riba is much, it will end up being a small amount.’
    [Al-Hakim]”
 
Employment Search: Tips on
keeping it Halal
 
This summer, when you go out searching for employment,
please make sure to accept a job that is pure and Halal, and that
it’s work-environment allows you to maintain your Islamic identity, including
time and space for 5 daily prayers, allowance to observe Hijab or
Islamically modest clothing, and a minimum level of modesty (Haya)
among the co-workers. Sr. Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood in her book Living with
Teenagers
and Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi in his research work The
Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam
provide the following useful tips on
what type of job/work to stay away from:
  1. any form of activity deriving money from pornography,
    prostitution and indecency (such as theatres, movie stores, clubs….etc.), as
    Allah reminds us, “And do not come near Zina (fornication); indeed
    it is an abomination and an evil way
    ” [17:32];
  2. any form of drama or dance entertainment that is
    deliberately or suggestive;
  3. making statues of living creatures or  photography
    that is sexually provocative, as the Prophet (pbuh) once said, “Allah
    will punish anyone who makes figures (of living beings), until he breathes
    spirit into them, which he can never do
    ” [Bukhari];
  4. manufacturing, trading, or serving intoxicants and
    drugs;
  5. working in a bar, off-licence, nightclub, dance hall,
    etc.;
  6. being involved in armed forces fighting against other
    Muslims or killing innocent people;
  7. working in banks, stock exchanges, futures markets,
    insurance companies,  and other usurious or Riba-based institutions.
How do I tell….
 
How do we tell what is Haram (unlawful) or
Halal
(lawful) type of work? A general principle, as Sr. Ruqaiyyah explains,
“is that if anybody’s means of earning a living hurts another, or results in
another’s loss or corruption, then it is Haram. If it is fair and
beneficial to others as well, then it is Halal. Obviously, any
business or job that involves dishonesty, bribery, gambling, cheating (do
deceptive marketing strategies ring a bell?), fraud, sexual degradation, or
any other means of making a profit by exploiting others (such as
lottery/raffle tickets), is forbidden to us Muslims.
 
The best practice to ignore or leave any job opportunity
that seems to fall in the grey area. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
advised us, “Leave alone what puts you in doubt and turn toward what
does not create any doubt
.” [Ahmad & Tirmidhi] This is
perhaps the most practical tool or tip to use in employment search.
 
The Road Ahead…
 
Before you give up all the hope of finding a good,
Halal
job, after reading the list of warnings and restrictions, remember
that there are literally innumerable sources of employment, including Muslim
and non-Muslim owned businesses, that offer a decent, honorable, professional,
and above all Halal, environment. You may begin your job search with
your local Muslim business directory!
 
You would never despair if you realized the truth of a
statement taken from our Prophet’s (pbuh) collection of sayings, “If
you give up something for the sake of Allah, He will replace it with something
(even) better
.” Let’s have the following words of Allah etched
in your heart, “Whoever has Taqwa (consciousness) of Allah, He
will make a way out for him
” [Surah Talaq: 3]. This
verse gives a boost to the confidence, faith, and optimism in the hearts of
all the young Muslims striving to adopt a pure, Islamic lifestyle and to
benefit their society as responsible citizens.

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