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Islam: Prohibited Forms Of Businesses

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Monopoly business. As monopoly means concentration of supply in one hand, it leads to exploitation of the consumers and the workers, it has, therefore, been declared unlawful by the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him). Gigantic trusts. cartels and monopolies should not exist in the Islamic society. The monopoly-dominated economic order betrays lack of harmony between private and social good and is, thus, a negation of the principle of maximum social advantage which the Islamic society sets out to achieve.

Speculative Business Based on selfish Interest:Speculation means buying something cheap in bulk at a time and selling it dear at another and, thus, controlling the whole market to achieve personal gains. A close observation will reveal that speculators are primarily interested in private gains regardless of the larger interest of the society. These speculators try to create artificial scarcity of goods and commodities and thereby create an inflationary pressure on the economy. As the poor masses have to pay for this. Islam has condemned such speculative business.

Interest Transactions: All transactions involving interest are forbidden in Islam. Some people find it hard to submit to the injunction prohibiting interest, because they think interest and profit earned in trade are similar. Capital invested in trade brings an excess called profit; invested in banking it brings interest. Why should one excess be considered lawful and the other unlawful? They fail to take note of the basic difference between the two. Trade involves risk of loss. Also in its case, it is not only the capital invested that brings profit which is equally the result of initiative, enterprise and efficiency of the entrepreneur. Hence its rate cannot be predetermined and fixed. Moreover, trade is productive. A person reaps a benefit after undergoing labour and hardship. It creates conditions of full employment and economic growth. It will also be noted that trade acts as one of the dominant factors in the process of building up civilisation through co-operation and mutual exchange of ideas. The spread of Islam and Islamic civilisation In the Far East has been mostly due to the efforts of Muslim traders. Interest has no redeeming feature at all. The fixed rate of profit which a person gets from a financial investment without any risk of loss and without augmenting it with human labour creates in man the undesirable weakness of miserliness and Shylockian selfishness and lack of sympathy. In the economic sphere it initiates and aggravates crisis.

Advancing money on interest, keeping deposits in a bank for the sake of earning interest, or getting concessions in rates of goods or commodities against advance payments of price, mortgaging and utilising an income-yielding property against a certain sum,to be returned in full when the property is redeemed and investing money in a trade against a predetermined and fixed rate of profit-are all unlawfnl business transactions because they involve Riba (interest) in some form or the other.

Transactions Similar (in nature) to gambling. The Arabic equivalent to gambling is Maisir which literarily means “getting something too easily”, “getting a profit without working for it”. The literal meaning of the term explains the principle on account of which gambling is prohibited in Islam. Any monetary gain which cornes too easily, so much so that one does not have to work for it, is unlawful.

Munabadha and Mulamasa: Islam recognises barter trade subject to the injunctions of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. In fact, Islam has closed all doors of dishonesty and deceit in business dealings. It has prohibited all forms of transactions which admit of fraud in the least degree. It has impressed on the traders that defective and worthless goods should not be given in exchange for good ones, and if there is a defect in the goods sold it must be pointed out and made manifest to the purchaser. The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: “The buyer and the seller have the option of cancelling the contract as long as they have not separated; then. if they both speak the truth and make manifest, their transaction shall be blessed, and if they conceal and tell lies, the blessing of their transaction shall be obliterated”.

Besides issuing the instructions which govern all forms of trade, particularly barter trade, Islam has banned two forms of sale contract that were prevalent before Islam. These were Munabadha and Mulamasa. In neither of these was the purchaser offered an opportunity to examine the thing purchased. Munabadha means that the seller should throw the cloth to the buyer before he has carefully examined it. The very act of throwing the cloth will mean that the bargain has been struck. Mulamasa means touching the cloth without examining it, ie. the buyer was just supposed to touch the cloth to strike the bargain. Both these forms of transaction were prohibited because in either case the purchaser got no opportunity to examine the things sold to him, and the bargain was likely to prove unduly disadvantageous to one side.

 Islam has prohibited traffic in wine, swine, dead bodies of animals and other goods the use of which has been declared to be Haram (unlawful).

It has also forbidden trading in things that have a debasing or vitiating influence on the Muslim society.

In fact, Islam demands that goods and commodities for people should go to the open market and the seller or his agents must be aware of the state of the market before proposals are made for the purchase of goods or communities in bulk. He should not be taken unawares lest advantage be taken of his ignorance of the state of the market, and the prevailing prices. All this is very clearly laid down by the Prophet (may peace he upon him).

As mentioned above, Islam tries to be fair to both parties to a transaction. Any step on the part of one, that is advantageous to him and disadvantageous to the other, is not permissible. The seller is expected to make the defects (if any) in the goods manifest to the buyer, nor is the buyer expected to take undue advantage of the ignorance of the seller.

Islam insists upon absolute justice and fairplay in business dealings. According to Islam, a person who sacrifices his faith, and loses the good pleasure of his Lord to make a monetary gain has not made a good bargain. Islam does not believe in the view that all is fair in business and that every kind of cleverness and deceit is justifiable in business transactions.

Islam regards business or commerce as an economic activity to be carried on in a spirit of humanity and justice. It does not approve of the cut-throat competition. Indeed, the very concept is un-Islamic. Islam expects the buyer and the seller to look upon each other as Muslim brethren or fellow human beings, each trying to go all his way to help and serve the other.

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