On every Wednesday, I will share a part of the translation of the book Kitab Al-Kasb (the book of Earning a Livelihood) written by Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani.


Part 2: The Legal Status and Virtue of Earning a Livelihood

Thereupon Prophet Muhammad commences his book with his statement, “The seeking of livelihood is obligatory on every Muslim, just as the seeking of knowledge is obligatory.”

This phrasing is narrated by Ibn Mas’ud, from the Messenger of Allah, who said, “The seeking of livelihood is obligatory on every Muslim.” In other narration, he said, “The seeking of livelihood after the prescribed prayers is the obligation after the obligation” [Narrated by al-Tabarani in Mu’jam al-Kabir and by al-Bayhaqi in al-Sunan al-Kubra]. And he also said, “The seeking of the lawful is like the battling of the warriors, and whosoever retires in the evening in weariness out of seeking the lawful retires in it as a person who is forgiven” [Sources: Al-Suyuti in al-Jami’ al-Kabir].

Umar al-Khattab, has given preference to the degree of earning a livelihood over the degree of fighting for the sake of Allah, and so he says (meaning):

Indeed, that I die between the flanks of my camel while traveling the land seeking the bounty of Allah is more to my liking than to be killed fighting for the sake of Allah, for Allah the Most High has preferred those who travel the land seeking His bounty over those fighting in His Path by His statement, ‘and others traveling the land seeking the bounty of Allah, and others fighting for the sake of Allah (Al-Muzzammil: 20)’” [Narrated in al-Suyuti’s al-Durr al-Manthur, and in Kanz al-Ummal]

And in a hadith (it is narrated) that the Messenger of Allah, one day shook hands with Sa’d ibn Mu’adh, but they were (unexpectedly found to be) blistered and hardened, and so the Prophet, asked him about it, and he said, “I dig into (the earth if) my date palms with the spade and the hoe so as to provide for my family”; whereupon the Messenger of Allah kissed his hand and said, “Two (hand) palms beloved to Allah Most High” [Narrated by al-Khatib in Tarikh Baghdad]

This shows that by seeking what is indispensable for his livelihood a person attains to the highest of degrees (in religion), and he only attains that by doing what is obligatory, and since discharging the obligatory is not attainable except by seeking a livelihood, then it (too) becomes obligatory, of the status of purification for performing the prayers.

The clarification of this is by several considerations. 1) Of which is that his being able to carry out the (religious) obligations is due to the strength of his body, and normally that (bodily strength) is gained by (eating) food; and to obtain food there are several ways (such as) working for a living, violent struggle or plundering. Plundering (legally) entails punishment, while violent struggle leads to despoliation, “but Allah does not love despoliation,” [al-Baqarah: 205], and therefore working for a living is clearly the (correctly) determined way for obtaining food.

The Prophet has said, “A believer’s self is his mount, so let him be kind to it”; that is, by being kind to it such that he does not deny it what is sufficient for it and that can only be attained by earning a livelihood.

And (also, earning or working is required) since performing the prescribed prayers cannot be done except by doing the ritual purification, and this, in turn, requires a jug to pour water with, or leather bucket, or a rope with which to draw water from the well.

Likewise, the prescribed prayers cannot be performed except by covering the naked parts of the body, and that is only possible by clothing which normally cannot be obtained except by working (for it); and whatever that is required in order to fulfil an obligation is in itself an obligation.

**Visit this link for other parts of Kitab al-Kasb: https://muhsinnorpaizin.com/tag/kitab-al-kasb/

References:

22 The Book of Earning-700x700

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