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 5: The Permissibility of Lawful Earning and the Aberrancy of Some of the Sufis in Forbidding It
The (accepted legal) view according to the jurisconsults (fuqaha‘) from among the predecessors (salaf) and the successors (khalaf), is that the first type of earning (earning of a person for himself, refers Part 4) is permissible without any qualification, and it is even obligatory when there is a need.
A group from among the ignorant ascetics and the foolish ones of the Sufis says, “Earning a livelihood is indeed forbidden! It is not legally permitted except when absolutely necessary, as in the case of eating carrion.”
They say that earning negates placing trust in Allah or belittles it whereas we have been commanded to have trust (in Him). Allah Most High says, “But let your trust be reposed in Allah if you are believers” [Al-Quran, Surah Al-Ma’idah verse 23]. Hence whatever entails the negation of what we have been commanded of placing trust in Allah is prohibited. The proof that earning negates placing trust in Allah is from Prophet Muhammad statement, “If you had truly placed trust in Allah, He would have granted you sustenance just as He grants sustenance to the birds, they go out early in the morning hungry and return satiated” [Related by al-Tirmidhi in his Sunan].
And Allah, Most High, says, “And in the sky is sustenance for you, and what you are promised” [Al-Quran, Surah Al-Dhariyat verse 22]. In this verse, there is an encouragement to shun engrossment with eaning, and clarification that what has been determined for a person as promised will surely come to him. And Allah, Most Exalted, Most Glorious, says, “And direct your people to pray, and be constant at it. We do not ask you for sustenance; it is We who sustain you. And the reward is for conscientiousness” [Al-Quran, Surah Ta’Ha verse 132]. Though this verse is addressed to the Messenger of Allah, what is intended is his community, for they have been commanded to have patience and to perform the prayer and to avoid engrossment with earning to seek sustenance. Allah says, “And I only created sprites and humans for them to serve Me” [Al-Quran, Surah Al-Dhariyat verse 56].
In being engrossed with earning there is avoidance of that for which a person is created and commanded, which is the service of his Lord; and the Prophet, has alluded to this (service) in his saying, “It is not revealed to me that I accumulate wealth and that I be among the merchants, but surely it is revealed to me (the verse), ‘So celebrate praises of your Lord, and ve among those who bow. And serve your Lord until the inevitable (or certitude) comes to you‘ [refer to Al-Quran, Surah Al-Hijr verse 98-99]” [This narration related to Ahmad]
And as for what is mentioned in the Qur’an about selling and buying in some of the verses, what is intended is not the disposal of wealth and earnings, but rather what is intended is the trade of the servant with his Lord, Most Exalted, Most Glorious, by expending his self in obedience to Him and by engrossing himself in worshipping Him, for that is called trade. Allah says:
“Believers, shall I guide you to a trade that will save you from intense agony?” [Al-Quran, Surah Al-Saff verse 10].
And He the Great, the Sublime, says, “Allah has purchased from the believers their persons and their property in exchange for paradise for them – they fight in the cause of Allah, and so they kill and are killed – as a promised binding on Allah in the Torah, and the Gospel, and the Qur’an. And who is more faithful to a promise than Allah? And so be happy with the bargain you’ve made, for that is the great success” [Al-Quran, Surah Al-Tawbah verse 111]. What is intended (in the verse) is the kind (of trade), and it is expending the self toward the attainment of (divine) reward by fighting and various other kinds of obedience.
Likewise, Allah has called the one who takes property for the purpose of perpetrating what is not permissible for him in the religion as the seller of his own self. Allah says, “And wretched is the price indeed for which they sold their souls” [Al-Quran, Surah Al-Baqarah verse 102]. And Allah also says, “They’ve sold the signs of Allah for a petty price” [Al-Quran, Surah Al-Tawbah verse 9]. It is to this meaning that the Prophet indicates in his saying, “Two types of people go out early in the morning: the type who sells his own self and thereby destroys it, and the type who purchases his own self and thereby emancipates it” [this narration related to al-Tabrani in Mu’jam al-Kabir].
Also, the Companions (al-sahabah), may Allah be pleased with them all, used to frequent the mosque and they were not busy with earning, and they were commended for that. And likewise the Rightly-guided Caliphs and others from among the foremost Companions did not busy themselves with earning, and they are the chief leaders and the foremost exemplars.