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 7: Invalidating the Obfuscations of Some of the Sufis in Regard to Their Prohibition of Earning.
There is no meaning in their opposition to us in this (issue of earning) by (invoking the case of the Prophets) Yahya (John) and Isa (Jesus), blessings and peace be on them both, for we have explained that Isa, peace be on him, used to eat out of the (income generated from the) spinning of his mother, may Allah be pleased with her.
And then we say: The Prophets in this respect of earning are not like other people. They were sent to call people to the religion of truth and to manifest it to them, and so they were engrossed in that for which they were sent, and because of this, they did not concern themselves with earning for most of their time. They engaged in earning on some occasions so as to show to people that is among the things that a person should be occupied with, and that that does not negate reliance (on Allah), contrary to what has been thought by those ignoramuses.
This fact was clarified by ‘Umar, in his hadith (in which it is reported) that he came by a group of people from among the devoted worshippers, and saw them sitting drooping their heads: and so he said, “Who are those?,” and it was said (to him), “Those are the reliant (on Allah).” Whereupon he said, “Definitely not! But rather they are the devourers, who devour the wealth of people! Shall I not tell you who the reliant are?,” and it was said (to him), “Yes.” And he said, “The reliant is he who casts a seed into the soil and then places his reliance on his Lord, Most Exalted, Most Glorious.” In another narration about him, he said, “O assembly devoted worshippers, raise your heads and earn (a living) for your souls” [this narration are related by al-Suyuti in al-Durr al-Manthur and in Kanz al-Ummal]
And their claim that the senior Companions, used not to earn their living is a false claim, for it has been related that Abu Bakar the Most Truthful, was a textile merchant; and ‘Umar used to trade in hides; and “Uthman was a merchant to whom was supplied foodstuffs which he then sold. And ‘Ali used to work according to a narration that he offered himself for hire on more than one occasion, so much so that according to a long tradition he hired himself out (for work) to a Jew. to be employed for a wage.
Moreover, it is authenticated in a hadith that the Prophet, may Allah bless and grant him peace, bought tousers for two dirhams, and he said to the weigher, “weigh and weigh more, for we Prophets, do weigh likewise” (i.e. weigh a little bit more of the dirhams given to be sure that they amount to two dirhams and not less. This narration related by Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and al-Nasa’i). And the Messenger of Allah sold a big bowl and a mat as a sale of a person who increases (i.e., sale by auctioning).
The Prophet also bought a she-camel from a Bedouin and paid him its price in full, but the Bedouin then later denied the fact and said, “Bring forth a witness.” He, may Allah bless and give him peace, said, “Who will bear witness for me?” Khuzaymah ibn Thabit said, “I bear witness for you that you have paid the Bedouin the price of the she-camel in full.” Whereupon the Prophet said, “How could you bear witness for me when you were not present?” He said, “O Messenger of Allah, verily we have attested to your truthfulness with regard to what you bring to us of the information from heaven, should we not then attest to your truthfulness with regard to what you inform us paying in full the she-camel’s price!” Then, the Prophet said, “Whoever for whom Khuzaymah bears witness, it will be sufficient for him.” [this narration related by Abu Dawud]
There is no argument for them (the anti-earners) in Allah statement, “And in the sky is sustenance for you, and what you are promised” [Al-Quran, surah Al-Dhariyat, verse 22], for the meaning here pertains to rain that falls from the sky by which plants are produced; for indeed such is called sustenance according to what has been related from some of the predecessors, may Allah Most High be merciful to them, “O son of Adam, verily Allah provides you sustenance, and provides your sustenance’s sustenance, and provides the sustenance of your sustenance’s sustenance.” This means that He brings down the rain from the sky as sustenance for the plants, then the plants become sustenance for the grazing livestock, and the grazing livestock become sustenance for the children of Adam.
And we should allow this verse to bear its literal meaning, and so we say, “In the sky is our sustenance as revealed by Allah, but we are commanded to seek out the causes (of sustenance) in order that this sustenance comes to us out of (our) seeking; this is explained in his saying in what he narrates from his Lord, “My servant! Move your hand, that I may send down on you sustenance.”