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 9: The Obligatoriness of Earning the Indispensable Amount and the Aberrancy of the Karramites for Denying It.
Now the legal viewpoint of the great majority of the jurisprudents of the People of the Way and the Congregation (ahl al-sunnah wa al-jama’ah) is that the earning of the amount which is necessary to survive is an obligation.
In contrast, the Karramites say, “But rather it is optional by way of legal dispensation, for it is not devoid of either being obligatory at every time, or at a particular time. As for the first (case), it is invalid, for it will lead to a person not being able to be unoccupied from this obligation in order to find time to occupy himself with other obligations and requisites. As for the second (case), it is also invalid, for what is legally obligatory at a particular time is predicated on that time (having arrived) like the obligations of prayer and fasting, whereas the Law did not mention predicating earning on some particular time.”
Moreover, say the Karramites, earning is either obligatory due to people’s desiring it or due to necessity. The first (case) is invalid, for this desiring applies to all worldly wealth, and a person does not say, “Everyone is obliged to attain to all that (wealth).” The second case is false also, for what is obligatory due to necessity only becomes obligatory when there is an actual necessity, but when the necessity actually occurs one is (thereby rendered) incapable of earning, and so how can an obligation be postponed until the situation arises when one becomes too weak to work?
And it earning is also not devoid of being obligatory with regard to all its types or with regard to a specific type of it. The first case is invalid for it is not within the capacity of any human being to be engaged in all the types of earning, and moreover, he would not know how to do so, for his life will pass away before he learns all those types of earning. The second case is also invalid, for the type specified as being obligatory is not more important in obligatoriness than the other types.
And it is not devoid too of either being obligatory on all people or on some of them. The first case is invalid, for the Prophets, blessing and peace be on them, did not occupy themselves with earning for most of their time, and likewise the notables among the Companions, and those who came after them among the select, and it should not be imagined about them that they concurred on disregarding what was obligatory on them. The second case is invalid, for some of the people specified for discharging this obligation are not more important than some of the others not specified.
Therefore it becomes clear that earning is not in the least an obligation. The proof of this is that if it was in the least obligatory then to be profuse in it would be commended or it would be supererogatory and of the status of the devotional observances, whereas to be profuse in it is actually reprehensible, as Allah says, “Know that the life of the world is but diversion and distraction, and ostentation and boasting among yourselves, and striving for more and more property and children. It is like rain whose growth pleases the tillers then dies out and you see it turn yellow, and then it crumbles, and in the hereafter, there is severe agony…” [Al-Quran, surah Al-Hadid, verse 20]. In this respect lies the difference between earning and the seeking of knowledge; for, as it is primarily an obligation, to be profuse in it is thereby commended.