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 10: Proof for the Obligatoriness of Earning up to the Indispensable Amount and Rebuttal of the Obfuscations of the Karramites in Denying It.
Our argument for this is Allah Most High’s statement, “O you who have believed, spend from the good things which you have earned and from that which We have produced for you from the earth.” [Al-Quran, surah al-Baqarah, verse 267]. and the command is in reality in the nature of an obligation, for giving out of what is earned cannot be conceived except after earning, and whatever which is indispensable for the discharge of an obligation is itself an obligation.
Allah says, “And when the prayer has been concluded, disperse within the land and seek from the bounty of Allah, and remember Allah often that you may succeed.” [Al-Quran, surah al-Jumu’ah, verse 10], that is, seeking a livelihood, and the command here is in reality of an obligatory nature.
But if it is said that is was related from Mujahid (one of the Followers of the Companions) and Makhul (among the foremost scholars of Syria) that they said, “What is meant is the seeking of knowledge,” then we say, “What we have mentioned of the commentary is related from the Messenger of Allah, for he said, “The seeking of earning after the prescribed prayers is the obligation after the obligation,” and he recited the saying of the Allah, “And when the prayer has been concluded, disperse within the land and seek from the bounty of Allah, and remember Allah often that you may succeed,” and so that should not be disregarded in favour of the statement of Makhul and Mujahid, may Allah show them both mercy.
The apparent (sense of the verse) supports what we have mentioned as indicated by what is mentioned subsequently, “But when they saw a transaction or a diversion, [O Muhammad], they rushed to it and left you standing” [Al-Quran, surah al-Jumu’ah, verse 10]. They (the congregation) disbanded because of that motive during his (the Prophet’s) sermon and so they were prohibited from doing so but were enjoined to do so (only) after the conclusion of the prayer.
If it is said, “Enjoinment after prescription gives the meaning of permission,” then we say, “The enjoinment is, in reality, obligatory in nature, for if it was meant as a permission and a dispensation, then He would have said, “And there is no crime for you to seek from the bounty of Allah,” as Allah said (in another verse) on the matter of (commerce in the course of) travelling for the pilgrimage, “It is no crime for you to seek bounty from your Lord” [Al-Quran, surah al-Baqarah, verse 198]. The proof of this is that Allah enjoins provisioning for dependents such as wives, children and women observing the ‘iddah, and it is not possible to provide for them except by obtaining wealth by means of earning, and whatever by which the execution of an obligation is accomplished is (itself) an obligation.
Common sense attests to it, for in earning resides the order of the world, for Allah has ordained the endurance of the world until the time of its dissolution, and He has rendered the earning of the servants the cause of this endurance and order, whereas disregarding it (earning) leads to the ruin of this order, and that is something disallowed.
If it is said, “The endurance of this order is conditional on mating between animals but no one says that (mating) is obligatory,” then we say, “Yes, Allah has indeed rendered the endurance (of the world) conditional on the mating of animals, and has structured carnal appetite into their natures. That carnal appetite is what motivates them to indulge in the act (of mating), and so the need does not occur to render that obligatory on them so that they do not abstain from it, for nature calls toward the satisfaction of carnal appetite”.
But, as for the seeking of earning, from the beginning, there is toil and weariness, even though the endurance of the order of the world is conditioned on it. Hence if it was not rendered primarily obligatory, then all people to the last person would be in accord on disregarding it, for there is nothing in their nature that calls toward toil and weariness. Therefore the Law has rendered it fundamentally obligatory, in order that they do not find accord on disregarding it, and thus the object is thereby attained.
Furthermore, all the divisions they (the Karramites) have mentioned before, are invalid by virtue of what has been indicated by (Imam) Muhammad, in his statement, “The seeking of earning is an obligation just as the seeking of knowledge an obligation.” These divisions pertain to knowledge, and yet it is fundamentally an obligation by consensus, and so likewise the seeking of earning.
The meaning of obligatoriness is what we have explained about the endurance of the order of the world by means of it (earning), and that is not found in seeking an increase from it for the purpose of vying for more and boasting. Allah indeed has censured the seeking of increase if it is of this nature, for He, says,
“Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children” [Al-Quran, surah al-Hadid, verse 20]