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 19: Agriculture is Not At All Reprehensible
Some jurisprudents say that agriculture is reprehensible due to what has been narrated that the Prophet saw something of the implements of ploughing in the house of a people, and he said, “None of these enters a people’s house except that they become debased” [Narrated by al-Bukhari]. The Prophet was asked about the statement of Allah, “If you obeyed those who scoff, they would turn you back on your heels’ [Al-Quran, surah Ali Imran verse, 149]; ‘Is it about al-ta’arrub?’ He said, ‘No, but it is agriculture (al-zira’ah).'” [Hadith linked to Ali, narrated by Ibn Abi Hatim]. Al-ta’arrub is dwelling in the desert and abandoning emigration (a reference to the life of the Bedouin).
Abdullah ibn Umar said, “When you buy and sell on credit, and pursue the tails of oxen, you shall become so lowly until you are coveted by your enemies.” [Marfu’ hadith narrated by Abu Dawud, Ahmad and al-Dulabi].
Our argument for this is that it has been narrated that the Prophet, “farmed in al-Jurf” [Narrated by Ibn Zabalah]. The Prophet says, “Seek sustenance in the bowels of the earth” [Narrated by ibn Asakir], meaning (seek sustenance by) farming. The Prophet also says, “The farmer is trading with his Lord” [Abu Ghuddah says he has not come across this hadith]. The Prophet used to own Fadak and a share in Khaybar, and his food toward the end of his life was from there.
Umar used to own a piece of land in Khaybar called Thamgha [Narrated by al-Bukhari]. Ibn Mas’ud, al-Hasan ibn Ali and Abu Hurayrah used to own agricultural lands in al-Sawad (in Iraq). They farmed those lands and paid their land tax. Ibn Abbas used to have farmlands in al-Sawad and other places.
The interpretation of the narrated traditions is that these refer to the situation when all the people become preoccupied with agriculture and turn away from fighting in the path of Allah so much so that their enemies covet them. All this meaning is narrated in the previously mentioned hadith of Ibn Umar who said, “…and you abstain from fighting in the path of Allah, and you become debased until you are coveted by your enemies.”
But as for when some of them occupy themselves with jihad and some with farming, then in the vocation of the farmer, there is assistance for the fighter, while in the vocation of the fighter there is a defence of the farmer. The Prophet says, “The believers are as a building; parts of which fortify the other” [Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim].