Earning a halaal livelihood is a command of Allah and the responsibility of every man. Hazrath Anas [radhiallaahu anhu] reports that Rasulullah [صلى الله عليه وسلم] has said: “It is a bounded duty upon every Muslim to earn a halaal livelihood.”Earning halaal saves one from begging, consuming haraam and doubtful things which are truly harmful. A Muslim is not only obliged to earn money. However, if he were to earn it, he is obliged to earn Halal money. Allah says:
وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بَالِغُ أَمْرِهِ قَدْ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدْرًا
“And He will provide for him from where not he thinks. And whoever puts his trust upon Allah, then He (is) sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah (will) accomplish His purpose. Indeed, Allah has set for everything a measure.” (Surah At-Talaq 65:3)
Islam teaches that our success lies neither in asceticism nor in materialism. Neither should we shun nor renounce material life, nor be enslaved and motivated by it. Islam advocates a just balance between the two extremes. It adopts a balanced attitude between the spiritual development of an individual and his/her material needs. Allah says:
أُولَٰئِكَ يُسَارِعُونَ فِي الْخَيْرَاتِ وَهُمْ لَهَا سَابِقُونَ
“(It is) those who hasten in the good (deeds) and they in them (are) foremost. Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny.” (Surah Al-Mu’minun 23:61)
A person should always try to earn money righteously. If we want to spend an ideal living then we must work hard for it. There are many individuals in this world that earns money from means that are completely prohibited in Islam by Allah.
يَا أَيُّهَا الرُّسُلُ كُلُوا مِنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَاعْمَلُوا صَالِحًا إِنِّي بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ عَلِيمٌ
“O, Messengers! Eat of the good things and do righteous (deeds). Indeed, I Am of what you do All-Knower.” (Surah Al-Mu’minun 23:51)
Wealth is one of the countless blessings of the Creator on a Muslim. It stays a blessing, something useful to enjoy in this life, as long as it is used within the bounds set by Allah and to benefit others, including the family. Allah says:
الْمَالُ وَالْبَنُونَ زِينَةُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَالْبَاقِيَاتُ الصَّالِحَاتُ خَيْرٌ عِندَ رَبِّكَ ثَوَابًا وَخَيْرٌ أَمَلًا
“The wealth and children (are) adornment (of) the life (of) the world. But the enduring good deeds (are) better near your Lord (for) reward and better (for) hope.” (Surah Al-Kahf 18:46)
At the same time, wealth can be a test to see who is grateful and who gets preoccupied with the blessing itself and forgets the Giver. In short, Allah grants prosperity to whoever He wishes as a test. Allah says:
وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَأَوْلَادُكُمْ فِتْنَةٌ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ عِندَهُ أَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ
“And know that your wealth and your children (are) a trial. And that Allah – with Him (is) a reward great.” (Surah Al-Anfal 8:28)
The Benefits of Lawful Earning in Islam
“Whoever lives on Halal earnings for forty days, God shall enlighten his heart.”
Some benefits of earning income through fair means are:
- Receiving the Protection of God: Allah says: “If what you eat is Halal and pure, I will protect you”.
- Receiving God’s Glory and Honor on the Day of Judgment
- Strengthening One’s Faith
- Getting Allah’s Blessings and Favors (Barakah)
- Acceptance of Prayer: Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says if you want your prayer to be accepted and fulfilled by Allah, make sure your income is Halal and pure.
Your income sometimes may not seem enough, but if it is gained through Halal ways, it will be blessed by Allah; so it will suffice:
The Adverse Effects of Unlawful Earning in Islam
Here are a few negative effects that await people who choose the wrong way of earning money (by foul means) either for their greed or deprivation:
- Their Halal income will be reduced, and they will be deprived of Allah’s blessings (Barakah)
- They will become hard-hearted and cruel
- Their prayers will not be answered
- Our sustenance lies with Allah
- Consumption of Haram will have negative effects on their offspring and descendants
Finally, we should always remember that God is the All-provider (51:58) who has ordained Halal sustenance for all creatures, and the creatures’ efforts to earn their living is placed alongside His will. So, we will reach what is provided for us by Him if we try more patiently, and if we are content with and thankful for what we already have. Allah says:
كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِتَالُ وَهُوَ كُرْهٌ لَّكُمْ وَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ وَعَسَىٰ أَن تُحِبُّوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَّكُمْ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
“Is prescribed upon you [the] fighting while it (is) hateful to you. But perhaps [that] you dislike a thing and it (is) good for you; and perhaps [that] you love a thing and it (is) bad for you. And Allah knows while you (do) not know.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:216)
Just like during a test in school we are fully cautious of how we perform, similarly, when we take a job, do business, or earn our livelihood in any other way, we must ensure that we are doing so within the boundaries set by Allah. We should avoid sources of income that are forbidden in Islam. Allah says:
وَتَرَىٰ كَثِيرًا مِّنْهُمْ يُسَارِعُونَ فِي الْإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ وَأَكْلِهِمُ السُّحْتَ لَبِئْسَ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
“And you see many of them hastening into [the] sin and [the] transgression and eating the forbidden. Surely evil (is) what they were doing.” (Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:62).
Some people regard certain kinds of work or professions as contemptible. However, the Prophet (peace be on him) denied the validity of this notion. He taught his Companions that the whole of a human being’s dignity is tied up with his work—any sort of work —and that real disgrace and humiliation consist of depending on other people’s help. The Muslim can earn his livelihood by agriculture, trade, or industry or by any profession or employment as long as it does not involve doing, supporting, or propagating anything haram.