According to what has been said in the first part of this article, the income one earns is either Halal (gained through lawful ways), which can be freely spent, or Haram (gained through foul means), or sometimes of doubtful origins (mixed up of both Haram and Halal), which must be seriously avoided. Now you might wonder what some of the precise examples of unlawful earning are in today’s world.
Translated as usury, Riba refers to unfair, exploitative interests made in business. The unjust interest gained from the repayment of a loan or the simultaneous exchange of unequal commodities are the two common examples of usury. “There is the principle of the relationship between one's efforts and the amassing of wealth and the importance of participating in the risk of losing one's wealth as well as increasing it in any economic transaction. That is why Riba or interest is forbidden in Islamic Law”  [i].
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) has said: “The worst unlawful earning is the income a governor gains through bribery” . When some people bribe to gain what they want easily, the others who avoid giving bribes for any reason will face many difficulties to obtain what they are entitled to. Also, the bribe receivers will not fulfill what they are required to do by law unless they are bribed.
So, if bribery spreads among people, especially government officials, in a society, it will definitely lead to an increase of corruption within the community [ii].
One of the great sins in Islam is cheating in selling things, which could be of two kinds; selling something at a higher price than its real value, especially when there is a shortage of that product in the market, and also selling short measures to consumers [iii]. The loss of public trust and financial corruption are among the most devastating results of this sin.
There are also other examples for selling short measures, one of the most common of which happens in offices when employees are not conscientious enough to fulfill their job commitments and responsibilities. So, the income they earn is Haram.
Any income one gains through the role she/he has in producing, distributing, or consuming alcoholic beverages and also drug is considered Haram:
“They ask you about wine and gambling. Say, "In them is a great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit…"” (2:219)
Muslims believe there is no harming nor reciprocating harm in Islam. So, they seriously avoid anything that inflicts harm upon them or their fellow brothers.
Based on the verse above, the money one earns through gambling is Haram, too[iv].
That is because Islam highly recommends earning the livelihood through productive jobs and encourages hard work and striving to earn money rather than becoming wealthy or losing all one’s money overnight.
The income one may earn by singing or playing a song which is typical of or suitable for frivolous gatherings, and carouses are also unlawful (Haram) [v].
“Indeed those who want indecency to spread among the faithful—there is a painful punishment for them in the world and the Hereafter, and Allah knows, and you do not know” (24:19)
There are numerous instances of indecency in the world we are living today, from the provocative pictures of countless celebrities anyone can find in media, on the internet, etc. to the films that encourage immorality, and to sexual exploitation of women and so forth and so on. In fact, Islam has been sent to spread and complement the best of morality .
Therefore, the income earned through any attempt to spread any immorality or indecency in the society is certainly Haram.
Magic and fortune telling are believed to be destructive in the Islamic teachings, since according to the Quran: “Your omen is with Allah” (27:47), so, we should not put our trust in anyone except Him. Islam considers magic an act of devil and a great sin which has to be avoided [vi].
What has been mentioned above are among the most common examples of unlawful income. There are other instances as well which you can ask a proficient Islamic jurist or scholar about. On top of that, human’s common sense and reason can indicate what is exactly unlawful (Haram) and should be avoided.
This article is to give you some hints so that you become more cautious about your income in order to lead a decent and virtuous life.
[i] “Those who exact usury will not stand but like one deranged by the Devil’s touch. That is because they say, ‘Trade is just like usury.’ While Allah has allowed trade and forbidden usury” (2:275).
[ii] “Do not eat up your wealth among yourselves wrongfully, nor proffer it to the judges in order to eat up a part of the people’s wealth sinfully, while you know [that it is immoral to do so]” (2:188).
[iii] “‘O my people! Observe fully the measure and the balance, with justice, and do not cheat the people of their goods, and do not act wickedly on the earth, causing corruption’” (11:85).
[iv] “O you who have faith! Indeed wine, gambling, idols, and the divining arrows are abominations of Satan’s doing, so avoid them, so that you may be felicitous” (5:90).
[v] “Among the people is he who buys diversionary talk that he may lead [people] astray from Allah’s way without any knowledge, and he takes it in derision. For such there is a humiliating punishment” (31:6).
[vi] “…and Solomon was not faithless but it was the devils who were faithless—teaching the people magic and what was sent down to the two angels at Babylon, ... They would learn that which would harm them and bring them no benefit; though they certainly knew that anyone who buys it has no share in the Hereafter. Surely, evil is that for which they sold their souls, had they known!” (2:102).
- S.Hussain Nasr, A Young Muslim’s Guide to Islam, p.58
- al-Jame al-Saqir, vol. 2, p. 45
- Allama al-Hilli, Nahj al-haqq wa kashf al-sidq, p. 495
- Kanz-ol-a’maal, 13th vol. p.151, Hadith #36472
In the first part of this topic, we tried to describe some of the inspiring aspects of Imam Hussain’s (AS) uprising that can be a model for all human beings. It was mentioned that confronting any oppressive and cruel regime is a duty over every free human being. That was the reason that Imam Hussain (AS) stood up against Yazid’s tyranny. However, taking the leadership should not be the aim and should not be achieved at any price. In fact, whoever seeks real justice, should act justly. Here we review other lessons from Imam Hussain’s (AS) movement.
According to Imam Ali (AS), courage is composed of three virtues which complement each other: self-sacrifice, not surrendering to humiliation and oppression and not seeking fame . All of these virtues were manifested in Imam Hussain’s (AS) movement. He (AS) sacrificed his life for the sake of the divine goal that he had. He (AS) never gave up and did not abandon his aim; even in Karbala where his dearests were under the hardest conditions. And, Imam Hussain (AS) did not seek to reign but was concerned about how Yazid was altering the Islamic teachings and spoiling Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH&PH) Sunnah.
Moreover, he (AS) was such courageous that he was ready to confront the enemy’s large troops with his few companions. However, he (AS) never sought to start a battle, but he (AS) aimed to reveal the truth and to show the real face of Yazid’s corrupted reign for the sake of Allah Almighty.
One might ask him\herself that what I would have done if I had been in the same situation as Imam Hussain (AS)? There would have been “nearly safe” options in dealing with Yazid’s tyranny that could prevent a battle and shedding blood.
For instance, he could have been indifferent and accepted Yazid’s allegiance or kept busy with private affairs. In the most courageous case, he could have waited for an opportunity to gather companions in secret to fight back the injustice. But, are any of these reactions honorable? Could a free righteous man or woman live under such circumstances? Surely no. Imam Hussain (AS) stood up for justice and resorting what has been distorted by Yazid’s corrupted governing style. He (AS) chose to be killed on the battlefield instead of living under humiliation. It was for the sake of human dignity that he (AS) sacrificed his valuable life. This is what he (AS) declared on the battlefield: “If you don’t believe in any religion, at least be free-spirited and honest in your actions in this world.”
All the difficulties that Imam Hussain (AS) suffered from were due to worthwhile goals: revealing the truth, establishing justice, and eliminating oppressive regimes. Achieving these aims cost many lives and caused Imam Hussain (AS) and his family considerable hardship. When he was leading his family and companions towards Karbala, he was perfectly aware that there was no way back. However, Imam (AS) never surrendered and was never disappointed.
In Karbala, the situation was so hard such that some of Imam’s (AS) companions decided to leave. They were sure that they wouldn’t leave the battlefield alive. That’s why they gave many reasons to go home; like their family being alone in their absence, owing money to others, etc. Hence, a part of the caravan left. The night before Ashura, Imam (AS) called his companions and described the extreme situation that they would face the next day. He (AS) said that they were free to leave, and they won’t be blamed for this. In other words, in spite of lacking enough soldiers, Imam (AS) did not oblige anyone to stay. He (AS) let them choose, and in such a case, they decided their own destiny.
Now that we have reviewed the significance of Imam Hussain’s (AS) movement, we realize that what happened in Karbala was not a simple battle. This event’s lessons of morality and humanity are not only limited to one place or a specific group of people but reach out to every human being, regardless of their religion, nationality, or time.
- Ibn Shu'ba al-Harrani, “Tuhaf al-'uqul,” p.322
The concept of responsibility in Islam includes a wide range of matters. Human beings have certain responsibilities in Islam toward others and themselves. All creatures in this universe are naturally inclined to move toward the perfection considered for each of them. They are created in the most proper form, then, have been provided with the conditions and requirements that God has planned (20:50).
Nonetheless, none of them knows neither the path that they should pave nor the final target; except humans. According to the Quran, human beings are created for specific reasons (23:115), and they have duties and responsibilities (75:36). The most prominent responsibility in Islam that one has is towards God, as explained in the first part of the article. He\she is also responsible towards him\herself. This category of duties is discussed here.
According to Imam Sajjad (AS), the duties of every human being towards him\herself are to serve only God by all his\her capabilities and every part of the body; and, to respect the rights of each part of the body . Hence, the responsibilities in Islam of every human being towards him\herself can be divided into spiritual and physical items.
According to the Quran, God breathed into the human being of His [created] soul after he was proportioned (38:72). This makes the human’s soul of great value in Islam. Accordingly, every individual has certain responsibilities towards his\her valuable soul. These duties can be summarized in one sentence: to utilize the soul in the way of God.
That is to apply all spiritual capacities in the obedience to God and to do what brings bout God’s satisfaction. This requires one to keep the soul alive and pure by practicing what is ordered to or invited to in Islamic teachings like prayer (Salat), fasting (Sawm), pilgrimage (Hajj), etc., also by preventing any harm to the soul such as anxiety, depression, etc.
One’s acts and words form and determine the his\her path in life. He\she does various acts (including good deeds, what is obligatory (Wajib) or recommended (Mustahab)) with different parts of the body and verbally thank God (in the form of prayer) with the help of tongue and mouth. Hence, whatever one does concerning the obedience of God depends also on the parts of the his\her body. Therefore, he\she has some responsibilities towards them.
Of the rights of the tongue are to :
Avoid foul language and the sins that one might commit with the tongue, such as backbiting (ghibah) and slander. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that: “Do not insult others, this turns them into your enemies” , and: “Whoever divulges the flaws and faults of another Muslim, God will reveal his flaws” ;
Accustom it to saying pleasant beneficial words;
Force it to talk nicely and politely (2:83);
Stop it from talking too much and stay silent unless talking is beneficial; “Silence is a door to wisdom, it brings affection and guides to every blessing.” , and: "whoever believes in God and the Hereafter should say beneficial words, otherwise stays silent.” ;
Think about what you are going to say and judge the words before you start talking because a wise person will be judged by his words; “A faithful person … thinks about his words first, and then says those words” .
The ears are like the doors to the heart; they transfer every word with either a positive or negative influence on the heart . Imam Ali (AS) has prevented us from listening to the words without any advantage and benefit as they darken the heart and cause us to be blamed . For example, whoever listens to backbiting is a partner of the backbiter . Hence, one should control the ears to hear only nice and useful words that purify the heart or encourage good behavior .
To be continued.
- Imam Sajjad (AS), Treatise On Rights (Risalat al-Huquq).
- M. al-Kulaynī, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 2, p. 360.
- Al-Monzeri, “Invitation and Intimidation”, vol. 2, p. 239.
- M. al-Kulaynī, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 2, p. 113.
- M. al-Kulaynī, “Al-Kafi”, Introduction, p. 6.
- W. al.Hilli, “Tanbih al-khawatir wa nuzhat al-nawazir”, vol. 1, p. 106.
- “Ghurar Al-Hikam Wa Durar Al-Kalim”, T. 6234.
- A. Saberi Yazdi, “Al-Hokm Al-Zahera”, p. 558.