Fruits for the Week

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The Prophet (saw) said: “O people! Verily Allah is pure, and He only accepts what is pure. Allah commands the believers with that with which He commanded the Messengers, and He says: ‘O Messengers, eat from the good foods and do righteous deeds.’ (Qur’an 23: 51). Allah (swt) also mentioned: ‘O you who have believed, eat from the good things which We have provided for you, and be grateful to Allah if it is (indeed) Him that you worship.’ (Qur’an 2: 172). Then the Prophet (saw) mentioned (the case of) a man on a long journey, who is disheveled and dusty, who lifts his hands to the sky (in supplication saying): ‘O Lord! O Lord! All the while, his food is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, his clothing is unlawful, and he is nourished with unlawful things. How can he be responded to for that?’” (Muslim)

Although the man mentioned in the hadith is in humble circumstances, is on a journey (a time when Allah responds to supplications) and raises his hands in submission to his Lord, his request may not be answered because of the unlawful wealth and sustenance he receives.

As Allah commands his messengers to eat from the lawful food, He also makes it a condition for the believers to follow suit. Therefore, one’s income, clothing, drink and food must be sought through means and sources that are pure.

The fourteenth century scholar Imam adh-Dhahabi gave a list of ways through which a person earns unlawful income, such as: collecting unlawfully imposed taxes, cheating, giving short measure when weighing food, adulterating food (such as mixing vegetable oil with olive oil and selling it as olive oil), being lazy at work, giving or taking interest, consuming the property of orphans, taking bribes, concealing known defects when selling items, gambling, practicing magic, and so on.

If employees are lazy at work or do not put in the hours required, this could affect the purity of their salaries to some extent. If they feel that they did not fully earn their pay, they should make up the time through extra work or give a portion of the income to charity. The Prophet (saw) advised the people of trade to purify their wealth, saying: “Indeed, Satan and sin are present in the sale, so mix your sales with charity.” (Tirmidhi)

In a sound hadith recorded by Abu Dawood, the Prophet (saw) deemed unlawful the price of selling dogs, the earnings of a prostitute, and the fee of fortune-teller. Any income from selling carrion, pigs, idols and so forth is unlawful, too. The fifth chapter of the Qur’an lists foods that are prohibited, but there is no blame on a person who is compelled to eat unlawful food in order to survive as long as he or she does not intend to transgress. Allah (swt) said: “But whoever is forced by severe hunger with no inclination to sin – then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Qur’an 5: 3). The Prophet (saw) said: “When Allah forbids a people from eating something, He forbid its price to them.” (Abu Dawood)

So eating from the price is similar to eating from the product itself. That is why one’s clothing may be unlawful if it was purchased with impure income. When intoxicants were prohibited in the Medinan period, a man whispered to his companion, telling him to sell the alcohol. The Messenger of Allah (saw) asked him “What secret did you tell your friend?” He replied: “I ordered him to sell it.” The Prophet (saw) then said: “No doubt, the One who prohibited drinking it also prohibited selling it. The contents of the container were then spilled on the street.” (Muslim)

A Muslim shop owner should not sell pork product or alcohol, trying to excuse by stating that it is for the non-Muslims. The price received from such activity is clearly unlawful, and those who are engaged in unlawful employment must desist and transfer their skills to lawful occupations.

by Abdul Shaheed Drew