Islam's Climate For Business Success
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
THE CONFLICT OF MATERIALISM AND PROFIT MOTIVE
The conflict for business and race is materialism: Allah intended that there be business, big business. Are you going to put some limit on how much money you want? Allah says to the boastful disbeliever, "Do you think We were at play when We did all of this (marvelous) creation?"
Look at the sun, moon, stars, galaxies, the wonders of earth and all creation. Do you think Allah was playing games? Praise be to Allah. We have to purify the motive in business. In our religion matters are judged by intentions, and intentions are only accepted when they are innocent, not devilish.
The motive in the Western idea of business is to make profit. It is called the "profit motive." A few generations back theorists informed policy makers of the Western world of how the business future could be brightened by a bold and different treatment of the principle of "supply and demand." It was suggested that the answer was that they not be disciplined by the innocent law of demand and supply.
The role psychology can have in the creation or in the forming of appetites was given as the lifeline of business. Any appetite could be cultured. So the idea was planted that anything could be popularized and given strong commercial appeal. Now sales promotions are determined more by the role of manipulative (behavioral) psychology than by the innocent rule of "supply and demand." That was a wicked turn for the worse in what was already a morally troubled business world.
Yet, policy makers also learned that there were still people who had an intelligent respect for consumers. There were those who could stay clearheaded through it all and never accept a business world using psychology to promote in consumers the appetites for any and all sorts of things.
And so, the policy makers thought they would rest all burdens on the shoulders of the Prophet Christ Jesus (on him be peace): "All is made clean by his blood." They established what they thought would be accepted and rewarded in the judgment, only to be disappointed in hell. (Qur'an)
Now we have the expression "disposable income." What in the Name of G-d is that? I don't have any income to "dispose" of, to throw away. I know what disposable diapers mean. When the business world is talking about disposable income among themselves, they are talking about money for investment. But among us it is money for appetites of animal level existence: Compulsive consumer spending.
The evil is the "hidden motive" in business. But make business "halal" (permissible) by obeying the motive Allah intended. Don't think that the pig is the only thing not halal, not permissible. The worse pig is the pig in man's blind spirit. Allah wants us to know that we are not to eat pig, for "we are what we eat."
"Greed" in the Western idea of economics is a "greed" build into and promoted as the main economic resource. The main resource in the Western economy and business is "promoted greed." If you take out promoted greed, it falls. Western economy is morally doomed to fall until Western economic principles repent.
This greed promotion factor requires that you be sold also what you don't need. And if you don't want it, if your intelligence tells you that you shouldn't have it, in the name of "business" have sales psychology take charge. On television everyone is buying the product. The persons in your dreams are buying it; why not you!" Then you start feeling like you have mistreated yourself and must treat yourself to that product.
Greed is promoted by fear, love, pride, vanity, etc. This is the evil in the business life.
Profiteering means to go after something without any respect for moral obligation. The thing that heads the undermining of the social life is this profiteering. And now the big and the small in the media tell us that we as African Americans are not the only ones who have collapsed, destroyed, fragmented family sense. Other races are suffering the same evils.
Maybe, it is "what goes around comes around." Allah puts it this way: "Your (policy makers') evil will hem you in"; you can send out your evil in one direction, but Allah has made the universe to eventually move it (your evil) in upon you. Your works will get out of your hands. That is the justice of Allah, the Merciful Creator and Lord.
AN EQUALITY FOR ALL
Where do we find equality? Allah has created an equality for all. Allah said: "Certainly, he is successful who spends on his soul. And he is in loss who debased his own soul." He who invests that which is cheap, inferior, poisoned, polluted, corrupt is choking out the life of his own soul; he deforms his own soul. The other who feeds the excellence of his soul, spends on his own soul only what is halal and meets good standards is establishing himself, he is successful.
Allah has "approved commerce and trade" (Qur'an). Allah approved supplying legitimate needs and making income from business; profit is approved. We're not to sell someone something that is worthless or worth less than the price we ask. When we say we are going to make a profit, that is saying something in business language and something in simple language.
A profit means getting more out of this than what was paid out. So, really we are not supposed to make profit; that is, the price is supposed to be no more than the legitimate value. But intelligent pricing should be the standard. Fools may be sold anything. The fool may not know the market price or the market value or all that pricing involves.
It is not legitimate business for Muslims to be unfair. The business people are the main force and focus for combating poverty. The business people came in the early life of the international Muslim community, and among them were persons of the character for dignifying and giving a good image to Muslim businessmen. And values and business disciplines are our greatest need now.
We are not only needing business sense and business mindedness in the business people, but there is need also for business sense and business mindedness in the consumers. With our business excellence, we are a powerful tool in the construction of society.
We live in America and we have citizenship here. So do not separate yourself from your great dignity — past present, and future. Also, I am a member of one billion Muslims. They will ask: "What is your name? Tell them, "Muslim." Do not let this world intimidate you and make you feel small or awkward.
If you want to know what geography I am in, it is the United States of America. If you want to know what center I attend or what ethnic group, I will have no problem saying African American. What religion? Al-Islam. What organization? We will not be identified under organizations, even if we belong to organizations.
Allah Most Merciful says: "Let there rise out of you a group that...will not fear the accusations of the accusers." Such group will not be intimidated by this world's invitation to vanity and ruin. When they ask you, "Are you a Muslim?" You are to say, "yes."
Don't hesitate! Your response should be "yes, praise be to Allah. Yes, thank G-d for His Mercy." If they ask, "Who is your leader?" You should tell them, "Our leader is Muhammed the Messenger of G-d, the prayers and the peace be upon him."
If you are asked, "Where is your organization?" Answer them, "My family is my organization. But if you are asking what body I belong to, I belong to the international body of Muslims, the Ummah. We number one billion and more."
The largest population of Muslims is in Indonesia, a population brought to this religion by the influence of ethical, decent, socially advanced Muslim business people from the Arabs and others. Their Muslim business principles of excellence can be matched by us. We are not to think that this religion is an Arab religion with an "Arab" prophet.
Hateful rivals want you to think that this is a religion for Arabs and that there are very few others believing in it. While it is the Arabs who are a small minority in the great population of one billion Muslims. It is even questionable whether Arabs are the leaders in the Muslim world. Allah chose the Prophet; Allah chose humanity, not a race.
I have become aware of an attempt on the part of the so-called major media — including the big business sponsored Black media — to impose their choices onto the African American ("Black") public. A role for us as Muslims on every level in the media is made all the more urgent by such hateful rivalry. I also have detected that profiteering media tends to present a picture of this religion and the following that came from the Hon. Elijah
Muhammad as having appeal among convicts, ex-convicts, drug addicts, the dregs of society. Let me quickly say that the people who supported Elijah Muhammad and his works were originally mostly from Christian G-d-fear-ing life. They were religious and G-d conscious.
The pioneer followers of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad over the many years were not from prisons and the crime world. We think of them as the "decent militant striving poor." They were moral people who did not like what had happened to subject the spirit and thinking of the "Black race" to "White authority" and wrong doings.
Being a Muslim, following the Qur'an and following the success pattern of Muhammed the Prophet, we end the trial and error syndrome. Muslims don't need a mediator or an arbitrator; that is done away with in Al-Islam. Our spirit is reconciled by 'Tauheed' — one creation and One G-d over that creation. So the question is asked: "What do I own?" Nothing.
That is the attitude business people should have in obedience to Allah, the True Owners. (Qur'an) The philosophy and psychology for saving the person who is indulging in material interest is that of Tauheed. Keeping that philosophy will be a strong factor for saving human life and human senses.
We are not mystics, but we accept that we own nothing. We are going to die and will leave all we have to other authorities. We do not know what will happen when we are gone. What we "own" might end up with someone we hate. That happens, even though we know legal documents such as wills and legal trusts are so important.
ISLAM: THE RELIGION OF PERMANENCE
I was asked: "Is there no room in your religion for progress?" They wanted to know how can "Islam" stay relevant and keep up with the times, if Muslims can't make any changes. I explained that we believe Allah sees ahead and knows what's ahead. There's no need for change.
Do people think Allah can't prepare for anytime in the future and He is understood to be the All-Knowing? Allah knows the beginning and the ending of all things. We really do a discredit to our Concept of Allah (G-d) when we think to put the scripture down for editors' skills. No alterations are necessary.
The unique feature of Al-Islam we want to be aware of is that with the Qur'an interjections or changes on the text are a thing strictly outlawed or forbidden. Our religion has done away with patching and stripping to make scripture serve man's weakness. Our religion deals with our historical developments, purpose and destiny. Our religion is the way of peace and unity for human existence.
Our religion establishes how we should live to earn Allah's Favors. Our religion is the religion of permanence and conscious moral, ethical, consistent all-around growth and progress. It is not a seasonal good.
The religion of Al-Islam deals with how man is to see himself. It deals with what man is and what his role should be in life and on this earth and how to recognize "emphases and priorities." We do need Allah's Guidance in the whole of our life. We need Allah's Help for everything, and we understand and accept that Allah has greatly helped us already.
This human creation is a powerful and productive gift from Allah, and we should make the best use of what He already has given us. The additional help we need beyond our means and limitations as human beings is the theme and main point of Allah's Help (Mercy) to man.
FUTURISTIC SOCIAL IDEA
We should be on the side of those Americans who hate homes for the elderly. We know we have to have them because we can't do better. We should be with those Americans who want to change the system so that a poor son or daughter can care for their parents as they want to. We hope there will come a day when the government will have enough funds for our poor families to care for their aging members the way they want to care for them.
If you don't have the facility in your home to keep your parents with you, then the government should help you get a big enough place and hire a person, hopefully a member of your family, to take care of the aged family members.
This is a futuristic social idea for many in America that I believe is coming one day. The interest and the motivation are in our scripture, the Qur'an. If I were a Christian, I could preach the same to that Christian audience and be coming from the text of their scripture. If I were a Jew, I could do the same before their audience.
Do not live only for today. Our Prophet said: "Live today as though you are going to live always." I should plan to have what I will need for tomorrow and for the years down the road. Plan for a long future; don't have a seven-day plan and then get a five-day notice at the end of the month. Have a 30-day plan and a 365-day plan and a 5-year, 10-year, 15-year and 20-year plan. Envision what you want for your children 20 years from today, and have that as a plan. Plan to save money for your children's education. Plan to work on a business idea with your family members. Plan a business establishment for your children to come into, even if you already have a business establishment for yourself at this time. We want change. The nation cannot carry a growing citizenry of poor people with no checks on it.
DIGNITY OF THE INDIVIDUAL AND DIGNITY OF THE BUSINESS
Let Muslims remember that Islam obligates us to accept that it is our responsibility to make some contribution to our community. Muslims should dislike their poverty and see it as an indignity, as something that takes away from their personal worth and dignity. Prophet Muhammed said the hand that is giving is above the hand that is receiving. The Prophet did not want us to be a community where the majority have our hands stretched out to receive.
Also, G-d wants us to feel uncomfortable with ourselves not producing but begging. This religion of Islam obligates the Muslim society to give money to people who are too proud to ask for it. It respects that pride in the person and obligates us by its laws to not just give to the person asking but to give also to the person in need but too dignified to ask for anything. That's an encouragement for us to have social dignity.
After our obedience to G-d, our focus becomes varied with many interests. As I have presented earlier, when it comes to Jumuah prayers on Fridays, G-d says that when Muslims have completed the prayer, then disperse into the avenues of business and profit; go back to your work. Friday, which is called Jumuah day, is the best day in the year. The Prophet taught us it was even better than the Eidul Adha and the Eidul Fitr, the two major holidays for Muslims each year.
On this special day for Muslims, G-d says: "Rush to come and participate in the Jumuah prayer, and when you have finished, then disperse..." G-d did not say, "When you finish maybe you would like to disperse...and go back to your business and make some more money" G-d said "disperse"; it is instructional.
If you are without the material success, you may have to beg. Go to the welfare office and you will find a lot of spiritual people coming there for help. There is no such thing as staying on this earth without any material life. G-d wants you to prove yourself in this world of challenges. Islam obligates all of us, even the poor ones, to grow up and to advance materially so that we will have dignity and a financial good future for the community.
Let us have a better and dignified relationship with the business establishments in our society, whether they are owned and run by Muslims or not. We need to know the value of those business establishments to the society.