Al-Islam’s Promotion Of Business And Its Development: Part 3
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(Editorial Note: Imam W. Deen Mohammed in this Public Address in Bridgeport.
Connecticut on June 10, 1989 inspired in many the desire to strive for excellence in our business lives and to have those strivings benefit society in the best way. This is Part III and the completion of this presentation.)
The United States is a country that encourages desire in its citizens for diversified business establishments. It wants its citizens to multiply profit and diversify business interest. It wants its citizens to diversify the kinds of business establishments they will have.
Regretfully, a desire to "get rich quick" is working against us: "Do you know Brother Shaheed? He has a fish store on Vine Street, and it is really going! I'm going to put me one down there." We should know that competition is good, but that "throat cutting" is not what Allah wants. Your coming to Vine Street may bring Brother Shaheed more fish customers, because your business attitudes and business motives may be formed of blind self-interest. Customers will begin to see Brother Shaheed and appreciate him more. That is your business performance may send more customers to your competitor.
Many times both brothers will have wrong motives and will be there just cutting each other's throats. After a while neither of them will have customers, because their values were too low and their business interest too narrow and weak. They .will still be frying in grease that is a month old. So soon both of them are out of business. Of course we hope it is not as bad as that.
To be successful with the management of business, we have to be able to manage self. Our religion addresses the needs of the total person. In the view of the scholars and students in the religion, Al-Islam is a comprehensive religion. That means that this religion takes into its focus all the life, every aspect of the life, and all of the needs for that life. It is not just for me in my narrow world. Allah wants us to be responsible for personal (self) management. Allah wants that we will be successful in all of the concerns, whether it be business or a good relationship with my wife and children, success for the family and the home.
Understand that the language of our religion is respecting and giving recognition to business in a classic way. The Qur'an itself promotes good business sense. It tells you that if you are successful in anything that brings you income and property, that you should be careful "not" to pass on the responsibility for that concern that you ha ve worked hard to establish to a person that is not qualified to keep it up and take care of it as you will. It is the same even though that person you might want to put in that position is your own child. This is the advice in Qur'an for the business person and for the property owners.
It says "do not give (business) responsibility to the feable-minded." The Quranic term translated "feeble-minded" is not referring to a retarded person. The language and the context make it very clear to us that it means a person who is undisciplined and does not have the business interest to value and respect the responsibility if trusted to him. The persons you trust your property or business to should have the appreciation for it to take it into their hands and manage it as you would.
You should pass your works on to the person that is sharp minded and values your work as you value it. If persons are not thus qualified, you are not to give responsibility to them, even if they are your own children. Can you see that we have business obligations as followers of the Quran?
Understand also that I am saying these things for a purpose. The effect that I want when I conclude here is for you who identify as Muslims and as business people to walk out of here feeling a closer relationship to the Word of Allah, the Qur'an. I want you to feel that when you have the Qur'an. you have a partner with you in business.
You don't have to go to a psychologist and pay $50 or whatever the fee is these days in order to get your spirit up and to start thinking positive and to get the energy to go back to work. All you have to do is consult the pages of the Qur'an. I'll also tell you what to look for. Look for that verse that says. "Do not neglect your share of this world.'' That is Allah the Creator and Lord Most High talking.
Before I read that verse. I remember that my parents told me the same thing but not in the same words. They said, "Son. make something of yourself. And don't die poor1." She had known mean poverty. And I do not blame anyone who knew poverty and still have their good senses for telling the children "Don't die poor." All of us should look at a child in the morning and say first, "As-Salaamu-Alaikum. and Don't die poor! That is, be peace-loving, be Muslim, be peace-loving believers, but don't die in poverty without having worked to establish yourself. "
Also the Qur'an tells us that we should make wills. We know we are going to die, so do not die leaving no will. Qur'an also tells us how to make the will. Males in the family are to get a bigger share than the females. Maybe you will say. 'That's not fair." But also look at the state of our men today. If 1 could change the Word of Allah, and I have no desire to do that, I think 1 would say, 'The boys are to get four-fifths." I think I would increase it.
No matter what has happened to the work fields to give women equality, still the burden is on the males. And no one has excused us yet. "African-American, how come you don't take care of your wife? It is not her responsibility to take care of those children." We men cannot say, This is equality of the sexes now." No one is going to pay any attention to us. They will still get a lawyer and hunt us down.
It looks like nature is overruling much of this one-sidedness. "Can I drive the mail truck?" And we will tell her, "Yes, baby take it." Then she will come back home and look at herself in the mirror, and pretty soon she is so angry she'll say, "African-American, you have to go. I don't need you!" Now, I believe in equality, but it must be equality based on reality. The sister has the same intellect, the same morality, hut so far and unless something happens to change things, she does not have the same physique or physiology. She does not have the same spirit for going out chopping down trees and breaking concrete and hauling iron and driving a truck all night. She does not have that.
There is a female postal truck driver. She now looks like the tops we used to get called "big tops." She goes out from the waist into a bulky and awkward spread at the bottom. It is from sitting in that truck for so long with those female muscles and tissues unconditioned for certain work requirements.
The Holy Qur'an speaks also on inheritance. The female has a right to inheritance and the male has a right to inheritance. The Holy Qur'an tells us that men have a right to go into business and women have a right to go into business. However, it also tells us that the burden of maintaining a family is on the male. If the female is in a good financial situation, that is her right to say, "Honey, I have money. Use this money. You need a new car. You need a new suit. Let me pay this bill, so you can get yourself a new suit. You have worked hard and all week."
However, according to Allah's Guidance, even if the wife has $50,000 in the bank and no demand for it at the time, I. as her husband, may make $5 an hour or less, still I have no right to tell her, "We are to share this equally. You have the money, and Fm not making but $200 a week. So you pay the electric' bill and the rent this month." That is not right.
Now if you have made the big mistake of marrying a woman that is much superior to you, then you just have to suffer your mistake. According to our religion, I cannot make any demands on my wife's money. If she wants to give something of her own free will, if she wishes to buy me a milk shake, then that is her business. Then I should say, "Thank you. Sweetheart!" For Allah has not changed His Guidance. He says that we men are the maintain-ers of the women (household). Men are the ones who are supposed to bring that money and take care of the rent, the utilities, and give, wives and children their needs.
It is painful to have my wife looking at me producing nothing but children. The bills are never caught up. Some of us will pop the surprise and tell a wife, "I want you to meet Sister Sultana, and I want to make her my second wife." Now we know there are Islamic grounds for polygamy where you can have more than one wife with four being the limit. We know that. But if you are reading the Holy Qur'an, we know also that you cannot have a second wife without regarding the financial qualifications.
When you marry a second wife, you should be marrying her because you have material means and financial means to take care of more children. If you are not now meeting your responsibilities, how do you look asking for a second wife? Some of us will say, "Sister, I would like to have a second wife." Now when a brother starts calling his wife "sister," look out! This brother will be shocked by his wife's response and he starts stuttering in Arabic. He says, "Sister, I will show you here in the Quran. You mean you are telling me that I can't have a second wife?" "No, you can have a divorce but no second wife."
Why have I spent so much time having serious play with this serious matter of the home life and the responsibilities on the male? This address is influenced somewhat by a statement by qualified authorities in business who are conducting seminars throughout this country. This statement says, one of the main causes of failure for the small businessman is bad home life. And most of that bad home life for us is because we will not work hard to have honor at home. Thank you very much. As-Salaam-Alaikum.