Muhammad as a man had already died, but as a Prophet he left behind him a legacy in the form of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. He stressed the urgent need to hold firmly to these two sources during his Farewell speech in the valley of Arafat. If people hold fast to them, they will never go astray.
The teachings he left for us if put into practice in their true spirit and proper way will bring a happy life in this world and besides the indubitable rewards that will be received by those who believed in them in the life after death.
In this sense, Islam is a worldly religion which cares first for the worldly affairs of humanity. The hereafter is merely a continuation of the worldly life. It is difficult to portend that man can be saved in the hereafter without being saved in this world. The safe way is to follow the way shown to us by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
When his wife, ‘Aishah, was asked by a companion about the Prophet’s daily conduct, ‘Aishah replied that the conduct of the Prophet is the Qur’an which is the guidance from Allah and Muhammad was given authority by Allah to interpret it. That is why his conduct is exemplary of human conduct. Islam as brought by the Prophet Muhammad is very much misunderstood as a religion of rituals only like prayers, fasting, almsgiving and pilgrimage. Thanks to the new developments in the world, Islam is now looked upon in a wider perspective than the narrow-minded view.
The increased interest in Islamic studies by Muslims and non-Muslims supported by the advanced printing technology has begun to open the eyes of the world about the true teaching and intrinsic values of Islam.
In the field of economic development, the goal is not material gain, but human welfare in general. Islam exhorts that the balance between the material and physical aspects, between the individual and societal needs, be maintained in order to narrow the gap between two opposite sides of human world. It is stated in the Qur’an:
“Say, who is there to forbid the beauty which Allah has brought forth for His creatures, and the good things from among the means of sustenance. Say, they are for those who believe (in Allah) in this worldly life, to be theirs alone in the Hereafter on the Day of Resurrection …… Say, the only things my Lord forbids are the shameful deeds, be they open or secret, the sin, unjustified envy, the ascribing of divinity to aught beside Allah, and the attributing unto Allah of aught of which you have no knowledge”
So everyone is free to conduct any business he likes outside the harmful circle he has been warned not to indulge in. If he does not listen to this warning, he will be in trouble. Every good quality as precondition to a successful business is encouraged by Islam.
The Prophet himself was a businessman before he was appointed as a Prophet. His ability to run business prudently, by his fairness and truthful conduct in dealing with people had won him the heart of his employer, Khadijah who later offered him marriage. He advocated Muslims to follow the spirit of Prophet Daud (David) of hard work, earned his living from his own labour. He also said that faith of a Muslim is not complete if he is not good in his profession.
He said: “If you leave matters to those who are not professional, you are waiting for the disaster”.
If he works in the production line, his products must be compatible with products of other companies or factories. In order to be marketable, it must suit the taste of buyers and their standards of living. In this regard, Islam teaches not to cheat in offering the product to the market. It must be shown as it is without any publicity it does not deserve. In the life time of the Prophet, he found many cases in market places where the merchants tried to cheat the customers. The Prophet said to them: “Whoever cheated are not from amongst us (Muslims)”.
Islam laid many regulations in the field of economy such as trade, leasing, business transaction, contract and others to prevent unfair dealing within the community and in the world of business at large. What is also prevented by Islam is a monopoly and exploitation by one man or one group at the expense of the others.