Professional ethics : theoretical foundation
1. Fulfilling amanah in the spirit of Ihsan
Performance of duty is a trust
- Islam requires from any person to whom responsibility has been entrusted to fulfill it satisfactorily and that he should devote the needed time and energy to do so.
- Islam consider it worthy of honour that a person should sincere in his work and keen on doing his job in a better way.
- Dishonesty in performing duties causes various moral diseases in the society. It causes great harm to the religion, to the Muslim public and the country.
This kind of dishonesty is punishable on the Day of Judgement.
روى مسلم عن ابن عمر قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "إذا جمع الله الأولين والآخرين يوم القيامة يرفع لكل غادر لواء فقيل هذه غدرة فلان بن فلان" (كتاب الجهاد والسير)
The prophet (saw) said: “On the day of Judgement when Allah will gather all the people, past and present, a flag will be fixed for every deceiver, by which he will be recognized. So it will be said that this is the group of such and such deceivers.”
روى مسلم عن أبى سعيد قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: " لكل غادر لواء يوم القيامة يرفع له بقدر غدره الا غادر أعظم غدرا من أمير عامة" (كتاب الجهاد والسير)
“There will be a flag near the head of every deceiver which he will raise in proportion to his deceit. Listen, there is none worse deceiver than the Amir who deceives the public.”
Misuse of office is betrayal of trust.
Trust demand that if a person is appointed to a certain public position he should not use it for self-aggrandizement or for the benefit of his relatives. The use of public funds for personal purposes is a crime.
وَمَنْ يَغْلُلْ يَأْتِ بِمَا غَلَّ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ثُمَّ تُوَفَّى كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَا كَسَبَتْ وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ(161)
“….. if any person is so false, he shall on the Day of Judgement, restore what he misappropriated; then shall every soul receive its due-whatever it earned- and none shall be dealt with unjustly.” (3:161)
Islam has forbidden the exploitation of one’s office and taking undue advantages from it. It has been very severe in closing all the avenues of earning illegal wealth.
روى مسلم عن عدى بن عميرة الكندى قال: سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول: "من استعملناه منكم على عمل فكتمنا مخيطا فما فوقه كان غلولا يأتي به يوم القيامة" (كتاب الإمارة)
The Prophet (saw) said: “Whomsoever we have given some post and he has concealed a needle or a thing smaller than that, then it will be a misappropriated thing with which he will have to appear on the day of Judgement.”
But one who takes care of the commands of Allah in fulfilling his responsibilities and he is averse to indulge in dishonest practices in performing his duties will be generously rewarded for that. He will be rewarded as a mujaheed (a fighter for the supremacy of the religion).
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "العامل إذا استعمل فأخذ الحق، وأعطى الحق لم يزل كالمجاهد فى سبيل الله حتى يرجع الى بيته" (رواه الطبرانى)
It is narrated that the Prophet (saw) said: “When the administrator is given a job, he should receive his due and should pay the dues of others, then he is like a fighter in the cause of Allah till he returns home.”
2. Making halal earnings
Regarding acquisition and disposition or any kind of transaction of wealth, the Quran has provided a definite concept of halal (permissible) and haram (forbidden). All dealings in wealth are to be adjudge by this criterion.
- The principle of halal and haram applies as much to the spending of wealth as does to its acquisition. A lawfully acquired wealth is, then to be spent only on lawful and permissible things. In other words, spending of wealth is also restricted to halal things and cannot be spend on anything that is forbidden by Islam.
- A Muslim is required to always invest his capital in an enterprise that is halal although it might bring less profit as compared to what accrues on haram enterprise.
Benefits of halal earnings:
- Halal work and the earnings emanated therefrom are a kind of ‘ibadah for which a Muslim will be rewarded.
- Whatever is spent out of halal earnings is considered as sadaqah (charity) even what is spent on one’s family. Even what is stolen or eaten by birds and animals is sadaqah.
- Halal earnings will be blessed by Allah (swt).
- Halal earnings will bring to its possessor peace of mind and help him to have a clear conscience.
Evil of haram earnings:
- Punishment on the Day of Judgement.
- Rejection of do’a ( ) (supplication).
- Blessing will be lifted from it.
- Sadaqah will not be accepted by Allah (swt).
- Haram wealth will be a witness against it owner on the Day of Judgement.
- It possessor will have always a guilty conscience.
It is reported the Prophet (saw) said: If anyone amasses wealth through haram means and then give charity from it, there is no regard for him and the burden of sin remains” (al-Hakim and Ibn Hibban).
“If a person earns through haram means and then gives charity, it will not be accepted (by Allah); if he spends it there will be no blessing on it; and if he leaves it behind (at his death) it will be his provision in the Fire. Indeed Allah (swt) does not obliterate one bad deed by another bad deed, but He cancels out a bad deed by a good deed. An unclean thing does not wipe away another unclean thing.” (Ahmad)
روى مسلم عن أبي هريرة قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "أيها الناس إن الله طيب لا يقبل إلا طيبا، وإن الله أمر المؤنين بما أمر به المرسلين فقال: (يَاأَيُّهَا الرُّسُلُ كُلُوا مِنْ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَاعْمَلُوا صَالِحًا إِنِّي بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ عَلِيمٌ ) وقال : (يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُلُوا مِنْ طَيِّبَاتِ مَا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ ) ثم ذكر الرجل يطيل السفر أشعت أغبر يمد يديه الى السماء يارب يارب ومطعمه حرام ومشربه حرام وملبسه حرام وغذى بالحرام فأنى يستجاب لذلك" (مسلم: كتاب الزكاة)
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (saw) as saying: “O people, Allah is Good and He therefore, accept only that which is good. And Allah commanded the believers as He commanded the Messenger by saying: “O Messengers, eat of the good things, and do good deeds; verily I am aware of what you do” (). And He said: “O those who believe, eat of the good things that We gave you” (2: 172). He then made a mention of a person who travels widely, his hair disheveled and covered with dust. He lifts his hand towards the sky (and thus make the supplication): “O Lord, O Lord,” whereas his diet is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, and his clothes are unlawful and his nourishment in unlawful. How can then his supplication be accepted?”.
Haram wealth as witness against its possessor
عن أبي سعيد الخدرى رضي الله عنه أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: ".... وإن هذا المال خضرة حلوة فنعم صاحب المسلم ما أعطى منه المسكين واليتيم وابن السبيل (أو كما قال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم) وإنه من يأخذه بغير حقه كالذي يأكل ولا يشبع ويكون شهيدا عليه يوم القيامة" (البخري: كتاب الزكاة)
“…..no doubt this wealth is sweet and green. Blessed is the wealth of a Muslim from which he gives to the poor, the orphans and to needy travelers. (or the Prophet said something similar to it). No doubt, whoever takes it illegally will be like thw one who eats but is never satisfied, and his wealth will be a witness against him on the Day of Resurrection.”
Principles that govern the doctrine of halal and haram in Islam.
1. The permissibility of things:
The general principle in Islam is that the things which Allah (swt) has created and the benefits derived from them are essentially for man’s use and hence are permissible. Nothing is haram except what is prohibited by any text of Quran and Sunnah or the principles derived from them.
قُلْ مَنْ حَرَّمَ زِينَةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي أَخْرَجَ لِعِبَادِهِ وَالطَّيِّبَاتِ مِنْ الرِّزْقِ قُلْ هِيَ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا خَالِصَةً يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ كَذَلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ الْآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ(32)
“Say who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has brought forth for His servants and the good provisions? Say: these are for the believers in the life of this world, purely (theirs) on the resurrection day.” ()
عن سلمان الفارسي أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: "الحلال ما أحل الله فى كتابه والحرام ما حرم الله فى كتابه وما سكت عنه فهو مما عفا عنه" (ابن ماجه: كتاب الأطعمة)
“The halal is that which Allah has made lawful in His Book and the haram is that which has forbidden, and that concerning which He is silent He has permitted as a favor to you.” (Tirmizi and Ibn Majah)
The acts of worship are purely religious acts which can be taken only from what Allah Himself revealed.
عن عائشة رضي الله عنه قالت قال رسول الله عليه وسلم: من أحدث فى أمرنا هذا ما ليس فيه فهو رد" (البخارى: كتاب الصلح)
“Any innovation in our matter (worship) which is not a part of it must be rejected.” (al-Bukhari and Muslim)
* However, as far as the worldly activities of people are concerned, the principle is freedom of action; nothing may be restricted in this regard except what Allah (swt) has restricted.
2. To make lawful or to prohibit is the right of Allah (swt) alone.
3. Prohibiting the halal and permitting the haram is similar to shirk.
4. The prohibition of things is due to their impurity and harmfulness.
5. What is halal is sufficient, while what is haram is superfluous:
Islam has prohibited only things that are unnecessary and dispensable, while providing alternatives which give greater ease and comfort to human beings.
6. Whatever is conducive to haram itself harm :
If something is prohibited, anything that leads to it is likewise prohibited. By this means, Islam intends to block all avenues leading to what is haram.
For example, as Islam has prohibited sex outside marriage, it has also prohibited anything which leads to it or makes it attractive, such as seductive clothing, private meeting and casual mixing between men and women, the depiction of nudity, pornographic literature, obscence song, and so on.
7. Good intentions do not make the haram acceptable :
It is reported that the Prophet (saw) said: “If anyone amasses wealth trough haram means and then gives charity from it, there is no regard for him and the burden of sin remains.” (al-Hakim and Ibn Hibban)
8. Doubtful things ( الشبهات ) are to be avoided : this principle is sufficiently explained in the following hadith:
عن النعمان بن بشير أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: إن الحلال بين والحرام بين وبينهما مشتبهات لا يعلمهن كثير من الناس فمن اتقى الشبهات استبرأ لدينه وعرضه ومن وقع فى الشبهات وقع فى الحرام كالراعى يرعى حول الحمى يوشك أن يرتع فيه ألا وإن لكل ملك حمى ألا وإن حمى الله محارمه" (مسلم: كتاب المسافة)
“ The halal is clear and the haram is clear. Between the two there are doubtful matters concerning which people don’t know whether they are halal or haram. One who avoids them in order to safeguard his religion and his honour is safe, while if someone engages in a part of them he may be doing something haram, like one who grazes his animals near the hima (the grounds reserved for animals belonging to the king or the state); it is thus quite likely that some of his animals will stray into it. Truly, every king has a hima, and tha hima of Allah is what He has prohibited.” (Muslim)
9. Necessity dictates exceptions :
While Islam is strict in seeing its prohibitions observed, it is not oblivious to the exigencies of life, to their magnitude, nor to human weakness and capacity to face them. It permits the Muslim, under the compulsion of necessity to eat prohibited food in quantities sufficient to remove the necessity and save himself from death.
إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمْ الْمَيْتَةَ وَالدَّمَ وَلَحْمَ الْخِنزِيرِ وَمَا أُهِلَّ بِهِ لِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ فَمَنْ اضْطُرَّ غَيْرَ بَاغٍ وَلَا عَادٍ فَلَا إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ(173)
“…But if one is compelled by necessity, neither craving (it) nor transgressing, there is no sin on him; indeed, Allah is forgiving, Merciful.” (2: 173)
3. The concept of right and duty
The general rule in Islam is that everyone has to perform his duties before claiming his rights.
There are four kinds of basic rights in Islamic law: right of the individual, joint rights, and rights of the individual collectively (the right of the state).
i. Rights of Allah (swt) alone
Beliefs (iman) and all kinds of pure worship like prayer, fasting, hajj, ‘umra and I’tikaf .
Some of the hudud penalties and kaffarat (expiation made for different reasons).
Generally, the rules relating to obligatory and forbidden acts that are laid down by texts of Quran and Sunnah.
The main features of this kind of right are:
It is fixed by Allah (swt), once and for all and is not subject to any legal or judical review.
It cannot be dropped or waived by anyone.
The penalties imposed for infringing these rights are not subject to commutation.
If someone does not fulfill these rights no one can pardon him except Allah (swt) if he repents to Him.
ii. rights of individual : this category includes almost everything that is not in the above. This usually refers to the rights of the individuals in their mutual transactions.
iii. Joint rights:
(a). Rights in which the right of Allah and the right of individual life sibe by side, but the right of Allah (swt) is predominant. These are like the penalty for theft (hadd of theft) hadd of qadhf (false accusation of adultery / zina). Basically, this kind of right cannot be waived by the offended person and the offender must be punished.
Note : according to Shafi’I school hadd of qadhf is a right of the individual, thus it can be waived by the offended and inherited by his/her inheritors.
(b) Rights in which the right of Allah and the right of the individual life side by side, but the right of the individual is predominant. For this category, the example is qisas (retaliation) for bodily injuries or culpable homicide amounting to murder.
Because of the predominance of the individual’s right, the victim of his representative can either claim or waive his right. But the state, represented by the judge(s), have right to impose an additional punishment on the offender.
iv. Rights of the state or the community : these are the collective rights of the individuals. The main examples of this kind of rights are:
(a) Acts related to ta’zir penalties (penalties for the offences other than hudud, i.e. the offences on which no specific penalty and its extent are left to the state. These are like the penalties imposed by the state to preserve the environment or the traffic rules… etc.
(b) Taxes other than zakat that may be imposed in cases of emergency.
4. Commitment to values
A value is normally understood to be a thing towards which society has effective regard or belief in its goodness or otherwise. If a society has positive affection or strong belief that something is good or beneficial to this society, then such a thing is considered to have a positive value. On other hand, if the society abhors something because either it has no affection for it does not believe that it is of any benefit to it, then that thing is of no value or has negative value.
The Islamic value system has to be completely governed by dictates of Shari’ah. In other words, the Shari’ah provides the framework within which the Islamic value system takes shape.
The Islamic value system cannot be changed with time or space because of the unchanging nature of Shari’ah. Whilst the value system of other societies may change over time and space, the Islamic value system has to be the same for all times and places.
Islam gives a great importance to values and good manners to the point that the Prophet (saw) stated that the foremost purpose of his message was to strengthen the moral character of the people.
" إنما بعثت لأتمم مكارم الأخلاق"
“I have been sent only for the purpose of perfecting good morals.”
According to Islam, not adhering to values is a type of hypocrisy. This is clear from the saying of the Prophet (saw):
عن أبي هريرة قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم من علامات المنافق ثلاثة إذا حدث كذب وإذا وعد أخلف وإذا اؤتمن خان" وفى رواية" "وإن صام وصلى وزعم أنه مسلم" (صحيح مسلم: كتاب الإيمان)
“The man who has these three habits is a hypocrite even if he observes fast, offers prayers, performs ‘umra (pilgrimage), and claims to be a Muslim: when he talks he speaks untruth, when he makes a promise he does not keep it, and when he is given something in trust, he commits dishonesty.” (Muslim)
Adhering to values and ethical principles is the spirit of islam and one of its main objectives. It is a significant part of one faith and religion. The prophet (saw) was reported to say, when he was asked: amongst the Muslim who is the dearest to Allah?: “One who has the best moral character.” (Ibn Hibban)
When he was asked: what is the best thing given to man? He replied: “Best moral character.” (tirmidhi)
Again, when he was asked: which Muslim has the perfect faith? He answered: “He who has the best moral character.” (Tabarani)
A Muslim is required to be committed to good values wherever he is regardless of the environment he is living in. He has to be independent in his way of life and should not be influenced by immoral people around him.
عن حذيفة قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "لا تكون إمعة تقولون إن أحسن الناس أحسنا وإن ظلموا ظلمنا ولكن وطنوا أنفسكم إن أحسن الناس أن تحسنوا وإن أساءوا فلا تظلموا (الترمذى: كتاب البر والصلة)
“ Do not follow others blindly and say: if people do good, we do good too, and they do injustice, we do too. Rather, make up your minds for yourselves and if people do something good, do it too, but if they do something unjust, do not do it yourselves.
5. Moral principles of vice and virtue
The objective of the divine guidance brought by the Prophet (saw) is to guide people to the right path; to make lawful the good and pure things and to forbid the bad and impure things.
Allah (swt) says regarding this:
يَأْمُرُهُمْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَاهُمْ عَنْ الْمُنكَرِ وَيُحِلُّ لَهُمْ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيْهِمْ الْخَبَائِثَ
“…for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them what is bad (and impure).” (7:157)
- As a general principle, virtue are those things that are beneficial to the individuals and society.
- Vices are those things that are harmful to the individuals or the society.
- If something is beneficial in some aspects and harmful in others, the rule will follow the predominant side. If the harm overweighs the benefit, this will be regarded as vice and, hence, it would be haram. If the benefit overweighs the harm it maybe regarded as a virtue and it may be declared to be halal.
- It would be enough for an act to be considered lawful and virtue if it does not contradict the teachings and general principles of Islam.
- It is the Divine Will that declares something to be vice or virtue.
- Human reason may able to recognize some vices and virtues. These vices and virtues can be regarded so by Islam provided that they don’t contradict the text and principle of islam.
Values can be inculcated based on the principle of habit formation. Once a habit id formed, it is unlikely that we can kick it unless we are completely committed to do so. Habit is often formed by repetitive actions. If we repeatedly behave according to the dictates of any of the values whenever we are faced with the same situation, we are bound to form that behaviour into a habit.
Based on this principle we can identify those values that we need to inculcate and repeat the exact behaviour associated with the value every time we are in the situation. Then we should be on the way to making that behaviour our habit.
If someone id truthful in his speech and dealings, then inevitably there will be truthfulness and sincerity in his actions and goodness and reform in his conditions. By adopting truthful methods in dealing with others, this light of truth also illuminates one’s heart and mind and their darkness also vanish.
يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا(70)يُصْلِحْ لَكُمْ أَعْمَالَكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَمَنْ يُطِعْ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ فَازَ فَوْزًا عَظِيمًا(71)
“O you who believe ! Fear Allah and (always) say a ward directed to the right; that He may make your conduct whole and sound and forgive you your sins; He that obeys Allah and His Messenger has already attained the highest achievement.” (33: 70-71)
عن عبدالله بن عمر قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : "عليكم بالصدق فإن الصدق يهدي إلى البر، وإن البر يهدي إلى الجنة ، وما يزال الرجل يصدق ويتحرى الصق حتى يكتب عند الله صديقا. وإياكم والكذب فإن الكذب يهدى إلى الفجور، وإن الفجور يهدى إلى النار، وما يزال الرجل يكذب ويتحرى الكذب حتى يكتب عند الله كذابا" (صحيح مسلم: كتاب البر والصلة)
It is reported that the prophet (saw) said: “Adopt truth, for truth leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to