This article is a response to a request from a friend to share on frameworks of ethics and codes of conduct for Islamic businesses. As marketing is a function of business, such a list is relevant for Islamic Marketing.
One such list which I would like to share comes from Al-Fiqhul Manhaji a’la Mazhab Al Imam As Syafie by Dr Mustofa Al-Khin, Dr Mustofa Al-Bugho and Ali Asy-Syarbaji, on the topic of the proper codes of conduct of an Islamic business. The following is a summary:
1. Fairness and Tolerance in the Business Process
“May Allah have mercy on the man (as well as woman) who are generous when selling, when buying, and when claiming his debt.” (al-Bukhari)
The seller should be fair in pricing the goods and services. The buyer should be fair too and not impose too many conditions that may burden the seller.
2. Honest in Dealing
“Businessmen who are true (not lying), honest and trustworthy will be with the Prophets, the Truthful, and the martyrs (in the hereafter).” (al-Tirmizi)
The seller cannot be dishonest about his product or service. He must also be honest when asked about his opinion on a certain matter of his business.
3. Avoids Swearing Even When True
“Swearing makes the product popular, but eliminates the blessing (of buying and selling).” (al-Bukhari)
An ethic of business and a sign of honesty is when little swearing is done.
4. Frequently Gives Sadaqah (Charity) When Doing Business
“The Prophet PBUH came out to meet us, and we were recognized as the middlemen (between seller and buyer). The Prophet said: ‘O businessman, verily Satan and sin are frequently faced by the act of trading. Therefore, mix your trade with charity.'” (Al-Tirmizi)
May the charity purify anything negative which may not be obvious or unintentional in the business, such as setting the price too high or showing arrogance in his business, etc.
5. Recording and Witness
“O you who believe, when you contract a debt, one upon another for a stated term, write it down; and let a writer write it down between you justly; and let not any writer refuse to write it down, as God has taught him; so let him write, and let the debtor dictate; and let him fear God his Lord, and not diminish anything of it. And if the debtor be a fool, or weak, or unable to dictate himself, then let his guardian dictate justly. And summon to bear witness, two witnesses, men; or if the two be not men, then one man and two women, such witnesses as you approve of, so that if one of the two women errs; the other will remind her; and let the witnesses not refuse, whenever they are summoned; and be not disdainful to write it down, small or great, with its term; that is more equitable in God’s sight, more upright for testimony, and nearer, that you will not be in doubt, unless it be trade carried out there and then that you give and take between you, then you will not be at fault if you do not write it down. And take witnesses when you are trading with one another. And let not either writer or witness be pressed; and if you do, that is sinfulness in you. And fear God. God teaches you and God knows all things.” (Surah Al-Baqarah: 282)
The longest verse in the Quran is the above; on contracts and the importance of scribing and recording deals. This emphasis shows us how important the “black and white” and recording is, no matter how small the business or how well we know the other party.
May these 5 points benefit you.