By Imam Dr. Omar Suleiman
Barakah literally means blessings. In Islamic theology, it refers to the concept of something providing value beyond what is expected in an almost supernatural manner. For example, if a meal for five comfortably feeds ten, it is considered to have barakah. Likewise, when $100 goes a long way for someone, it is considered to have barakah. Barakah is a type of karāma (miracle) that Allah gifts to whom He wills. The Quran prescribes many acts of worship that bring barakah into our lives. The three listed below are perhaps the most important sources of barakah.
1. Piety and Trust in God
“Whoever is conscious of Allah, He will make a way out for him. And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whoever puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. For Allah will surely accomplish his purpose. Verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion” (Quran 65:2-3).
The primary source of barakah in Islam is one’s relationship with God, as outlined in these verses above. These are among the opening verses in the chapter of divorce (Surah al-Talāq) and are meant to provide hope and optimism for those going through the uncertainty of divorce. These two powerful verses form a maxim for believers across the globe. Whenever a Muslim faces any difficulty, he or she is often reminded about God’s promise in these verses. If you are conscious of God and trust His plan, He will provide for you in ways you never imagined. This makes taqwā (God Consciousness) and tawakul (Trust in God) the two primary sources of barakah in one’s earnings.
And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will certainly give you more. (Quran 14:7)
This beautiful verse from the chapter of Abraham (Surah Ibrāhīm) highlights the second primary source of barakah; an attitude of gratitude. Islam prescribes positive thinking for its followers which includes living a life of gratitude. In our lives, there will always be trials, but there is also so much to be grateful for. The Quran calls on us to recognize the bounties in our lives and thank God for these daily. The result of a life of gratitude is an increase in those bounties. The increase manifests in one of three ways; either God will bless a person with more of the same, with better than what he already has, or with barakah in what he currently has. In all three cases, gratitude leads to increase, and therefore should be the constant mindset of the believer.
Believe in Allah and His Messenger and donate from what He has entrusted you with. So those of you who believe and donate will have a mighty reward. (Quran 57:7)
There are many verses in the Quran that encourage charity. Charity in Islam is not limited to giving a portion of one’s wealth. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Every act of kindness is charity.” (Tirmidhī 1970) This means that anything we do that benefits another creature is considered charity in the sight of God. In the above verse from the chapter of steel (Surah al-Hadīd), Allah reminds us that our wealth is a trust from God. We can fulfil that trust by spending a portion of that wealth in charity. He then reminds us that such charity will bring about great reward. The reward for charity is experienced in both worlds. In this world, the generous soul experiences barakah in his wealth as well as increase. In the next, he experiences multiplied rewards for every action that benefited another creature.
Piety, gratitude, and charity are all prescribed methods for experiencing an increase in blessings in this world. It is through these righteous actions that we earn this promise of God, and “God never breaks His promises.” (Quran 3:9)
Ethical Consumerism: An Islamic Perspective
Ethical consumerism refers to the mindset of looking beyond the product at the process behind its production. The ethical consumer is concerned not only with whether the end-product is acceptable, but also with the entire process of production. Due to widespread mistreatment abuse in various industries, ethical consumerism is on the rise as more people become aware of the various injustices that occur behind the scenes.
The concept of ethical consumerism is an established part of Islamic Business Ethics. In various narrations, the Prophet (pbuh) warned against unethical business practices. The following three narrations focus on three primary aspects of ethical consumerism: treatment of animals, treatment of employees, and business transparency.
1. Treatment of animals
Shaddād bin Aws narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said: “Indeed God has prescribed iḥsān (perfection) in everything. So, when you kill, then kill properly (without causing pain and suffering), and when you slaughter, then slaughtering well. Let one of you sharpen his blade and let him comfort his animal (before slaughtering).” (Tirmidhī 1409)
This narration is considered the primary evidence for the Islamic principles of iḥsān. Iḥsān refers to the concepts of doing everything in the best possible way. The narration focuses primarily on the treatment of animals but the principle of iḥsān applies to every aspect of our lives. Islam requires us to treat animals in the best possible manner. Although the meat of a mistreated animal may still be permissible to consume, any act of oppression against an animal is considered sinful. Muslims involved in the food production industry must hold themselves to the highest standards of iḥsān which includes kind treatment of animals, and a painless quick slaughter.
2. Treatment of employees
Abū Dhar narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “Your servants are your brothers and Allah has put them under your command. So, whoever has a brother under his command should feed him of what he eats and dress him of what he wears. Do not ask them to do things beyond their capacity (power) and if you do so, then help them.” (Bukhārī 30)
Fourteen centuries ago, many societies did not consider the rights of workers. Most workers were owned, abused, and mistreated. Islam established a bond of brotherhood between employers and their employees. Part of this brotherhood is the prohibition of mistreating one’s employees or overworking them. The Muslim trader in the twenty-first century must adhere to these principles. A Muslim cannot be complacent about the oppression of people at any level in the production process.
Hakīm bin Hizām narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “The seller and the buyer have the right to keep or return goods as long as they have not parted or until they part; and if both the parties spoke the truth and described the defects and qualities (of the goods), then they would be blessed in their transaction, and if they told lies or hid something, then the blessings of their transaction would be lost.” (Bukhārī 2079)
A fundamental principle of Islamic trade is total transparency. It is prohibited in Islam to find defects, mislead customers, and deceive people. Such actions rob the transaction of any blessings and are considered sinful. In many cases, the transaction becomes void. Muslim businesses must hold themselves to this high standard of transparency. Customers have the right to know the truth about every aspect of production, especially if there is a fear of mistreatment or abuse.
The fundamentals of ethical consumerism were clarified by Islamic teachings fourteen centuries ago. Islam emphasizes kindness towards humans and animals alike, forbids all forms of oppression, and demands transparency in business. In that sense, true ethical consumerism is simply a facet of the revival of Islamic teachings about business.
Investing in securities involves risk, and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest in securities.
Halal compliant investments, diversification and asset allocation do not ensure a profit or protect against loss.
This material is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice, nor is it intended to replace the advice of a qualified attorney or tax advisor.