Industries and Professions
Agriculture is essential, and Islam persuades people to engage in it by pointing to the benefits in this world, and the rewards in the Hereafter resulting from it. However, from the Islamic point of view it would be extremely undesirable if people limited their economic efforts solely to agriculture, a situation analagous to supposing that the inexhaustible oceans had no use other than the extraction of pearls from their depths. Warning Muslims that confining their activity only to agriculture and pastoral pursuits would expose them to various dangers such as defeat, humiliation, and the loss of religious freedom, the Prophet (peace be on him) said,If you deal in usury, calling it by other names, and hang onto the tails of cows, being satisfied with cultivation and ceasing to perform jihad, (Striving or fighting in the cause of Allah. (Trans.)) Allah will inflict a disgrace upon you which will not be removed until you return to your religion. (Reported by Abu Daoud.)
Thus, in addition to agriculture,
the Muslim must develop such industries, crafts, and professions as are essential for the
life of a community, for the strength of a free and powerful nation, and for the posterity
and wealth of a country. As the great scholars and jurists have explained, the essential
industries and professions are not merely permitted by the Islamic Shari'ah, they
are in fact an obligation on the Muslim community as a whole. Such obligations are termed
"the obligations of sufficiency" (fard kifiyah); that is to say, the
Muslim community must include among its members people engaged in every essential science,
industry, and profession in numbers sufficient to meet its needs. If there is a shortage
of qualified persons in some field of essential science or industry, the entire Muslim
community is blameworthy, especially those in positions of authority. Imam al-Ghazzali
The Qur'an mentions many industries, terming them Allah's favor and bounty. Allah Ta'ala says concerning David (Daoud),...And We made iron soft for him (commanding): Make thou coats of mail and balance the links.... (34:10-11) And We taught him the art of making garments (of mail) to protect you from your violence. Will you then be thankful? (21:80)
He says about Solomon: ...And We made a fountain of molten copper flow for him; and of the jinn there were those who worked in front of him by his Lord's permission. And if any of them turned aside from Our command, We made him taste the penalty of the blazing fire. They worked for him as he desired, (making) synagogues and statues, basins as large as reservoirs and boilers built into the ground. Give thanks, O House of David.... (34:12-13)
And He says about Duhl-Qarnayn and his building the high dam: He said, 'That in which my Lord has established me is better (than tribute). Therefore, (if you) help me with your strength, I will erect a barrier between you and them. Give me blocks of iron.' Then when he had filled up the space between the two cliffs, he said, 'Blow (with your billows).' Then when he had set it afire, he said, 'Give me molten copper to pour on it.' Thus, they were unable to scale it, nor were they able to dig through it.' (18:95-97)
Allah mentions the story of Noah (Nuh) and the construction of the ark, and He also mentions great ships the size of mountains which sail the seas:And among His signs are the ships on the sea, like mountains. (42:32)
The Qur'an also mentions hunting in all its varied forms, from the catching of fish and the pursuit of land animals to diving in the deep for pearls, coral, and the like.
In addition to this, the Qur'an has informed us about the value of iron in such emphatic terms as are apt to be found in any other previous book, religious or secular. After mentioning the sending of prophets to the people and revealing the scriptures, Allah Ta'ala says:...And We send down iron, in which there is great strength and benefits for mankind.... (57:25) It is not surprising that the surah containing this verse was given the title of Al-Hadid (Iron).
Any sort of work which fills a need in the society or brings real benefit is regarded as good, provided the person performs it in a proper manner, as is required by Islam. Islam gave dignity to many professions which people considered lowly and degradingfor example, the occupation of shepherding. Although people do not usually look upon shepherds with esteem or honor, the Prophet (peace be on him) said,'Allah did not send a prophet without his having tended sheep', They asked, 'You too, O Messenger of Allah? He replied, 'Yes. I tended sheep for wages for the people of Makkah'. ('Reported by al-Bukhari.)
Muhammad (peace be on him), the Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets, used to tend sheep! Moreover they were not even his own sheep but belonged to the people of Makkah, and he tended them for fixed wages. He told his Companions this in order to teach them that honor belongs to those who work, and not to those who sit idle and are parasites.
The Qur'an tells the story of the Prophet Moses (Muse) (peace be on him) who worked for eight years as a hired man to gain the hand of an old man's daughter in marriage. Moses was an excellent worker and employee; the old man's daughter had displayed real insight into his character. She said,O my father, employ him; truly, the best for thee to employ is the strong and trustworthy one. (28:26)
Ibn 'Abbas said, "David was a maker of coats of mail and shields, Adam was a farmer, Noah a carpenter, Idris a tailor, and Moses a shepherd.''(Reported by al-Hakim.) Since every prophet of Allah had some occupation, the Muslim should derive satisfaction in his occupation or profession. A hadith states: Noone earns his food better than the onewho worked with his hands, and the prophet of Allah, David earned his food by working with his hands. (Reported by al-Bukhari and others.)