most adults devote a large part of their day to work. but those who act according to the teachings of the qur'an are significantly different from their colleagues, who share a common morality. for a believer, no matter how urgent his business may be during the day, to perform his service to and worship of allah is more important than anything else. allah reveals this in the qur'an:
…say: "what is with allah is better than trade or entertainment. allah is the best of providers." (surat al-jumu'a: 11)
a believer is aware of this, and no work will prevent him from remembering allah's name or performing his worship; he will not neglect or postpone any religious obligation for the sake of material gain. our lord draws our attention to this in a verse of the qur'an:
in houses which allah has permitted to be built and in which his name is remembered, there are men who proclaim his glory morning and evening, not distracted by trade or commerce from the remembrance of allah and the establishment of prayer and the payment of zakat; fearing a day when all hearts and eyes will be in turmoil. (surat an-nur: 36-37)
the reason for drawing attention to commerce in this verse is because the desire for material profit is one of the biggest weaknesses among human beings. some people are prepared to neglect the precepts of the deen for the sake of earning more money, obtaining more property or gaining more power. for example, they don't say their prayers or fulfil any other obligations, and they don't display fine qualities of character even though they are able to do so.
there are a number of things that these people expect in return for their labours. they want a good life in this world, to be prosperous, to gain position and respect and be honoured in society, to have a good marriage and praiseworthy children… these are a few of the things that people divorced from the values of the qur'an even go so far as to choose instead of the afterlife. indeed, all these things are legitimate blessings to which everyone who aims to win allah's pleasure and attain the afterlife may also aspire. believers also want to have the same blessings: useful employment, to earn money and own property. but they have some qualities that separate them from other people: they do all their work to please allah, spend their money in ways that allah has advised, and in their business, as in everything else, they meticulously obey allah's commands.
in a verse of the qur'an, allah draws our attention to the dangers of regarding commerce as preferable to the deen:
say: "if your fathers or your sons or your brothers or your wives or your tribe, or any wealth you have acquired, or any business you fear may slump, or any house which pleases you, are dearer to you than allah and his messenger and doing jihad in his way, then wait until allah brings about his command. allah does not guide people who are deviators." (surat at-tawba: 24)
a believer with profound faith will make every effort to avoid being caught up in this kind of passion. there is a noble character that allah expects of believers, and which they will display, no matter in what work they are engaged. in doing business they are honest, sincere, self-sacrificing, hardworking, fair and modest. all their attention is directed to winning allah's pleasure and to maintaining the boundary he has set between what is lawful and unlawful. allah has commanded believers that in doing business they should not abuse anyone's rights, they should give full measure and full weight with justice, and not diminish the value of people's goods. (surah hud: 85)
in a few verses allah has revealed the importance of being honest in business, treating people justly and, in so doing, displaying fine qualities and winning his approval:
give full measure when you measure and weigh with a level balance. that is better and gives the best result. (surat al-isra': 35)
give just weight—do not skimp in the balance. (surat ar-rahman: 9)
in the qur'an, allah explains how people should engage in trade and commerce. first of all, allah has clearly forbidden usury: "but allah has permitted trade and he has forbidden usury." (surat al-baqara: 275) another thing that allah has revealed is how to manage trade and debts. allah commands that, in doing business, when a person takes on a debt to be repaid after a specified period, he should write it down. if the person incurring the debt is incompetent or weak or unable to dictate, then his guardian should dictate for him justly. and two men among them should act as witnesses. (surat al-baqara: 282)
another thing that believers should be careful about in their work is to consult the views of other people when making decisions, starting a new business, and improving their operations. allah says in the qur'an that this is a quality of a believer.
as in every sphere, so in trade and commerce, the qur'an brings what is finest, easiest and most true into human life. in this way, it helps people away from stress and depression and makes it possible for them to work in a healthy and peaceful environment where they can submit themselves to allah, take right action, and consult with others in making decisions.
besides this, a believer is very open-minded in his work-life making both short and long term plans and mapping out the various stages. and after he has begun the work, he will definitely calculate the further stages, what measures will ensure him success in the long run and possible alternatives. and he will take every precaution that allah has offered in the qur'an to ensure that a measure he thinks beneficial to put into effect will not prove disadvantageous at a later stage. while engaged in his work, he will pray constantly to allah from his heart, ask our lord to make it easy and he will consider that no enterprise will be successful, unless allah wills it. he hopes that the work he does will be a way to win allah's pleasure.
in the age in which we live, new discoveries and scientific developments have occurred that people in the past could not even have imagined. the teachings of the qur'an require us to give thanks for these incomparable opportunities. for example, science, technology, modern transportation and communications have reached a high level of advancement today. thanks to computers and internet technology, people from all over the world can communicate with one another within seconds, share information and establish contacts. certainly, these are blessings that need to be pondered very deeply. the prophets allah has given as examples in the qur'an always approached allah sincerely, and always thought about allah and thanked him when engaged in their work. in surah saba', allah says:
they made for him anything he wished: high arches and statues, huge dishes like cisterns, great built-in cooking vats. "work, family of dawud, in thankfulness!" but very few of my slaves are thankful. (surah saba': 13)