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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles
Reprinted from the Muslim Journal


Progressions Magazine

Taking Care Of Business

Imam W. Deen Muhammad


"Give full  measure   when  you   measure,   and  weigh   with   a balance   that   is   straight. That is most fitting and advantageous in the final determination. "Qur'an   17:38.

The first requirement for a Muslim community is to provide that community with its daily essential needs to the best of its ability or to the maximum of its capability. In my opinion, as a Muslim community, we have not done that, though it is one of the things required of us in our religion. It is a number one obligation on the part of Muslims to establish business operations that will serve the common needs of a community, such as food, clothing, shelter, transportation, etcetera.

Our poor resources in terms of knowledge, experience, capital, and skills, makes it very difficult to accomplish these things, but every effort must be made to do them. Being a people who are insufficient in resources, puts us at a disadvantage when it comes to fulfilling this obligation. But, we can make that disadvantage an advantage if we pool our resources with others among us who have talent and resources that can contribute to our efforts in establishing businesses that will provide those essential needs.


Independence  Necessary

It is servile, slavish, shameful and negligent on the part of a Muslim community to live with a situation where non-Muslims are supplying its common daily essential needs. I am not suggesting that we should try to become totally independent of outsiders, but we should work hard to become independent. We cannot expect to become totally independent, but we should never accept any amount of dependency unless it is the best recourse for our objective.

I will accept dependency. I will even accept to include a non-Muslim in my business, but not because I don't want full control of my business. It is because I see il as an advantage for reaching that object. Controlling our businesses does not mean we won't accept to work with non-Muslims. Certainly we will, but our object should be maximum control over our immediate circumstances. We should not depend on others outside of our community to do the things for us that we can do for ourselves. It is an American privilege to establish businesses, and we must take full advantage of this opportunity and privilege.




"O  you who believe! Make not unlawful the good things which God has made lawful for  you, but commit no excess:

for God loves not those given to excess. Eat of the
things which God has provided for you, lawful  and  good:

but fear God, in whom you believe."     

Qur'an   5:90-91.

Muslims are not supposed to eat food that is not halal (lawful). We should not wait for the Christian or the Jew to provide us with food that is acceptable for us to eat. This is a terrible neglect on the part of the Muslims, especially the African-American Muslims. We should lei the awareness of this neglect burn in our conscience. We should not try to evade it. We should remember daily that we have not fulfilled what is obligated of us. It should burn in our conscience until we realize the establishment of halal businesses. We should be making an effort all over America to open up halal businesses to feed all members of the Muslim community.

Some may ask, "Well, can't we buy our food from the immigrant Muslim community?" Certainly we can. Thai is better than buying from others who are non-Muslim, but that doesn't relieve us of our responsibilities. In our religion, it is a shame for any community, whether it is Muslim or not to depend upon another community for what it should be doing for itself.

It is a bad reflection and a shame on us if we are going outside of our community to a Pakistani, to a Syrian or to somebody else to get halal (lawful) food. Buying food from Muslims outside of our community is not as bad as going to a Christian and buying food that is not halal, or going to a Jew and getting food that is kosher. Some may say, "Oh, the Jew's food is halal." The Jew's food is kosher, and not halal. It is halal only in a technical sense, not in the true sense of being halal.


Obligated To Produce Own Food

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) obligated the Muslims to produce their own food, and to slaughter their own animals. We are obligated to produce our needs, and if it is an animal, we are obligated to slaughter it. And until we fulfill that obligation, we have not yet finished the first requirement for a Muslim community.

Prophet Muhammad said, "No one eats better food than that which he eats out of the work of his own hand."



The African- Americans carry the greatest burden of social fear in this country. Much of it is due to past conditioning under white supremacy. This is what we have to realize. A select few will have to break out of that kind of conditioning and insist that those who work with us and share our field be not afraid to make a mistake. There are pencils with erasers, so don't be afraid to write and make a mistake. If you make a mistake, erase it.

Many African-Americans fear to invest their time and money in something that will require a follow through of work and study. They trust gambling more than they trust venturing into business. A business investment is less than a gamble. That is why they don't call it a gamble. They may refer to it in privacy or in certain restricted situations as a risk, but business in itself is not gambling-business is planning. When it comes to planning, we give up because planning requires thought and follow through.


Fearing To Be Wrong

The greatest and most exacting fear that takes the most from our potential or ability is the fear to be wrong. When the Caucasian said that we were not equal with him and thai our intelligence was inferior to his, it made us so afraid to make a mistake. Many of us think that any mistake we make reinforces or helps to substantiate that we are inferior.

Most of our failure in academia, business and many other areas are due to this fear that we will make a mistake; that we will be caught wrong. There are people who come to the mosque (masjid) where I reside as Imam; people who see me every Friday and every Sunday, but they are not supporting members of our community in any way other than just being present. Yet I know there is help out there among them, but no help comes forward because they are shy, afraid of making a mistake, of being wrong.

You should not be afraid to make a mistake or be afraid to lose. Don't be afraid to risk losing in an investment. You may have to lose before you win. Losing will give you the experience to win. When you lose, you will study what caused you to lose. Some of the greatest help that you can get in acquiring knowledge is from making mistakes. When you do something wrong and detect your mistake, it sticks with you a long time; it becomes engraved. Thus, losing after making an effort can be turned to an advantage in the acquisition of. knowledge.


Strive For Excellence

It is an obligation on Muslims to reach for quality, for excellence.   Prophet Muhammad said, "The believer is one when he does a work or makes an endeavor, seeks to perfect his work." If we want to follow the Prophet and live up to the qualities, the attributes, the merits of a real believer, then we should feel it as a religious obligation to aim always for the highest quality, the highest perfection possible.  If we did that, we will start rising from next to the bottom among the income people of America, to a better position.




"To  men   is  allotted   what they  earn,   and to   women   what they   earn." 
Qur'an   4:32

Before Prophet Muhammad's mission, the women of pre-Islamic Arabia, obviously had opportunity to engage in business. In fact, before Prophet Muhammad became a prophet, he was employed by his wife, the Lady Khadijah. So what kind of prejudice can we have against women in business. If a person claims to be a Muslim and is prejudiced against women being in business, then that person doesn't know his religion.

The Word of God says that God does not disregard the labor of any worker, whether it be male or female. That means that if a woman wants to make an effort, men cannot disregard her efforts and her labor. We have to treat both, man and woman with respect.


Woman's Inheritance Rights

God says in the Holy Qur'an that women have rights ^of inheritance, "From what is left by parents and those nearly related, there is a share for men and a share for women,   whether   the   property   be   small   or   large-a determined share."    The above verse tells us that the woman must be given a share even though she is married to a man that is rich. Not only is she entitled to a share in the inheritance, but when she marries, she has rights to a dowry (a gift of money or property) from the man she marries- The man is supposed to give her something as financial security in the event of his death.

There is nothing in the Holy Qur'an that says the woman has to use that dowry in any specific way. No restriction is placed upon her in the use of that money or property. Some women marry rich men who give them a dowry sufficient for establishing them as a strong business person. Thus the provisions, the opportunity is there to put women in business. If a woman marries a rich man, his dowry should be comparable to his wealth. If he has millions, he should give her according to his wealth.

In Al-Islam, we have to accept that it is intended for women to have the right to engage in business. And not only do they have the right to engage in business, but also to compete in business with the man and with others.



It is not practical, nor does it make good sense to struggle along for years because of the lack of financing (capital). If people respect you and have faith in your ability to operate or run a business, and are willing to invest, then I would recommend letting others invest in the business. I believe that it is better to accept investment at least fifty percent of the time. I don't feel that, the banking system is unacceptable in making loans to businesses.

Most banks today are required by law to put part of the investment back into the community that is supporting them. And those that are not required, the citizens of that community can come together and bring pressure to bear on them and get them to invest in the community. It is unlawful for Muslims to get profit if there has been no investment, no involvement. Using money just for the purpose of making profit is unlawful for the Muslim.

Muslims in America should be trying to establish their own Islamic bank. In fact, our interest should be to establish and bring about such a bank.



Muslims should feel responsible for the worth and future worth of their community. I hope they will spend some of their resources in charity, and no matter how successful they may become in the general society, they will spend some of their time in bringing up their own community, their own society. I look forward to the day when we will have associations of professional and skilled people that will offer an opportunity for sharing information and lending support to each other. That in itself would mean sophistication on the part of me Muslim society.