Be cautious in your financial dealings – don’t be naive or duped

Be cautious in your financial dealings - don't be naive or duped

Once, Umar bin Khatab (may Allah be pleased with him) presided over a court case where he was dubious about the credibility of a witness so asked to speak to someone who knew him, to obtain a reference. One of the men present volunteered that he knew the witness.

A man once gave his testimony to Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him). Umar said to him, “I do not know you, and it will not harm you that I do not know you. Bring someone who knows you.” A man from his people said, “I know him.” Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “What do you know about him?” The man said, “His justice and virtue.”

Umar queried:

  1. Is this man your closest neighbour, such that you know him by his coming and going by day and night?
  2. Have you conducted business with him, by which you are shown his piety?
  3. Have you travelled with him on a journey, by which you are shown his good character?”

The man replied “no” to each query.

Umar replied, “You do not know him.” [al-Sunan al-Kubra]

In this narration we see that a man from the gathering stepped forward, offering to vouch for the witness, but as Umar was very thorough, he asked the volunteer what he knew about that man. Umar asked the man whether he and the witness were neighbours and therefore well known to each other. But the man said no. Umar asked the man whether he and witness had done business. Again, the man said no. Umar finally asked if they had travelled together. Again, the man said no. At this point, Umar dismissed him. He concluded that the volunteer did not know the witness well enough to provide an account of his character.

In dealing in financial transactions, or travelling or living near someone you get to know them. This is a way of knowing a man’s trustworthiness.

One may have seen someone bowing his head in the mosque but that does not qualify him to run a business. One’s relationship with Allah is between them, but one’s financial affairs are related to people. Our Muslim brothers and sisters are not always trustworthy. Just because one sees someone praying in a mosque does not mean they are trustworthy. Unfortunately people keep creating new ways to steal for others and even from their brothers and sisters in faith, so be vigilant that no one takes advantage of you. May Allah protect us from fraudsters and con men.

Suhaib bin Sinan At-Rumi (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

and any man who takes out a loan, and Allah knows that he resolved not to pay it back, so he deceived the man by Allah, and used his money in falsehood. He will meet Allah Almighty on the day he meets Him as a thief. [Musnad Ahmad, Al-Bazzar and Tabarani]

أَنَسِ بنِ مَالِكٍ رَضِيَ اللهُ عنهُ قال: قالَ رَسولُ الله صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَعلى آلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ وَسَلَّمَ

«اِحتَرِسُوا من النَّاسِ بِسُوءِ الظَّنِّ».

Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) who narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said,

‘Protect yourself from people by doubting their intentions.’ [Tabarani in Al-Awsat]

“Al-Bayhaqi and likewise At-Tabarani in Al-Awsat and Al-Asqari reported that this hadith was narrated by Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) as a marfu’ (attributed) hadith. Tamaam narrated it in his Fawa’id from Ibn Abbas who narrated it in the wording: ‘Whoever has good assumptions about people, he will regret a lot.’ Ad-Dailami also reported it from Ali in the wording: ‘Determination is to be cautious,’ but all its chains are weak.”

Based on that, the hadith is considered weak. However its meaning is sound: one should be cautious in one’s transactions with people and not trust everyone, as it is safer. Umar’s wisdom in this matter echoes the advice of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who advised caution when dealing with people, warning them not to place blind trust in others.

In summary for business dealings, and where testimony is concerned, assume the worst and do your due diligence to check them out, because people aren’t necessarily what they appear to be. On the other hand, in other matters, have a good opinion of people till your good opinion is proven wrong – innocent till proven guilty

Therefore, if one is going to do business with someone or have financial dealings, they must do their due diligence. Conduct credit checks, seek references, and check reviews. Know your customer.

Clarity is a important in the Shariah. When you do business with anyone, you should be clear exactly what has been agreed. The price should be negotiated before the transaction, as it can lead to contention afterwards when both parties are trying to negotiate after the work has been down or goods have been supplied.

I met a prominent community leader who was denied an account by an Islamic bank after a credit check revealed concerns about his financial reliability. The man was annoyed at being turned down, but the bank was in the right to withhold its service, as he had not demonstrated reliability. Trustworthiness cannot be assumed based on outward appearances or religious practices.

Where there is no transaction involved between yourself and others, having good assumptions about people is the recommended practice in Islamic teachings.

Shaykh Haytham Tamim – Khutbah 8th Sept 2023

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Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.