MS: SOBIA IRUM
BUSINESS ETHICS IN ISLAMIC CONTEXT
What is Ethics?Ethics may be defined as the set of moral principles that distinguish what is right from what is wrong. Ethics has a twofold objective: it evaluates human practices by calling upon moral standards; also it may give prescriptive advice on how to act morally in a given situation. Ethics, therefore, aims to study both moral and immoral behaviour in order to make well-founded judgments and to arrive at adequate recommendations. Sometimes ethics is used synonymously with morality. An action, which is morally right, is also called an ethical one. Codes of morality are called ethical codes. Business ethics can also be defined as business morality. Business Ethics Business Ethics is the branch of ethics that examines ethical rules and principles within a commercial context; the various moral or ethical problems that can arise in a business setting; and any special duties or obligations that apply to persons engaged in commerce. Generally speaking, business ethics is a normative discipline, whereby particular ethical standards are formulated and then applied. It makes specific judgments about what is right or wrong, which is to say, it makes claims about what ought to be done or what ought not to be done. Generally speaking, business ethics is concerned with the study of what is good and bad, right and wrong, and just and unjust in business. Ethics in Islam Islam places the highest emphasis on ethical values in all aspects of human life. In Islam, ethics governs all aspects of life. Ethical norms and moral codes discernable from the verses of the Holy Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet (sws) are numerous, far reaching and comprehensive. Islamic teachings strongly stress the observance of ethical and moral code in human behaviour. Moral principles and codes of ethics are repeatedly stressed throughout the Holy Qur’an. Besides, there are numerous teachings of the Prophet (sws) which cover the area of moral and ethical values and principles. Says the Holy Qur’an: You are the best nation that has been raised up for mankind; You enjoin right conduct, forbid evil and believe in Allah. (3:110) The Prophet (sws) also says: I have been sent for the purpose of perfecting good morals. (Ibn Hambal, No: 8595) This goes without saying that there is a general consensus among human beings about certain fundamental ethical values. However, the Islamic ethical system substantially differs from the so-called secular ethical systems as well as from the moral code advocated by other religions and societies. In the Islamic scheme of things, adherence to moral code and ethical behaviour is a part of I%man (faith) itself. According to the Islamic teachings, Muslims have to jealously guard their behaviour, deeds, words, thoughts, feelings and intentions. Islam asks its believers to observe certain norms and moral codes in their family affairs; in dealings with relatives, with neighbours and friends; in their business transactions; in their social affairs, nay in all spheres of private and public life.Islam has its own distinctive value-based ethical system for business dealings. It prescribes certain specific guidelines for governing business ethics. It (i) enumerates the general ethical rules of business conduct, (ii) identifies ethically desirable forms of business, and, (iii) specifies the undesirable modes of transactions. Given the nature of Islamic ethical and moral codes, it would be beyond the capacity of one paper to fully comprehend the subject. In the following pages, our effort will be to confine ourselves to the discussion of some specific principles of business ethics in Islam. Trade through Mutual ConsentMutual consent between the parties is a necessary condition for the validity of a business transaction. It, therefore,...