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Review : Islamic Business Ethics, From Dr.

Rafik Issa Beekun’s Book In an age of global multi-nationals and public corporations, sophisticated strategic planning, finance, marketing, management, accounting, technology and human-resource processes; there really hasn’t been a professional ethics framework defined for Muslims to ethically manage their businesses in the 21st century corporate environment. Islamic Business Ethic, begins to identify the practical elements of managing ethics within an organization that business leaders can use, offering the framework of an overall Islamic ethics model for an organization to adopt. Ethics defined Ethics is defined as a set of moral principles that distinguish what is right from wrong, and in an Islamic context, the Qur’anic term khuluq is closest to it. Also, some other terms referenced from Qur’an describing the concept of good are khayr (goodness),birr (rightousness), qist (equity), and ‘adl (equilibrium and justice). Islamic Ethical System There are six dominant ethical systems prevalent today and draws out some of the key parameters that shape the Islamic ethical system. Some of these referenced include the importance of an individual’s intention in judging ethical behavior, freedom to believe, and the importance of humankind to experience tazkiyah through active participation in this life. By behaving ethically in the midst of the tests of this worldly life, Muslims prove their worth to God. One of Islamic Business Ethic’s references is from the Quran and Sunnah. For example, in support of the freedom to choose one’s faith, Surah 2:256 from the Quran is referenced: “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error: whoever rejects evil and believes in God has grasped the most trustworthy handhold, that never breaks. And God hears and knows all things.” In addition, an important reference to profit maximization not being the ultimate goal or only ethical outcome of trade in Islam is supported through the following Surah 18:46: “Wealth and sons are allurements of the life of this world; But the things that endure, good deeds, are the best in the sight of your Lord, as rewards, and best as the foundation for hopes.” Islam does not reject profits or trade and does not aim to remove all differences in income and wealth that may result in various social and economic classes. Five Axioms of Islamic Ethical Philosophy There are five axioms that govern Islamic ethics:

Unity (related to the concept of tawhid or oneness of God). buyers. Responsibility (accountability for one’s actions). man has been granted the free will to steer his/her own life as God’s vicegerent on earth). and have made you nations and tribes. Anayah on those “who will be rewarded with the highest place in heaven” is referenced as follows: “Those who. Figuratively. Developing an Ethical Organization In framing a business organization’s ethical responsibilities it needs for developing an ethical organization. cheating/lying etc. and the general social welfare. when they spend. . 3. Benevolence. but interesting comparisons could be made between the current global CSR models and the Islamic perspective on Corporate Social Responsibility. discriminatory labor treatment. 5. but hold a just (balance) between those two extremes. non-transparency. the natural environment. are not extravagant and not niggardly. including the dismal ethical reputation of many businesses from the Muslim world with issues such as bribery/ kickbacks. that you may know one another. not upholding promises.” (Surah 25:67-68) The practical implications of a system based on Islamic ethical principles for Muslim professionals contain of permissible (Halal) and non-permissible (Haram) business areas. or any other stake-holder on the basis of race. Free will (to a certain degree. The three domains of Islamic perspective on corporate social responsibility identified include its stakeholders. sex or religion.1. 2. prostitution and any kind of trade involving uncertainty. the application to Muslim businesses is not to discriminate among employees. drug dealing/ trading. Some of the Haram sources of income included are trading in alcohol. equilibrium relates to the all-embracing harmony in the universe and is also seen as a dynamic characteristic for each Muslim to strive for. For an organization to practice ethics from an Islamic perspective is interestingly very much correlates to the existing global emphasis and debate on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). suppliers. Perhaps CSR is a separate topic. In the case of the Unity axiom. How a culture of loose ethical oversight or leadership can essentially impact the whole organization’s business climate. color. Equilibrium (related to the concept of ‘adl or justice). One of the supporting Surahs (49:13) referenced in this case is: “O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female.” Similarly the concept of equilibrium is put in context for the businesses both figuratively and literally. 4.

an organization’s obligations and responsibilities towards the natural environment again providing practical perspectives on its treatment of animals (application for animal based pharmaceutical research. selling strategy. is also put in perspective for organizations. use of riba in finaning sales Repayment terms.Ethics related organization stakeholders ( those who represent the people and/or organizations that are affected by the actions of an organization). . hoarding. Skills training and qualifications Cost of Inputs Hoarding and price manipulation. medicine etc. Honesty. A summary of the these key stakeholders and their associated ethical issues to be addressed are shown below: Key Ethical Focus Areas Focus Areas Stakeholder(s) Issues Hiring and firing. how employees relate to the firm. abuse of environment Relationship of the firm to its Employees employees Relationship of employees to the Firm firm Relationship of the firm to key stakeholders Suppliers Buyers Debtors General Public Stakeholders/Owners/ Distribution of losses/ Partners The Needygains. Privacy Conflicts of interest. pg 39 Similarly. general social welfare. Fair competition Competition Excerpt From: Islamic Business Ethics. Managing Ethics/ Social Responsibility There are some of practical tools for organizations to put a structured ethical model in place. are categorized as a firms relationship to its employees.Sadaqah. Secrecy. Explicit tools referenced include: • Developing a Code of Ethics to guide the organization’s ethical principles in all its interactions. quantity and quality of goods sold.) and environmental pollution (applies to public safety and hazards to air and water created through waste management by factories) The third domain of the Islamic perspective on corporate social responsibility. and how the firm relates to other economic agents. Wages and working condition.

in discouraging the temptations to exaggerate and lie about one’s products or services during sales or marketing. are honest. but definitely provides some key pieces to work with. and speak the truth. For example.” Similarly. Individual Responsibilities The guidelines key business principles that Muslims are obliged to follow given the Islamic code of ethics and Islam’s emphasis on individual responsibilities and accountability include o o o o o o o Honestly and truthfulness Keeping your word Loving God more than trade Supporting intra-Muslim trade Being humble Using mutual consultation in business affairs Not dealing in fraud or bribery.Islamic references. the importance of honesty and truth is referenced as laid out by this saying of the Prophet Mohammad (saaw): “The merchants will be raised on the day of resurrection as evil-doers. . presenting practical perspectives for organizations to incorporate and manage Islamic ethics and guide for managing ethics within the organization. Islamic Business Ethics provides a framework for Islamic code of ethics.• Ensuring compliance by appointing key organization actors to an ethics review panel. • Adjusting the award system to reward ethical behavior and encourage repetition. Again. the following Ayah (4:29) is used in support of Muslims not resorting to extravagance (the extravagant behavior of the dot-com companies during the internet boom comes to mind here): “O you who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves in vanities: but let there be amongst you traffic and trade by mutual good-will: nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: for verily God has been to you Most Merciful. • Appointment of an ethics advocate to probe management’s decisions regularly.” Overall the book is indeed a great leap forward in helping Muslims engaged in business to act in accordance with the Islamic system of ethics. • Selection and training incorporating an employee’s ethical responsibilities to help set common expectations and understanding within the organization. and. except those who fear God. and dealing justly.