The business-related words found in Holy Quran
There are no exact synonyms of the words ‘business’, ‘commerce’ or ‘merchandise’ in the Holy Quran. Modern Arabic dictionaries do have some words, but the common usage of these words has started very recently. In fact, the respective connotations of these words have recent origins. And naturally, we don’t think of the origins of these words.
Business is a practice to keep yourself busy. The original meaning of commerce was social interaction between various individuals. Presently, we are led to believe that business ethics are flexible. That the politics and business are dirty games has been inflicted in our heads. But, if we look back to our pious religion, we will see that the religious framework of business is very different. In it, the talking about trade, buying, selling, and transactions deal with services of physical and spiritual attributes. The trade follows all rules of justice and equity. The deal must be fully understood by the parties involved.
The rules of religious business transactions are purely based on Holy Qur’an. Also, the traditions and practices of our beloved Prophet (PBUH) and his followers are explained in the books of jurisprudence. Therefore, if you look through the Qur’an with all of your heart, we will definitely get a few words related to business.
1. Ishtira or purchasing and exchanging in business:
The word Ishtira has been used in various forms in Qur’an. And the context is always otherworldly and spiritual. It is not related to only the pursuit of momentary gains and worldly conveniences. It should never be at the expense of the conclusive success in the hereafter.
The examples we will get especially in Surah Al Baqara,
‘Indeed, they who conceal what Allah has sent down of the Book and exchange it for a small price – those consume not into their bellies except the Fire. And Allah will not speak to them on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He purifies them. And they will have a painful punishment. Those are the ones who have exchanged guidance for error and forgiveness for punishment. How patient they are for [i.e., in pursuit of] the Fire!’ [ 2:174-175]
2. Bai’ or selling, buying, or engaging in a transaction in business:
If you read Qur’an minutely, you will find this word 11 times. It refers to worldly trades in some places it is used to refer to worldly trades. But at the same time, it has been also pointed out that worldly trade is less important than the real spiritual attribute of being.
In Surah Ibrahim, we read, Allah stated,
‘[O Muḥammad], tell My servants who have believed to establish prayer and spend from what We have provided them, secretly and publicly, before a Day comes in which there will be no exchange [i.e., ransom], nor any friendships.’ [14:31]
The other meaning of Bai’ is to extend and accept loyalty. It is stated in Surah Al Mumtahana.
3. Tijarah or trade and commerce:
There are 9 occurrences of this word that can be found in the Holy Qur’an. Each occurrence explains a different meaning to this word. But, there is a similarity between each meaning… they all are somewhat related to the spirituality of a true Muslim.
Let us take the example of Surah Fatir, it is written that,
‘Indeed, those who recite the Book of Allah and establish prayer and spend [in His cause] out of what We have provided them, secretly and publicly, [can] expect a transaction [i.e., profit] that will never perish – That He may give them in full their rewards and increase for them of His bounty. Indeed, He is Forgiving and Appreciative.’ [35:29-30]
Here the context is not at all commercial, instead, it talks about the spiritual development of a being.
Hence, it can be said that the concept of business and commerce is very different in our Holy Qur’an. This way, Allah helps us to become detached from worldly desires and sins.