Working Life in Arabia in the Days of the Prophet (SAW)

(Original text: Yaḥyā ibn Maḥmūd al-Wāsiṭī) / Public domain

Islam does not encourage unemployment. True believers will never cope with the burden of prolonged unemployment.

There is a strong emphasis on making a decent living in the Quran and Hadith. The prophets and messengers sent by Allah have also brought different professions to earn a living. Today, we will learn about the occupations in Arabia in the Prophet (SAW).

Business: Trade was one of the professions of the Quraish. They had a reputation in trading all over Arabia. The Prophet (SAW) was doing his own business. He encouraged the Ummah to do business in halal ways. The Prophet (SAW) said, ‘the truthful, trustworthy merchant is with the Prophets, the truthful, and the martyrs.’ (Tirmidhi, Hadith: 1209)

Teaching: The Prophet (SAW) himself was a teacher who showed the way of light to the whole world. He said, ‘Ba’athani mu’alliman- Allah sent me as a teacher.’ (Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 1478)

Hunting: In the Prophet (SAW) time, some people in Arabia used to make a living by hunting. Hamza Ibn Abdul Muttalib was known as a skilled hunter in Arabia at that time. It is forbidden to hunt in Ihram.

‘O you who have believed, Allah will surely test you through something of the game that your hands and spears [can] reach, that Allah may make evident those who fear Him unseen. And whoever transgresses after that – for him is a painful punishment.’ (Al-Ma’idah, verse: 94)

Collecting wood: In the time of the Prophet (SAW), some people used to make a living by cutting wood. He has encouraged people to take up this profession.

Animal Husbandry: The Prophet (SAW) himself was associated with this profession. Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (SAW) said: ‘Allah did not send any prophet but shepherded sheep.’ His companions asked him, ‘Did you do the same?’ The Prophet (SAW) replied, ‘Yes, I used to shepherd the sheep of Mecca’s people for some Qirats.’ (Bukhari, Hadith: 2272)

Farming: Farming is one of the oldest professions in human civilization. This profession has needed support for many years. This profession has also been encouraged in Islam. Through the Holy Qur’an, Allah the Almighty has given guidance to the people of this profession. ‘And He is who causes gardens to grow, [both] trellised and untrellised, and palm trees and crops of different [kinds of] food and olives and pomegranates, similar and dissimilar. Eat of [each of] its fruit when it yields and gives it’s due [zakah] on the day of its harvest. And be not excessive. Indeed, He does not like those who commit excess.’ (Surat al-An’am: 141)

Arms production: For the prosperity of a country, just as the production of food grains is essential, so is the acquisition of military power for the security of the country. In the time of the Prophet (SAW), the people of Arabia were also very skilled in the production of weapons.

Spinning: In the textile industry, the Arabs were behind all other countries. Most of the known industries, including weaving and tanning, were located in neighbouring Yemen, Syria, and Iraq. Women worked as spinners throughout Arabia.