Abu Hurayrah (rta) narrates that Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Verily, Allah the Exalted is pure and accepts only that which is pure. Allah has commanded the believers to do that which he has commanded the messengers. The Exalted has said: ‘O Messengers! Eat of the good things and do right.’ And the Exalted also said: ‘O Believers! Eat of the good things that we have provided for you.'” Then Prophet (sa) mentioned a man who after a long journey is dishevelled and dust-coloured. “This man stretches his hands out towards the sky and says: ‘O Lord, O Lord,’ while his food is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, his clothing unlawful and his nourishment is unlawful. How is he to be answered (in such a state)?” (Muslim)
More importantly, if an act is not pure and good, according to Shariah (Allah’s ordained laws), Allah (swt) will not accept it. He may not even respond to one who calls on Him if his sustenance is not from permissible sources. The Hadeeth explicitly mentions of living off of Haram means. This is one of the greatest and most widespread illness of today’s Muslim Ummah. People do not care about the source of their earnings as long as they have a comfortable life.
Some of the common pitfalls regarding unlawful earnings may be discussed, like Riba (usury or interest). Allah commands in the Quran: “O you who believe! Devour not usury, doubled and multiplied; but fear Allah that you may prosper. Fear the fire which is prepared for those who reject faith…” (Al-Imran 3:130-131)
Admonishing the people of Madyan, who used to cheat others in trade, Allah states in the Quran: “…Give just measure and weight, nor withhold from the people the things that are their due; and do no mischief on the earth after it has been set in order: that will be best for you if you have faith.” (Al-A’raf 7:85) The people of Madyan continued to earn by non-permissible means and were ultimately destroyed by an earthquake.
Similarly, lying to gain profits, causing damage to another’s livelihood to eliminate competition, accepting and giving bribes and practicing unethical behaviour of the like are also common in the Muslim world today. A disgraceful example is when some Muslim nations are quoted among the most corrupt administrations in the world.
As parents, we have a great responsibility. Firstly, to educate ourselves and secondly, to educate our children in the formative years about the lawful as prescribed by the Quran. Similarly, the Muslim youth when choosing their careers, must stop and think whether the area of education which they are choosing will lead them to lawful earnings or not.
Rizq (provision) is the bounty of Allah which He bestows on His creatures. He states in the Quran: “…All bounties are in the hand of Allah. He grants them to whom He pleases; and Allah cares for all, and he knows all things.” (Al-Imran 3:73) We should never assume that by following Allah’s prescribed means of earnings we, as Muslims, would be afflicted with poverty or disgrace. This is only a trap set by the devil to deviate good people.
If we want our prayers to be responded then we have to fulfill the conditions stipulated by Allah upon us and completely avoid all that is non-permissible.