Trading and Interacting with the non Muslims
During the history of his calling to Islam, the Prophet and his companions still engaged in social interactions with the Jews. This fact can shed some lights upon us on the correct way to boycott products of the Jews’ companies.
The history of Islam have gone through ups and downs. At the beginning, the muslims were in the weak condition, thus they were easily oppressed by others. Oppression, intimidation, and even murder of some muslims colored the dawn of the history of this religion. But that miserable condition didn’t last long, since it was changed into victories and glories.
One day, there was a man who came to see the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- to complain about the poverty that had struck him. Not long after that, another man came to complain about the robbers. Answering their complaints, the Prophet said, “O Adi Ibn Hatim, have you ever gone to the city of Al Haira?”. Adi replied, “No I haven’t, but I’ve heard about that city.” The Prophet said, “If you are granted a long life, you’ll be able to see a woman who travels from the city of Al Haira to Mecca to perform circumambulation around the Kaaba, she has nothing to fear except Allah.” (Narrated by Bukhari).
This hadith depicts the advancement of Islamic history at the time of the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him-. Glories over glories were seized by the muslims under the Prophet’s command, and after him, under the guided caliphs, until it reached its peak during the reign of Umar Ibn Khattab, having conquered two superpower countries at that time, Rome and Persia.
By observing the development of Islamic history since its beginning until it reached the peak of glory, we could find a unique phenomenon that deserved to be looked upon.
Even though the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- managed to conquer the Jews tribes, he still maintained business with them. He entrusted the management of his fields in Khaibar to the jews, with the requirement of profit sharing between them. (Muttafaqun ‘alaihi)
Even until his death, he never hesitated to transact with the jews.
Aisha, the Prophet’s wife, -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- narrated, that at the end of his life, the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- bought several pounds of wheat from a Jew merchant. But because he was unable to pay it at that moment, he mortgaged his shield to that merchant. And until his death came, he was still unable to redeem his shield from that merchant. Thus this story was immortalized by Imam Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad and others in their books of Hadith.
The glory that they had achieved didn’t stop the muslims to have business deals with the followers of other faiths. This condition continued even after the muslims had managed to reach their peak of glory at the reign of the leader of muslims, Umar Ibn A Khatthab, -may Allah be pleased with him.-
The business relation between muslims and the followers of other faiths also kept on improving, although the enmity between muslims and the infidels also kept on going. Ibn Abi Syaiba and Al Baihaqi narrated that Abu Musa Al Ash’ari complained about the treatment given by the enemy of Islam (the harbi infidels) to the muslim merchants who traded in their countries. They collected tribute about 10% from the income of every muslim merchant who came to trade in their countries.
Responding to their treatment, the caliph Umar commanded Abu Musa to treat the infidel merchants who entered the Islamic countries equally.
This attitude showed proved that having a business relation with infidels is legal, as long as it is not threatening or violating the shari’a rules. Moreover, if it is not possible for the muslims to confront the infidel countries.
Therefore, in the past, the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- signed a peace treaty with some of the Jew tribes, and the infidels of Quraish.
Sheikh Abdul Aziz Ibn Baz said, “Every country is responsible to study about its own interests. If a country were sure that what best for it is to have a diplomatic, business, and other relations which are allowed in shari’a (with the infidel countries, -ed), then it is alright for it to have the necessary relation. And if the country were certain that what best for it is to severe the tie with the Jews, then that’s the decision that must be executed. Likewise is the case of business relation with other infidel countries.
This is applies when the muslims are in the weak condition, thus they are not able to confront the infidels, or to collect tribute (jizya) from them if they are the people of Scriptures or Zoroastrian. But if the muslims are strong enough to have a war against them, then it is not allowed to sign a peace treaty (with them, -ed) or stop the war, or eliminate the obligation of paying the tribute. The peace treaty is only allowed if the muslims are truly unable to fight against them, or unable to force them to pat the tribute.” (See: “Majmu’ Fatwa of Ibn Baz’, 18/450-453)
The foundation of Sheikh Ibn Baz’s explanation above is a verse in the Qur’an, which can be translated as, “Those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day – even though they were given the scriptures, and who do not hold as unlawful that which Allah and His Messenger have declared to be unlawful, and who do not follow the true religion – fight against them until they pay tribute out of their hand and are utterly subdued. ” (QS. At-Taubah/The Repentance: 29)
From that explanation, we could see that the decision to boycott certain thing, or what famously known as “embargo”, is under the authority of the muslim government. As for common people, whoever he or she is, is not allowed to do something presumptuously before the government’s decision, so that there will be no chaos among the society. And Allah knows best.
Author: Ustadz Dr. Muhammad Arifin Badri