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The Ruling on Trade Relations with Peaceful and Warring Nations

Posted by Abu Iyaad
Translated April 2015
Filed under Fiqh & ʿIbādah

This article is extracted from a chapter in the 2nd unpublished edition of “The Noble, Revered Prophet of Islām” (2015) and which was written to address the ignorance of the Khārijites and Extremists who expel rulers from Islām merely because of trade relations with non-Muslim nations, which is the height of foolishness and ignorance.

WHAT ILLUSTRATES THE DIFFERENCE between genuine Islāmic scholarship and the compound ignorance or pretentiousness of the Khārijites is the fact that they portray dealings between Muslims and non-Muslims which are not unlawful in the Islāmic Sharīʿah to be manifestations of disbelief (kufr). On the basis of such actions, they declare rulers and whole governments (and individuals) to be apostates against whom their twisted version of jihād is to be waged, leading to strife and turmoil in Muslim lands, turning what may already be a bad situation to become much worse, to the detriment of Muslim populations and to the benefit of external predators and hawks.

The Islāmic legislation permits trade relations even with an enemy that engages in war, let alone a people or a nation not engaged in war, so long as it is known that the trade items will not be used in war efforts against the Muslims.[1]

Below are some scholarly citations in this regard.

Necessity of Trade Relations

01  Imām al-Shanqīṭī (رحمه الله) said:[2]

That which al-Ṭabarī and al-Shāfiʿī deemed correct is something necessitated by the spirit of the Islāmic legislation. As for the angle from which we promised to present, then it is that the Muslims today have shared interests with each other and these interests are tied to all the nation states of the world whether those of the polytheists or the People of the Book.

It is not possible for the ummah today to live in isolation from the rest of the nation states due to the interdependent, intertwined nature of their beneficial interests.

This is especially so in the field of economy. Life would become difficult in terms of (essential) products, manufacturing and trade markets. In light of this, the verse grants support to the permissibility of interactions and exchanging beneficial interests with those who are peaceful on the basis of what was said by Ibn Jarīr [al-Ṭabarī] and explained by al-Shāfiʿī.

Trade Relations During War

02  The renowned scholar of Prophetic traditions, Imām al-Bukhārī (رحمه الله) brings a subject heading in his compilation, “Chapter: Buying and Selling with the Polytheists and People of War.” Beneath this chapter heading he relates a tradition through ʿAbd al-Raḥmān bin Abū Bakr who said that a group of them were with the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) when a tall man came with a flock of sheep. The Prophet said to him, “Sale or a gift?” The man said, “No, for sale.” So the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) purchased a sheep from him.[3]

Commentators upon the traditions, such as Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī (رحمه الله) point out that it is permitted to engage in trade relations with non-Muslims except in relation to goods that will be used specifically in matters of war.

03  Ibn Taymiyyah (رحمه الله) mentioned, on the basis of numerous traditions in this field:[4]

If a man was to travel to the land of war in order to purchase from there, it would be permitted in our view, as is indicated in the report of Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) trading, during the lifetime of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), in the land of Shām (Syria) whilst it was a land of war.

He also discusses the permissibility of Muslims trading with the Mongol Tartars so long as the items of trade do not involve what is unlawful in the Sharīʿah.[5]

04  Al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī related that Abū Musā (رضي الله عنه) wrote to ʿUmar (رضي الله عنه), the second caliph, informing him that when Muslim traders enter the land of war, a ten percent (in tax) is taken from them. So ʿUmar (رضي الله عنه) wrote back to him and said: “Take from them the likes of that when they come to our lands, ten percent.”[6]

Despite this, the Khārijites excommunicate rulers, governments and their instruments such as the military and police, judging them all to be apostates because of their diplomatic and trade relations with non-Muslim nations. This indicates the severity of their ignorance and lack of understanding of basic principles in the Sharīʿah.

Regarding Boycotting Goods

As for when a Muslim, out of protective jealousy, for Islām, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and Muslims, wishes to boycott, either as a merchant, or an individual, the goods of the people of disbelief, who harm Islām, abuse the Prophet, or kill Muslims, then Muslim scholars such as Shaykh al-Albānī (رحمه الله) consider this obligatory and Shaykh al-Luḥaydān (رحمه الله) said it is commended and encouraged and does not require permission of the ruler.

However, this is understood to be on a personal level and one cannot revile or belittle other Muslims who do not do so, or accuse them or hating Muslims or treachery and the likes so long as they are not aiding and supporting the enemies with trade in items that are directly used in oppressing or killing of Muslims, since the Sharīʿah did not make that unlawful, and we see in the action of the Prophet, the Companions and in the jurisprudence of the scholars of the Muslims what opposes that.

1. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) died whilst his shield was mortgaged to a Jew from whom he had bought thirty weights of measure of barley which he had taken to feed his family. Related by Aḥmad in the Musnad (5/137), al-Tirmidhī (no. 1214), Ibn Mājah (no. 2439) and others from Ibn ʿAbbās.
2. Aḍwāʾ al-Bayān (6/155). Referring to the verse (60:8) mentioned earlier.
3. Related by al-Bukhārī (no. 2103).
4. Iqtiḍāʾ Ṣirāṭ al-Mustaqīm, Dār ʿĀlam al-Kutub (2/15).
5. Refer to Majmūʿ al-Fatāwā (29/275).
6. Al-Sunan of al-Bayḥaqī in Kitāb al-Jizyah (no. 19283).

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