Rules & Ethics of Marketplace (Souq)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Shopping is everybody’s daily routine; and going to marketplace (Souq) is a daily practice. Can you shed some light on the related rules, namely with respect to women?

There is no doubt the Islam, as a religion, has not only regulated all aspects of life, but also established certain rules and traditions that govern the Muslim community and Muslims’ dealings. Muslim scholars are always, in the past and at present, keen on manifesting the marketplace’s ethics. It is sufficient here to mention only two examples: one is the ‘Rules of Marketplace’ by Yahya bin Omar Al Kenani, of Andalucía (died in 289H); and the other is ‘Rules of Markets in Islam,’ by Ahmed Al Darwish.

Needless to say that markets are mentioned in the Holy Quran: (And the messengers whom We sent before thee were all (men) who ate food and walked through the markets:….) (Surat Al Furqan: 25:20).

Allah’s Messenger, Muhammad (pbuh), used to frequently call on the marketplace to the degree that the unbelievers criticised him, as Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran: “And they say: ‘What sort of a messenger is this, who eats food, and walks through the markets? Why has not an angel been sent down to him to give admonition with him?” (Surat Al Furqan: 25:7).

In addition, there are many recounts of markets in Sahih Al Bukhari, as narrated by Abdur Rahman bin Auf, the Hadith no: 264, saying: “When we came to Medina, Allah's Apostle established a bond of brotherhood between us as migrants and the Ansar. We were offered to share half of all what the Ansar have, but I (Abdur-Rahman) replied: ‘I am not in need of all that. Is there any market-place where trade is practiced?.’ The answer was positive: ‘The market of Qainuqa.”

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) said that the Prophet (pbuh) said: “The dearest parts on the face of the earth near Allah are its mosques, and the most hated parts near Allah are its markets.”

Therefore, it is the duty of every Muslim to comply with the Sharia rules in all what he does and all what he utters. A virtuous person should learn about the Sharia principles that enable him to be so. As narrated by Ataa Al-Khursani: “The sessions of remembrance are those where of halal (right and permitted) and haram (wrong or sin), how to buy and sell; to pray and fast; to marry and divorce; to offer pilgrimage and the likes of it.”

Al Shawkani said that studying the principles and teachings of the religion ordained in the Holy Scripture. It is validly narrated that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) that he urged for gaining knowledge of all branches and disciplines of the religion, including, inter alia, a trader must be well-versed in his trade. A businessman must be proficient of his business way beyond not only to avoid being a victim to ambiguity, deceit or fraud, but also to be able to benefit his clients.

Citing the rules of markets would require reams of pages. However, here are some of the ethics and rules that should be abided by shoppers:

First

It is preferable for any person entering into a Souq (marketplace) to say: “one has the right to be worshipped except Allah, alone, without partner, to Him belongs all sovereignty and praise. He gives life and causes death, and He is living and does not die. In His hand is all good and He Omnipotent over all things.” Omar ibn Al Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him) said that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “Whoever said so while entering the Souq, Allah will wipe a million bad deeds from his record and grant him a million good deeds, and will elevate him a million degree (of virtue)- ([and will build him a house in paradise.” This proves that this invocation (Du’aa) is desirably favoured when entering the Souq and other shopping areas where people trade, buy and sell, even if separate.

Second

A virtuous Muslim should not call on a Souq or marketplace unless there is a need to. Simply, because of all the deception and fraud that goes on. The Souqs/markets are places where false measure is given, and where every day false oaths are sworn. They are also places of stinginess, avarice, wrangling, and disputation. Therefore, an upright Muslim should not be fervent to be enter a Souq/marketplace, keen on indulging in the worldly pleasures; nor to be the first to enter or the last to leave.

It is narrated by Muslim Salman Al Farsi (May Allah be pleased with him) that: “Don not, if you can, be the first to enter a marketplace; or the last to leave. Therein is a battle with the devil; and therein the devil hoists its banner.”

Scholar Imam, Al Nawawi, said: “In the marketplace is the battle against the devil.” He depicted the Souq/marketplace and the actions taking place therein as a battle with the devil. All forms of falsehood and untruth can be found in a Souq/marketplace: from argument to dispute; from deception to fraud; also intrigue and false contracts, false measuring or weighing, and false oaths, which all are seeds of malice and rift. These are the tools exploited by the devil to sow such seeds

Also, narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar: the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) as saying: “None of you must buy in opposition to one another; and do not go out to meet the merchandise, (but one must wait) till it is brought down to the market.” (Sahih Al-Albani)

Third

To exchange greetings is one of the practices established by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is saying ‘Al Salamu Alaiykum).

Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-'as (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: A man asked Messenger of Allah (pbuh), ‘Which act in Islam is the best?’ He (pbuh) replied, ‘To feed (the poor and the needy) and to greet those whom you know and those you do not know.’ [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Also Abdullah bin Salam (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (bpuh) saying, ‘O people, exchange greetings of peace (i.e., say: As-Salamu 'Alaikum to one another), feed people, strengthen the ties of kinship, and be in prayer when others are asleep, you will enter Paradise in peace.’ [At- Tirmithi].

Fourth

To timely offer prayers, observing the due praying times, namely the Friday Prayers. Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran: “O ye who believe! When the call is heard for the prayer of the day of congregation (Friday), hasten earnestly unto remembrance of Allah and leave your trading. That is better for you if ye did but know.” (Surat Friday 62:9)

“And when the prayer is ended, then disperse in the land and seek of Allah’s bounty, and remember Allah much, that ye may be successful.” (Surat Friday 62:10)

Allah Almighty ordained all Muslims to offer prayers, timely and regularly, ‘as prayers – salâh – means to make a connection between the worshipper and his Lord;’ to leave everything at hand, including the fruitful process of selling and buying, which is may busy a Muslim from the prayers

Fifth

To observe moral ethics and Sharia moralities in all your dealings and sayings. An upright Muslim should not be impolitely argumentative, aggressive or quarrelsome. Aayeshah (May Allah be pleased with her) reports, that: “It was not the nature of Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) to talk indecently, nor did he engage himself in the use of obscene language. Nor did he shout and talk in the bazaars (which is against dignity). He did not avenge a bad deed with a bad one, but forgave it, and thereafter did not even mention it.” (Sahih Al-Albani).

This tradition has also been transmitted by Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, through a different chain of narrators; and this version adds: “Do not be irregular, so have your hearts irregular, and beware of tumult such as found in marketplaces.” (Sahih Al-Albani)

Sixth

To refrain from harming or causing harm to others. Abu Musa (May Allah bepleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “Whoever enters our mosque or passes through our market with a bow and arrows with him, he should hold them by their heads lest it should injure any of the Muslims.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]. Taking analogy from the above Hadith, it is necessary for those who enter into marketplaces not to harm or cause harm to others in any other forms or by any other or methods.

Seventh

Not to recite verses from Quran aloud. This is a sign of disrespect to the Holy Scripture. Also Souqs and marketplaces, including shopping malls and other buy/sell areas are known to be boisterous and noisy. Moreover, all those therein are busy buying and selling

Eighth

To be lenient and tolerant in all dealings, including buying and selling. This is one of the tenets of Islam and it is strongly stressed in all the prophetic traditions, namely in the following Hadith. It was narrated from Jabir bin Abdullah that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “May Allah have mercy on a person who is lenient when he sells, lenient when he buys, and lenient when he asks for payment.” (Bukhari).

Ninth

To lower one’s gaze out of respect to others’ privacy. As Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran: “Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do.” (Surat Noor 24:30).

While in the Hadith, Abu Saed Al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (pbuh) said, ‘Beware of sitting on roads and ways.’ The people said: ‘We have but them as sitting places.’ Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, ‘If you have to sit there, then observe the rights of the way.’ They asked, ‘What are the rights of the way?’ He (pbuh) said, ‘To lower your gaze (on seeing what is illegal or sinful to look at), and (removal of harmful objects), returning greetings, enjoining good and forbidding wrong.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Tenth

For women to dress decorously and observe decency in all their garments. An upright Muslim woman must put on respectable clothes covering all her body, with the exception of her face and two hands. Women’s decorous garments should not be tight or revealing.

Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran: “O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad)….” (Surat Al Ahzab 33: 59)

He also says: “And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms…..” (Surat Al Noor 24: 31)

Also an upright Muslims, namely women, are urged to observe the ethics of speaking, as Allah Almighty says in the Quran, addressing the Prophet’s wives: “…..if ye do fear (Allah), be not too complacent of speech, lest one in whose heart is a disease should be moved with desire: but speak ye a speech (that is) just.” (Surat Ah Ahzab 33:32)

In interpreting the meanings of the above verse, Ibn Katheer says, that women should not speak to a foreigner using soft or seductive words (Ibn Katheer 3/482).

In interpreting the meanings of the above verse, Ibn Katheer says, that women should not speak to a foreigner using soft or seductive words (Ibn Katheer 3/482).

Within this context, it was narrated from Abu Maleeh AL-Hudhail that some women from the people of Homs asked permission to enter upon Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her). She said: “Perhaps you are among those (women) who enter bathhouses? I heard the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) say: ‘Any woman who takes off her clothes anywhere but in her husbandss house, has torn the screen between her and Allah.’” (Sunan Ibn Majah 3750)

Eleventh

Not to squander; to avoid extravagance or boastfulness. An upright Muslim should always be careful not to squander or dissipate while in Souq/marketplace; and to buy that what he or she does not really need.

While shopping, a virtuous Muslim should also boycott the products and brands of the anti-Islam countries, as much as possible. Also refrain from ill-deals like buying liquors, wines and other unlawful products.

Twelfth

To avoid borrowing moneys or fall in debts unless in real need.

It was narrated that 'Aishah said: “The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) often used to seek refuge (with Allah) from debt and sin.’ I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, how often you seek refuge from debt!’ He said: ‘Whoever gets into debt speaks and lies, and makes a promise and breaks it.’” (Sunan an-Nasa'i 5454)

 

To conclude, Islam as a religion has established certain tenets and teachings to help human beings prosper and live in abundance. In return, an upright Muslim must observe and abide by what Allah almighty has ordained and what Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) emphasised in all his traditions and Hadith, including the rules and ethics of Souqs/marketplaces.