Placing profit before the Prophet?
Monday, August 1st, 2016
Recently a restaurateur was convicted of causing the death of a customer after his restaurant supplied victim Paul Wilson, 38, with a curry containing peanuts. Richard Wright QC, prosecuting, said Mr. Wilson had informed staff that his meal must be nut-free and said the restaurant had written “no nuts” on his order and on the lid of his curry. The victim suffered a fatal anaphylactic shock after consuming the curry purchased from the Indian restaurant in Easingwold, North Yorkshire.
The restaurateur, Mohammed Zaman, 52, was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter and sentenced to six years in prison at Teesside crown court after the jury was told that Mr. Zaman was cutting costs by replacing almond power with cheaper groundnut powder containing peanuts in recipes. The restaurateur had a “reckless and cavalier attitude to risk” and “put profit before safety” at all his outlets, the jury was also told.
I wish that I could say that such a case is an isolated one. We hear time and again in the local and national press of restaurateurs and other business people cutting corners in the service and products they provide in order to maximise profits at the expense and safety of the paying customer. Whilst this may be a general malaise in the food trade, I am uniquely saddened and annoyed when a Muslim name is associated with such practices.
It would seem to me that the concept and principle of amanah (sacred trust) has eroded amongst Muslims. The Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was known as “al-Amin” – the trustworthy, someone who keeps a trust, someone you can rely on not to betray your trust. The word amin has the same etymological root as iman – faith, and aman – safety/security. Fundamentally, this is the same meaning as islam, which tells you the gravity and seriousness of this principle.
“…Give full measure and weight in justice and reduce not the things that are due to the people, and do not commit mischief in the land, causing corruption. That which is left by God for you (after giving the rights of the people) is better for you, if you are believers.” (Quran 11:85-86)
“One who does not fulfil trust obligations has no Faith (iman) with him; and one who does not stand by his word of promise has no religion with him.” [Reported by al-Baihaqi in Shu’ab al-Iman]
The above ayat and hadith underline this principle and we can find other narrations such as the Prophet telling us that the best amongst us are the ones from whom others are safe.
Amanah in business and trade is especially important and particularly so when it comes to food and food security. Rizq – sustenance, is from Allah. Rizq is what you eat and what you earn. Muslims recognise that it is all from God. When you feed someone, you are not in and of yourself feeding them but are the means by which Allah has made provision for someone through you. Whether you have sold them that food for a profit or you have given them that food for free, you are only the means by which Allah has provided them with sustenance. With this in mind, when you cheat someone out of their rizq you are ultimately cheating God.
The principle and Sunnah of amanah must once again be at the forefront of our business and ethical ideals if we are to succeed and gain the blessings of trade. Cutting corners for short term gain, may lead to an eternity of loss. Let us put the example of the Prophet before profit.