Dec 13, 2014

Character Quest (1)

When it comes to a role model for business in Islam, many will most likely refer to Abdur Rahman bin Auf, one of the most virtuous and super generous companions whom we can also consider as one of the most successful businessmen of his time. To describe his wealth, there was one day when his business caravan--laden with goods (to be sold for business)--was so enormous, so much so that the front camel was on one end of the border city of Medina, while the last camel was on the other border across.

It is understandable why Abdur Rahman bin Auf was such a role model just from how that story beautifully ends (long story short, he gave the whole caravan for charity).

No wonder, radiAllahu anhu.

Only very recently I knew thaton this matter, there's another person to whom the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) actually gave such high appraisal and compliment.1

That person was the Prophet's (PBUH) first business partner when he (PBUH) started to do business in his 20's. He was known by the name of As-Saib bin Abi As-Saib (Saib the son of the father of Saib)--who later on became a muslim--also known as Abu Saib, radiAllahu anhu.

It was narrated that after about forty years (during the conquest of Mecca), the Prophet (PBUH) met Abu Saib, and in front of his companions he (PBUH) said,
"Abu Saib is the best business partner! He would never undercut somebody while doing business and he would never lie and cheat."

Some questions immediately came in mind when I heard about this story, but there was one that intrigued me most: why did the Prophet (PBUH) describe his business partner that way?

In the same narration, it's mentioned that both the Prophet (PBUH) and Abu Saib made a good profit, so obviously they're smart enough to run the business in such young age. So why didn't the Prophet (PBUH) describe Abu Saib from that perspective? 

Meanwhile, you know, when people talk about so-called successful entrepreneurs nowadays, words like "creative" or "innovative" are usually used to describe them. Also, more often than not, people use the word "inspiring."

Although in some occasions I can't help but ask, "how inspiring is inspiring?" Don't you think what's inspiring to one, may not be inspiring to others (vice versa)? Anyway, that's not really my point.

So again, back to my question, why did the Prophet (PBUH) describe someone--being the best business partner, or businessman rather--that way? Why not, first and foremost, mention his intelligence for example? Of course honesty and nobility are very important--I get it, don't get me wrong--but among other qualities this man has, why was that particular attribute pointed out?

I think I'll just end my writing there.

1. One of my favorite episodes of Seerah by Sheikh Abdul Nasir Jangda, "Muhammad the Business Man & a Marriage Proposal"

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