Islam and business

Vocations in the Quran (Part 1)

Maulana Abdur-Rahman ‘Attari Madani

Dear Islamic brothers! Mention of everything can be found in the Holy Quran. Allah Almighty states:

وَ نَزَّلْنَا عَلَیْكَ الْكِتٰبَ تِبْیَانًا لِّكُلِّ شَیْءٍ

“And We have sent down this Quran upon you, which is a clear explanation of all things.” [1]

Sayyiduna Abu Bakr Mujahid رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه stated:

ما مِنْ شَیْءٍ فِی الْعَالَمِ إِلَّا وَهُوَ فِی كِتَابِ الـلّٰـهِ

 ‘There is nothing except that it has been mentioned in the Holy Quran’. [2]

‘Abdullah b. ‘Abbas رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهُمَا said, “If the rope of my camel is lost, I will certainly find it in the Book of Allah.” [3]

In conclusion, the Holy Quran contains knowledge of everything, although our intellects may limit how much of it we grasp.

A variety of occupations mentioned in the Holy Quran

Given the depth of the Holy Quran, it is not surprising that this glorious revelation describes several vocations and occupations. Imam Jalal al-Deen al-Suyuti al-Shaafi’i رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه writes, “The origins of occupations are mentioned in the Glorious Qur’an, as well as the names of the tools needed for them. [4]

Selected vocations in the Holy Quran:


The Quran states:

اٰتُوْنِیْ زُبَرَ الْحَدِیْدِؕ-

“Bring me sheets of iron.” [5]

This verse is part of the narrative about Sayyiduna Dhul Qarnayn رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ—one of four people to rule over the world. He met a group of people who were being tyrannised by the Yajuj and Majuj people. They requested him to construct a wall to defend them against Yajuj and Majuj. The construction of the wall started, and Sayyiduna Dhul Qarnayn رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ said, “Bring me sheets of iron.” When iron was presented to him, he built the foundations of the wall. When the aforementioned foundations reached a body of water nearby, stones were melted to form copper, and this was utilized as a means of joining together further slabs of iron. Wood was placed between these slabs and the gaps were filled with coal. The slabs of iron and copper were then given flame, fashioning and shaping them into a wall which reached the height of a mountain, leaving no space between it and the neighbouring mountain. Finally, molten copper was poured over this wall, eventually solidifying into a sturdy body. [6]

It is mentioned in another verse of the Holy Quran:

وَ اَلَنَّا لَهُ الْحَدِیْدَۙ(۱۰)

‘We made iron soft for him.’ [7]

The blessed hand of Sayyiduna Dawood عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم would soften metal like kneaded flour, without the use of fire or equipment to shape it. [8]


Statement of Allah Almighty:

اَفَرَءَیْتُمْ مَّا تَحْرُثُوْنَؕ(۶۳) ءَاَنْتُمْ تَزْرَعُوْنَهٗۤ اَمْ نَحْنُ الزّٰرِعُوْنَ(۶۴) لَوْ نَشَآءُ لَجَعَلْنٰهُ حُطَامًا فَظَلْتُمْ تَفَكَّهُوْنَ(۶۵) اِنَّا لَمُغْرَمُوْنَۙ(۶۶) بَلْ نَحْنُ مَحْرُوْمُوْنَ(۶۷)

So, have you considered that which you sow? Is it you who cause crops to grow, or are We the Grower? If We will, We can make it like dry trampled grass, so you would remain saying sorrowfully. That ‘We have been ruined (in our wealth).’ ‘Rather, we remained ill-fated.’ [9]


It is a statement of Allah Almighty:

فَاَوْقِدْ لِیْ یٰهَامٰنُ عَلَى الطِّیْنِ فَاجْعَلْ لِّیْ صَرْحًا

“Therefore, O Haman, after baking the clay (bricks), build a (tall) palace for me.” [10]

This verse describes an interesting event. When Sayyiduna Musa عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم invited Fir’awn to believe in the Oneness of Allah Almighty and to worship Him alone, Fir’awn refused and said to his minister, Haman, “O Haman! Make me bricks of fire and build me a very high palace, so that I may see the Lord of Musa.”

In fact, Fir’awn was grossly mistaken, thinking that Allah Almighty dwelled in a specific location and has a body that Fir’awn could reach. So he ordered Haman to construct a building. Acting upon this wretched order of Fir’awn, Haman gathered thousands of artisans and labourers, made bricks, assembled construction materials, and built the tallest building in the world at the time.

Haman is said to be the first brick-maker in the world. This occupation did not exist before him. [11]

Jewellery making

Allah Almighty has said:

وَ اتَّخَذَ قَوْمُ مُوْسٰى مِنْۢ بَعْدِهٖ مِنْ حُلِیِّهِمْ عِجْلًا جَسَدًا لَّهٗ خُوَارٌؕ-

And in the absence of Moosa, his people moulded a calf from their ornaments; [12]

When Sayyiduna Moosa عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم went to Mount Toor to speak with Allah Almighty, after 30 days, an individual named Samri collected all the jewellery of the Israelite tribes. Samri was a respected community member and a goldsmith. Once all of the jewellery was melted down, he cast a calf sculpture which the Israelites began to worship. [13]

Glass work

Allah Almighty has stated:

قَالَ اِنَّهٗ صَرْحٌ مُّمَرَّدٌ مِّنْ قَوَارِیْرَ۬ؕ-

“Sulayman said, ‘This is only a smooth courtyard; paved with glass.” [14]

When Queen Bilqees came to Sayyiduna Sulayman عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم, she was told to come to the courtyard. The throne of Sayyiduna Sulayman عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم was situated in the middle of the courtyard and his noble presence was seated upon it. The courtyard featured a marvellous glass floor with fish swimming in the water underneath it. When Queen Bilqees saw this, she assumed it to be deep water, and she lifted the clothing covering her ankles to walk across. Sayyiduna Sulayman عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم said to her, “This is not water, rather, this is a pleasant courtyard, fashioned with glass”. [15]



[1] [Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 14, Surah Al-Nahl, verse 89)

[2] (Al-itqaan Fi ‘Uloom Al-Quran, vol. 2, p. 1027)

[3] (Al-itqaan Fi ‘Uloom Al-Quran, vol. 2, p. 1028)

[4] (Al-Itqaan Fi ‘Uloom Al-Quran, vol. 2, p. 1031)

[5] [Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 16, Surah Al-Kahf, verse 96)

[6] (Sirat-ul-Jinaan, vol. 6, p. 36)

[7] [Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 22, Surah Saba, verse 10)

[8] (Khazain Al-Irfan)

[9] [Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 27, Surah Al-Waaqi’ah, verse 63 to 67)

[10] [Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 20, Surah Al-Qasas, verse 38)

[11] (Siraat Al-Jinaan, vol. 7, p. 284, 285, summarised)

[12] [Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 9, Surah Al-A’raaf, verse 148)

[13] (Sirat Al-Jinaan, vol. 3, pp. 434, 435, summarised)

[14] [Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 19, Surah Al-Naml, verse 44)

[15] (Sirat Al-Jinaan, vol. 7, p.  208, summarised)




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