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Bringing Work Back in Islamic Ethics

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Text Preview J Bus Ethics (2013) 112:257–270
DOI 10.1007/s10551-012-1246-1

Bringing Work Back in Islamic Ethics
Bayu Taufiq Possumah • Abdul Ghafar Ismail
Shahida Shahimi

Received: 18 January 2012 / Accepted: 7 February 2012 / Published online: 22 February 2012 Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Abstract Religion and work are seldom discussed. The
two have caused scholars to question the religion’s role
with work. This paper reviews research on the integrate
between religion and work by examining issues of concept,
definition, measurement, and reviewing research that
examines the relationship of work and religion with respect
to: different times, types of people, organize human interactions and sources of knowledge. We then discuss the methodological requirement for reintegrating work studies
into social institutional theory and indicate what the conceptual payoffs of such integration might be. These payoffs include breaking new conceptual ground, resolving theoretical puzzles and envisioning the nature of new social institutions


Work Á Islam Á Ethic

The role of religion in our working life has been known
since the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). However, the contemporary views on the concept of work as discussed in several studies such as Applebaum (1992) and Gamst
(1995) have produced several interesting findings. The
former study uses the chronological and historical period to organize and discuss the concept of work during the
ancient, medieval and modern times, but the missing point
in their work is the concept of work during the golden ages

B. T. Possumah (&) Á A. G. Ismail Á S. Shahimi
Research Center for Islamic Economics and Finance, School
of Economics, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43600, Bangi,
Selangor, Malaysia
e-mail: btaufi[email protected]; [email protected]

of Islam. While, other studies such as Read (2004) finds
that the tenets of major religious traditions restrict
women’s achievements in the public sphere by prioritizing
their obligations to home and family.1 It seems that if we
work at home and take care our family are not considered
as part of our work.
This article contributes to this line of inquiry in three
perspectives: first, the concept of work during the golden
era of Islam has not been touched. It creates the missing
view from the chronological and historical period. Second,
work priority
Third, the research integrates between al-Quran and
work is an important contribution to that frontier. Especially in deriving the wages, labor relation and profit sharing. It also guides our lives. With the above reason,
study the role of religion to work is needed because there
are three primary ways in which religious sanctification can be important for the creation of work and any labor code in
the Muslim world: sustainability, adaptability, and stability. These outcomes will be difficult to attain through a secular framework because of the unique historical context
out of which Muslim nations have emerged.

Religion and Work: A Review of Related Studies
The discussion of this section will be divided into two
sections. The first section will discuss the findings from the past studies. While the second and third sections will
highlight the discussion of work from revealed knowledge.


See Nippert-Eng (1996), she discusses further the classification of home and work.



Review from Past Studies
The studies that integrate between religion and work are
not new subjects..2 However, there are very few studies
which try to integrate these two topics. Among the earlier
study was Weber (1905) and Siedenburg (1922). They
introduce the Protestant Work Ethic (PWE) and Marxistrelated beliefs in discussing the work values and beliefs that produce the spirit of capitalism. This study leads other researchers, such as Buchholz (1977, 1978), Furnham

(1982, 1984), Furnham and Bland (1983) propose the
measure of work beliefs and values the... Show More

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