“Show Me The way To The Market” Lessons from Shabi Entrepreneur Abdul Rahman Ibn Awf (RA)

When the Muslims migrated from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD, they were lodged by the Ansar who were so generous and kind to them. Among the migrants was Abul Rahman Ibn Auf (RA) whose host Sa’ad Ibn Ar-Rabi’ah (RA) proposed sharing his wealth and divorcing the more beautiful of his two wives for his guest Abul Rahman Ibn Auf (RA) to marry. Generosity at its best!  Abul Rahman Ibn Auf (RA) thanked his host for his kind gesture but replied “May Allah bless you with your family but show me the way to the market.”

Lesson 1

Now here was a man passing over half the riches of a wealthy man and the more beautiful of his two wives in favour of being showed ‘the way to the market’. The most obvious lesson here is reliance on Allaah and what He Azawajal bestows on oneself, without paying attention to the favors Allaah bestows on others.

In our today’s world, envy is one of the biggest vices harming so many people. Here this great Companion of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was more keen on exerting his own efforts and earning what Allaah decreed for him in good than taking the easy way out. Obviously Abul Rahman Ibn Auf (RA) was under no illusion that ‘the way to the market’ was paved with gold. His wish was to ‘earn’ and not to be ‘given’.

Besides trade Abdul Rahman Ibn Auf (RA) also diversified into agriculture. He only dealt in cash transactions, and was fair in his trade dealings and never hid any deficiencies in his stock. His initial capital was reported to be between 2-4 dinars. He first ventured into selling diary products (yogurt, oil and butter), then into horses. Selling the saddles to the horses reportedly made him more money. He never cheated in the scales and always gave due measure. By his death in 652 AD (33 AH) he was worth Three billion and one hundred and three million dinars. His net worth converted to today’s dollars will amount to USD $650 Billion, a lot more than Bill Gates’ USD 75 Billion.

Lesson 2

Who will say Muslims are supposed to live only on bare minimums? Abdul Rahman Ibn Auf (RA) was the most successful entrepreneur of his time. He was great at sniffing business opportunities. He made lots of money and with it he helped the Deen greatly.His donation of 1,500 camels to the Muslim Army, 400 dinars to those warriors who survived the battle of Badr and the large endowments he gave to the Mothers of the believers, the wives of the Holy Prophet Muhammad ﷺ after the Prophet’s passing are well recorded. Could he have helped the Deen this much if he was poor?

In the legacy of Abdul Rahman Ibn Auf (RA)we learn to trust in Allaah, relying on Him while striving to better ourselves. Islam doesn’t teach poverty. If it did, Abdul Rahman Ibn Auf (RA) wouldn’t have been more than eight times richer than the richest man in our lifetimes!

Mamudou Jallow

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