Reference Work Entry

Handbook of the Philosophical Foundations of Business Ethics

pp 899-932

A Conceptual Framework of Business Ethics in Islam

  • Jawed Akhtar MohammedAffiliated withFaculty of Business & Enterprise, Swinburne University of Technology Email author 


This chapter introduces a set of axioms that systematize and summarize the concept of ethics in Islam. The fundamental ethical axioms of unity, equilibrium, free will, and responsibility are discussed in detail in light of the holy Qur’an and Hadith. Propositions and business expectations/applications based on the ethical axioms have been presented to elaborate a possible conceptual framework of business ethics in Islam.

The axiom of unity forms the foundation of Islamic faith. Belief in one and only Allah (the most exalted) and submitting to His will is the essence of the Islamic belief system. This creates a relationship between the Creator and the creation where Allah (TME) through His mercy, provides everything on earth for the benefit of mankind and assigns them as His vicegerent (Khalifah) on earth. However, mankind holds these resources in trust (amanah) and is obliged to utilize them responsibly in accordance to Allah’s (TME) will.

The axiom of equilibrium is the horizontal dimension of Islam. It can be a sense of balance among the various aspects of a man’s life to produce the best social order. God has created everything in the universe with a balance to maintain the equilibrium. As a vicegerent of God on earth, mankind is supposed to reflect His qualities and, thus, (ideally) must maintain a balance in every aspect of socioeconomic behavior.

The axiomatic principle of free will gives mankind the freedom to choose between the right and the wrong, the knowledge of which is clearly provided in the divine commandments in the holy Qur’an and Hadith. As a trustee (al ‘amin) of Allah’s (TME) resources on earth, mankind can utilize them in accordance to the divine commandments or misuse them as Allah (TME) has given them the freedom to choose. Although mankind is free to do whatever they wish, Islam provides this freedom to mankind with elements of discipline and dignity to reflect man’s vicegerency (Khalifah) of Allah (TME). A Muslim’s free will to choose is guided by the will of Allah (TME) and His divine commandments.

The final ethical axiom of responsibility is logically related to free will. Freedom must be counterbalanced by responsibility and having opted for the power to choose between good and evil, man must endure its logical consequences. Since he/she is responsible for all that he does, man must be accountable for his actions.

The four axioms, which are foundation of the Islamic ethical framework, are based on Qur’anic injunctions and provide clear guidelines for an ethical system in Islam.


Unity Equilibrium Free will Responsibility