Islam and Agriculture


Ibn Rajab al-Hanbal (رحمه الله‎) mentioned that one of the Salaf [pious predecessors] was asked ‘Why don’t you get yourself a farm for you and your family?’ He said,

‘Allah ‘(عز و جل) has sent me to kill the farmer and take his farm.’

’When ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه) had heard that the Sahabah were busy cultivating the very fertile land that they won through Ghaneema [spoils of war] from Jihad fi Sabilillah in Jordan, he waited until the time of harvest and then ordered that all of the farms be burned down to the ground. So some of the Sahabah came complaining and he said,

‘This is the job of the people of the book; your job is to fight Jihad fi Sabilillah and spread the religion of Allah.’ (Al-Awlaki: Allah is preparing us for victory, p30-31)

Narrated Abu Umama al-Bahili (رضي الله عنه)

I saw some agricultural equipment and said: “I heard the Prophet (ﷺ) saying: “There is no house in which these equipment enters except that Allah will cause humiliation to enter it.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 2321)

Ibn at-Tin (رحمه الله‎) said, “This is from among the prophesies of the Prophet, since now we see that most of the injustice is geared towards farmers.”

Narrated AbuAyyub (رضي الله عنه):

AbuImran (رضي الله عنه) said: We went out on an expedition from Medina with the intention of (attacking) Constantinople. AbdurRahman ibn Khalid ibn al-Walid (رضي الله عنه) was the leader of the company. The Romans were just keeping their backs to the walls of the city. A man (suddenly) attacked the enemy.

Thereupon the people said: Stop! Stop! There is no god but Allah. He is putting himself into danger.

AbuAyyub said: This verse was revealed about us, the group of the Ansar (the Helpers). When Allah helped His Prophet (ﷺ) and gave Islam dominance, we said (i.e. thought): Come on! Let us stay in our property and improve it.

Thereupon Allah, the Exalted, revealed, “And spend of your substance in the cause of Allah, and make not your hands contribute to (your destruction)”. To put oneself into danger means that we stay in our property and commit ourselves to its improvement, and abandon fighting (i.e. jihad).

AbuImran said: AbuAyyub continued to strive in the cause of Allah until he (died and) was buried in Constantinople. (Sunan Abi Dawud 2512)

Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar (رضي الله عنه):

I heard the Messenger of Allah, (ﷺ) say: When you enter into the inah (loan) transaction, hold the tails of oxen, are pleased with agriculture, and give up conducting jihad. Allah will make disgrace prevail over you, and will not withdraw it until you return to your original religion. (Sunan Abi Dawud 3462)

Another narration which gives information that the Arabs will put the earth in use which would help to achieve their agricultural goals is the Hadith,

The hour will not come to pass until the lands of the Arabs will become rivers and grasslands again. (Sahih Muslim 157 b)

At this occasion we should mention where the Prophet said,

There will not be a time except that what comes after that is worse, until you reach your Lord. (Sahih al-Bukhari 7068)

In the Qur’an, there were recounted stories of previous nations destroyed by Allah because they disobeyed his messengers and ignored his laws.

There was for [the tribe of] Saba’ in their dwelling place a sign: two [fields of] gardens on the right and on the left. [They were told], “Eat from the provisions of your Lord and be grateful to Him. A good land [have you], and a forgiving Lord.”But they turned away [refusing], so We sent upon them the flood of the dam, and We replaced their two [fields of] gardens with gardens of bitter fruit, tamarisks and something of sparse lote trees. [Saba, 34:15-16]

And he entered his garden while he was unjust to himself. He said, “I do not think that this will perish – ever. [Al-Kahf, 18:35]

And his fruits were encompassed [by ruin], so he began to turn his hands about [in dismay] over what he had spent on it, while it had collapsed upon its trellises, and said, “Oh, I wish I had not associated with my Lord anyone.” [Al-Kahf, 18:42]

Have you not considered how your Lord dealt with ‘Aad -[With] Iram – who had lofty pillars, The likes of whom had never been created in the land? And [with] Thamud, who carved out the rocks in the valley? And [with] Pharaoh, owner of the stakes? [Al Fajr, 89:6-10]

And ask them about the town that was by the sea – when they transgressed in [the matter of] the sabbath – when their fish came to them openly on their sabbath day, and the day they had no sabbath they did not come to them. Thus did We give them trial because they were defiantly disobedient. [Al-A’raf, 7:163]

And you had already known about those who transgressed among you concerning the sabbath, and We said to them, “Be apes, despised.” [Al-Baqarah, 2:65 and Al-A’raf 7:166]

Say, “Shall I inform you of [what is] worse than that as penalty from Allah ? [It is that of] those whom Allah has cursed and with whom He became angry and made of them apes and pigs and slaves of Taghut (rulers & judges not upon Sharia). Those are worse in position and further astray from the sound way.” [Al-Ma’idah, 5:60]

So is one whose breast Allah has expanded to [accept] Islam and he is upon a light from his Lord [like one whose heart rejects it]? Then woe to those whose hearts are hardened against the remembrance of Allah . Those are in manifest error. [Az-Zumar, 39:22]

As for ‘Aad, they were arrogant upon the earth without right and said, “Who is greater than us in strength?” Did they not consider that Allah who created them was greater than them in strength? But they were rejecting Our signs. [Fussilat, 41:15]

And how many a generation before them did We destroy who were greater than them in [striking] power and had explored throughout the lands. Is there any place of escape? [Qaf, 50:36]

It was narrated from Bishr, from Ibn ‘Awn, from Nafi’, from Ibn ‘Umar (رضی اللہ عنهم) who said:

“Umar acquired some land at Khaibar. He came to the Prophet and consulted him about it. He said: ‘I have acquired a great deal of land, and I have never acquired any wealth that is more precious to me than it. What do you command me to do with it?’ He said: ‘If you wish, you may freeze it and give it in charity.’ So he gave it in charity on condition that it would not be sold or given away, and he gave it in charity to the poor, relatives, to emancipate slaves, for the cause of Allah, for wayfarers and guests. There is no sin -on the administrator- if he eats (from it) or feeds a friend, with no intention of becoming wealthy from it.'” These are the wordings of Isma’il. (Sunan an-Nasa’i 3600)

Ibn Mas’ud (رضي الله عنه) reported a Hadith which says:

Do not acquire land (for farming) lest you become too attached to worldly matters. (Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2328)

Al-Teebi (رحمه الله‎) said: what is meant is that you should not be preoccupied with farming and let that distract you from remembrance of Allah (Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi, 6/511).

This overindulgence which causes disregard of the other Islamic obligations such as Jihad in Allah’s Path, it is what was meant when Allah said,

Do not throw yourselves into destruction. [Al-Baqarah, 2:195]

This is the reason the Ayah was revealed, contrary to what many think.

Men whom neither trade nor sale (business) diverts from the remembrance of Allah [An Nur, 24:37].

O you who have believed, when [the adhan] is called for the prayer on the day of Jumu’ah [Friday], then proceed to the remembrance of Allah and leave trade. That is better for you, if you only knew. [Al-Jumu’ah, 62:9]

O you who have believed, let not your wealth and your children divert you from remembrance of Allah . And whoever does that – then those are the losers. [Al-Munafiqun, 63:9]

Say, [O Muhammad (ﷺ)], “If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your relatives, wealth which you have obtained, commerce wherein you fear decline, and dwellings with which you are pleased are more beloved to you than Allah and His Messenger and jihad in His cause, then wait until Allah executes His command. And Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people.” [At-Tawbah, 9:24]

Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه) reported:
 Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “The best of people is a man who is holding his horse’s rein in the way of Allah (in Jihad) and is galloping towards the place wherever he hears a call for war or detects a note of danger; he goes on proceeding, seeking martyrdom or death wherever it is expected. And a man who retires with some sheep in a mountainside or a valley. He performs Salat regularly and pays the Zakat, continues worshipping his Rubb, till death overtakes him. He does not interfere in the affairs of the people except for betterment.” (Riyad as-Salihin: Book 1, Hadith 601 and Book 12, Hadith 1299)

Narrated Abu Huraira (رضي الله عنه):

People say that I have narrated many Hadiths (The Prophet’s narration). Had it not been for two verses in the Qur’an, I would not have narrated a single Hadith, and the verses are: “Verily those who conceal the clear sign and the guidance which We have sent down . . . (up to) Most Merciful.” (2:159-160). And no doubt our Muhajir (emigrant) brothers used to be busy in the market with their business (bargains) and our Ansari brothers used to be busy with their property (agriculture). But I (Abu Huraira) used to stick to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) contented with what will fill my stomach and I used to attend that which they used not to attend and I used to memorize that which they used not to memorize. (Sahih al-Bukhari 118)

Blessing is tied to the forelocks of horses until the Day of Resurrection: Reward and spoils of war (Sunan an-Nasa’i 3572) while there is humiliation in following tails of cows. Hanging onto the tails of cows implies not only agriculture but involvement in all trades and transactions which occupy the Muslims to such an extent that they abandon Jihad as a result of this involvement.