2. The various ways, means, and methods of making a living.
It should be known that "livelihood (making a living)" means the desire for sustenance and the effort to obtain it. "Livelihood" (ma'ash) is a maf'al formation from `aysh "life." The idea is that 'aysh "life" is obtained only through the things (that go into making a living), and they are therefore considered, with some exaggeration, "the place of life." 14
Sustenance 15 and profit may be obtained-through-having the power to take them away from others and to appropriate them according to a generally recognized norm. This is called imposts and taxation.
Or (profit may be obtained) from wild animals by killing or catching them whole on land or in the sea. This is called hunting (fishing).
Or (profit may be obtained) either from domesticated animals by extracting surplus products which are used by the people, such as milk from animals, silk from silk worms, and honey from bees; or from plants such as are planted in fields or grow as trees, through cultivating and preparing them for the production of their fruits. All this is called agriculture.
Or profit may be the result of human labor. (Such labor may be applied) to specific materials. Then it is called a craft, such as writing, carpentry, tailoring, weaving, horsemanship, and similar (crafts). Or it may be applied to nonspecific materials. This, then, includes all the (other) professions and activities.
Or profit may come from merchandise and its use in barter; (merchants can make such profit) either by traveling around with (the merchandise) in (various) countries, or by hoarding it and observing the market fluctuations which affect it. This is called commerce.
These are the different ways and means of making a living. Certain thorough men of letters and philosophers, such as al-Hariri 16 and others, had this in mind when they said: "A living is made by (exercising) political power (imarah), through commerce, agriculture, or the crafts." (The exercise of) political power is not a natural way of making a living.17 We do not have to mention it here. Something was said before in the second chapter about governmental tax collection and the people in charge of it.18 Agriculture, the crafts, and commerce, on the other hand, are natural ways of making a living.
Agriculture is prior to all the other (ways of making a living) by its very nature, since it is something simple and innately natural. It needs no speculation or (theoretical) knowledge. Therefore, (invention) of it is ascribed to Adam, the father of mankind. He is said to have taught and practiced agriculture. This indicates that it is the oldest way of making a living and the one most closely related to nature.
The crafts are secondary and posterior to agriculture. They are composite and scientific. Thinking and speculation is applied to them. Therefore, as a rule, crafts exist only among sedentary peoples. (Sedentary culture) is posterior to Bedouin life, and secondary to it. In this sense, their (invention) was ascribed to Idris,19 the second father of mankind. He is said to have invented them with the help of divine revelation for the human beings to come after him.
Commerce is a natural way of making profits. However, most of its practices and methods are tricky and designed to obtain the (profit) margin between purchase prices and sales prices. This surplus makes it possible to earn a profit. Therefore, the law permits cunning in commerce, since (commerce) contains an element of gambling. It does not, however, mean taking away the property of others without giving anything in return. Therefore, it is legal.20
And God knows better.