What is stinginess? Can we withhold trade secrets?

A Sahaabi رضي الله عنه asked Nabi ﷺ, “Which is the most evil action in the sight of Allah?” Nabi ﷺ replied, “Bad character and stinginess”. Stinginess does not only apply to withholding money. Generally, stinginess refers to not helping someone when you know you can.

A person can be stingy with their knowledge, skills, understanding and wisdom. Perhaps you are skilled and talented in certain matters where your family are not. To withhold your skills is stinginess. Perhaps you are experienced in a matter where your colleagues are not. To withhold your experience, stay quiet and watch them struggle is stinginess. If someone seeks your advice but you do not share your wisdom, that too is a form of stinginess.

For example, businessmen have trade secrets. Like a secret ingredient to a special recipe, if someone wants to know that exact secret which could put your local business at risk, it is permissible to not inform them. That is your livelihood and you are not obliged. However, if you run a successful bakery and another person in town wants to open one too. If they approach you for tips, queries about the type of oven or baking tools they should buy, your experience and knowledge can help them save money. You have been through the struggles of opening a business, your help would be invaluable. To withhold it, is stinginess.

Eventually they will learn, why not help them from the beginning? Do not see other businesses as competitors who will empty your pockets, see them as opportunities to earn the currency of the hereafter. We all start from square one, we were all once amateurs. Help people work their way up and Allah will help you in your work. To reject them is to be stingy and to be stingy is disliked by Allah. May Allah save us from His displeasure, aameen.

— Hazrat Ml. Dawood Seedat حفظه الله

Above is an extract from Hazrat’s talk on 16/04/18 in Masjid-ut-Taqwa, Pietermaritzburg. To listen to the full talk, please click here.


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