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Back to basics: an Islamic perspective on business and work ethics

Riham Ragab Rizk (Teaching Fellow and Accounting and Finance Course Leader at Durham University Business School, Durham, UK.)

Social Responsibility Journal

ISSN: 1747-1117

Article publication date: 7 March 2008




In the light of major corporate failures worldwide, business ethics have become an increasingly important area of managerial competence and responsibility. Most studies on business ethics in general and the work ethic in particular have been based on the experiences of Western nations, with a primary focus on the Protestant work ethic (PWE) as advanced by Max Weber. This paper aims primarily to explore the Islamic perspective to ethics, which follows the Judeo‐Christian tradition as the last of the three great monotheistic religions.


A range of relevant works published over the past two decades is compared with and heavily supplemented by extracts from the Islamic Holy Book, the Qur'an, in order to outline the Islamic approach to business and work ethics.


The paper highlights that within the Holy Qur'an and other aspects of Shari'ah, there is much with which to construct an authentic Islamic approach to ethics. It also highlights the substantial need to examine the work ethic and other work‐related attitudes, such as individualism in non‐Western settings.


The paper contributes to the body of knowledge in several ways. First, it is one of a very limited number of papers that does not use a research instrument created specifically to measure work orientations in a Western setting. Second, it provides a better understanding of cultural variations among nations, by examining the ethical beliefs of the fastest growing religion in the world.



Ragab Rizk, R. (2008), "Back to basics: an Islamic perspective on business and work ethics", Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 4 No. 1/2, pp. 246-254.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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