Abu Umama al-Bahili narrates that the Prophet said:
Indeed, the Holy Spirit has breathed into me this inspiration: Surely a soul will not die until it completes its appointed time and receives its sustenance. So be mindful of God and seek beautifully. Never should the delay of sustenance drive one of you to seek it through disobedience to God. Indeed God the Most High and what is with him is not attained except through his obedience.*
This hadith was narrated in Majma al-Zawa’id. Al-Albani graded it Hasan Sahih in Sahih al-Jami.
Perhaps one of the more profound statements found in this hadith is “seek beautifully.” Beauty manifests itself in many ways. To choose to live ethically, fairly, and amiably with the eco-system you are in must be a conscious choice. When choosing employment or doing business, you should always seek out those products, services, and employers whose values align with yours. To support companies or activities that would violate your personal standards of ethics is troublesome, how much more so when they violate what God wants? God says “And assist each other in righteousness and mindfulness; do not assist each other in sin and oppression.” (Quran 5:02) Keeping that in mind, whether you are the one doing the work or supporting a company through business, make sure that the work you do and the business you bring them does not cause a moral conflict for you.
There is another dimension to “seeking beautifully.” When buying something for personal consumption, consuming something you have purchased, or enjoying yourself after your hard work, keep in mind that there is no free lunch. Constant over-indulgence in material goods hardens the heart and makes one accustomed to immoderation and excess.
The above hadith doesn’t mean that we don’t strive for the better things in life. It doesn’t mean we sit on out hands waiting for someone else to work for us. The Prophet ﷺ bought and sold, he did business and bartered, he formed partnerships and hired employees. He did all of this and earned his wealth. But he did this with two things in mind: 1) that business is a means, not a goal and 2) business, when not beautified by character and fair treatment, is repulsive and destructive to all parties involved.
* This hadith is featured in the “40 Hadith for Financial Success.”