On Common Ground and Sharing Perspectives


Let’s delve into the perspectives of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the Buddha on the ethics of free trade and lying, and why the right to free trade might be considered more important than the freedom to lie.

Ethical Perspectives of Prophet Muhammad and the Buddha

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

Teachings of Islam:

  • Truthfulness: Islam places a high emphasis on honesty and truthfulness. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise. A man continues to tell the truth until he becomes a truthful person. Falsehood leads to wickedness, and wickedness leads to Hell…” (Sahih Bukhari 6094).
  • Fair Trade: Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a trader himself and advocated for fair trade practices. He emphasized the importance of honesty and fairness in trade, stating that deceit in business transactions is condemned (Sahih Muslim 102).

Right to Free Trade:

  • Economic Justice and Prosperity: Fair trade is encouraged as it ensures mutual benefit, economic justice, and community prosperity. Engaging in honest trade fosters trust and social harmony, which are essential components of an Islamic society.

Freedom to Lie:

  • Moral and Social Harm: Lying is strongly discouraged in Islam as it disrupts social harmony and trust. Falsehood is seen as harmful and sinful, leading to social discord and moral corruption.


Teachings of Buddhism:

  • Right Speech: In Buddhism, the Noble Eightfold Path includes Right Speech, which involves abstaining from lying, divisive speech, harsh speech, and idle chatter (Samyutta Nikaya 45.8). Truthful and harmonious communication is essential for spiritual development and social harmony.
  • Right Livelihood: The Buddha encouraged engaging in livelihoods that do not cause harm to others. This includes fair and ethical trade practices (Digha Nikaya 31).

Right to Free Trade:

  • Ethical Livelihood: Fair and ethical trade practices are seen as part of Right Livelihood. Engaging in honest trade contributes to the well-being of individuals and society, aligning with the principles of compassion and non-harm.

Freedom to Lie:

  • Negative Karma and Social Disharmony: Lying generates negative karma and leads to social disharmony. It is seen as a breach of ethical conduct and a hindrance to spiritual progress.

Comparative Importance

1. Free Trade:

  • Economic and Social Benefits: Free trade, when conducted ethically, promotes economic justice, mutual benefit, and social harmony. It aligns with the teachings of both Prophet Muhammad and the Buddha by fostering trust, prosperity, and ethical behavior.
  • Moral Consistency: Fair trade practices are consistent with the moral and ethical teachings of both traditions, emphasizing honesty, fairness, and mutual respect.

2. Freedom to Lie:

  • Disruption of Trust and Harmony: Lying is universally condemned in both Islam and Buddhism as it disrupts trust, generates negative consequences, and harms social harmony.
  • Moral and Spiritual Harm: The ethical teachings of both Prophet Muhammad and the Buddha highlight the moral and spiritual harm caused by deceit, making it less defensible than the right to free trade.


The right to free trade, when conducted ethically, is more important and beneficial to society than the freedom to lie. Free trade aligns with the teachings of both Prophet Muhammad and the Buddha by promoting mutual benefit, economic justice, and social harmony. In contrast, lying undermines trust, generates harm, and disrupts social harmony, making it morally and ethically less defensible.


  1. Hadith on Truthfulness and Trade: Sahih Bukhari
  2. Right Speech and Right Livelihood: Samyutta Nikaya and Digha Nikaya