Acquisition
(kasb)

Naseer Ahmad and Muzaffar Iqbal

The act of acquiring, earning, or laboring to acquire and earn, whether with regard to material things (as in acquiring material goods or gathering wealth) or non-material things (as in ‘acquiring’ knowledge, deeds, and rewards). The Qurʾān emphatically repeats that on the Day of Judgment (q.v.) each person will be responsible for his or her own acquisitions (kasb): And fear the day when you shall be returned to Allah—then every soul shall be paid in full what it has earned (mā kasabat); and they shall not be wronged (Q 2:281; also 6:164; 17:15; 34:25; 39:7). This article focuses on the Qurʾānic concept of kasb as explicated in exegetical and hadith literature. For the usage of the term kasb in Kalām and Sufi texts, where it proved a key concept for those who sought at once to maintain Divine sovereignty and human ability, that is, to maintain the possibility of human responsibility qua moral agent, see the relevant sections in Ability; Humans; Legal Responsibility; Power; and Will, Want, and Volition.

Definition and Usage

The concept of acquisition is expressed in the Qurʾān primarily through two verbal derivatives of the root k-s-b (kasaba and iktasaba), and secondarily through one derivative of q-r-f (iqtarafa) and two derivatives of j-r-ḥ (jaraḥa and ijtaraḥa), both of which are considered synonyms of kasb by some linguists (see below).

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Exegetical Reflections

The Qurʾān uses al-kasb, writes al-Samʿānī (d. 489/1095), to refer to “any deed one does by exerting oneself for gaining benefit or to ward off harm.

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See also

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