Our Beacon Forum

Economic System of Islam
By:Prof M. Rafi
Date: Wednesday, 22 April 2009, 4:24 pm

Economics is the science concerned with the production, distribution and consumption of goods services, wealth and resources. It plays a significant role in the social structure of Islam, so significant that Allah did not leave the economic aspect of life to be determined by pure human intellect and experience, but made it the subject of Revelation. The Quran categorically promises peace and plenty for those who follow the Divine Code and for those who turn away from it, Quran promises scarcity (20:123,124). In this verse the term ‘MAEESHAT’ has been used from which comes the word ‘MASHIYAAT’ the translation of Economics recognised by all.

The Quranic Order of life does not put off the realisation of its fruits until after death, nor does it hide them in spiritual abstractness. The economic condition of a people constitutes a pragmatic test for the soundness of the revealed guidance. Those who do not ensure that the poor are provided their due help, will ultimately taste hell (69:34,35)(76:8,9,10). Nobody has seen hell, but its taste is quite evident when the poor, exploited and the downtrodden masses unleash their fury on the wealthy. Those who have the means must help the needy without prejudice (30:38, 2:215).

Surah Inam (6:11) contains an assertion that there is no one moving with life whose sustenance has not been assured by Allah. Surah Bani Israel (17:31) assures mankind in particular, that they should not kill their of spring fearing poverty, since Allah provides sustenance for them as well as for their off spring. But with this solemn assurance on the one hand, we see on the other hand millions dying of hunger and struggling for food, Does this indicate non-fulfilment of the responsibility solemnly assured by Allah? No, that is unthinkable, how do the two positions reconcile? Surrah Yasin(36:47) shows that is where human efforts and affairs are concerned, Allah’s responsibility is discharged not directly but indirectly through human beings. Allah does not feed the hunger directly; the Social Order established to enforce Divine Laws feeds them.

The mutual relationship between the individual and the Islamic social order is an unwritten agreement – a contract with Allah, in which the individuals surrender their life and possessions to Allah in return for Jannah (9:11). Of these the life and possession are tangible and identifiable commodity and the seller (Believer) is a living being. The other two, God & Jannah, are abstract and intangible. In precise economic practise how can it be possible to strike a bargain with the buyer (God) with the price missing, or at best remaining in imagination? “Selling one’s life to Allah is an empty slogan, a deluding mirage used as a tool by the religious oligarchy to hoodwink and emotionally mislead the ignorant masses. The contract can be meaningful only when it is realised the God and Jannah are as real as man and life. Only bringing God and Jannah into intimate and vital relationship with living human experience can do this. This is exactly what Quran does, there is undoubtedly a Jannah which will be attained after death, but according to Quran, the life of Jannnah can also be attained in this world provided a social order is built on the lines given the God. The main characteristics of this earthly Jannah have been cited in Sura Taha (20:118) wherein none will remain with out food or clothes none will suffer thirst nor heat. In other words, in the earthly Jannah no one remain un-provided with the basic necessities of life.

Muslims are those who give preference and priority to the needs of others than their own (59:9) Quran even admonishes those ‘namazis’ who are ignorant of man’s needs and fail to provide food to the hungry and sit on the sources of nourishment. Such worshippers (namazis) disgrace their religion (107:1-7)

Bodily needs have a prior claim on man. Hunger is the most powerful of these needs. A hungry man has no eyes for values and will only turn to higher interests when his hunger is appeased. Before engaging in good deeds, man demands an assurance that he and his children will not starve for want of food the Quran gives this assurance.”We will provide you and your children” (6:152, 17:31, 29:60))

The Islamic economic and social system lays down certain fundamental principles. The foremost being that the earth cannot be the property of any individual. It is a means of production and shall remain available for the needy in an equal manner (41:10) there (in the land) is sustenance for you, those for whom you do not provide’ (15:20). It is thus clear that land, like water, air, heat & light, is God’s gift to all men. For a man to claim proprietary rights to them is tantamount to claming equality with God. Surah Al – Waqiah (56:63-73) discusses the cultivation of land and the role of the tiller. It is clear that this Divine programme we participate in is a joint business venture in which the capital investment is made by God and we contribute only labour; while we must hand over the rest to God, that is to the needy for the development of society. Allama Iqbal in Bal–e–Jibril, expresses this idea in lines of exquisite beauty and concludes:

‘Who nourishes the seed in the soil?

Where no ray of light penetrates?

Who raises clouds from the waves of the ocean?

Who drove hither favourable wind from the West?

Whose is the soil whose the light of the Sun?

Who has filled the ear of corn with pearly grain?

Who has taught the seasons to change with regularity?

Landowner! The land is neither thine nor mine’

The second principle is that surplus money, the basis of capitalism, should not remain with individuals Surah Baqra (2:219) contains a question and its answer. The question asked by the faithful is ‘How much money should we keep open for the social order for meeting the needs of the needy?’ The answer given by the Quran is ‘Say’ whatever is left, after meeting your own needs. The word ‘sood’ or interest is not be found in the Quran.Practises which are harmful to and create hurdles in the growth and progress of humanity have been collectively called‘Al-Riba’ by the Quran. It includes loans; interest on it is only one aspect of Riba. The hoarding of wealth, exploitation of the hard labour of others and usurping their due is also Riba. In general, wealth earned through wealth is Riba.

The third principle is that wealth shall circulate throughout the different strata of society and not only through the upper stratum (59:7) Those who defend capitalism argue that a communistic society deprives man of the incentive to work and that in a capitalistic society there is full scope for private enterprise and individual initiative. Everyone works because he knows that he will enjoy the fruits of his labour. National wealth increases and the people are hardworking and prosperous. Capitalists however fail to realise that while making the rich richer, it has often driven the poor to the verge of starvation. In a communist set up man is hardly free. He is a mere cog in a gigantic machine; a member of a highly regimented society.

The Quranic social order which shall be established in stages and not overnight.’ Verily the promised revolution is sure to come; there is doubt about it yet most of mankind believe not ‘(40:59). This is what the West is afraid of .To some extent they have been successful in getting rid of communism, but in picking Islam as their next enemy they have erred. The policy of killing Muslims is not going to destroy the Islamic economic concepts; rather a large majority of the people in the west are curiously turning to study Islamic values. This is a war they are not going to win; as the Quran proclaims that ‘All man made systems will eventually fail and die, only the true Islamic economic political and social system will survive the test of time and dominate. The Quran proposes diverse measures to guard against the accumulation of wealth in the hands of the few. Usury i.e. money earned through capital is declared to be unlawful and a war against God (2:275). Man is enjoyed to help his parents, relatives and others in need. By prohibiting hoarding, it ensures that money is kept in circulation. Muhammad (PBUH) never hoarded a single penny throughout his ‘life, nor owned any properly. There are all claims of being ‘Ashiq–e– Rasool’ , but nobody follows Muhammad (PBUH) in this respect. Islam prescribes compulsory social insurance through the system of Zakat and which is altogether different from charity. The conventional assessment of 2½% of appears to be retrogressive, as it has remained stagnant for centuries like the Muslim mind and society. Through Ijtehad, this has to be changed and made progressive according to the needs of the society.

The Fifth principle of the Quran is that no one shall subsist on the earnings of another and that expecting those who have become incapacitated everyone shall work Quran calls them ‘Mutrafeen’ who lead an easy life on the earning of others and mentions 3 groups. One group consists of those’ who take with even balance and give less (with an un-even balance). Another group comprises those who inherit money, land, property etc. by reason of birth and collect move wealth as a consequence.(89:20) the third group is made of priest–craft. Surah Tauba (9:31) refers to such clerics and says that the majority of them eat up the earnings of others without having any right to it and thereby stand in the way of their the benefit of humanity. In respect of the earnings of women, the Quran says that they have full rights over what they earn (4:32). All monetary transactions should be formally documented (2:282).

Islamic economics system is liberal, progressive, equalitarian, productive and intensely responsive from a social point to view. While it definitely tends to control capital, it insists on man’s pursuit of the absolute values and to the service of all mankind. It is distinctive and can neither be equalled with communism on account of its antithetical evaluation of free enterprise, private property and class – struggle; nor with capitalism on account of Islam’s un-compromising opposition to the institution of interest. Supreme value is given to the human self and its development. This intense worth distinguishes Islam from other systems.

Messages In This Thread

Economic System of Islam
Prof M. Rafi -- Wednesday, 22 April 2009, 4:24 pm
Re: Economic System of Islam
Dr. Shabbir -- Wednesday, 22 April 2009, 4:30 pm
Re: Economic System of Islam
Muhammad Rafi -- Thursday, 23 April 2009, 1:26 pm