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Economic Principles of Islam

Some of the economic principles of Islam are as under:

  • Islam has not given the rein of power and governance to wealth and riches, as it used to be in pre-Islamic era when only wealthy person was able to be elected as ruler. This does not mean that a wealthy person cannot be a ruler; rather it means that wealth is not a criterion for a person to be elected as a ruler.
  • Islam drew attentions of the Muslims to various means of wealth, whether relating to industry, trade, hunting, or mining, or extraction of petroleum.

Allah (Ta’ala) says :

وَأَنزَلۡنَا ٱلۡحَدِيدَ فِيهِ بَأۡسٌ۬ شَدِيدٌ۬ (الحديد: ٢٥(

Translation of Meaning:

And We brought forth iron wherein is mighty power (Al-Hadeed: 25)

At another place Allah (Ta’ala) says:

أَفَرَءَيۡتُم مَّا تَحۡرُثُونَ (٦٣) ءَأَنتُمۡ تَزۡرَعُونَهُ ۥۤ أَمۡ نَحۡنُ ٱلزَّٲرِعُونَ (٦٤)  (الواقعة : 63:64)

Translation of Meaning:

Then tell Me! about seed that you sow in the ground. (63) Is it you that make it grow, or are We the Grower? (64) (Al-Waqi’ah: 63:64)

Likewise, Allah (Ta’ala) says:

وَهُوَ ٱلَّذِى سَخَّرَ ٱلۡبَحۡرَ لِتَأۡڪُلُواْ مِنۡهُ لَحۡمً۬ا طَرِيًّ۬ا وَتَسۡتَخۡرِجُواْ مِنۡهُ حِلۡيَةً۬ تَلۡبَسُونَهَا وَتَرَى ٱلۡفُلۡكَ مَوَاخِرَ فِيهِ وَلِتَبۡتَغُواْ مِن فَضۡلِهِۦ وَلَعَلَّڪُمۡ تَشۡكُرُونَ (النحل: ١٤(

Translation of Meaning:

And He it is Who has subjected the sea (to you), that you eat thereof fresh tender meat (i.e. fish), and that you bring forth out of it ornaments to wear. And you see the ships ploughing through it, that you may seek (thus) of His Bounty (by transporting the goods from place to place) and that you may be grateful. (An-Nahl: 14)

  • Islam has established the system of public and personal property, instructing that there are such things which are not allowed to be personal property of a few people, rather these are to be deemed public property. These are the things which cannot be done away with by any member of the Muslim community. These things vary depending on the circumstance and time. Allah’s Messenger (SallAllahu Alaihi Wasallam) mentioned three things i.e. water, grass and fire, for these things prevailed in the early age of Islam in the desert life. We can guess other similar things based on these things through qiyas (analogy). For example, the Caliph Umar bin Al-Khattab (RadhiAllahu Anhu) made the lands conquered in Iraq as a public property. Likewise, the Caliph Umar bin Abdul Aziz (Rahimahullah) returned back all those privileges that those in authority used to enjoy, such as hiba (gift) etc. He transferred all such things to the public property, so that the people may benefit from them and that their benefit is not confined to some limited people.

Islam has not only approved personal property, but rather encouraged it, and preserved it for the wealthy person. This is perfectly aligned with the human nature. Islam has set conditions for lawful earning to own personal property, and imposed right such as zakat in the properties. The purpose of Islam behind such right is to rein in the wealth not allowing it to be absolutely free from any controls. Zakat has been made a collective obligation to benefit the whole society. For example if the wealth comes to a wrong person, but its management falls under the authority of a person who renders his duties taking into consideration the wellbeing of the society, it is likely that the wrong person will come to the right path.

  • Islam does not allow that big properties should be confined to a few people nor does it allow them to not pay the zakat. This is because such status of affairs widens the gap between the wealthy and the poor. Allah (Ta’ala) says:

كَىۡ لَا يَكُونَ دُولَةَۢ بَيۡنَ ٱلۡأَغۡنِيَآءِ مِنكُمۡ‌ۚ  (الحشر: ٧(

Translation of Meaning:

In order that it may not become a fortune used by the rich among you. (Al-Hashr: 7)

  • Islam permitted differentiation in statuses among the people, and it has made one’s hardworking and abilities a basis of the differentiation. Allah (Ta’ala) says:

وَٱللَّهُ فَضَّلَ بَعۡضَكُمۡ عَلَىٰ بَعۡضٍ۬ فِى ٱلرِّزۡقِ‌ۚ (النحل: ٧١(

Translation of Meaning:

And Allâh has preferred some of you above others in wealth and properties. (An-Nahl:71)

  • Islam has fixed a share for the poor in the wealth of the wealthy. Allah (Ta’ala) says:

وَفِىٓ أَمۡوَٲلِهِمۡ حَقٌّ۬ لِّلسَّآٮِٕلِ وَٱلۡمَحۡرُومِ (الذاريات:١٩(

Translation of Meaning:

And in their properties there was the right of the Sa’il (the beggar who asks), and the Mahrûm (the poor who does not ask the others) (Az-Zariyat: 19).

  • Islam has obliged the government to put an end to the oppression committed by the wealthy on the poor. It is for this reason that Abu Bakr (Radhi’Allahu Anhu) fought war with those who did not give zakat, for this was a violation of Islamic rule, oppression on the poor and breach of their rights.