Answering all your queries on Islamic banking and Finance in the light of Quran and Hadith  
line decor



Islamic Economy

by Imâm al-Haramain Sa'ûd ash-Shuraim

All praise is due to Allaah, Lord of all the worlds. Peace and blessings be upon the Messenger, his household and companions.

Fellow Muslims! Fear Allaah as He should be feared and be conscious of Him in private and public. Be dutiful to Him and follow up an evil deed with a good one it will erase it. Deal with people kindly. Allaah says,

    "Verily, he who fears Allaah with obedience to Him (by abstaining from sins and evil deeds, and by performing righteous good deeds), and is patient, then surely, Allaah makes not the reward of the good-doers to be lost." (Yoosuf 12:90)

Dear brethren! Money is the blood vessel of material development in the life in this world, as Islaamic injunctions are the artery of spiritual and moral development. Naturally, money overwhelmingly dominates human mind. If the materially-overwhelmed mind is not controlled by injunctions of Allaah and contentedness, it can lead man into a state of poisonous madness and reprehensible avarice.

No wonder, man's love for money moves around in his body as blood moves around in veins. This has to be so because Allaah says,

    "And verily, he is violent in the love of wealth." (Al-'Aadiyaat 100:8)

And He says about a group of humans,

    "And you love wealth with much love." (Al-Fajr 89:20)

It is in the light of this that people compete and vie with one another to accumulate this wealth and get as much as they can of this tempting material. However, legality or otherwise of this competition and its meritoriousness or blameworthiness depend upon one's sincerity or otherwise in searching for it. This is what Allaah refers to when He says,

    "O man! Verily, you are returning towards your Lord with your deeds and actions (good or bad), a sure returning, so you will meet (the results of your deeds which you did)." (Al-Inshiqaaq 84:6)

Money is a two-edged weapon. It is for the people of Islaam, Eemaan and good intention a blessing for which they praise Allaah at all times. This is the sign of the best nation. Allaah says,

    "Those who spend their wealth (in Allaah's Cause) by night and day, in secret and in public, they shall have their reward with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve." (Al-Baqarah 2:274)

Money is loss and calamity for the disbelievers however much its sources and however abundant it is. This is because they fail to spend it in proper ways, so that it can be a source of sorrow and curse for them. Allaah says,

    "And let not the disbelievers think that Our postponing of their punishment is good for them. We postpone the punishment only so that they may increase in sinfulness. And for them is a disgracing torment." (Aal 'Imraan 3:178)

This has to be so because those who disbelieve in Allaah and His Messenger derives their wealth mostly from sources that Allaah and His Messenger forbid like usury, eating up people's wealth wrongfully and hindering people from the way of Allaah. This act of theirs will cause them real agony and regret when regret will be of no avail, for there is no sin greater than disbelief. Allaah says,

    "Verily, those who disbelieve spend their wealth to hinder (men) from the Path of Allaah, and so will they continue to spend it; but in the end it will become an anguish for them. Then they will be overcome. And those who disbelieve will be gathered unto Hell." (Al-Anfaal 8:36)

It is in order to underline the importance of money in the life of individuals and communities that it is mentioned in the Qur'aan commendably or condemningly in more than eighty places. Fellow Muslims! The law of Islaam encourages construction of the earth and developing it economically so that it can help people to worship Allaah as it is due therein. The Messenger of Allaah said,

    "When the final Hour comes and one of you is holding a palm shoot and he is able to plant it, he should do so, for he will earn a reward for that." (Al-Bukhaaree in al-Adab al-Mufrad)

It is in the light of this that Islaam is very keen in providing guarantees and pillars to ensure permanent and solid economical development. A prominent pillar in this regard is independence of the Muslim society in terms of their economy and development, so that it can be the leader not a follower. Economical independence naturally means lack of economical dependence on a foreign country. It also means Muslims' control of their own economical potentialities with no foreign meddling. Losing economical authority means losing political, military, social and cultural authority. Therefore, economical development of the Muslim society cannot be achieved if there is no economical independence and development from within.

Dear brethren! These days, the Muslim Ummah is suffering from economical anarchy and weak development. It is also suffering from economic corruption that infiltrates into its societies through individuals and organizations. The proliferation of these infiltration outlets is enough to cause commotion that can lead to political and social instability, devastating recession in the money market, lack of development and a seriously weak economy for the Muslims.

Many recent studies confirm that there are connections between economic corruption and development. Had the Muslim followed the real meaning of Islaamic economic system they would not have deviated from the right path of development and they would not have lived an anarchic life falling over one another on what is called bourses market and stock exchange that are not controlled by Islaamic injunctions. Also, there would not have been chaos and many societies would not have been burdened with choking debts accumulated from loans initially taken to purchase unnecessary things.

Islamic economic system on its part does not recognise that economic productivity should be developed in isolation from proper distribution of wealth. Also, goals of Islaamic economy should be made clear and efforts should be carefully exerted to see that problems of individual Muslims like illiteracy, unemployment and accommodation and health sufferings are adequately addressed.

If people had reflected over the concept of Islaamic economy, they would not have found themselves in the abyss of this chaos, because the word for economy in Islaam is 'iqtisaad' which is derived from root word 'qasd'; and 'qasd' in Arabic language means uprightness, justice and balance in word and deed, in imports and exports and in earnings and spending. The Islaamic economic system therefore seeks to maintain balance in development and justness in money market. It seeks to bring the Muslim society to justice and balance with neither exaggeration nor negligence. It is in the light of the above that it becomes mandatory on the Muslims to exert all efforts to islaamize their economy and development by drawing from a single source of economic legislation which is the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger. The correct Islaamic belief and the authentic source of legislation are enough to guarantee ownership for individuals and nations.

This proposal may cause some simpletons to raise eyebrows because of their wrong perception that economy should only be controlled by mathematical regulations and criteria only. The reason for this is that thoughts and actions of these people are guided by individualism and selfishness. It is this selfishness that caused foreign economic systems to swing between communism and capitalism, and this is clear evidence that belief has a great influence on economic development.

Dear brethren! The real progress in the study of Islaamic economy can only come through adhering to Islaamic teachings, keeping it in the form in which Allaah wants it and not to change or alter it in the garb of man-made law. Islaam sees that economic activity regarding exercising right of ownership should be subjected to Allaah's injunctions. Allaah says,

    "O you who believe! Be afraid of Allaah and give up what remains (due to you) from Ribâ (usury) (from now onward), if you are (really) believers. And if you do not do it, then take a notice of war from Allaah and His Messenger but if you repent, you shall have your capital sums. Deal not unjustly (by asking more than your capital sums), and you shall not be dealt with unjustly (by receiving less than your capital sums)." (Al-Baqarah 2:278-279)

Not only that, there is abundance evidence that the Muslims' degeneration, weakness, ignominy and their subjugation by their enemy are caused by their violations of Islaamic law in business transactions. The Messenger of Allaah addressed his followers saying,

    "When you become stingy with dinar and dirham [i.e, you hold back from spending them in righteous ways], and you deal in 'eenah' and you become obsessed with cattle rearing thereby abandoning struggling in the way of Allaah, Allaah will impose ignominy on you and He will not remove it until you go back to [the correct teachings of] your religion." (Ahmad)

Dear Muslims! To attain the aspired progress, Islaamic economy needs a serious participation from sincere scholars and Muslim economists who can draw the outlines of the real and correct Islaamic economy. Understanding of the situation and its social form should be given adequate consideration. Studies should be based on induction and invention methods with the aim of identifying the problems facing the Islaamic economy and the reasons why it lags behind. To actualize this, we need to look into the Prophetic methodology as a basic way of achieving guidance in the light of Allaah's injunction:

    "Allaah has permitted trading and forbidden Ribâ (usury)." (Al-Baqarah 2:275)

And His injunction:

    "O you who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves unjustly except it be a trade amongst you, by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves (nor kill one another). Surely, Allaah is Most Merciful to you." (An-Nisaa 4:29)

Fellow Muslims! Know that the economic problems that face the Muslim world resulted from absence of the correct Islaamic way that caters for the general economic well-being with resolution, cooperation and perfection and through which interests of the Ummah can be attained and harm be averted. The contemporary applications in Muslim financial institutions, especially in the area of banking and insurance, and the positive impact of supporting them need to be appreciated by the Muslim societies, governments and regulating authorities.

If we want to develop a correct economic activity, there are two important elements that we must not ignore: Zakaah and Waqf [trust fund]. It is through these two elements that we can have a guarantee of an unlimited support in achieving the economic and social security for the Ummah. Not only that, we need to perfectly understand how to deal with globalization scourge that has now become a reality that imposes itself on the entire world.

Therefore, the importance of having a constructive economic cooperation among Muslim countries cannot be overemphasised. There should be an increase in trade exchange among them. They should have a common Islaamic market that can compete with world markets. The future of the Muslim societies should be planned from their own lands and with their own efforts and conducts so that they would not become a prey to economic and ideological beggary. For, any nation whose future is based upon that kind of beggary is a lost nation that can never rise or progress. Allaah says,

    "He it is Who has made the earth subservient to you (i.e. easy for you to walk, to live and to do agriculture on it); so walk in the path thereof and eat of His provision. And to Him will be the Resurrection." (Al-Mulk 67:15)