Economic problems emanate from availability of easy credit on interest, interest-based debts, speculative transactions, consumption beyond means and deficit financing, etc. None of these problems can crop up if the economy follows the Qur’ānic way of no debt, discourages gaming and contains wealth accumulation, avers Dr. WAQUAR ANWAR
The Qur’ān is proactive about all aspects of Economics including: Production, Business Transactions, Wealth Creation and Capital Formation. It ensures that it will eradicate, if its teachings are implemented in letter and spirit, all corruptions entering in the world through economics and bring in all around peace, justice and equality. Corruption has permeated in all strata of society and has inflicted badly almost all parts of humanity. The lion’s share of such corruption is attributable to economics related ills and wrong practices. The Qur’ān is the panacea here.
The Qur’ān says that Allah has provided all resources required by man on earth. Thus, it negates the theory of ‘niggardliness of nature’ as opined by some economists. The Qur’ān on the other hand asserts that all things required by man are provided on earth itself as a bounty of Allah.
“We assuredly established you in the earth and arranged for your livelihood in it. Little do you give thanks.” [7:10]
However, these resources are owned by the Almighty Allah and He has permitted, rather arranged, their use and consumption by human beings with the riders that a few of these means of utilisation and items of consumption are prohibited. So, human beings have to keep these at bay, while making best use of the vast things which are permitted. As the real owner of all things made available to man, Allah has the absolute right to announce what is allowed and what is not. This He did through certain verses of His Book, the Qur’ān. It is not permitted for anybody to infringe upon this absolute authority of the Creator of making anything permitted or otherwise. Anyone else trespassing in this region is indulging in falsehood.
“And do not utter falsehoods by letting your tongues declare: ‘This is lawful’ and ‘That is unlawful,’ thus fabricating lies against Allah. Surely those who fabricate lies against Allah will never prosper.” [16:116]
The lawful things should be consumed. The practice of abstinence from lawful things in life is discouraged. In fact, it is tantamount to ungratefulness of the bounties of Allah.
“Eat of the good, lawful things provided to you by Allah. And be mindful of Allah in Whom you believe.” [5:88]
“Say (O Prophet): ‘Who has forbidden the adornment which Allah has brought forth for His creatures or the good things from among the means of sustenance?’ Say: ‘These are for the enjoyment of the believers in this world, and shall be exclusively theirs on the Day of Resurrection’.” [7:32]
All resources are owned by Allah the Almighty. Hence, He possesses the exclusive authority to declare what is permitted or not – permitted for human’s use and consumption. All things made lawful for use and consumption for mankind should be utilised with thankfulness to the Lord. The Qur’ān warns against both the tendencies of niggardliness or extravagance in use and consumption.
“(The true servants of the Merciful One are) those who are neither extravagant nor niggardly in their spending but keep the golden mean between the two.” [25:67]
“Those who are niggardly about what Allah has granted them out of His bounty think that niggardliness is good for them; it is bad for them.” [3:180]
The Qur’ān recommends consumption of lawful things in a lawful manner and charity (sadaqa) for persons in need. This recommendation for charity is done in a forceful manner by saying that it is the right of the have-nots that they be served by the haves. In other words, the poor and needy have rightful share in the wealth of the wealthy. Pay them as it is due to them.
“And in their possessions, there are the rights of those who ask and of those who are deprived (who cannot ask).” [51:19]
One may say that the provisions of the Qur’ān as described above are mostly of general nature providing moral bases. In addition to these, there are verses in the Qur’ān with specific provisions that differentiate Islamic economics from other systems. Those provisions have the ingrained capabilities to change the economic system of the world for the better, addressing the ills of the contemporary world inflicted by its corrupt economic system which is serving the vested interests of a few corporates and nation-states at the cost of rest of the world. We intend to discuss three of these provisions of the Qur’ān and describe what it means in the current scenario of world economy.
The Qur’ān has prohibited interest vehemently, declaring it as a war with Allah and His Prophet ﷺ. Such a strong worded displeasure has not been mentioned in the Qur’ān elsewhere for any other crime.
Those who consume interest will stand (on the Judgment Day) like those driven to madness by Satan’s touch. That is because they say, “Trade is no different than interest.” But Allah has permitted trading and forbidden interest. [2:275]
The Qur’ān recommends transfer of resources in trading with mutual consent.
“Believers! Do not devour one another’s possessions wrongfully; rather than that, let there be trading by mutual consent. You shall not kill yourselves. Surely Allah is ever Compassionate to you. [4:29]
The option of increasing wealth through interest has been completely sealed. The approach of the Qur’ān is uncompromising on this issue.
The Qur’ān uses the term Maysir, which means ‘easy.’ It implies a method of earning easy money without any real and meaningful economic activity. In today’s parlance it can be understood as zero-sum game where total wealth does not increase as there is no production or otherwise activity. Simply wealth changes hands on some gaming methods. In this situation, one person or group can win something only by causing another person or group to lose it. The Qur’ān, instead of its blanket disapproval, talks about its ills surpassing its benefits. In other words, there may be any benefit in it but it is relatively harmful. [the same is true about intoxication, but here we concentrate only on gambling]. So, it should be avoided.
“They ask you (O Prophet) about intoxicants and gambling. Say, “There is great evil in both, as well as some benefit for people – but the evil outweighs the benefit.” [2:219]
CIRCULATION OF WEALTH
It was the prevalent practice in Arabia that warriors who captured war booties became owners of their possessions severally. Islam improved the system of distribution. All items captured from the enemies were now collected centrally and distributed according to a declared system after earmarking one-fifth (khams) for the state baitulmaal (treasury). Once when a battle was won without any actual act of war as the enemy surrendered before the war commenced, the Qur’ān declared that the booties will not be distributed among the warriors as done earlier, as no actual war happened. Instead, the ownership was transferred to the state and its objects were announced in detail in the initial parts of chapter 59 of the Qur’ān. The purpose of this new system was that wealth should not remain circulating only among the rich. Its benefits should percolate and permeate to the whole economy of the present and future generations.
“Whatever (from the possessions of the towns people) Allah has bestowed on His Messenger belongs to Allah, and to the Messenger, and to his kinsfolk, and to the orphans, and to the needy, and to the wayfarer so that it may not merely circulate between the rich among you. So, accept whatever the Messenger gives you, and refrain from whatever he forbids you…” [59:7]
It is not that this principle of circulation of wealth was applied only at that particular occasion. Rather it is an accepted Qur’ānic approach which can be traced in the system of inheritance, bequest, zakat, sadaqat, khams in war booties, financial atonement, etc.
The contemporary economy in the world has all these evils, interest, gambling and concentration of wealth which has created a number of corruptions and exploitations, including the following:
- Gulf between real and financial economies have widened.
- Debts are rising faster than equities leading to institutional and sovereign debt crises.
- Corporate economies taking over national economies.
- Consumption of future economic resources resulting in, besides ecological issues, burdening the future generations with the debts taken by the present generation thereby creating enslaved generations.
The list can be elongated. However, this much would suffice to understand the state of economics today and the resulting dark future of the world. These problems emanate from availability of easy credit on interest, interest-based debts, speculative transactions, consumption beyond means and deficit financing, etc.
None of these problems can crop up if the economy follows the Qur’ānic way of no debt, discourages gaming and contains wealth accumulation.