By S. Arshad, New Age Islam
The holy Quran has laid down principles for every sphere of social life. It has enjoined on the human beings to live a just and fair life giving the human beings their fare share of wealth and other provisions. Since economic aspect of the society is the most aspect of human life, the Quran has laid down a number of economic principles for an Islamic society which if followed will lead to a society based on justice, equality and economic prosperity.
First of all, it should be noted that all the evils of society emanate from corruption, selfishness and a hankering after money and wealth. Therefore, to root out corruption and inequality in the society, the Quran enjoins on man not to be selfish and not to violate the rights of others; to give the poor and the destitute, the orphan their due. We find the following guiding principles in the Quran that can be the basis of a just Islamic society.
During the pre-Islam period, people would consider giving alms and charity to the poor a vain practice. It was heavy on their conscience to party with their earnings and wealth to the poor and the destitute though the previous revealed books also enjoined their followers to give alms and to help the poor and the need in times of need. Instead, they would seek an opportunity to devour the wealth and property of others by various means. The Quran told people that the poor and the destitute needed care and sympathy because they were the creation of Allah and the rich and the prosperous had the duty to help them. Therefore, the Quran encouraged Muslims to give charity and alms to the poor:
“O ye who believe! cancel not your charity by reminders of your generosity or by injury” (Al Baqarah; 264)
“And whatever ye spend in charity or devotion, be sure Allah knows it all”. (Al Baqarah: 270)
“If ye disclose (acts of) charity, even so it is well, but if ye conceal them, and make them reach those (really) in need, that is best for you: It will remove from you some of your (stains of) evil”. (Al Baqarah: 271)
(Charity is) for those in need, who, in Allah's cause are restricted (from travel), and cannot move about in the land, seeking (For trade or work): the ignorant man thinks, because of their modesty, that they are free from want. Thou shalt know them by their (Unfailing) mark: They beg not importunately from all the sundry. (Al Baqarah: 273)
Thus, charity has been declared as the means of purifying the soul and gaining salvation in the Hereafter. Charity and alms develops among men a feeling of camaraderie and fellow-feeling and strengthens the bond between human beings creating a well-nit society.
Miserliness is another evil of the society that is a hindrance to the development of society because it prevents men from spending their money and wealth on just causes of the society. Miserly men covet their wealth and money and save it till they die without benefitting the society. God says that He has given wealth and money to people to spend on right and jut causes after what is left from after they have met their own needs. Quran warns such people with a heavy torment in the Hereafter and declares such men condemned to go to Hell.
“And let not those who covetously withhold of the gifts which Allah Hath given them of His Grace, think that it is good for them: Nay, it will be the worse for them: soon shall the things which they covetously withheld be tied to their necks Like a twisted collar, on the Day of Judgment.”( Al e Imran:180)
“(Nor) those who are niggardly or enjoin niggardliness on others, or hide the bounties which Allah hath bestowed on them; for We have prepared, for those who resist Faith, a punishment that steeps them in contempt;”- (Al Nisa; 37)
“The Hypocrites, men and women, (have an understanding) with each other: They enjoin evil, and forbid what is just, and are close with their hands.” (Tauba; 67)
The verse of Surah Al Tauba also hints that miserliness is the attribute of the hypocrites. And a hypocrite is a person who is not a Muslim at heart but only feigns to be one.
Lavish Expenditure or Wastage
The Quran also lashes out at those who waste food, money and other natural resources. Food, water and money should not be wasted as they invite economic troubles for the nation and the community.
“But waste not by excess: for Allah loveth not the wasters”. (Al Anam: 141)
“Eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters.” (Al Araf; 31)
Zakat is the means of distribution of wealth in the society to bring economic equality in the society. In Islam a portion of the income of the rich people is ordained to be distributed among the unprivileged section so that they become prosperous and the gulf between the rich and the poor is minimized. Zakat was also ordained in Torah and other religious communities but they gradually left the practice because they did not like to part with their hard earned money to the poor. Instead the promoted the practice of riba (interest) to take away the money and property of the people to become rich. The Quran revives the practice of Zakat to bring economic equality in the society.
“But My mercy extendeth to all things. That (mercy) I shall ordain for those who do right, and practice regular charity, and those who believe in Our signs;”- (Al Araf: 156)
“And be steadfast in prayer; practice regular charity;” (Al Baqarah: 43)
“And be steadfast in prayer and regular in charity:” (Al Baqarah: 110)
“Allah has bestowed His gifts of sustenance more freely on some of you than on others: those more favoured are not going to throw back their gifts to those whom their right hands possess, so as to be equal in that respect. Will they then deny the favours of Allah?” (Al Nahl: 71)
The Quran condemns the practice of taking and giving Riba declaring it a heinous sin as it violates the economic rights of people.
“That they took usury, though they were forbidden; and that they devoured men's substance wrongfully;- we have prepared for those among them who reject faith a grievous punishment”. ( Al Nisa: 161)
“O ye who believe! Devour not usury, doubled and multiplied; but fear Allah; that ye may (really) prosper”. (Al Imran: 130)
Corruption is one of the evils of every society. It existed in the ancient society and exists in the modern society too. Corruption is misappropriation of funds and resources meant for the masses by individuals, rulers or a group of powerful people. Quran also condemns corruption and those who practice it and enjoins on Muslims not to indulge in corruption. Quran asks Muslims not to take away the property of the orphans or weak people and not to substitute mean quality ingredients for good ones and not to devour things meant for the orphans and the poor. Quran also discourages hording of wealth and good depriving the people of their share in it.
“To orphans restore their property (When they reach their age), nor substitute (your) worthless things for (their) good ones; and devour not their substance (by mixing it up) with your own. For this is indeed a great sin”. (Al Nisa: 2)
“Those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, eat up a Fire into their own bodies” Al Nisa: 10)?
“O ye who believe! there are indeed many among the priests and anchorites, who in Falsehood devour the substance of men and hinder (them) from the way of Allah. And there are those who bury gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah: announce unto them a most grievous penalty”- (Tauba: 34)
The Quran is against all the corrupt and unjust practices that are a hindrance to the development of the society on just and fair basis. These corrupt practices also cause moral and ethical degradation of people making them selfish and oblivious to the misery and economic problems of their neighbourhood. That’s why the Quran has specifically laid down economic principles for an ideal Islamic society.