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Conference 'Economics of Non-violence...' - Report [4.06] - Justice P.K. Shamsuddin (2)

Published: 02.06.2006
Updated: 30.07.2015
Fourth Plenary Session:
Indian Ancient Model of Economic System - Is it relevant today?

The Quran answers the query of people what should they relinquish from their capital, which is rhetoric about the curtailment of human freedom. A Communist regime seems to think that economic progress is the be all and end of all life. A human being is an integrated person and he requires both material and spiritual progress and the absence of spirituality is the root cause for the failure of communism in Soviet Russia and Europe. The state control on the human activities as was done in Stalin's Russia turned the state into a totalitarian state with dictatorship of an individual and denial of all human freedom and suppression of all creative activities. In a capitalist society there is no place for morality and social justice becomes casualty.

Charity or giving alms to the poor is not only aimed at alleviation of the sufferings of the poor, but also cultivation of a moral sense in the giver and enrichment of his spirituality. This, the Quran explains in the following words in chapter 9, verse 103,

“Take alms from their wealth (in order) to purify and sanctify them thereby, and pray for them. Verify your prayers will be a relief for them and God is one who is All hearing and All knowing”.

It is for the same reason Islam prohibits the giver of charity from publicizing it. In chapter 2 verse 264 the Quran says,

“Oh, Believers! Make not your charity worthless by reproach and injury like him who spends his wealth to be seen by man”.

All this will indicate that the object of giving alms is not merely the welfare of the society and alleviation of poverty but cultivation of a deep sense of morality, purity and spirituality.

Islam also considers that it is necessary to persuade others to give alms. Chapter 107 verses 1 to 3 of the Holy Quran says,

“Have you seen one who denies religion, that is the one who drives away orphan and does not encourage feeding the indigent”?

Islam condemns selfishness and narrow mindedness and advocates large heartedness, spirit of brotherhood and mutual persuasion to do good,

“Nay, but you Honour not the orphan and you do not encourage the feeding of the indigent and you devour inheritance with utmost greed, and you love the wealth with much affection".
(Chapter 89:17-20) of Holy Quran

Fithr Zakath

All those who have with them food or cash for purchase of food in excess of the requirement of the day of Idul Fithr are liable to give Fithr Zakath at the rate of one sag for each member of the house. This would be collected and distributed among the poor. This is to ensure nobody starves on the day of Idul Fithr. During the time of prophet, dates, grapes and wheat were given as Fithr Zakath. From the tradition it is clear that it is desirable to give staple food of the locality as Fithr Zakath.

Regarding Distribution of Land Prophet Muhammad declared,

“Land uncultivated belongs to God and His messenger. Then you are entitled to get it from me”
(Kithabul Awwal page 272, Kithabul Kharaj page 77).

This saying of prophet cuts at the very root of feudal rights. The rich and the powerful were monopolizing the pastoral lands and prophet declared.

“None except God and His messenger has the right to possess the pasture"
(Bukkari)

A villager came to Khalif Umar and represented “Oh! Leader you have enclosed our locality as pasture, we have fought for it before (the dawn of) Islam and possessed it till we embraced Islam” Khalif replied,

“All plots belong to God. And this is enclosed as pasture for the use of camels, which again are wealth of God”.
(Kitabul Awwal page 299)

“If anyone enlivens the dead land it belongs to him (Bukkhari). The owner of the land forfeits his right to it, if he fails to cultivate it for 3 continuous years."

Regarding the control of price Islam proposes that the state is entitled to control the price if it finds that the merchants try to create an artificial situation in order to raise the price of the commodities. Imam Ibn Quayyim says that the state should compel the merchants to sell the goods for a fair price if it is found necessary to restore a just trade. They must be prevented from extracting excessive profits, which is forbidden. Imam Ibn Thimiah says that if a situation arises where essentials of life cannot be had without control of prices, the government must control prices justly. (Al Hisbath 260)

Lottery, Gambling and Alchol

All kinds of gambling are forbidden because it leads to great social evil - the Quran says, “Oh ye who believes, intoxicants, gambling and divination by arrows are an abomination - of satan's hand work. Eschew such abomination that ye may prosper (5:90)

The above acts had made many families bankrupt, many children orphans, and many women widows.

Usury and Interest

Islam strictly prohibits usury and interest as it is proved to be an instrument of economic exploitation. Many Muslim countries have developed an interest free banking system and that experiment has succeeded well. This has attracted the attention of modern economists and banks that indulged in credit transactions. Generally it is the poor who take loans. Islam advises the creditors to treat them with magnanimity. Prophet said, “May God bless those who show generosity when they purchase or sell and when they recover debt (Bukkhari).

The Quran says,

“And if the debtor is in difficulty grant him time till it is easy for him to repay. But if ye remit by way of charity that is best for you.
(2:280)

The basic principle of Islam in the distribution of wealth is that it should never concentrate in the hands of a few. The law of inheritance is shaped in such a way that the wealth left behind a person on his death is inherited not by all the near relations. The share of each relation is clearly defined and the property gets divided among all the heirs who are entitled to share.

Labour

Islam upholds the dignity of labour and does not consider any labour as mean or disgraceful. The Prophet declared,

“No one has taken a better meal than what he earned out of the labour of his own hand”.

The Prophet said that a labour should be given just remuneration before his sweat dries up. He also declared that he would argue against three persons in the hereafter. Of these the third one is

One who has employed a person and made him do all the work and does not pay full wages".
(Bukkari)

Thus we find Islam has evolved a comprehensive economic system to ensure equitable distribution of wealth. This it does, by giving a spiritual content, namely, that the man really discharges his obligation to the commandment of his creator and in the belief that he will attain high spiritual status in the life hereafter.

He expressed his inability to subscribe to the view that the religions have become decadent and exhausted all its utility. The essential requirement and components to create a good human being and adjust to society are produced by religion and religion alone. Wisdom handed down to earth by our scriptures, our munis, our rishis, the masters of religion have contributed considerably to progress of humanity.No doubt science has made tremendous contribution for making progress of humanity. However, we have experienced the potential destruction of science in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What we require is the synthesis of science and religion, science and spirituality. They must function as complementary and supplementary to each other and create a world of lasting peace and justice.

Finally, Dr. Ved Prakash concluded by saying that last few years have witnessed a very serious distancing between ethics and economics making a redefining of economic principles quite emergent.
Sources

Ashok Bapna, Director, JIILM Jaipur, Honorary Visiting Professor, CTI, CMS, HCM RIPA, Jaipur & SID Country Coordinator - India, Mobile: +91-93145-09414

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