Poverty is treated as WMD (weapon of mass destruction) of modern world. Eradication of it bears very importance. The economic systems like capitalism and communism have presented number of instruments for the alleviation of the poverty from the world. But, these extreme ideologies failed to satisfy the need of the people. Private ownership of property, laissez-faire policy of capitalism and class war, dialectical materialism, state ownership of property of communism didn’t touch the real cause of poverty. This situation necessitates seeking the possibilities of Islamic economics in alleviating poverty. The aim of poverty alleviation can be attained, in an Islamic Economic system through reducing the inequality. It never means attaining equality but equity and justice in the income and wealth distribution. Islam eliminates the absolute inequality which arises from unequal distribution of income, but relative inequality emerges from equitable distribution of income and wealth.
First part of this article has given a small introduction to both conventional economics and Islamic economics. Then it provides a picture of poverty of current world and Islamic perspective of poverty. Then Islamic economics instruments to alleviate poverty such as zakat, sadaqa, qard hasan, ganima, khums, fay, jizya, mudaraba, musharaka, prohibition of interest, abolition of extravaganza, prohibition of speculation and hoarding have been mentioned in briefly. Influence of Islamic economic instruments on marginal propensity to consume, multiplier, price investment and production have been dealt with.
The books and articles I referred for this article are Dr. Dr.Sabahuddin Azmi’s Islamic Economics, S. M. Hasanuzzaman’s Economic function of an Islamic state (The early experience), Towards understanding the economic system of Islam written by Dr.P Ibrahim and Introduction to the economic system by Moulavi.M.V.Saleem.
Nobody can undermine the importance of economics which is a social science that studies the production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services. This very importance of economics resulted in emergence of different economic systems in the world and all of those economic systems claim that they will fetch economic welfare. Those dominating and prominent economic system’s failure to accomplish economic justice, prosperity, the eradiation of the inequality and poverty make necessary an alternative economic system which can successfully make a starvation free and poverty free world.
Definition of Economics
Social scientists have developed various definitions of economics. Lionel Robinson’s scarcity definition of economics is most accepted amongst them. According to Robinson “economics is a science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses” This definition is based on two points which are scarcity of resources and the never ending needs. But in reality former is a myth. The survey conducted by UNO shows that are enough resources for 20000 million people on earth we have only 6000 million people on earth residing now. Latter point ‘never ending needs’ is also incorrect as the desire and greed of the man is unlimited but the need is countable and controllable.
Definition of Islamic Economics
As a system of life Islam has not left any area of human life without guidance. Whether it is spiritual, individual, social, economical or political Islam gives clear cut guidelines. By considering the economic guidelines of Islamic sources, Islamic economists have developed plethora of definitions. Derivation of each definition of Islamic economics is based on guidance given in the basic sources of Islamic shariah which are Quran and hadith.
According to Yusuf Ibrahim, professor of Islamic economics, Qatar University “Islamic economics is a science studying the guidance of the human behavior towards the use of resources to satisfy the needs”. This definition is based upon the following facts.
1. The resources are enough for satisfying the needs.
2. But the resources should be protected from the waste, and improper use.
3. The human behavior towards the resources should be controlled by divine injunctions.
4. Only legal needs, needs that build life on the earth, should be satisfied.
5. Illegal needs (desires), which destroy life on earth, should not be satisfied; they are never ending and never satisfied.
Islamic economic system, a normative economic system, has been built upon certain fundamental Islamic philosophies. According to Quranic teachings real and absolute ownership of the wealth belongs to the creator of the same, Almighty God. Quran says “To Allah belongs to everything in the sky and on the earth” (2:284).Role of the man is considered as trustee who is to manage the trust, i.e. wealth according to the directives of the real owner; God. Quran clearly states “And spend of that where of hath made you trustees” (57:7). So man has been granted
conditioned and limited ownership.
Another Islamic philosophy is universal brotherhood and equality of men as their creator is one and parents are same. Hence distinction based on color, caste, creed, races do not suffer at any cost. This concept induces the people for cooperation and participation in their all efforts instead of cheating, exploiting and making fraud each other. Another aspect of Islamic philosophy is the faith in the Day of Judgment after death. In the life after death man is accountable for his deeds on earth. The implication of this faith is that economic choices one makes in world are to be judged according to the norms Allah has laid down.
These are the revolutionary points which differentiate Islamic economics from the liberal, capitalistic, imperialistic, mainstream, usurious economic system and communist, class war, state dictatorship economic system. Islam constructs a just world on the spirit of everlasting divine concepts.
Evil of any economy is poverty. The presence of begging hands in an economy pulls that economy into decades back. Poverty midst plenty is the challenge faced in the modern world. Impact of the poverty cannot confine into starvation only, but poor people, apart from starvation, suffering limited income which leads to inaccessibility of good education it disables them for challenging careers which requires number of years long education. Absence of nutritious food results in more child morality among deprived sections. Since limited access for information and knowledge those are prevented from market and opportunities.
Every country and international organizations like World Trade Organization, World Bank and Asian Development Bank hard work to construct the countries and world on the foots of self sufficiency respectively. Mission of the World Bank is described as global poverty reduction and improvement of living standards. General Council of UN has declared October 17 as International day for the eradication of poverty. It shows how seriously they took poverty as a problem
But, it is wondering that out of 6.1 billion world population more than 1 billion are finding their livelihood in less than $1 per day and almost 3 billion on less than $2 per day. You might be provoked that 74% of total income of world is shared by the 20% of the elite class of the world. It is heartening you that there are countries whose national income is less $800 and morality of below five years age children is about 26%.It is worrying that 110 million primary school age children are out of school and 60 percent of them are girls.
Poverty and Islamic Economics
Below Poverty Line (BPL) fixes in Islamic economics system on the basis of ownership of nisab, which limit makes one eligible for the payment of zakat Whosoever wealth on or over the nisab is responsible for the payment of zakat. Those wealth is below nisab are zakat recipients and they are treated as poor. Hence, in Islamic economics, the size of deprived come under BPL will be large. Starvation and inaccessibility of food, shelter, cloths and education could not suffer in an Islamic economy which aims human falah, i.e. human welfare. It does not support any economic instrument that leads to the deprivation of the man. Since poverty emerges in an economy as a result of various causes so wiping out of these causes is primarily important.
Limited income, unequal distribution of income and wealth, misdistribution of resources, regional disparities, unemployment, social injustice, and decreased investments …etc are some of the obstacles in the way of attainment of self-sufficiency and welfare. Islam considers the fulfillment of basic needs of every member of society is economic, moral as well as religious obligation of the ruler. List of the basic goods extends from traditional food, clothing and shelter to seasonal clothing, personal attendant to disabled person, and expenditure on marriage of poor and expenditure on entire family of poor, which are intensified by scholars from time to time and likely to extend the list time to time for the welfare of the citizen. Islamic economic system introduces a bunch of divinely guided instruments which bring to an end of poverty and build
poverty less world.
Islamic Economic Instruments to eliminate poverty
It is advised to Muslim citizens in an Islamic county, as the part of believe, to practice certain things in their life, some of them are compulsory nature and the rest are voluntary nature. The practice of these will have vast economic implications apart from the reward of God. Non Muslim citizens also have to make certain compulsory payments, which have economic impacts, as the part of their citizenship in the Islamic country. Compulsory duties and agreements of citizens are governed by the Islamic country and violation of any part would not suffer Islamic state. In addition to these functions there are other things the Islamic state has to carry out similar to any nation does for the welfare of citizens. Both positive and negative measures have recommended by Islam for wiping out the reason of poverty.
There are numerous Islamic orders and injunction to perform certain things which have immense influence on economies justice, prosperity and growth. Important divine injunctions amongst them and their influence upon the economy are briefed below.
Zakat is the yearly obligation of wealthy Muslims to poor and it is the share of have-nots in the property and wealth of the rich. Quran commends “establish worship and pay the poor his due (zakat) and obey the messenger”. Technically we can call it as spiritual tax. It is imposed on those forms of wealth which have the capacity to grow in value or otherwise produce further, is having the custody of whole year and have exceed a certain minimum value called ‘nisab’. Quran has stated the eight specific heads for the distribution of zakat.
Due to the divine spirit for the performance of zakat, chances for evasion are less. The imposition of zakat on idle wealth urges the owners for the productive and profitable employment of idle wealth which increases the wealth of economy and again the share of zakat.