It is imperative for an economic philosophy to be capable of grappling with the economic issues facing a particular country and the people and offering necessary solutions. Secondly, it should conform to the moral attitudes and socio-cultural norms, and traditions of that country. No country or nation can afford to adopt an economic system that has no relevance with its moral philosophy and the normal way of life.
Basic Values of the Economic Philosophy of Islam
Social Justice | Balance between rights and obligations of individuals and society.
Equitable Economic System | Equal opportunity for character and moral excellence.
People-friendly Political System | Avenues for constituents’ struggle for a better future.
Equality of Opportunity | Moral and material progress to strengthen Islamic principles.
Neither socialist nor liberal philosophies can be a panacea for the economic ills and are fit for the society’s healthy and multidimensional growth. The economic philosophy of Islam is unique in every respect and it alone ensures a society’s multidimensional progress. There are eight fundamental principles of the economic philosophy of Islam.
First Principle: General Accessibility of the Bounties of Nature
The cardinal principle is that every gift of nature, other than those prohibited by the Lord Himself, must be accessible to all.
Second Principle: The Right to Make a Living
Every member of the society must have the avenue open for him to seek his livelihood in a lawful manner, unhindered by any restriction or obstruction.
Third Principle: The Right to Ownership
A person investing his labor to acquire a gift of nature and putting it to suitable use must be entitled to its proprietary rights.
Fourth Principle: The Spirit of Healthy Competition
Islam does not curb the natural urge for competition and human potentials vary from person to person. It, however, prohibits every artificial way to boost one’s economic capability.
Fifth Principle: No Artificial Way to enforce Equality
Islam favors the equality enforced by nature but prohibits all artificial ways to achieve that. Every individual enjoys equal opportunity to rise in a field of his choice to the best of his capability.
Sixth Principle: No ‘Free Economy’
The economic system of Islam does not permit an unfettered economic pursuit for progress. The restrictions imposed by Islam on this ‘free economy’ may be summed up below:
- The lawful and unlawful means are elaborately defined for ownership and earning income. These details cannot be found in other divine or man-made legal systems.
- No person is permitted to spend in an unfair manner the resources he owns. Islam inspires the society to discourage the accumulation of wealth and let the excess reach the poor and the needy.
Seventh Principle: Duties Obligatory for Individuals
Just as Islam has made it imperative for society to take care of the collective uplift, it does not leave the individual unchecked. Zakāh is an obligatory duty he has to discharge and pay a certain prescribed amount on his annual saving. No human ingenuity has ever evolved a system of social insurance, like Zakāh and ‘Ushr, that can guarantee such an extensive provision of succor and sustenance to such a vast variety of the deserving and the needy.
Eighth Principle: Duties Obligatory for the Society
Islam has similarly prescribed certain obligations that society owes towards individuals. Firstly, it seeks the society to create conditions that may allow every individual member to enjoy equal rights. Secondly, Islam would like the society to ensure necessary treatment and assistance in emergencies, natural calamities, and cases of individual sufferings. Thirdly, Islam seeks to encourage the society to be sympathetic and not apathetic towards its members, who may be temporarily out of job, ill, or incapable of earning their living.