بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In conventional economics, one of the first things you’ll learn is that human being is a selfish animal. He/she is motivated to get maximum benefit from minimum effort or money. He/she is motivated to gain and keep gaining. This is one of the drawbacks of otherwise greatly functioning theoretical model. The Islamic economic model, on the other hand, doesn’t hold this assumption to be true.
Of course, we have the tendency to be selfish, and we have many vices such as the wish to hoard money, to be lazy, to take what we don’t deserve. Islam curbs these tendencies of committing excess and trains the Muslim to practice moderation. In order to do this, Islam depends almost solely on moral and spiritual training of the individual members of the society. By effectively using education it creases a spirit of love, cooperation and self-help and helping others. Some of the ways this can be achieved are the following:
- Belief in Allah: Whoever believes in Allah, His power, dominance, must believe in the fact that He is the One who provides all kinds of sustenance to each and every creature.
And how many a creature carries not its [own] provision. Allah provides for it and for you. And He is the Hearing, the Knowing. [Quran, 29:60]
Once we have that belief, then it won’t matter to us whether we have a lot of money or we don’t have anything at all. We won’t be filled up with arrogance when we have accumulated a lot of wealth – knowing that it didn’t come to us by some achievement of our own, rather it was gifted to us by Allah the Sustainer. And when we’re poor and needy, we won’t be too worried, because ultimately Allah will take care of us if He wills. Thus we don’t become dependent on wealth, but rather on Allah the Giver of that wealth.
- Belief in the Last Day: Whoever believes in the accounting that will take place on that Day, will be careful in how he earns and uses his wealth. He will be aware that no matter how much luxury he has on this earth, it will all be destroyed one day, and he will have to pay for any kind of mischief he did to get these luxuries. This will put a leash on our unlimited and overwhelming desire to have more and more.
- Having a High Ideal: instead of believing that we are inherently selfish and greedy, that our aim in life is to earn money and enjoy it, Islam teaches us that we are indeed above that kind of menial goal. We have a much higher status and honour.
You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah . [Quran, 3:110]
In order to gain that honour of being the best, our goal is to establish Allah’s religion on this earth. All kinds of economic goals are not primary goals, rather they are means of reaching that ultimate goal.
- Curbing Extravagance and greed: Islam acknowledges the fact than human beings are greedy. In fact, it is necessary that they be greedy in order to have the motivation to get food and water. But it also makes us put a leash on our greed so that it only does what its there for, and doesn’t get out of control.
And whoever is saved from the greediness of his soul, these it is that are the successful. [Quran, 64:16]
- Obligating Charity: A society in which poor individuals are not taken care of naturally leads towards self-destruction. That’s why hoarding is detested, and giving charity highly encouraged, and often obligatory in Islam. This charity is different from secular charity, because the goal here is not to pat oneself in the back and say, ‘I’m so generous! I’m giving away my wealth to these menial creatures.’ But instead, we are being taught that what wealth we have is not our own, rather it’s a gift from Allah, and it’s our responsibility to share that gift with other, equal, human beings.
If each individual in the community is trained in such a way, there is really very little need to apply any kind of external force to preserve the economy. We can’t change the society, but we can change ourselves. We don’t really need to worry about the whole of the building, our task is to make sure that one brick is in place which is our responsibility.