Sheikh Saud ash Shuraim
March 14, 2008 ~ Rabee al Awwal 7, 1429
All praise is due to Allah, the One who forgives our sins and accepts our repentance, the One who punishes and the One who rewards. There is none worthy of worship except Allah without any partners. We praise Him and we thank Him. To Him do we turn to in repentance and we seek His forgiveness. I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah without any partners. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger, who conveyed the message, delivered his trust, and strove on the path of Allah until he attained certainty. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, on his family, his companions, and those who followed them and their footsteps until the Last Day.
Oh Muslims, a piece of advice that applies to you and I is to fear Allah the Exalted and Almighty and remain aware of him in private and in public. We need to follow up every sinful deed with a good deed. When we are dealing with people we deal with them in the best of character and manners. Allah says: “Verily, he who fears Allâh with obedience to Him, and is patient, then surely, Allâh makes not the reward of the Muhsinûn to be lost.” [Surah Yusuf: Ayah 90]
Oh people, wealth in this world is a key ingredient and a lubricant for the proper functioning of society and the material development. It is no wonder that we see men striving with their efforts and energy in order to attains great amounts of wealth for themselves. This often drags the son of Adam to means which result in greater problems and brings upon themselves hardship and discord Allah says: “And you love wealth with much love!” [Surah Fajr: Ayah 20]
As we live this temporary life in this world, we work and toil, spending our efforts to earn a living. While we do so, we forget that we are on a journey, and we will reach our destination. We will be taken to account by Allah, the Exalted and Almighty for all that we have done whether it is private or in public. Allah says: “O man! Verily, you are returning towards your Lord with your deeds and actions, a sure returning, and you will meet (i.e. the results of your deeds which you did).” [Surah Inshiqaaq: Ayah 6] Indeed Allah will reward us for every good deed and punish us for every wrong deed.
We see the amount of discontentment, problems, and hardships people face in the world when seeking wealth has become sole goal in their lives. They do not know how to properly contextualize their wealth or seek it in the best of ways so that it does not become a hurdle in their path of achieving a life of happiness and ease. Those who are the servants of Allah see wealth as a virtue and a blessing from Allah the Exalted and Almighty. They show gratitude to Allah for it and spend it in a manner that pleases Allah. They are not niggardly or miserly with it. They may own the wealth, but they do not let their wealth own them. Whereas, we see the disbelievers and those who are far from the guidance of Allah, the Exalted and Almighty, do everything in their means in order to earn wealth for themselves and spend it in paths which are displeasing to Allah. There are those who spend their wealth and energy in order to stop the call of Allah from spreading. Allah says: “Verily, those who disbelieve spend their wealth to hinder (men) from the Path of Allâh, and so will they continue to spend it; but in the end it will become an anguish for them…” [Surah Anfaal: Ayah 36] The Messenger of Allah has said “If you become like those who carry out their financial transactions with usury and interest, and their sources of income become impure, and they leave striving for the cause of Allah, then Allah will bring upon them humiliation and he will not remute this humiliation until they turn back to Allah.” [Bukhari, in Adab al Mufrad] This demonstrates that indeed wealth and creating the correct means to attain wealth plays an important role in our lives.
We see the world today living in a time of financial crisis and economic inequality that cannot be understood easily. We see Muslim countries under the pressures of foreign countries who intervene in their economic affairs. That consequently has an effect on the way the wealth is distributed within the Muslim communities. The lack of sovereignty of a particular country over their own wealth and economic resources results in the country’s economic and political instability. Therefore, it is important for Muslim countries to seek obtain economic independence. They need to understand economic system of Islam and if only they seek to establish that system will they gain stability and independence. We see institutions as the economic forces and capital markets that under name of creating balance between economies are only creating problems and instability in communities that were unprecedented. Islam takes a balanced approach between economic growth and local development. Those who are in positions of authority need to focus and not lose sight of peoples basic needs. We know that the word iqtisad in Arabic means balance and fairness in wealth, whereas we see what is prevelant in the world today is the opposite. Economic inequality has become the norm. Islam seeks to create an equitable system whereby the poor and the rich alike get a fair chance to live in a way that is suitable to a mans honor and dignity.
Some people may take mockery out of what we are saying for they think that the economy can only be run through mathematical and quantitative analysis and that it has nothing to do with our moral values or the ethics that we follow. However, Islamic economics differentiates itself from capitalistic and socialistic economies in that economic activity is regulated by moral values and principles which are fundamental to the correct functioning any economy. Due to the lack of moral ethics in the capitalist and socialist economies, we see the spread of corruption amongst the economic institutions which spreads to individuals as well as organizations.
Allah says: “O you who believe! Be afraid of Allâh and give up what remains from Ribâ, if you are (really) believers.” [Surah Baqarah: Ayah 278] Usuary is innately unjust and takes advantage of those who are in a difficult position. It gives power to those who are in position of authority. “So whosoever receives an admonition from his Lord and stops eating Ribâ (usury) shall not be punished for the past; his case is for Allâh (to judge);” [Surah Baqarah: Ayah 275]
Oh brothers in Islam, Islamic economics requires serious attention from scholars and economists to come together contextualize the guidance of Islam in their local economies. It is known that every serious effort to understand the root cause of problems takes clear and well defined steps. It starts with observation, then adopting a set of assumptions, thereafter periodically testing those set of assumptions, until a conclusion is reached and the root of the problem is identified. It also requires us to search in the methodology of the Messenger of Allah (Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam) for guidance through which we are able to regulate our economic activity. Allah warns us against eating the wealth of one another. Allah says: “O you who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves unjustly except it be a trade amongst you, by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves (nor kill one another). Surely, Allâh is Most Merciful to you.” [Surah Nisaa: Ayah 29]
Oh Muslims, fear Allah and know the economic difficulties that the Islamic world is facing is due to the lack of these countries abiding by the principles of Islam. Islamic economics is built upon cooperation and mutual assistance. However, we see that the current practices in the world are blind to the needs of others and it based solely on personal interests. We must not forget about two of the important institutions of Islam through which we create a cooperative society and society that is able to support itself, where the weak and poor have a relationship. These institutions are zakaah and waqf. It is inevitable that in order for the Muslim countries to come out of the instability they are facing that they obey and adhere to the guidance of Islam in this matter and create a cooperative economy and increase trade between Muslim countries. They will thereby create a self sufficient economy that does not require them to be dependant on foreign economies who have nothing but their own personal desires in mind.
Allah has made it easy for us to take matters into our hands, and unless we do so we will only suffer from what our hands have earned for us or against us. Allah says: “He it is, Who has made the earth subservient to you, so walk in the path thereof and eat of His provision, and to Him will be the Resurrection.” [Surah Mulk: Ayah 15] With this, we conclude, and remind you to invoke the peace and blessings of Allah upon our beloved Prophet and Messenger, Muhammad (Salallahu Alallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Allah says: “Allâh and His angels send Salât on the Prophet. O you who believe! Send your Salât on him, and greet him with the Islâmic way of greeting.” [Surah Ahzaab: Ayah 56]
Oh Allah, we ask of you to send your peace and blessings on your Messenger, and his family, and companions and those who followed them in righteousness.
Oh Allah, be pleased with the rightly guided khulafa, Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, Uthmaan and ‘Ali.
Oh Allah, we ask of you to bring honor and dignity to Islam and the Muslims….