How many times haven’t we heard the claim, “Islam is not a religion, it is a complete way of life.”
A way of life, would thus, naturally inculcate, very high up on its agenda, an economic system. Islam demands that in all facets of existence, justice, above all, should be served. Islamic economics is not a topic exclusive to bankers and PhD students. It is a subject, which must be practically adopted in our day to day going abouts.
To introduce you to the basics, Islamic economics demands, at its core, to remember Allah above all, He is the owner of all wealth, and we as His vicegerents, must use and distribute that wealth equally and equitably. Islam recognizes the rights of individuals to own wealth and property, and only restricts it, in what is is harmful to man and the society, e.g, alcohol related industries, or exploitative practices.
It also fosters a sense of mutual responsibility, whereby every citizen is responsible for the well being of his society. This means, that the basic needs of every individual will be met, and no-one would live below the subsistence level.
By discrediting any kind of class system, Islam ensures the well-being of all, and no special privileges are made, which discriminates between people.
Islamic economic practice is about “to each according to his needs” and “each to enjoy the fruits of his labour”.
So, how do we ,as ordinary Muslims (if such a thing exists) to implement these principles in our lives?
I have a few rather simple and simplified suggestions (as always):
1. Do not live beyond your means, this might seen like a common sense statement, but is really a crucial part of Islamic economics. The capitalist society of today, tempts us into its “buy now, pay later” schemes, through credit cards, loans, and an array of other options, this not only leads us into debt, but also contributes to the success of capitalism through interest! Why not use debit cards instead, so that you spend, only what you have.
2.Islam frowns, make that groans, against waste. Why buy something when you don’t need it? Again, we are tempted, through clever marketing, to buy so many items that we will never use, that clutter our lives, and our homes. I’m sure so many of you can attest to this, and we all know how a good a De-cluttering session feels, but why should we have to declutter, we shouldn’t be buying these unnecessities in the first place. Excessive materialism impedes our spiritual capacities, and as Allah says “only in the remembrance of Allah, do hearts find peace”, not in possessions.
3.Adopt an ethical approach to spending your money. Be aware of which products are involved in unethical practices which contribute to social ills, such as exploitation, oppression and occupation. It is well known that many big brands are openly affiliated with occupied Palestine, or backs their operations. How does it feel to know that just so you can drink a can of coca cola, a Palestinian loses his/her home, or dies, at the point of an American funded, Israeli gun?
4.Also, be mindful that what you are buying is not harming the environment, because Allah gave us this earth, in trust, and we should return it to Him in the same pristine condition in which he created it.
5.Spend money for a Divine cause. Yes we all give charity, but when we do it, we should actively think of it as ibadat.
6.Be grateful. Not every one knows where his/her next meal is coming from.
7.Remember that wealth is also a test for the believer. Entire nations and civilizations have perished because of greed and love of money.
8.Spend appropriately on your loved ones. Yes, this is an Islamic economic practice. Islam is the middle way, it shies away from both excessive wealth and extreme deprivation.
9.Save for the future. Planning ahead is vital, and by saving, we also become liable for paying Zakat, which is an honour for every Muslim, it is a means of purifying our wealth, as well as increasing it.
10.Keep the end in mind. This world is not our final abode. Prepare for the everlasting world, where you will have everything to your hearts content, let Allah become sufficient for you in this world. As the cliche goes, money cant buy happiness.”Thy Lord is self sufficient, full of mercy…” (Qur’an: 6:133,).
Some of these points might not seem very “economical” to you, but trust me, they are, on the authority of the Quran, and such is Islam, that all parts of life will naturally overlap with others, so what may seem outwardly a spiritual practice, will effect the economy and what may seem overtly economic, will bring you closer to your Lord.