8 Islam’s Measures for Realizing Economic Justice / part 7

Economic security

In Islam, state is liable for the demands and needs of every single subject, Muslim or non-Muslim, should be unable to provide for himself, through his own personal resources or his sponsor.

This point is best explained again in the letter Imam Ali (a.s.) wrote to his governor in Egypt, Malik al-Ashtar:

“Then I want to caution you about the poor. Fear Allah about their condition and your attitude towards them. They have no support, no resources and no opportunities. They are poor, they are destitute and many of them are crippled and unfit for work. Some of them, come out begging and some (who maintain self-respect) do not beg, but their condition screams about their distress, poverty, destitution and wants. So, protect them and their rights. Allah has laid the responsibility of this on your shoulders. You must fix a share for them from the government treasury. Beside this reservation in cash, you must also reserve a share in kind of crops…etc. from government grain stores in cities, in which such grain are collected and cultivated on state-owned lands. Because in this collection, the share of those living far away from any particular city is equal to the share of those living nearby.”

Islamic law, made by this quotation, allows sums of money from the treasury to support the infirm and needy, who can no longer work or that their incomes fall short of covering their expenses. It states clearly the principle the state’s responsibility for economic security that applies to every citizen, irrespective of his/her religion.

It is narrated that one day Imam Ali (a.s.) saw a Christian dhimmi (non-Muslim citizen living in an Islamic state) begging. Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s.) asked:

“Who is this?”

“Oh Amir al-Mu’minin!,” said people, who were present.

“He is a Christian.”

“You employed him,” Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s.) retorted, “until he became old and infirm then you denied him help. Spend on him from the treasury.” 7