8 Islam’s Measures for Realizing Economic Justice / part 5

Economic balances by means of Islamic taxes

Islam has laid down certain taxes like Zakat (poor-rate) and Khums (one-fifth of a Muslim’s income paid to the treasury every year). They are taken from the well-off according to certain provisions, and delivered up to the destitute to satisfy their needs, solve the problem of poverty, and in doing so, achieve economic justice. The ultimate goal of Islam here is to meet the economic needs of all Muslim individuals, so that no one is left deprived in the whole Muslim World.

Imam Ja’far bin Muhammad al-Sadiq (a.s.) is reported to have said:

“Surely, Allah the Almighty and Exalted ordained a portion from the wealth of the rich to be handed out to the poor which satisfies them. Otherwise, He would certainly have increased their share. If they, however, remain unsatisfied, that is because some people deny them their undisputed right.” 2

In a dialogue between the Prophet (s.a.w.w.) and a man who came asking him about faith, the Prophet (s.a.w.w.) described Zakat as a redress for the poor and a means to ensure a balance between the needy and the rich.

The man narrated that he had asked the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.w.) what he called for and describes the following dialogue.

“I call the servants of Allah to serve Allah,” the Prophet (s.a.w.w.) replied.

“What do you say?,” I enquired.

“Bear witness,” the Prophet (s.a.w.w.) said, “that there is no god but Allah and that I, Muhammad, am the Messenger of Allah. You must believe in what He revealed to me, deny the deity of al- at and al-Uzzah, keep up prayer and pay Zakat.”

“And what is Zakat?,” I asked him.

“The well-off among us,” he told me, “hand back the money set aside to the poor among us.” 3

8 Islam’s Measures for Realizing Economic Justice / part 4

The method of gaining money, property and economic resources are restricted to certain laws as Islam puts restraints on any tendency of greediness or other unscrupulous motives including exploitation.

Islam adopts two important methods to tackle this critical point to frustrate the urges of greediness and exploitation. They are:

A/ Rearing and cultivating Muslim individuals and society, both morally and spiritually, in a way that promotes virtuous aspirations to steer clear of greediness and selfishness and present the reality of wealth being only transitory aspects of a temporary life on earth. It is a life that belittles so much attention being paid to competition and making material gains merely for their own sake as man’s existence has much greater goals to be achieved for his salvation.

Allah, the Almighty, says in the Qur’an:

“And those who made their abode in the city and in the faith before them love those who have fled to them, and do not find in their hearts a need of what they are given, and prefer (them) before themselves though poverty may afflict them, and whoever is preserved from the niggardliness of his soul, these it is that are the successful ones.”
Holy Qur’an (59:9)

B/ Laws are the second method employed by Islam to limit ways of accumulating riches and prohibit amassing through unlawful means that do the utmost harm to the community and feeds off the blood of the impoverished social class.

The letter written by Imam Ali (a.s.) to Malik al-Ashtar, his governor in Egypt, clearly testifies to this required intervention, when saying:

“Keep an eye on the activities of traders and industrialists, whether they are nearby or live in far-flung areas in your country.”

“Let it be known to you, however, that they are usually stingy misers, intensely self-centered and selfish, suffering from the obsession of grasping and accumulating wealth. They often hoard their goods to make more profit out of them by creating scarcity and black markets. Such practice is extremely injurious to the public on one hand, and defames the ruler on the other.”

“So put an end to hoarding up wares because the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.w.) has prohibited it. Remember that trade should go on between purchasers and suppliers according to correct measures and weights, and on such responsible terms that neither the consumers nor the suppliers should have to face losses. But if traders and industrialists carry on hoarding and black marketeering, even though you have explicitly warned them earlier, then you must punish them according to the intensity of their crime.”

8 Islam’s Measures for Realizing Economic Justice / part 3

Ownership in various forms is lawful including individual, communal and state ownerships and which is an axiomatic fact in Fiqh and Islamic legislation.


8 Islam’s Measures for Realizing Economic Justice / part 2

Man has natural, instinctive needs which must be met, and under no circumstances can he be deprived of this right

The aim of Islamic economic legislation is to provide needed commodities for man. Thus in unmistakably made clear in this Prophetic tradition.

“Allah, the Exalted and mighty, looked at the wealth of the well-off. And He looked at the destitute. He ordained a portion from the wealth of the rich to be delivered to the poor to satisfy them. If it had not satisfied them, He would certainly have increased their share.” 1


8 Islam’s Measures for Realizing Economic Justice / part 1


The distribution system of Islam is based on a general ideological fact that “Allah is the Only Real Owner.”

As for man, he is not more than a deputizing vicegerent. He can only manage what he owns within certain limits, specified by Allah.

Allah, the Most High, says:

“And certainly you have come to Us alone as We created you at first, and you have left behind your backs the things which We gave you, and We do not see with you your intercessors about whom you asserted that they were (Allah’s) associates in respect to you; certainly the ties between you are now cut off and what you asserted is gone from you.”
Holy Qur’an (6:95)