by SABAHADDIN ZAIM
Both capitalism and socialism have a materialistic view and ideology.
They are different in their methods, but the man which is taken
as a subject of economic life is homo-economicus whose behaviour
and attitude is solely based upon economic self-interest. In Islam
man is not thought of as a homo-economicus. The type of man in the
economics of Islam is a person whose economic life and behaviour
is regulated according to the commands of the Qur'an and Sunnah,
the conventions of Khilafat-e-Rashidah and the ruling of great jurists,
and according to the order of the Islamic state. He behaves according
"and hold fast, all together to the cable of Allah and do not
separate" (Qur'an 3:103, 109).
Islam accepts that there is the inclination for personal interest
in human nature,
"in the love of wealth he is violent". (100:8)
and love of interest stimulates avarice and stinginess.
"Say unto them: If ye possessed the treasures of the mercy
of my lord, you would surely hold them back for fear of spending;
for man was ever grudging." (17:100).
"Greed hath been made present in the minds of men." (4:128).
Taking account of these natural tendencies, the economic behaviour
of men is channelled into definite routes under the metaeconomic
pressure of Islamic principles. Islamic economic theory is not non-ethical,
but ethical. Islam first educates Muslim man according to Islamic
principles; and only then leaves him free in economic life. In an
ideal Islamic society, therefore, a man in economic life is not
a natural homo-economictis; but an educated MUSLIM MAN, behaving
in accordance with Islamic principles.
It is such a type of Muslim man which is taken as subject of the principles
of Islamic Economics. In Islam, a child can not be left free in his
beliefs until his age of puberty. He should be educated according
to Islamic principles so that he becomes a good member, e.g. a good
Muslim man of Islamic Society. We can say that the economic theory
of Islam is a composition of natural economic laws and related Islamic
principles. Now we shall try to analyse the attitudes of a Muslim
man in all aspects of economic life.
I. The Attitude of Muslim Man as producer.
1. Basic Attitudes of Muslim Man:
(a) Muslim man will be well-balanced in his economic behaviour. He
is not only a homo- economicus- economicman but also the Khalifa of
Allah on earth, the Ashraf-ui-Makhiukat, the most honourable of all
creatures. The principle of his life is to obey the orders of Allah.
(b) Muslim man is a type of man who asks Allah:
"Our Lord. Give unto us in the world that which is good and
in the Hereafter that which is good and guard us from the doom of
. He works for eternal life as if he is to die tomorrow, and work
for the worldly affairs as if he will never die believing in the
order of Allah as:
"When the prayer is ended, disperse in the land and seek
of Allah's bounty and remember Allah much that ye may be successful."
(c) Muslim man is a person who studies according to the order
of Allah, from childhood till old age, believing that science is
a lost property of man; he should have it even if it is as far away
as China and improve his knowledge. Muslim man attempts to find
the most appropriate job and profession to earn his livelihood according
to his natural and obtained abilities.
2. The Attitude of Muslim Man as Employee.
If Muslim man is a wage-earner or self-employed, he behaves according
to the following Islamic principles:
(a) He is proud of the physical and mental efforts in his job,
because he remembers the command and promise of Allah:
"Man hath only that for which he maketh effort. And that his
effort will be seen and afterwards he will be repaid for it with
fullest payment." (53:39, 40, 41).
(b) Muslim man does his best in his job' because he remembers
the suggestion of the Prophet peace be on him:
"You will be responsible for what you have done".
(c) Muslim man is aware of the fact that most of the Prophets
have worked physically and mentally to earn a living. Prophet Dawud
was a garment weaver and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was
once a shepherd.
(d) He takes into consideration the following suggestions of the
Prophet in his daily work:
"The man who is working to support his family is on the way
of Allah; and the man who supports his old father and mother is
on the way of Allah as well,"
"whoever takes a rest after tiring work to obtain decent gain,
rests as forgiven."
(e) Muslim man has the following attitudes in his daily work:
He is clean, decently dressed, well-tempered, obeys the regulations
and orders, a hard worker. He likes his job, does it and controls
it well up to the end, co-operates with others, tolerates criticism,
behaves well on the job, takes care of the tools and uses the materials
economically, works efficiently and pays attention to the health
conditions and safety regulations.
(f) After his work, Muslim man is grateful to Allah for his job
and income, he is not envious of others' income, and does not bear
a hateful attitude towards his employer. He knows that Allah says
"We shall try you with something of fear and hunger, and loss
of wealth and lives and crops, but give glad tidings to the steadfast."
(2:155, 156, 157).
"if ye give thanks, I will give you more; but if you are
thankless, lo, my punishment is dire." (14:7).
(9) Muslim man has also a self-confidence against social risks
in economic life, because he is sure that Islamic state will provide
his social security and support him and his family when he loses
3. The Attitude of Muslim Man as Employer
(a) if Muslim man is an employer in trade, agriculture or industry,
he has a sense of confidence that as a private entrepreneur, his
right of business and the right of his property and heritage is
protected by the state.
(b) In such a state he is careful to have decent gains in business
life, especially remembering the saying of the Prophet:
"A honest and decent businessman will be taken together with
martyrs and lovers of Allah"
.2 He does not leave his property idle; he has to use it in useful
fields with the aim of being beneficial for mankind, and without
creating harms for mankind and society. He has to pay his aims proportionately
according to his property. He does not waste his property and neither
is he a stingy man. He applies well the Islamic inheritance law.
3 (c) Muslim man knows that these properties are not obtained solely
by his capability, but by wish and permission of Allah. He knows:
"Allah enlargeth livelihood for whom He will and straiteneth it
for whom He will" (13:26).
Muslim man knows that everything in the world, including man,
belongs to Allah, He is the real owner.
"Allah is the sovereign of the heaven and the earth and
all that is between them . . , " (5:17).
He knows also that the whole society, the other people, "the beggar
and the outcast" had due shares in his wealth. (51:19). Therefore
he spends his money reasonably in the way of Allah, Who has provided
that property to him. (17:26), (90:13- 20), (2:254, 261, 267, 272,
(d) Muslim man takes care of his workers and provides them contentment,
treating them well, paying their wages in right amount and at the
right time. He remembers what the Prophet said:
"There are three kinds of people whom I shall be against: One
of them is the man who didn't pay the right wages to his workers
after their works".
4 (e) Muslim man regulates the work-load of workers in a moderate
and reasonable level, remembering the warning of the Prophet as:
"Do not make them responsible more than their capacities."
5 (f) Muslim man refrains in his business life from deceit, fearing
Allah who said,
"Woe unto the defrauders". (83:1).
II-Basic Points in Income of Muslim Man
There are three kinds of incomes for a Muslim Man. They are: wage,
profit and rent (income of lease).
1. He refrains from the gains of interest and usury. He knows
that it is not permitted to have gains out of his money without
having risk of investment. Therefore he pays attention that his
gains should be based on two important factors: labour and economic
2. In his gains of business, Muslim man seeks to have decent gains,
paying attention to the criteria of illegitimate (HARAM) and legitimate
3. He spends effort with legitimate methods to increase his gains,
but, realising that absolute equality among gains of men is not
possible, he does not envy the incomes of others.
4. Muslim man refrains in his business life from easy gains coming
out of gambling and other games of chance, and out of illegitimate
sources as profiteering, engrossing, etc. He remembers the warning
of the Prophet as
"Whoever makes profiteering will have a great sin".
III-The Attitude of Muslim Man as Consumer
On this subject we should ask this question: How, why and where
should a Muslim man spend his money? How should he behave as a Muslim
man? Let us think about the possibilities of his spending. As we
know, there are four possibilities in economic life:
(a) A man spends at first for his consumption to satisfy his needs,
(b) If his income is excess of his needs, he makes saving,
(c) He may hoard his savings as gold, silver and as other jewelleries,
(d) He may invest his saving into production, either having a new
establishment or joining a company, etc.
Now what are the metaeconomic factors of Islam which put boundaries
on the economic behaviour of a Muslim man? If we take at first the
spending of income for consumption, the main principle in this field
is the Islamic belief that the level of spending for consumption
is not only a function of income. Muslim man is aware of the inequality
of income and the importance as one of the determinant factors for
consumption, but he realises also that beyond income, as an economic
factor, there are some other metaeconomic determinants for the level
and content of consumption. These metaeconomic determinants are
some basic Islamic principles related to the consumption.
1. A Muslim man is not supposed to spend his income for consumption
of alcoholic beverages, gambling and for some illegitimate relations
with women. Consumption in Islam is limited by ethical legitimacy.
2. Muslim man should refrain himself from spending his income
for luxurious and conspicuous consumption and making a demonstration.
Because he knows that according to Islamic principles such an economic
attitude is banned for a Muslim man. (4:38). According to Abu Huraira,
the Prophet warns Muslim man saying that
"Allah will not forgive the sins of three kinds of men, and
one of them is the type of person who spends his wealth for conspicuous
Therefore Muslim man should limit his consumption within the level
which satisfies his needs according to the standard of life of the
related country. He should not incite and provoke the jealousy of
the poor through demonstration.
3. In legitimate field he should also limit the level of consumption
by quantity, refraining himself from wasteful attitudes. Because
Allah is commanding him:
"O children of Adam. Look to your adornment at every place of
worship, and eat and drink, but be not prodigal. Lo. He loveth not
the prodigals." (7:31).
"Eat of that which Allah hath bestowed upon you and follow not
the footsteps of the devil, for lo, he is an open foe to you." (6:142)
"Lo, the squanderers were ever brothers of the devils; and the
devil was ever an ingrate to his Lord." (17:27).
4. Muslim man on one side is not permitted to be prodigal and,
on the other side, he is not supposed to borrow unless it is necessary.
He should behave economically and regulate his consumption according
to his income. Because he should remember the Prophet saying:
"May Allah prevent me from sin and borrowing."
If it is necessary to borrow, Muslim man makes a written agreement
with sincere intention to repay it
"When you contract a debt for a fixed term, record it in writing."
and does pay back in right time. Because the Prophet says that
"it is unjust to extend the repayment time if he is able to;
and this kind of people will be punished."
And Allah commands him: "Whoever borrows with pure intention,
Allah will pay for him; and whoever borrows with the intention of
prodigality, Allah will ruin him."(Bukhari)
Due to these Islamic principles the level of consumption of a
Muslim man is limited. According to economic theory, it is necessary
to increase investment for economic development. To enable it the
consumption level must be regulated. The attitude of Muslim man
in consumption both stimulates and accelerates the rate of economic
development and provide the social balance, without provoking the
jealousy of poor. These principles of Islam are international. Therefore
it is important for better international relations.
IV-The Attitude of Muslim Man In Saving
If the income of Muslim man is excess of his needs, he will save
part of it. What will he do with his saving? If he intends to hoard
his saving as gold and silver, etc., he will face the two important
principles of Islam. The first is prohibition of hoarding. Because
Allah says in the Qur'an that
"They who hoard up gold and silver and spend it not in the
way of Allah, unto them give tidings, 0 Muhammad, of a painful doom."
If Muslim man has to keep his saving for a particular time, more
than one year, with the intention for future investment, then comes
the second principle of Islam, e.g., the payment of aims (Zakat)
for that saving. Because Muslim man has to pay aims, 2.5% of his
idle saving, after one year; if he keeps his saving idle for a long
time, his wealth will be decreased by time due to payment of aims.
Therefore a wise Muslim man will not keep his saving idle, both
to obey the commands of Allah and to preserve his fortune.
These principles of Islam prevent the idleness of saving and stimulate
the transformation of the saving into economic life.
V-The Attitude of Muslim Man as Creditor.
We have seen that a wise Muslim man is not supposed to hoard his
saving and keep it idle. Therefore there are two other possibilities.
Either he may lend his money or use it for an investment. If he
intends to extend loans, and make it as an economic activity to
earn income and not only as a social assistance, he faces the important
principle of Islam: "Prohibition of gains out of money without having
risk of investment". Because
"Allah permitteth trading and forbiddeth usury." (2:275).
Under these conditions a Muslim man cannot have a legitimate (pure)
gain out of his money without himself working or having shared the
risk of investment. Therefore, to gain a legitimate (pure) income
he cannot lend his money to other people or companies or to banks
or even to the state through buying some obligations to gain income
of interest. If he lends his money without interest as a good loan
(Kard-1-Hasana), he may not have to pay aims for it in that year
unless he gets his money back: so in this case his wealth will not
be decreased but it cannot be increased either.
VI-The Attitude of Muslim Man as Investor
The most rational way for Muslim man will be to invest his saving
for production. Through investment his income will probably be increased.
If he is successful, he will establish some new companies, or have
new shares from other establishments. In spite of his growing wealth
the consumption level and the standard of living of Muslim man is
not supposed to be much in- creased according to the standard level
of related country. Under these circumstances the functional relation
among his income and consumption level will be completely ceased.
The necessity for investment of Muslim man will stimulate the economic
growth of the country and national income will increase together
with his personal income. Such an economic growth provide more employment
opportunities to the labour force. But if we think of Muslim man
who reached the peak of economic success, he will face the same
basic principles of Islam. He will remember the commands of Allah
on this point. The Prophet says that:
"The second type of man whose sin will not be forgiven is the
man who does not have responsibility for other people".
These principles of Islam lead Muslim man into the field of social
assistance, stimulating his behaviour of spending his wealth in
the way of Allah. Because a good Muslim man, after having paid a
particular proportion of his wealth and income as aims (Zak'at)
realising that each Muslim is responsible for other Muslims, remembers
the good news of Allah saying to him:
"Allah hath blighted usury and made almsgiving fruitful .
. ." (2:276).
A rich person, through consumption, reaches a maximum point of
satisfaction. After that, for additional consumption, the returns
will be diminished rapidly down to zero, even to negative. This
results in dissatisfaction and makes man exasperated; he deviates
and follows his bestial desires.
A Muslim man does not come down to such a point. Because his consumption
is limited by Islamic principles anyway, before his satisfaction
level decreases to zero level. As he has no conspicuous consumption,
he could not go to illegitimate areas. In spite of this fact, when
the marginal utility of economic consumption diminishes, Muslim
man increases his social spending, e.g. social consumption. In this
field the rule of diminishing return does not function; just reverse,
the social satisfaction increases together with social expenditure.
Therefore, Muslim man rationally turns to the field of social assistance
when he behaves according to Islamic principles. When Muslim man
increases his social expenditure, his prestige increases much more
among the poor. This situation transforms the feelings of class
struggle and hatred into feelings of brother- hood and social harmony.
In such circumstances Muslim man meets with the people who need
VII-The Attitude of Muslim man as Lender of Good Loans (Kard-i-Hasana)
Muslim man provides loans to other Muslims. Because Allah commands
"Give the kinsman his due, and the needy, and the wayfarer, and
squander not thy wealth in wantonness" (17:26);
"Those who believe and do good works and establish worship and
pay the poor-due, their reward is with their Lord." (2:277);
"If the debtor is in straitened circumstances, then let there
be postponement to (the time of) ease; and that ye remit the debt,
as almsgiving would be better for you if you did but know." (2:280);
"The likeness of those who spend their wealth in Allah's way is
as the likeness of a grain which groweth seven ears, in every ear
in a hundred grains. Allah giveth increase manifoid to whom He will."
(2: 261 );
"Whatsoever good things ye spend, it is for yourself." (2:272).
Good loans are given without economic interest, just for the sake
of Allah. Now, to whom should Muslim man give good loans? Allah
"Aims are for the poor who are straitened for the cause of Allah
and who cannot travel in the land (for trade). The unthinking man
accounteth them wealthy because of their restraint. Thou shalt know
them by their mark, they do not beg of men with importunity. Whatsoever
good thing ye spend, Lo Allah knoweth it." (2: 273).
So the Muslim man should provide loan to an- other good Muslim
who is in need of help. In this way a good Muslim will be supported.
So the social and economic structure of society come into harmony
with each other and people are stimulated to behave as good Muslims
in economic life. Muslim man can invest his money in Islamic Bank
through the method of Mudaraba and provides the credit possibilities
to the people through these associations.
In the principle of Mudaraba labour and capital work together;
have a share money lender contribute to the profit and also share
the economic risk of the bank. The functioning of this method of
Mudaraba is possible in different sectors of economic life as in
industry, agriculture and trading.
VII Summary of the Attitude of Muslim Man
The balanced structure of an Islamic economy depends mostly upon
the growth and education of such a type of Muslim man. The macroeconomic
conclusion of such a type of man in economic life will be as follows:
"Muslim man, evaluating the business opportunities, channels effective
demand into legitimate and useful fields; increases the production
and productivity; stimulates the investment of saving into useful
productions either as direct investment or through some other businessmen
to whom loans are lent as free. Income and property taxes as aims
will be completely paid; the wealth of the country, owned either
by people or by state, will be spent in the way of Allah for social
In such a country economic development is reached together with
social justice. We can say that if we study the economic structure
of the current world and apply the Islamic principles, we can reach
an ideal economic structure.
Our task is twofold: On one side we should develop the principles
of Islamic economics both in theory and practice and, on the other,
educate the Muslim man with Islamic principles and scientific knowledge.
We need such a synthesis. A Muslim man, having positive knowledge
and behaving according to Islamic principles, will be like a car
having powerful engine with a strong steering wheel. If the steering
of a car which has a powerful engine is broken, that car does more
harm, because the probability of accident is increased. If that
car has a strong steering but a powerless engine, it cannot run
If we think the type of Muslim man as such a car, steering is the
metaeconomic factor shaping his economic activity according to the
Islamic principles; and powerful engine is his professional technical
knowledge. When both factors come together, they provide us the
type of our model, who is a Muslim man instead of economic man of
other ideologies (homo-economicus). Such a Muslim man can provide
a balanced economic structure based on his economic behaviour and
Prof. Ahmed Muhammad Cemal, "Superiority of Economics of Islam",
p. 39, Turkish translation. 2 Tirmizi, Hadith, Prof. Mannan, "Economics
of Islam", p. 275, Turkish translation. 3 Prof. Mannan, "Economics
of Islam", p. 155, Turkish translation. 4 Hadith. 5 Hadith. 6 Hadith,