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The Attitude of Muslim Man in Economic Life

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 to Qur'an:

"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. (7:32, 33).

(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 Fire." (2:201)

. 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." (62:10).

(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,"

and

"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 to him:

"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 his job.'

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. (89:15-30).

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, 274).

(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 risk.

2. In his gains of business, Muslim man seeks to have decent gains, paying attention to the criteria of illegitimate (HARAM) and legitimate (HALAL) (2:168).

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, or
(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 consumption."

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." (2:82) )

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." (9:34).

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 help.

VII-The Attitude of Muslim man as Lender of Good Loans (Kard-i-Hasana)

Muslim man provides loans to other Muslims. Because Allah commands him:

"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 says that,

"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 goals."

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 fast.

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 attitude.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1 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, Muslim --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Muslim
June-July/August-September 1976















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