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The Characteristics of Islamic Economics When one considers the body of Islamic economic principles and laws and

compares them with modern economic schools, the indisputable result is that Islamic economics cannot be compared with any of these scientific or practical schools in any way. Islamic economics have special features which can be summarized in the following principles. First, Islamic economics recognizes individuals as the rightful owner of whatever is the result of their labor in the widest sense, and as the authorized possessor in exchange, within the limits of the special laws of Islam. ... In this respect Islamic economics are not based on the foundation of the unlimited freedom of individual ownership, the result of which is uncontrolled capitalism. They are also not based upon common ownership the result of which might be the complete deprivation of ownership and of individual freedom, or like mixed or con-joined economies in which limits are confused and unknown. Rather the limits and conditions that characterize Islamic economics are compatible with human nature and with an equitable system and with the rights of all participants. Individual ownership is based on the innate and natural freedom of individuals, and cooperation is based on common needs and interests. Now the theory of capitalism and the theory of collectivism, when actually practiced, dispenses with all their theoretical principles. Capitalist countries, which are based on the principle of free and unlimited ownership, inevitably go down the road of unbridled capitalism, and as a result the nationalization of the means of production and of the large industries follows. On the other hand, the principles of collectivism, in spite of their rigidity, make individual ownership possible in practice to a limited extent in the areas of necessities such as housing and farm production, either by law or by tradition. These obvious violations show that these two views are not views actually applicable to real life, but are rather the products of the fluctuations of industrial economics in the past century in Western countries. They must, after the period of fluctuation, be judged according to the absolute scale of truth and natural rights. Second, from the Islamic point of view, material attachments and economic relations are intertwined with modes of thought, innate characteristics, emotions and human instincts. Islam posits the connection between an organized system of limits on rights and attachments and the critical assessment of views, the strengthening of faith, the cultivation of consciences and human values. It has explained economic laws and rules according to this principle. Third, Islam has organized and systematized the limits of ownership and economic relations in terms of three characters: 1. individuals; 2. laws; and 3. government. As in other affairs, individuals are free to enjoy material things to the limit of their maturity and according to the dictates of their faith and the responsibility of their consciences. They can benefit and enjoy property as long as it does not belong to someone else. This freedom in the area of economic exchanges is limited to the right of ownership of things which are the product of one's labor. This sets the limits of the laws and the conditions of legitimacy in a transaction. Islamic government is to be defined as the rule of the Imam, or his deputy, or the viceroy of God or someone He has sent. Islamic government has the right to limit the enjoyment and ownership of an individual even more than the rules permit, in the event that there is an opposition between the right of an individual and the right of society because the rightful rulers give precedence to and seek to ensure that social benefits prevail over individual benefits. Fourth, distribution like production, in the view of Islam, is the natural and innate right of the one who performs the labor, with the qualification that the individual is free in choosing such labor. Labor is the basis of the right of ownership. As a result of this the owner is free in the enjoyment and distribution of his possessions. The limitations and laws circumscribing the enjoyment and right of ownership, and the general supervision of the sage governor, are the guarantor of the systematization and limitation of distribution and preventor of unreasonable profit. Given this limitation and supervision, why is this right not given to the one who is the original laborer? As has been said before, it is against nature that the results of labor and the product of the effort of individuals who are created free should be at the will of capitalists or the government. Both the capitalists and government take away the independence and freedom and personality of individuals which are more valuable than anything, by giving food and limited means of livelihood in the same way they give machinery oil so that machines are prepared to produce more. If the laborer (i.e. the one who is the one authorized to enjoy and to distribute what he has) is not free-and distribution (within necessary boundaries) is limited, then both the rightful owner is deprived of his right and human values go unrealized. These two are the

principle motivations for good action and the appearance of talents. Fifth, based on the principles of Islamic economics, the right of possession and distribution of natural products is based on the right of possession and distribution of natural resources, with the stipulation that the land and all natural products belong to everyone. Government which is the guardian and representative of the common good possesses the right of oversight and distribution. At a later stage the cultivation of the land and extraction from it in underground mines and making natural items productive such as rocks on the-earth and running water and water and desert animals, all give the right to each individual who does these things, as long as these claims and relations obtain, to enjoy and distribute these products. These rights, to the extent that there is no injury to the common good, are preserved, because resources and common things in nature belong to the public and their enjoyment is limited by the rights of the public. Therefore, if someone owns more than the average, and has more possibilities, the law of common ownership and the power of the government limit him and prevents him from misusing what is commonly held either in cultivation, extraction or making something productive. Given this form of limited freedom in transactions and the supervision of the government over commodities, the simple law of "supply and demand in the usual capitalist understanding cannot direct transactions. This is because demand in the usual capitalist usage and in actuality depends upon the ability to buy things and on having money. But demand, on the basis of Islamic jurisprudence, arises out of what is actually required by necessity. Therefore supply and the actual making available of goods will be limited to what is actually required by necessity. The marketplace thus cannot become the toy of the greed of capitalists by which they open the way to false demand and oppressive profits. Therefore these rights that arise out of natural resources and things, as a result of cultivation, discovery, or making something productive, are the prime source for the distribution of these resources and products. But these rights that are entailed are not sufficient basis for the right of absolute ownership of natural resources. The absolute right of ownership applies only to things that are agricultural products which are the actual result of labor and represent human effort. . . The result of labor whether in the form of commodities or exchanged for money is the basis of and motive for new activities. It leads to new activities, and the later labor is the result of the earlier and the earlier has a share in it. The share of those who work later on a product is limited to the labor they actually do or that is attached to the product. The laws of Islam have direct oversight in each affair and transaction and can intervene to negate what is inappropriate so that the protection of freedom prevents unlawful profit and stops unlawful methods.

These rights which are entailed in connection with the enjoyment and distribution that arise from natural resources are the special feature of Islamic economic principles. In practice, capitalism does not have a just and right means to have and distribute natural products. Because no matter how natural resources come into the possession of a capitalist, provided they do not belong to someone else, the capitalist has an absolute right of ownership (not a right which limits profits). . . .

Marxism adds the qualification that it entrusts the possession of natural resources by human beings to evolution, means of production and the course of history so that according to those conditions, the relations of men to those resources are conditioned or limited. Therefore the differences between capitalism and communism mainly concern industrial production, and natural resources are of minor concern in both these systems.

Islam has based the foundation and center of human life on natural resources and has not entrusted them either to the hands of powerful capitalists or to power of the evolution of the means of production. From the Islamic point of view the one who must have the natural resources which are the basis of human life is the worker, to the limit of his labor and always preserving the right of the society. Sixth, since natural resources, earth, water, forests, woods, lakes and mines are the foundation of life for human beings and all other animals, if the limitations on the rights and benefits derived from them are organized in a clear and just manner, then all other issues connected with the means of livelihood must also be systematized. Then the problems connected with economic relations would be greatly alleviated. Economists of the age of industrialization have devoted most of their attention to the problems of in-dustrializaton and thus have not provided a just and clearcut manner, of organizing and systematizing natural resources. Seventh, the right of ownership is based upon labor and arises from the right of using and holding natural resources. It is determined by Islamic laws in the context of transactions and exchanges. In the course of time death ends the right. Therefore after death no one still continues to have the right to enjoy one's possessions.

At death the dying person has the right of determining the disposition of one-third of his wealth. It can be used for the rights of his relatives or by the way of charity. It is designed to take care of the right of society so that if his heirs do not have sufficient means or are not in the direct lines of inheritance, although they are entitled or if public needs make it desirable, the person who is on the verge of death can dispose of one third of his wealth as he sees fit according to these needs. The Quranic law is that he has only right to make a will concerning one-third of his possessions.

Eighth, Islamic law has also limited the ways in which possessions can be used after it has provided limits on ownership and benefits and on the rights of transaction and limited even the given rights by such, means as required alms, setting aside a fifth of your income for religious purposes and charity. These limitations by necessity increase the production of useful commodities and also put wealth to work for the sake of economic progress and increasing employment. In the end it would prevent the use of factories and productive capacities in ways which are harmful and dangerous to individuals and society.

Ninth, in the realm of Islam and under the supervision of its laws, workers and wage earners are not dominated by the capitalist layer of society and by the power of the government. This group has both personal freedom and freedom in their work. Their means of livelihood are supplied according to their own free work and given according to their needs.

Tenth, among the distinguishing features of the Islamic economic system is the protection of independence in financial exchanges and the cultivation of the personality of the individual within society, if we agree that the actual form of a society is nothing but the collection of the legal relationships of individuals and that social classes do not have any external reality and that individuals possess independence and personality while respecting the rights of others and finally that the establishment of communal rights and good relations is for the preservation of the individuals independence (and not individuals for society), then we must agree that since individuals possess two personalities, an individual one and a social one, with regard to the individual personality, he has freedom of action and of enjoying the results of his labor. With

regard to his social personality, such enjoyments and profits must be limited by the social good. But the idea of the social good does not mean that society possesses an independent legal personality and is somehow separate from the collectivity of individual rights. Government, in this view, must be like the representative and deputy of individuals and neither the representative of a special class nor the possessor of a separate personality. Its purpose is nothing but the preservation of individual rights and of the collectivity of individuals, in this regard government does not have the right to deprive or limit the freedom and independence of individuals or the rights of some classes for the profit of another class in the name of the higher good of the government.

Eleventh, Islam in the economic sphere, just as in the area of spiritual relations and social interactions, has fixed principles and dynamic rules and laws. The fixed principles are the foundation and basis of the dynamic rules and underpin communal interaction. The rules concerning specific issues and affairs which might come up must be applied according to the fixed and beneficial principles. On this basis, the rules of Islam are at once fixed and dynamic. The society which is administered by these principles and rules-does not become static, outmoded or dependent. Old and new do not split asunder or separate in it. ... This subjugation, and feeling of inferiority and of being at a loss that Muslims feel towards foreigners and the governments connected with them, which now appears among Muslims in all areas of action, is what has made them static and blocked the functioning of the Islamic economic system as it has everything else. Twelfth, thus according to what has been said, Islamic economics are founded on the principles of right and justice, and are not based on any-special group or class. In fact, from the point of view of Islam the appearance of the features of classes is not a necessary inevitable thing or an irremediable social necessity. The appearance of classes is the result of the defect of individuals and society [due to their] not following right and just principles. It is the byproduct of transgression, oppression and colonialism. The form of society is only the reflection of individual relationships and individual relationships externalize the thoughts, minds and morals of persons. Let the thoughts and spirits of individuals change into any other form and the communal relations and social form must also change. Indeed God does not change the condition of a people, until they have changed it for themselves (Quran 13: 11). Thus in history and in different areas in both large and small manifestations we can observe the appearance of societies bound together without class. This is a decisive proof that the appearance of classes is not an historical necessity.

Thirteenth, the Quran, before explaining the rules and laws about the organization and limitations on relations and financial attachments, turns the mind and ideology of the monotheist toward the foundation and original source of all rights and possessions which manifest themselves out of natural powers. This view, which is the conviction that all existence is created and belongs to the origin and creator and director of the world, is the principle of faith in tawhid. Therefore He who possess the whole world has created man with the power of reason and the capacity for enjoyment, so that he can use his understanding and thought and limbs to investigate mysteries and to put to use whatever exists. In this regard the Quran has introduced this thinking and powerful phenomenon that is man as the "viceroy" of God before giving man any other name or title.

Therefore, every Muslim and monotheist, before his responsibilities of faith and those related to serving and preserving the rights of others, communal security and obeying rules, must do the

will and commands of Him who is the rightful possessor. Man is both his possession and also his viceroy and deputy.

Fourteenth, since the monotheist recognizes himself as the representative of Him who possesses the world and the agent of His will and executor of His command and realizes that he is not entirely free and independent in his possessions, he cannot view what material and attachments he has independently of this. In this view what wealth and possessions he has are nothing but a means to reach humane aims and goals and a place in the other world.

The aim of acquiring wealth in economic relations or using it as a means for satisfying lust and animal desires is the result of the mental defects and dull-mindedness and the corruption of human beings. This defective mindset is the most significant cause which gives to classes and groups which follow individuals of the same view in accumulating wealth in whatever way possible. This causes individuals to become merely the means for the production and profit and the accumulation of wealth. Any kind of tyranny and transgression in reaching this goal is approved of. Consequently the way toward progress and just production and distribution is blocked. These two views, that of acquiring wealth for its own sake and of using wealth for base purposes, have had an effect in all areas of spiritual and material life of man, and have been the special topic of discussion by Prophets and the great benefactors of mankind and especially in the cultivation of the laws of Islam. One should not only see the struggle of religious leaders for such an evolution of thought and expansion of views as a topic for spiritual and ethical sermons, but should also realize the importance of developing towards such an attitude and of its effects in all aspects of human life.