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Economic Development

The third part of the Islamic solution to the economic problem, according to Sadr, deals with "fostering production and utilization of natural resources of the environment to their fullest extent." 25 God has created an abundance of resources in nature to satisfy human needs on earth. Man, accordingly, is encouraged to use the abundance of God's bounties to his benefit. According to Sadr, "Islam, ideologically speaking, has set the development of economic wealth and the utiliza­tion of natural resources to the greatest possible extent as a goal for society." 26 Islam is similar to capitalism in affirming this economic objective; however, they differ in their approach to achieving it. While capitalism "rejects any means of development of production or increase of wealth that hinders the principle of economic freedom, Islam, on the other hand, rejects those means which are contrary to its theories of distribution (of the economic resources) and its principle of jus­tice." 27

Notwithstanding, Islam, as mentioned before, discourages individuals from pursuing strictly materialistic objectives, downgrading the passing gains of this transitory existence. Sadr regards economic pros­perity as the goal of a virtuous society, not of the individual. God, after all, has created everything on earth and the heavens to serve the existence of man. 28 Islam only rejects materialistic gain as the ultimate ambition of man, which leads him to the oppression of others. Islam encourages zuhd (austerity) as a value which trains man not to consider materialistic wealth as his final goal in life. 29 Zuhd is man's mechanism for self-regulation which he utilizes to fight his desires and direct his objectives toward God. However, it is not the goal of the social order of the faithful.

Suffice it to mention that affluence and a high standard of living help mankind in its journey to God. Suffering can hinder such move­ment. In fact, there is a direct relation between man's relationship to God and his relationship to nature. The more men strive for God, the more bountiful nature will be in providing for man's needs. Social affluence is the sign of God's satisfaction with man. On the other hand, man's thankless attitude to God, of which social injustice is the out-ward expression or symptom, results in the ruin of economic resources and productivity as well as degeneration of man's social existence. 30

Islam also expedites the social drive toward production in its religious regulations. Under die Islamic economic system, earning is exclusively linked to working. All other means of earning and owner­ship are abolished. The possession of natural resources is not considered legitimate without continuous human efforts to develop it. Any type of earning that does not require any human labour, in commerce as well as in production, is forbidden. For this reason, the use of financial capital to generate earning is abolished-The only legitimate way to make use of capital is to invest it in production and share the risk of profit and loss. To insure the utilization of capital in economic develop­ment, Islam strongly forbids the hoarding of money and initiates a yearly tax to downgrade any wealth that is not enrolled in the produc­tion process. Additionally, any type of useless economic activities, such as gaming, magic and jugglery, are forbidden in Islam. 31

Furthermore, Islam makes it a requirement for Muslims to explore all fields of knowledge and seek any efficient means of production in order to utilize to maximum benefit the natural resources of the environment. 32 The economic strength of Muslims is analogous to their military strength. The power of the Islamic State is judged on the merit of its economic progress and social prosperity. For this reason, Islam places a heavy emphasis on the role of political leadership to regulate social economic activities to enhance economic development and eliminate waste.


25. Iqtisaduna, 649.

26. Iqtisaduna, 650.

27. Ibid., 649.

28. Sadr, in support of his argument, cites a letter of Imam `All (A) to the governor of Egypt that exemplifies the social order of the believers as one that encompassed the affluence of the world and the hereafter. See Iqtisaduna, 651.

29. Here Sadr gives his interpretation of two sets of apparently contradictory prophetic traditions of which some exhort austerity and reject materialistic gains, and others invite man to make use of wealth for his benefit. He sees no contradic­tion between the two when the former is looked at as discouraging man from making economic wealth as the final objective of his life. See Iqtisaduna 669-672.

30. Al-Sadr, Muqaddimah fl al- tafsir(Kuwait:al-Dir al-'Islimiyyah, 1982), 104-107.

31. Iqtisaduna, 670.

32. Ibid, 671.

Adapted from: "An Islamic Perspective of Political Economy according to Ayatullah Sadr" by: "T. M. Aziz"

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