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The Islamic Theory of Distribution

The first step to end the contradictions in the economic structure of society begins with the distribution of economic resources among people. A just social system is one that allows all people to benefit from economic wealth. The Islamic economic system, accordingly, is based upon this criterion.

The first form of economic wealth is the natural resources of the environment. Unjust distributtion of economic wealth begins with the problem of ownership of these natural resources. One must know who has the right of ownership of these resources in Islam. Sadr, thus, must develop the theory of distribution of natural resources at two stages: preproduction and postproduction stages, or what he calls primary wealth and secondary wealth, respectively. 6 His endeavour is to dis­cover the doctrinal basis of Islamic teaching concerning economic ownership. For him, the study of economics in its empirical sense at this stage is irrelevant to the issue of social justice. In other words, he is building an ideological theory which addresses this issue. The empiri­cal study of economics comes much later to evaluate whether the application of the ideological theory in the realm of life has an ade­quate basis in reality.


6. Al-Sadr, "al-Nazariyyah al-'Islamiyyah li-tawzi' al-masadir al-tabi'iyyah" (Islamic Theory of Distribution of Natural Resources) in Ikhtarnalak (Beirut: Dar al-Zahra', 1982), 136-137.

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

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