Sunday, April 12, 2009

Just my $0.0299999998

It always interests me to find Muslims that describe themselves as "liberal" or "conservative" or identify with one political party or another... or classify themselves by the accepted political and economic dispositions.


Some corporatist white fat guy in a suit, or neo-feminazi chick (I made that up but think of the evil psychologist, Dr. Faxx from Robocop 2) came up with new phrases like, "moderate muslim" and "secular Muslim", "civil democratic blah blah" and I see people buy right into it. 'Separation syndrome' or something, if you will.

It ought to be noted though, that Islam is a complete religion that lays out guidelines for every aspect of life, including the socio-economic-political realm. As God in the Qur'an said to His beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and to us: "This day I have completed your religion for you, fulfilled My favor upon you, and have chosen for your way of life, Islam." (5:3). Today we have a distorted picture of it all, thinking that "islamic governments" are just characterized by oppressing and punishing women and hindering technological advancement (ironically it is the civilized West that keeps bombing countries back to the stone age, but that's another story). It is widely ignored and forgotten that once upon a time, an Islamic Empire existed, once a meritocratic government that created prosperity and destroyed the gap between the rich and poor through mandatory charity (a time existed when you couldn't find a single poor person in North Africa), used taxes for public services alone(!), and led the world in advancement. This empire came to a gradual decline through outside and inner corruption (root cause: greed <--worth clicking), until the empire fell and was divided into the borders we see today, upon the close of World War I. Well, despite the misrepresentations of Islam-based governance and economics, I make it known that this is where I lie;
  • Political views: Muslim
  • Economic ideology: Muslim

This in turn gives me the belief that ALL of today's economic and political problems can be solved by restoring moral legitimacy in our systems.

Anyway, I really just wanted to share an excerpt about economics in Islam (you know, just in case you thought "islamists" were a bunch of commies or somethin'):

In Islam the market is to be free and permitted to respond to the natural laws of supply and demand. Thus, when the prices became high in the Prophet's time and people asked him to fix prices for them, he replied, God is the One Who fixes prices, Who withholds, Who gives lavishly, and Who provides, and I hope that when I meet Him none of you will have a claim against me for any injustice with regard to blood or property. (Reported by Ahmad, Abu Daoud, al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, al-Dari and Abu Y'ala.)

With these words the Prophet of Islam (peace be on him) declared that unnecessary interference in the freedom of individuals is injustice. If, however, any artificial forces, such as hoarding and manipulation of prices by certain merchants, interfere in the free market, public interest takes precedence over the freedom of such individuals. In such a situation price control becomes permissible to protect society from greedy opportunists, for the above hadith [prophetic tradition/narrative] does not mean that price control is prohibited regardless of the circumstances.

If price control compels people to sell their goods at a price which is not acceptable to them or denies them the reasonable profit permitted by God, it is haram [prohibited/unlawful]. If, on the other hand, price control establishes equity among people, for example, by forcing sellers to accept a price equal to that commanded by other comparable commodities, it is allowed—and necessary.

The hadith cited above relates to the first type of situation. Accordingly, if merchants are selling a commodity in the customary fashion without any wrong-doing on their part and the price subsequently rises due to the scarcity of the commodity or due to an increase in population (indicating the operation of the law of supply and demand), this circumstance is from God, in which case to force them to sell the commodity at a fixed price would be unjust compulsion.

In relation to the second type of situation, should the dealers in a commodity refuse to sell it, despite the fact that people are in need of it, unless they secure a price higher than its known value, they must be compelled to sell it at a price equal to the price of an equivalent commodity. Price control here is in conformity with the standard of justice demanded by God. (Refer to Risalat al-hisbah by Ibn Taimiyyah, as well as to Al-turuq al-hikmiyyah by Ibn al-Qayyim, p. 214 ff.)

Source:
"The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam" - Yusuf Al-Qaradawi ( <- I don't agree with the entire book's/author's message on other issues, but the excerpted part will do.. although the author conveniently ignores the issue below... hm)

It should also be noted that in addition to establishing free trade, Islam prohibits all forms of usury (what we call "interest"). Today's global economy is an interest-based economy. This is a widely accepted, and widely ignored problem that burdens society. In Islam, usury is seen as a false way of multiplying wealth at the expense of the poor who often can't pay it back. Eliminating interest from the system shortens the disparity between the rich and poor- this gap is continuously increasing in today's interest-based world. Such a measure also reduces distortion in the projected prosperity of a country (*ahem* e.g. America)-- leading to increased unemployment, debt, false inflation, and recession. Eliminating interest would also put the legitimacy back into the value of money as "a medium of exchange for real goods and services, [which, through interest] becomes increasingly usurped by the rising significance as means of accumulation of might. This [power] is not subject to any 'falling marginal utility'; the might over the compound interest mechanism can be built up without expense beyond every limit" (quote from http://userpage.fu-berlin.de/~roehrigw/probst/english/aberrations.html).

Central to Islamic economics is the effort to limit the illusion that money is 'power' (whereas money is merely a means for trading things of use), through prohibition of interest, hoarding, and stressing the moral obligations of human beings to avoid debts and dishonesty.
In fact, the longest verse in the Qur'an (2:282) concerns transactions and debts!

The Qur'an on interest (a few of many references)*:

And eat up not one another's property unjustly (stealing, robbing, deceiving, etc.), nor give bribery to the rulers (judges before presenting your cases) that you may knowingly eat up a part of the property of others sinfully (2:188).

"O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah [God], even though it be against yourselves, or your parents or [family], be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better Protector to both (than you). So follow not your own lusts, lest you may avoid justice, and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, God is ever well acquainted with what you do." (4:135)


And this must constantly be reflected on:

"Whatever you pay as interest so that it may increase the wealth of people does NOT increase in the sight of GOD. As for the charity that you give, seeking with it God's good pleasure, that is multiplied manifold."(Qur'an 30:39)



Today I see this situation loud and clear, and I provoke you towards charity as a wise investment. I also wish to provoke the Muslim readers to scale in as "Muslim" on the so-called economic compass. Or at least, I hope this turned out to be some good food for thought! Just imagine... Imagine no possessions/ I wonder if you can/ No need for greed or hunger/ a brotherhood of man./ Imagine all the people/ sharing all the world. /You may say that I'm a dreamer... lol

Thanks, whoever made it this far!




*Another striking verse is 2:278

17 comments:

provoking invoking said...

yeah, i know its a long post, deal with it. and i know i added two new labels just for this post, HA!!!!

Faith in Writing said...

That was a long post, lol. But fantastic points.

The Demigoddess said...

I see Islam in a whole new light every time I come to this blog. I'm not prejudiced, just uneducated in the ways of Islam and I'm glad I learned something new today. Thanks for posting!

Artistic Logic said...

5 thumbs up!!!
seriously, i loved this post and it spoke to me

controlled chaos said...

i made it to the end!
yay me!

controlled chaos said...

and you are very much welcome :)

Falling Up said...

Long, but a very good read. I enjoyed it. And am once again amazed at how our religion, if followed properly, can prevent so much negativity. Unfortunately that's not how it's portrayed but that's another story.

Keep 'em coming. :)

Artistic Logic said...

ok so this was the first thing i read when i woke up and so my comment was short lol but i wanted to add one more thing
i seriously never knew about these clear cut rules regarding business/trading and economical direction
im amazed yo

Girl On A Journey said...

I'm sure alot of ppl have different views about the religion now

yours truly... said...

This post was so enlightening! Thanks for sharing!!

You had posted a comment earlier, I have no idea what happend to it, sorry :-(. I'm kind of frustrated now!!! LOL!!

I'm loving the book, actually probably finishing it tonight!! It was slow at first but it's so inspiring and such a great story! It's amazing what can happen when you open up your mind and follow your heart!

supreem said...

wa alaikum asalam,
i totally agree that the only label one should ID themselves with is Islam, however, people do have leanings. They might think that Islam justifies being part of a democratic party, or a republican one, ect. Nevertheless, when we start labeling ourselves, we start dividing ourselves, and we can never work towards progress. I really enjoyed your post, and I'm going to ask you questions in person one day (if i think this is who i think it is, since you guys embrace anonymity). Because I'm thinking of going in those terms for a research grant i'll be applying for, inshaAllah

Constructive Attitude said...

i dont get economics.

at all.

and i took THREE econ classes.

sigh

provoking invoking said...

thanks for the comments!

FU: my sentiments, 100% as usual!! humans just suck. God is so perfect

AL: and that's just a small look into the details of Islamic economics! I hope I have the taufiq (ability) to write more about the completeness of this way of life, in different aspects. but i think my next entry might be about special relativity if i make it through this week!

you have to look up the other ayaat that i mentioned, in surah baqarah. 2:282 and 2:278 (the latter is actually a stern warning from Allah on what a dangerous thing it is to be involved in interest). 2:282 is the longest ayah in the qur'an, and it is all about the importance of maintaining integrity in loans. surah baqarah is full of verses concerning business near the end of the chapter. the best way to understand the implementation of Islamic law and economic system is to look at the hadith, sunnah and beginning era of caliphate.

supreem: :)
well, i agree that most ideologies look great on paper, and its not lost on me that people can lean towards one or the other.. but yeah, every ideology i have studied looks great at face value in certain ways.. so why not a balance of them all? "moderate" is what people want right? the problem is that these ideologies fail upon implementation, especially through shortsightedness in morals. i see that the positive things brought by accepted ideologies are values that coincide with our religion. i also see that when muslims are inclined to one paper-ideology or another, they are often ignorant of the great ideas right in front of them -- older ideas that these new terminologies have borrowed from! and when you have it all right in front of you in the best manner, why not pick the most encompassing label of them all? and maybe even inviting questions on the depths of such a religion whose God describes it all to begin with? why lower ourselves to man-made ambitions? isn't the greatest thing about religion the acquisition of a "life purpose"? anyway call me sometimes!

holy moly comment

provoking invoking said...

supreem: in conclusion, i see it as an insult to ourselves to seek out flawed philosophies.. especially if our claim is that we believe in something completely. we are misrepresenting ourselves through other ways of life, when in Islam, God made man His vicigerents on earth, to teach others to live in a good manner, not upset the balance of the laws of the universe. The God-conscious must remain pure in that purpose, if we wish for peace, prosperity, and universal morals to prevail.

LiLu said...

I'm so glad you just got that song in my head. Honestly.

fuelMybrain said...

This was a little more than just 2 cents, I'd say it was about $5. LOL. Great post, it's nice to sit back and reflect on the roots of your beliefs... and hey, use the 70 good things rule (or whatever it's called) when getting frustrated when dealing with an acquaintance that's not following their own beliefs.

provoking invoking said...

of course FMB!! to each their own, and that's the beauty of individual belief and spritiually. (anyway Islam also says, "there is no compulsion in religion [2:256]). i just have a habit of analyzing such things overly and expressing my own logic. =)