Islamic Economy (An Introduction)

Author : Dr. Safwan Odaybat

Date Added : 12-09-2022

Islamic Economy (An Introduction)


Amidst the increasing economic crises that hit countries every now and then, the recent fall of capitalist economy, the failure of socialism, and the fall of communism in the late eighties, conflicting calls have emerged:

First: A call for the application of an Islamic economic system, encompassing macro and micro levels, doesn`t discriminate between classes, swings between the steadiness of the total principles and the flexibility of the application to the branches. Accordingly, it constitutes a comprehensive system for mankind, deriving its comprehensiveness from the fact that Sharia is applicable to every time and place. 

Second: A call for applying the fittest economic system to mankind, as agreed by countries, be that system capitalist, socialist or mixed. As a matter of fact, there isn`t what is called an Islamic economic system. Rather, there are mere viewpoints and reasoning that impose a certain meaning on texts of Sharia and limited banking experiences that don`t live up to be called an economic system, in addition to failure to find comprehensive developmental solutions.

What is the concept of the Islamic economy? How true is the assumption that there is an Islamic economic system? We will attempt to give an answer through the following:

From a linguistic viewpoint, economy refers to spending between exceeding and falling short. For more details, kindly check [Al-Mohkam Wal Moheet Al-`Adam by Ibn Seedoh, vol.6/pp.186]. As a term, it refers to "The science that investigates all that is related to fortune, money, earnings, possessing, spending, production, investment, services, savings, poverty and richness." [Al-Mo`jam Al-Iktisadi Al-Islami by Dr. Ahmad Al-Shorbasi, pp.36].


Leaving such definitions aside, let`s consider some definitions delivered by contemporary scholars of Islamic economy:


First: It is impossible that the Sharia, which is eternal and fits for every time and place, lacks general rules and controls for the themes of Economics, such as fortune, investment, production, and the like. This is because these have to do with man`s succession on earth. These elevate life and cause it to continue; however, without them society will return to the life of the jungle and take the path of extinction. Rather, these themes are amongst the requirements for the perfection of Sharia, about which Almighty Allah Said (What means): "This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion." [Al-Ma`idah/3].


Second: Demonstrating the greatness and comprehensiveness of Sharia to all aspects of life, including economic terminology, is one method for calling people to the way of Allah. Rather, it is calling to Him with insight and knowledge. This call also needs scholars of economy who are aware of the minutest details of this field and its emerging issues from Sharia, legal, and specialist technical aspects. Their knowledge and experience will enable them to deliver Fatwa, make disciplined Ijtihad, and understand texts using their talent in jurisprudence. We may add that this is a collective obligation.


Third: The general rules and the total principles of Sharia are tantamount to a general constitution on which rulings rely. "In terms of jurisprudential principles, the economic policy of Islam is divine, but in terms of application, it is secular." [Thatiyat Al-Siyasa Al-Ektisadiya Al-Islameyah Wa Ahmeyat Al-Ektisad Al-Islamic by Dr. Moh. Shawki Al-Fangari, pp.18]. Consequently, there are many texts of Sharia about the economic policy. For example, Allah The Almighty Says (What means): "And do not eat up your property among yourselves for vanities, nor use it as bait for the judges, with intent that ye may eat up wrongfully and knowingly a little of (other) people’s property." [Al-Baqara/188]. He also Says (What means): "In order that it may not (merely) make a circuit between the wealthy among you." [Al-Hashir/7]. Moreover, narrated a man of the Companions (RA): I went on an expedition with the Prophet (PBUH) and heard him saying: "People are partners in three things: grazing, pasture, water and fire." [Reported by Ahmad and Abu Dawood, and its narrators are reliable (thiqah)]. The Prophet (PBUH) said: "If anyone makes a barren land productive, then it belongs to him." [Reported by Ath-Thalatha. At-Tirmidhi graded it Hasan (good)].

Economic theories that fit to be a just comprehensive economic system for reforming mankind have been established upon these jurisprudential principles.


Fourth: We conclude that Islamic economy is "A science that examines whatever is related to fortune, money, earning, possessing, spending, production, investment, services, savings, poverty and richness in light of the principles of Sharia, its total rules, and the Islamic value system."