Islamic Economy VS Capitalism
*Capitalism practised in developing countries causes approximately 50-80% of the population owns only 20% of the countries’ wealth*
The whole world is particular about economy which is considered as the main source of life. Every nation and every country strive hard to strengthen their economic situation.
When the economy of a country is strong, the country will advance in many other fields like industries, technologies and even military.
The strong economy enables a country to take over another country. Little wonder, economy is always the focus of all the world leaders. The Muslim world are also in the race. They are also strengthening their economy. Many via the capitalist system introduced capitalism in their countries, supported by the Western countries.
The Muslim forget that Islam has its own economic system which is far better than the capitalist.
Under Islamic economy, God is the essence.
The capitalist’s main focus is profitability per se. The concept of love and care in undertaking business decision is almost non existing. Economy regarded as good deeds for the humankind and the hereafter is unthinkable.
As such, capitalists will compete vigorously to increase their profits and minimize their losses even by stepping on others.
Unfortunately, many Muslims are also in the same school of thought. Instead of taking God as the guidance, we try to compete with the capitalists on their own platform which is created by them to generate income for themselves.
The result? We always failed and face further diminution.
Muslims must reassess their economic focus and guidelines.
‘Taqwa’ or FEAR of GOD is the foundation upon which all business decisions and planning should be constructed.
The Islamic economic and financial systems are meant to protect human, and to promote love and care, unity among all, bringing peace and harmony here and the hereafter. In Islam, business is one of the acts of devotion to God.
We are granted opportunities to bring ourselves closer to God, to think and getting ourselves ready to uphold the rules of God.
Business is an arena to seek this wisdom : the “taqwa” (fear of God).
While prayers are the specific occasions to renew our pledge and intention, to do post-mortem on our past deeds, and to renew our hope to live and die to seek “taqwa” and to be a servant to God,
Business on the other hand is the manifestation of such prayers to widen, extend and expand the activities of the rules of God.
If we can uphold the shariah of God through all our business activities, it means that the whole period we spend in business are considered as an act of devotion, that bears far bigger rewards than commendable prayers ( solat sunnat ) or commendable fasting. This indicates that our hearts are truly with God in our effort to fight against our evil desires (nafs) in order to uphold whatever He likes and whatever He prefers.
Listed below are the profits that can be gained from business that is carried out truly because of God and in accordance to the shariah of Him:
1. In doing business, we are not only trying to make profits from customers but we are actually doing service to the society by providing the goods people need. By selling our goods, various people are being served well whether directly or indirectly. We get good rewards for giving such services. We should be thankful to God and to the customers for accepting our services. Because of them, God gives us good rewards.
2. Specifically in the supply of provisions, which include food and drinks, these are essential items for consumers and they will try to obtain them no matter how difficult it is. Therefore, if we run a business that deals with provisions in a certain place, we are providing essential services for the community. This service in actual fact, will bring about great rewards in the Hereafter as we manage to help lessen the burden of the community. They should be thankful although this is not solicited. Better still if we are able to sell the goods at reasonable prices thus providing huge help to the customers. And would not we feel satisfied and victorious to be able to make our fellow humankind happy and in doing so, God will in turn make us happy. Thus in business , do not merely think in terms of monetary gains alone as there are many other forms of profit. Do not be worried about our sustenance. If we put our trust in God by giving priority to whatever He likes, has not God promised to help? God is All Rich and Benevolent.
3. When both businessmen and consumers feel they have benefited from each other, there would be feelings of appreciation and need from both parties, ultimately their hearts will become attached. Friendship blooms. The longer we do business, the better opportunity we have to serve customers and the more friends we can make. Having friends are wonderful and beneficial.
4. Buying and selling between customers and retailer require cooperation between the two parties. If both customer and retailer feel each other’s need, surely they must cooperate and help each other. There should be no oppression. As an example, if the retailer is busy especially when there are many customers to serve, customers can help the retailer by taking what they need themselves. Retailers, as a token of gratitude, could give something to them in return, may it be just a piece of candy. Another instance when a restaurant or eatery is extremely busy with customers, it is considered a good deed for patrons to help collect and arrange used cups and plates, help to clean the table off spills, scraps of the meal after they have finished their meal. This helps the restaurateur and can help develop good relationship between the two. Business should be an arena for cooperation and unity within the society. Unfortunately, this opportunity in getting to know each other through business cooperation is not fully utilized by either business owners or customers.
5. Mankind should endeavour to become tolerant and to yield to others. By being so, man can be virtuous. Is it not good if we can be one who gives priority and opportunities to others and to feel comfortable if others get more than us? God will not let this go to no avail. In business, there are lots of opportunities to do this.What we normally see is that there is always a tussle between customers and retailers. Retailers tend to cheat and oppress consumers with exorbitant prices with the intention of making quick profits.However, with kindness and honesty they would be better off. They gain monetary profits, they gain good character, and they gain the confidence and popularity of others. God willing, their business may expand with better prospects. If customers and retailers make the effort to be tolerant, to give and take while doing business, then God willing, such dealings are blessed, the soul will be at peace and God will multiply His provisions.
There are numerous of trials and tribulations in business. God does this mainly to give opportunity to businessmen to be patient, or in other words, to accept trials with both fear and hope towards God; so that they are able to control their anger or tantrums when faced with the whims and fancies of people, control their feelings, to drown their bitterness and to hope that God fulfills all their needs. Those who are patient will get provisions and good rewards without limit.
If we are able to use business as a serious practical training to be patient, masya Allah, then we can reap huge profits from our business. Or do we doubt God’s ability to double or triple our business beyond what we expect? Based on experience, those who are not patient, who are not able to suppress their evil desires and who show anger and display tantrums, they tend to lose more in life. People dislike them and their business somehow stays stagnant. Patience is an asset, truly required in life.
6. Islam is a religion where one accomodates and forgives. In other words, if someone is capable of accepting and forgive matters or behavior not agreeable to him, then he has a truly Islamic character. In doing business, we will always encounter matters or people who put us in an uncomfortable situation. So, take such opportunity to reap extraordinary profits to become the noblest of man by having the most virtuous character. We hide our feelings of uneasiness. Do not be hasty to release our emotions or we will lose people’s respect.Try not solve people’s problems by creating more problems. Solve it the way that God likes. Then God will help us.
Why is it so difficult to forgive and forget people’s mistakes and errors? Don’t we too make mistakes and errors that we want other people to forgive? Now, let us say other people’s mistakes are severe and serious more than ours that we just find it difficult to overlook and disregard, so much so that we lose our tolerance and forgiveness. If this is so, then we have created another mistake of not humbling ourselves to God, who has bestowed upon us goodness which saved us from committing such severe and serious mistakes, which He has not given to the other people we are angry with.
7. Subsequently, businessmen should be happy and contented as they are able to provide employment for others. To have a job means one cease to be unemployed and at the same time earning permitted (halal) income; both of which is commanded by Islam. In fact, through business, man’s energy is used for the benefit of mankind. The society becomes productive and the nation prosperous.
That is the magnitude of profit that we can gain from business. The esoteric form of profit such as this makes us serene and calm. If God tries us with minimal monetary profit, we can easily be appeased as there are other forms of profit which we can enjoy. Or if we gain both forms of profit, then we should all the more be thankful and humble to God for such a big endowment that God gives to this “special servant” compared to His other servants who are not involved in business.
8. We should protect ourselves from greed for money when doing business. We should also hope for good rewards in the Hereafter as our service provides a lot of benefit to the society. Through business, we can help market goods produced by others especially fellow Muslims. Producing products for Muslims is a very noble undertaking. And if we are willing to become the agent to distribute such products, hopefully we are considered as those who are also involved in upholding the collective obligation (fardh kifayah). In fact, if we can save goods from being thrown away and wasted, hopefully we can get good rewards for preventing wastefulness. God hates wastefulness because it is the way of evil.
9. When numerous Muslim businesses are established, we will see an expansion of the Islamic image and symbol. To develop worldly advancement in the way of Islam in order to promote ease of living is the responsibility of all Muslims as the vicegerent of God on earth. By this, people can see the greatness of God and they can be thankful to Him. As long as Muslims do not uphold the image and symbols of Islam in their lives, especially in business, mankind will find it difficult to accept that Islam is a great religion and that God is Almighty. Mankind will see nothing special about Islam and they will question why God does not display His ability for Islam. If so, is it not a major contribution if we can establish business in the way of Islam and upon the name of Islam. If we do that, people will be able to feel and to enjoy its benefits and hence they will aggrandize God and be thankful to Him.
10. The biggest profit in business that we can gain is when our profits reach its proper level (nisab) and we qualify to pay the tithes which is one of the pillars of Islam. Through the tithes, we can help the poor and destitute and other acknowledged recipients (asnaf). The tithe is like a bridge of love and care that connects the rich and wealthy with the poor and the needy.
11. The apex of all profits in business is the fact that we gain knowledge and experience. We gain practical knowledge on management, finance, education, how to serve customers and how to face challenges. Experience comes in many forms. We learn to know people, places, commodities, values and culture. Information such as this is valuable in life and Islam demands that we have such knowledge.
These are the profits that could be gained by anyone who do business because of God and in order to uphold the Islamic way of life. Which means that the Islamic system of business actually guarantee businessmen a source of income that is permissible (halal) and also faith and belief that is safe and secure, insya Allah. Business should not be used as an arena solely for the purpose of seeking monetary profits to the extent that the poor who are involved in the system are deceived and oppressed. But this is the tradition of the capitalists.
They do not have the sense of the “unity of God” within their souls as an asset to guide and to guard their business. As such, they do whatever they like solely to reap personal benefits. Customers, or consumers, or buyers are not duly served.
What is important to them is to make customer’s money change hands quickly to become theirs, no matter whether it is by evil or violent means, directly or indirectly. Their business premises are not used as meeting places or places to foster unity. Their individualistic culture is widespread and is clearly noticeable. They do not realize that business is the center of human development that is very practical and profitable.
This approach towards business exists only in Islam, except that Muslims are not able to practise it. For people who love Islam (the religion of God), business is an arena for the struggle in the way of Allah (jihad fi sabilillah). They can simultaneously reap two forms of profit both for the world and the Hereafter. They can balance between the material and the spiritual and they can achieve a perfect civilization for mankind.
This is Islam, a way of life that can replace the capitalist system, which is now on the brink of death.
They have a lot of money but their hearts and souls are destroyed and diseased. Humans quarrel among themselves amidst richness and wealth that they accumulate through business.
This is the sort of paradise that the capitalists dream of and long for; physical development which is enchanting that is hunted and possessed by people who suffer conflict and chaos.
Hopefully, the Islamic system of business can be practised within our society because people are now looking for an alternative to the capitalist system especially when the monetary exchange rate has drastically dropped.
Certainly they are looking for a business system that can give them serenity and that promises them happiness for their physical and spiritual life. To achieve that, let us begin this system in our lives. Let us make it our struggle in the way of Allah (jihad fi sabilillah) beginning from our own business premises.
by Heliconia Muntazirah