Article 124: The primary economic problem is the distribution of wealth and benefits to all of the subjects of the State, and facilitating their utilisation of this wealth and benefits, by enabling them to strive for them and possess them.
This article explains that the economic problem has two halves: the first being the need of the people, in other words, guaranteeing that the wealth of the country reaches every individual subject such that no one is prohibited from it and secondly, facilitating every individual subject to possess and benefit from this wealth.
As for the first half, its evidences are the verses and narrations that came regarding the matters of the poor people, the needy and the travellers. There are several of these evidences of varying nature such that they focus the attention on the importance of this problem.
As for the verses, Allah (swt) says:
((وَأَطْعِمُوا الْبَائِسَ الْفَقِيرَ (28) ))
“And feed the miserable and poor.” (TMQ 22:28)
((وَمَا تُنْفِقُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ يُوَفَّ إِلَيْكُمْ وَأَنْتُمْ لَا تُظْلَمُونَ (272) لِلْفُقَرَاءِ الَّذِينَ أُحْصِرُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ )) [البقرة 272-273] وقال: (( إِنَّمَا الصَّدَقَاتُ لِلْفُقَرَاءِ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْعَامِلِينَ عَلَيْهَا وَالْمُؤَلَّفَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَالْغَارِمِينَ وَفِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَاِبْنِ السَّبِيلِ )) [التوبة 60] وقـال: (( مَا أَفَاءَ اللَّهُ عَلَى رَسُولِهِ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْقُرَى فَلِلَّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ وَلِذِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ)) [الحشر 7] إلى أن يقــول: (( لِلْفُقَرَاءِ الْمُهَاجِرِينَ )) [الحشر 8] وقـــال: ((إِنْ تُبْدُوا الصَّدَقَاتِ فَنِعِمَّا هِيَ وَإِنْ تُخْفُوهَا وَتُؤْتُوهَا الْفُقَرَاءَ فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ )) [البقرة 271] وقـال: ((وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ)) [البقرة 184] وقــــــال: (( فَمَنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَإِطْعَامُ سِتِّينَ مِسْكِينًا)) [المجادلة 4] وقال: ((وَيُطْعِمُونَ الطَّعَامَ عَلَى حُبِّهِ مِسْكِينًا وَيَتِيمًا وَأَسِيرًا (8))) [الإنسان] وقال: ((أَوْ إِطْعَامٌ فِي يَوْمٍ ذِي مَسْغَبَةٍ (14) يَتِيمًا ذَا مَقْرَبَةٍ (15) أَوْ مِسْكِينًا ذَا مَتْرَبَةٍ (16))) [البلد] وقـال: ((قُلْ مَا أَنْفَقْتُمْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَلِلْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ)) [البقرة 215] وقــال: ((وَلَكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ آَمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآَخِرِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةِ وَالْكِتَابِ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ وَآَتَى الْمَالَ عَلَى حُبِّهِ ذَوِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَالسَّائِلِينَ )) [البقرة 177] وقال: (( أَوْ كَفَّارَةٌ طَعَامُ مَسَاكِينَ )) [المائدة 95] وقـال: ((فَكَفَّارَتُهُ إِطْعَامُ عَشَرَةِ مَسَاكِينَ )) [المائدة 89] وقــال: ((وَفِي أَمْوَالِهِمْ حَقٌّ لِلسَّائِلِ وَالْمَحْرُومِ (19) )) [الذاريات] وقال: ((وَالَّذِينَ فِي أَمْوَالِهِمْ حَقٌّ مَعْلُومٌ (24) لِلسَّائِلِ وَالْمَحْرُومِ (25)))
“And whatever you spend of good - it will be fully repaid to you, and you will not be wronged; [Charity is] for the poor who have been restricted for the cause of Allah, unable to move about in the land.” (TMQ 2:272-3)
“Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [Zakah] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveller.” (TMQ 9:60)
“And what Allah restored to His Messenger from the people of the towns - it is for Allah and for the Messenger and for [his] near relatives and orphans and the [stranded] traveller.” (TMQ 59:7) until He says,
“For the poor emigrants.” (TMQ 59:8)
“If you disclose your charitable expenditures, they are good; but if you conceal them and give them to the poor, it is better for you.” (TMQ 2:271)
“And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] - a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day].” (TMQ 2:184)
“And he who does not find [a slave] - then a fast for two months consecutively.” (TMQ 58:4)
“And they give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive” (TMQ 76:8)
“Or feeding on a day of severe hunger; To the orphan with claims of relationship; Or a needy person in misery.” (TMQ 90:14)
“Say, "Whatever you spend of good is [to be] for parents and relatives and orphans and the needy and the traveller.” (TMQ 2:215)
“But [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the Prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveller.” (TMQ 2:177)
“Or an expiation: the feeding of needy people.” (TMQ 5:95)
“So its expiation is the feeding of ten needy people.” (TMQ 5:89)
“And from their properties was [given] the right of the [needy] petitioner and the deprived.” (TMQ 51:19)
“And those within whose wealth is a known right; For the petitioner and the deprived.” (TMQ 70:24-5)
As for the narrations, the Messenger of Allah said:
«وَأَيُّمَا أَهْلُ عَرْصَةٍ أَصْبَحَ فِيهِمْ امْرُؤٌ جَائِعٌ فَقَدْ بَرِئَتْ مِنْهُمْ ذِمَّةُ اللَّهِ تَعَالَى»
“Whenever the people of an area wake up with a hungry person amongst them, then Allah’s covenant and protection to them is absolved.” (reported by Ahmad from Ibn Umar, and authenticated by Ahmad Shakir).
And it is narrated from him from what he related from Allah:
«مَا آمَنَ بِي مَنْ بَاتَ شَبْعَانَ وَجَارُهُ جَائِعٌ وَهُوَ يَعْلَمُ»
“One who goes to bed full while he knows that his neighbour is hungry, does not believe in Me” (reported by Al-Bazzar from Anas with a chain considered Hasan by Al-Haythami and Al-Mundhiri).
These verses and narrations, and all the verses related regarding spending, the rules of Sadaqat (charities), the rules of Zakah, and repeatedly encouraging the support of the poor, the needy, the travellers, and those who ask (beggars), in other words, whoever can be described as poor, all clearly indicate that the economic problem is the poverty of individuals, i.e. the poor distribution of wealth amongst the individuals which results in the poverty of the individuals. Therefore, the problem is the distribution of wealth to every individual subject of the State, and so it is obligatory to address this distribution such that the wealth reaches everyone. The evidences which came regarding this distribution is that it must reach every individual, and in order for it to reach every individual it is necessary to address the one who has been prevented from it, in other words, address the poor, needy, travellers, and those who ask (beggars) – in other words, whoever can be characterised as being poor. These are the evidences for the first half of the article.
As for the second half of the article, its evidence is that Allah (swt) gave a general permission for ownership in every permitted manner of gaining possession, so the Messenger said:
«مَنْ أَحَاطَ حَائِطًا عَلَى أَرْضٍ فَهِيَ لَهُ»
“Whoever puts a wall around a land (that doesn’t have an owner) then it is his” reported by Ahmad and Abu Dawud with a chain that Ibn Al- Jarud and Al-Zayn authenticated, and Allah (swt) said:
((أُحِلَّ لَكُمْ صَيْدُ الْبَحْرِ ))
“Lawful to you is game from the sea.” (TMQ 5:96)and so on. Therefore, the permission of ownership and the generality of this permission for every individual subject of the State, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, indicates the facilitation of possession of property, and striving for it, and the evidences regarding the utilisation of food, clothing, shelter, and general enjoyment came in the same manner. Allah (swt) said:
(( فَكُلُوا مِنْهَا ))
“So eat of them” (22:28) and the Messenger said:
«مَا أَكَلَ أَحَدٌ طَعَامًا قَطُّ خَيْرًا مِنْ أَنْ يَأْكُلَ مِنْ عَمَلِ يَدِهِ»
“No one eats food better than that which he ate from his own handiwork”,reported by Al-Bukhari through Al-Miqdam, and Allah (swt) said:
((كُلُوا مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ اللَّهُ ))
“Eat of what Allah has provided for you.” (TMQ 6:142):
((وكلُوا مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ اللَّهُ حَلَالًا طَيِّبًا)) [المائدة 88]وقــال تعـالى: ((فَكُلُوا مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ اللَّهُ حَلَالًا طَيِّبًا )) [البقرة 172] وقال تعالى: ((قُلْ مَنْ حَرَّمَ زِينَةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي أَخْرَجَ لِعِبَادِهِ وَالطَّيِّبَاتِ مِنَ الرِّزْقِ))
“And eat of what Allah has provided for you [which is] lawful and good.” (TMQ 5:88) and: “Eat from the good things which We have provided for you.” (TMQ 2:172) , and: “Say, who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has produced for His servants and the good [lawful] things of provision?”(TMQ 7:132); this is beside other evidences. All of these came in a general form, and the generality of this permission encompasses the utilisation by every individual subject whether Muslim or Dhimmi; and all of this mean that the Shari’ah facilitated possession and utilisation of wealth for every individual subject of the State.
Built upon this, the Shari’ah evidences came and clarified the root problem and its treatment. The root problem was clarified as being the poverty of individuals, and the lack of facilitation for every individual to possess and utilise wealth, while at the same time the evidences amply demonstrated the treatment for poverty. The evidences permitted the possession and utilisation of wealth in a general sense, and made this permission the basis in economic issues. This is the root problem, or by an alternative expression, the root problem is the distribution of wealth, and not its production, since it is the poverty of individuals and the lack of facilitation for them to possess and utilise the wealth, and not the poverty of the country and its need of wealth. Therefore, the problem is one of distribution and not production.
The proof that the root problem is distribution and not production is the Shari’ah evidences which came regarding the treatment of poverty, permitting ownership, and utilising the possessions, and in the same manner, the reality of economic life. As for with respect to the Shari’ah evidences, there are evidences which came to treat the poverty of individuals, permit ownership and utilisation; in other words, evidences which came regarding distribution. And there are evidences which came regarding the treatment of the poverty of the country, in other words, regarding production. By close investigation of the evidences for the two matters, it becomes clear that the evidences regarding the poverty of individuals, and the permission of ownership and utilisation, are many in number to the point that they attract increased attention, which indicates heightened importance, and that they came to treat a root issue and not a branch.
The verses and narrations related to poverty, in other words, to the poor distribution and its rectification, are abundant in number, and the evidences which came regarding the permission of ownership and utilisation of wealth are likewise abundant. This is from one angle, and from another angle the issue that they are treating, which is the possession of wealth, is a root issue in economics to the point that there is nothing more fundamental, and all economic problems stem from it, which means that it is the root problem. Accordingly, the root problem is distribution. In other words, the reality that the evidences regarding poverty, permission of ownership and the utilisation of it are abundant, and the reality that they treat the fundamental issue from which all economic problems stem, is evidence that the root problem in economics is distribution.
This is different to the evidences regarding the poverty of the country, or by an alternative expression, the evidences regarding production. These are limited in number, and came to treat what is necessary for production, and not production itself, while that which addresses production directly is barely mentioned. Shari’ah evidences came which necessitate the creation of wealth in the country, in other words, necessitate the treatment of production; so the words of Allah (swt):
((وَأَعِدُّوا لَهُمْ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ مِنْ قُوَّةٍ))
“And prepare against them whatever you are able of power. ” (TMQ 8:60) necessitates the presence of wealth in the country and obligates the work to bring it about. Spreading security for the subjects of the State, and carrying out their interests and what that necessitates that in terms of building roads, providing water systems, building schools and mosques, providing medical services and education, dealing with emergencies such as earthquakes and floods, undertaking whatever is necessitated by burdens of the subjects; all of this and anything similar necessitates the presence of wealth and the effort to produce it.
In the same manner, treating the poverty of individuals, which is the root problem, cannot occur without the presence of wealth, so it necessitates working to produce it. Therefore, these rules address what necessitates production, and not production itself. However, they indicate the obligation of production from the angle that "That, without which the obligation cannot be accomplished, is itself an obligation".
As for the rules which directly encourage the production of wealth, although they exist they are few in number; Allah (swt) said:
((فَإِذَا قُضِيَتِ الصَّلَاةُ فَانْتَشِرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَابْتَغُوا مِنْ فَضْلِ اللَّهِ)) [الجمعة 10] وقال تعالى: ((فَامْشُوا فِي مَنَاكِبِهَا وَكُلُوا مِنْ رِزْقِهِ ))
“And when the prayer has been concluded, disperse within the land and seek from the bounty of Allah.” (TMQ 62:10), and He (swt) said: “So walk among its slopes and eat of His provision.” (TMQ 67:15), and the Prophet said:
«مَا أَكَلَ أَحَدٌ طَعَامًا قَطُّ خَيْرًا مِنْ أَنْ يَأْكُلَ مِنْ عَمَلِ يَدِهِ»
“No one eats food better than that which he ate by working with one’s own hands.” (reported by Al-Bukhari through Al-Miqdam). The Prophet also said:
«مَنْ طَلَبَ الدُّنْيَا حَلاَلاً، اسْتِعْفَافاً عَنِ المَسْأَلَةِ، وَسَعْياً عَلَى أَهْلِهِ، وَتَعَطُّفاً عَلَى جَارِهِ، جَاءَ يَوْمَ القِيَامَةِ وَجْهُهُ كَالقَمَرِ لَيْلَةَ الْبَدْرِ»
“Whoever seeks lawful sustenance in life, and asks not others for money, to provide for his family, and his neighbour in sympathy, comes (on the day of judgement) with a face like the moon when full.” (reported by Al-Bayhaqi in Al-Shu’ab Al-Iman from Makhul as a Mursal narration). And he said:
«طَلَبُ الحَلالِ وَاجِبٌ عَلَى كُلِّ مُسْلِمٍ»
“Seeking lawful livelihood (Halal) is duty upon every Muslim” (reported by Al-Tabarani in Al-Awsat from Anas, with a chain considered Hasan by Al-Haythami and Al-Mundhiri). These evidences are explicit in encouraging the seeking of provision, in other words, encouragement of production, or by another expression the treatment of the poverty of the country. However, what is also apparent from them is that they address the individual, and that the encouragement of production is only for the treatment of their individual needs, either to fulfil the need or to increase their property; in other words, the permissibility of utilisation.
This is from one angle. From another angle what these evidences address or what they necessitate is only the work for property, and not work alone. In other words, it is production for the sake of possession and not simply production alone, which indicates that the work produces possession, which points to it being a branch issue and not a root one. It is a branch of possession, and not a root for it. That is why the rules which necessitate production came mentioning possession, and that possession necessitates production, and that the rules which directly address production came mentioning utilisation. So in one verse it made the effort for the sake of food, and made food from effort in the first narration, and expressed effort through the words seeking the world and seeking that which is lawful (Halal) in the second and third narrations, so all these rules with their evidences mean possession of wealth. All of this indicates that production is not the root problem, rather it is a problem amongst the economic problems, and in the same manner it indicates that the root problem is ownership, or by an alternative expression possession, and this means that the root problem is distribution.
This is all with respect to the Shari’ah evidences, as for with respect to the reality of the economic life, no one denies that every country which suffers from economic unrest is due to suffering from poor distribution, and not due to low production. The socialist system, including communism, only arose as a result of the oppression which the society suffered from the capitalist system, or in other words, a result of poor distribution. The social benefits which the capitalists tried to implement in their system are all connected to the distribution. The socialist solutions only deal with the issue of distribution, and the regions which are called the third world such as the Islamic countries in these days, are only backward due to the poor distribution, and not due to the poverty of the country. Accordingly, the reality of the root problem in economics is poor distribution and not lack of production. This is something that can be sensed, and every person can sense it, whether Muslim, capitalist or socialist. This is since the world as a whole produces much more than the people require, but the poor distribution is what makes some people obscenely rich, while others are destitute and poor. Even in the countries that suffer from low production the root economic problem is distribution first and then low production. Based upon this, the reality of the economic life indicates that the root problem in the economy is distribution, and not production.