Jul 30 2012
|more articles from|
Ibn taimiyah and Islamic economics
Although he followed the footsteps of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, the last founder of the four main schools of thought, Ibn Taimiyah had enough independence of mind and vision to draw upon other schools and scholars to arrive at his own opinion on a given matter. There is no doubt that Ibn Taimiyah remains unsurpassed in the comprehensiveness of his works and clarity of his vision on what constitutes Islamic way of life or Islamic living.
History will tell us that Ibn Taimiyah was a teacher, and circumstances forced him to put on a soldier's uniform as they also pushed him into controversy and polemics. With his intellectual roots having been secured in Shariah Law, Ibn Taimiyah answered many queries emanating from those complex situations with rare understanding and sympathy. Some examples are reproduced as hereunder:
The borrower is obliged to repay the lender in the country in which he contracted the loan. He should not place the burden of travelling of lender to realise the loan. If the borrower says that "I will not repay you except in a different country- then he would be liable to defray, according to conventional standards, any cost incurred by the lender (in travelling and transporting). Fatawa, Vol. 29 at P.530.
The more authentic opinion is to prohibit it as the copper coins, when they have gained currency, take on the same position as the money proper and become a standard of value for people's wealth. Fatawa, Vol. 29 at P.468-469.
As a matter of fact, what contemporary Islam needs most with respect to the economy is a clear vision of what is desired and how it can be brought about. A perusal of the book will demonstrate how clear Ibn Taimiyah was on both these issues. He was of the opinion that Muslims need a well provisioned society from which poverty is vanished and welfare is ensured for all. The way to realise this objective is freedom of enterprise and property, constrained by moral laws and supervised by a just state enforced by the Divine Laws i.e.
Therefore, those who seek a just regime must be ready and willing to enforce the Shariah, the whole of it. In so doing the authorities will be frequently called upon to apply the principles of Shariah to new areas arising from changing circumstances, especially in economic affairs. This is where the jurist faces the real challenge; not to lose sight of the real purpose of law justice and human felicity while applying his legal principles to new situations. Ibn Taimiyah met this challenge with rare competence and therein lies his message to the present generation of Muslim jurists and economists.
On the economic field, Ibn Taimiyah's vision was not narrow in fact it was clear and filled with wisdom. According to him all economic activities are permissible in Islam except those prohibited by the Shariah. So everybody was allowed to have their avocation with the limit set by Shariah, because a person knew that if he did something of which he was prohibited in Shariah, he would refrain from doing so. What was good for them and the people they were allowed freely to make transactions, enter into contracts and conduct their worldly affairs in a just and fair manner observing the standard of fairness set by 'Urf and Adah'.
Here I must make clear the meaning of 'Urf and Adah' for better understanding. 'Urf' meaning conventions and 'Adah' meant customs. The Shariah intervenes only to ensure justice in human relations and to direct individual action to what was good for all. It sought to eliminate Zulm (injustice and oppression) from social relations. Riba (excess interest) and Qimar (gambling) were prohibited under Shariah Law. The essence of unilateral gains i.e. taking an increment without a quid was considered as unilateral gain. Fatawa, Vol. 20 at P.341.
Acquisition of another person's property without a quid pro quo was also not permissible, because it was incumbent on the purchaser to pay the right price for the property he is buying and the seller to restore the property exactly of the value he has received. To be meaningful both the parties should base their agreement on adequate knowledge of what is involved in the contract.
Normally state would not intervene in the free market economy or price or profits, wages etc., which was to be determined by the law of demand and supply. But a state's intervention is called for when some of the above conditions are violated. As and when public authority did intervene it was guided by expert advice and sought to approximate the price of similar goods or services which was to be determined fairly.
© Times of Oman 2012
© Copyright Zawya. All Rights Reserved.
People Who Read This Also Read
- UPDATE 1-Korean women scrap meeting Japanese mayor over brothel remarks
- REFILE-Elderly Korean women cancel meet with Osaka mayor over war brothel remarks
- Korean "grannies" cancel meet with Osaka mayor over war brothel remarks
- Solar plane completes second leg of cross-country flight in Texas
- College student snares record long Burmese python near Miami
- There's More