Islam's Measures for Continuation of Life

In addition to prohibiting hoarding of everyday grocery needs of the public, Islam has foreseen (executive, economical and social) tactics, strategies, arrangements and measures in its anti-poverty campaign to fight the concentration of earnings and wealth in the hands of certain numbered people. Enforcement of such tactics would lead to distribution and adjustments of wealth and would ensure and guarantee social and economic justice. It would also bridge the gap between the poor and the rich. It would actually prevent the creation of a deep gap between the two classes. In other words the class- differences which has caused the creation of the wealthy class against the destitute or the low-income class who are weak or incapable of running their lives and the primitive affairs and maintain and secure the very viable elementary needs in their lives.

Islam has taken steps to establish and found compulsory or encouraging financial duties (called entities) to remove deprivation and to provide elementary life requirements. By providing a spiritual support for such eco- social entities, is guiding the Islamic society toward improvement and promotion of living conditions and public's livelihood. Some of such financial duties (entities) are:

1- Donation to charity (Enfagh): Although this act is optional, it has been repeatedly emphasized by Islam. It is aimed at encouraging the members of a society to provide the necessities of destitute and the deprived ones. There are countless quotations from the Prophet (S) and countless verses in The Holy Quran in this regard. The following is a sample:

مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ يُنْفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ كَمَثَلِ حَبَّةٍ أَنْبَتَتْ سَبْعَ سَنَابِلَ فِي كُلِّ سُنْبُلَةٍ مِائَةُ حَبَّةٍ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يُضَاعِفُ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ ۗ وَاللَّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ

The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is like a seed [of grain] which grows seven spikes; in each spike is a hundred grains. And Allah multiplies [His reward] for whom He wills. And Allah is all- Encompassing and Knowing. (Quran, 2:261)

Also The Holy Quran blames those who refrain from donating to charity by helping the needy:

وَالَّذِينَ يَكْنِزُونَ الذَّهَبَ وَالْفِضَّةَ وَلَا يُنْفِقُونَهَا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ فَبَشِّرْهُمْ بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ 

…. and those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah - give them tidings of a painful punishment. (Quran, 9:34)

The Prophet (S) said," It is never acceptable that one of you should sleep having eaten his dinner when one's neighbor is still hungry.”1

Donation in the eyes of Islam has been attached such a great significance that it is categorized as the top prioritized deeds among the most privileged worshiping deeds, such as prayer. The word donation comes immediately after the word "prayer or al-salaat" in several verses.2

2-Khums (a Fifth): One of the financial duties foreseen aimed at improvement of a destitute life and livelihood as well as especial urgent spending needs in an Islamic society is khums (a Fifth). Khums is an imposed donation levied on every Muslim's one fifth of the profit, turnover, and income. The profit earned by a Muslim because of his lawful business after reduction of routine living expenses in the period of one year is subject to khums taxation. The followings are also subject to khums: treasure, diving, mining (drilling and digging mines), war booty, wealth mixed with someone else's wealth whose owner is unknown (money laundering and any money which is not entirely yours), will be subject to khums.3

The Holy Quran says in this issue:

وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا غَنِمْتُمْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ فَأَنَّ لِلَّهِ خُمُسَهُ وَلِلرَّسُولِ وَلِذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ آمَنْتُمْ بِاللَّهِ

And know that anything you obtain of war booty - then indeed, for Allah is one fifth of it and for the Messenger and for [his] near relatives and the orphans, the needy, and the [stranded] traveler, if you have believed in Allah. (Quran, 8:41)

3-Zakaat donation: Zakaat in the Islamic economical decrees includes a part of one's belongings. When a wealthy Muslim's riches reach a certain amount, he must donate a certain part of his savings.4

There are many verses in The Holy Quran about Zakaat. The requirement of Zakaat has been emphasized after prayer:

وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ ۚ وَمَا تُقَدِّمُوا لِأَنْفُسِكُمْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ تَجِدُوهُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ

And establish prayer and give zakaat, and whatever good you put forward for yourselves - you will find it with Allah. Indeed, Allah of what you do, is Seeing. (Quran, 2:110)

Also, describing those who assist God, The Holy Quran, says:

الَّذِينَ إِنْ مَكَّنَّاهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ أَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَاةَ وَأَمَرُوا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَنَهَوْا عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ ۗ وَلِلَّهِ عَاقِبَةُ الْأُمُورِ

[And they are] those who, if We give them authority in the land, establish prayer and give zakat and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. And to Allah belongs the outcome of [all] matters. (Quran 22:41)

Zakaat can be a source of money from which the followings can be helped: social security, destitute, poor people, orphans, the unemployed, passengers and anybody caught by life's bottlenecks.5

4-Tax (Kheraj): This tax is levied on farmers. It is an amount out of the agricultural products, or its value in cash, collected. This tax is levied on peasants and their agricultural land depending on the discretion of an Islamic government and according on farmer's or a landowner's agreement and in favor of the public. When spending this money the priority must be given to wellbeing of (all) the farmers and flourishing of the agricultural land.6

5-Jaziyeh: this tax is levied on non-Muslims. But non-Muslims here include only those who are followers of other monotheistic religions (followers of God's traditions and monotheist prophets). Such taxpayers have a commitment to pay this tax and to keep the limits of Islam and Muslims and to respect such boundaries and borders, as their lives and property is located in the safe and secure boundaries of Islam but they enjoy the same rights and limits as Muslims.7

6- Kaffarat: One of the financial obligations in the Islamic theology is Kaffarat. It is a property that must be given away to compensate for some sins such as monetary compensation for murder,8 or monetary recompense for failing to keep or honor a promise,9 or monetary compensation for unlawful hunting.10

In order to concentrate financial resources, the entity of Islamic Treasury (Beit al-maal) has been foreseen which is the Islamic government's treasury. The cases of taking money out of this treasury, and how to spend it, as well as relevant priorities has clearly been mentioned in the public financial system in Islam. Any discrimination (abuse) in using the treasury is prohibited.

Certainly, no legal system, has outlined or presented executive plans and policies for right of viability, continuation of mankind's life as well as the deprived and needy people's enjoying the life's primary instruments as clear as Islam.

  • 1. Human Rights in Islamic Law, P.4.
  • 2. Quran, Chapter,Al- Ibrahim, verse: 31, Quran, Chapter, Al- Bagharah, verse:3, Quran, Chapter, Al- enfagh, verse:3, Quran, Chapter, Al- hajj, verse:35, etc.
  • 3. Islam and Ownership, p. 21.
  • 4. Analytical Project of Islamic Economy, p. 220.
  • 5. Analytical project of Islamic economy, p. 222.
  • 6. Islam and Ownership, p. 211.
  • 7. Islam and Ownership, p. 211.
  • 8. Quran, 5:45.
  • 9. Quran, 5:89.
  • 10. Quran, 5:95.