The Prophet’s Economics

The Prophet’s Economics

Mawlana Abd al-Aziz Attari

Sustenance is an essential requirement for humanity, forming the very foundation of our existence. The responsibility for its provision, like other necessities, ultimately lies in the grace of Allah.[1] The Almighty has ordained diverse means to arrange for our sustenance.

Every nation adopts various plans for the betterment of its economic situation. In this regard, the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم gave Muslims such principles relating to economic transactions, business, and employment, which not only guarantee the cultivation of good character, but are also sufficient to protect the economy and propel it to its apex.

Destabilizing Factors in the Economy

1.   Usury: The beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم vehemently opposed and dismantled the usurious capitalistic system prevalent during the Era of Ignorance. His resolute stance against usury served to eradicate its foundation. Furthermore, he explicitly pronounced those involved in usury, both lenders, and borrowers, as cursed.[2] This was because this usurious capitalistic system not only made many families, but also many nations, economic cripples.

2.   Bribery: He conveyed a grave warning regarding bribery-based transactions, emphasizing that their consequence leads to the torment of Hellfire.[3]  The harmful effects of engaging in illicit practices, such as soliciting work unjustly, manipulating court judgements, or falsely incriminating others, are seriously damaging. These actions, carried out for personal gain, whether material or non-material, have severe repercussions regardless of their scale and lead to economic instability.

3.   Deceit: National and international level business transactions develop based upon trust. Deception results in a loss of this confidence, destroys the foundations of business and causes slumps in the market. Through his economic mastery and farsightedness, the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم not only discouraged the deceiver by saying, “Whoever deceives is not from amongst us[4],” he also warned against the different forms of deception. For example:

He expressed severe words concerning the one who adulterates foodstuff.[5]

He declared the liar to be treacherous.[6]

He eliminated the practice of tricking people through taking of repeated oaths, by declaring the unnecessary taking of oaths as removal of blessings.[7]

He informed that the practice of veiling defects in produce and thereby deceiving the consumer, results in the displeasure of Allah Almighty and the curse of the angels.[8]

He informed that the consequence of those that defraud in weighing and measuring is drought, economic deprivation and being subjected to the injustices of rulers.[9]

He also informed sellers to weigh out and give somewhat more than the exact measure to buyers.[10]

He forbade the accumulation of milk in the udders of animals for several days prior to selling through not milking them. This was so that the buyer would not be deceived by the build-up of milk from a few days. [11]

4.   Extravagant spending: While it is essential to allocate funds appropriately for necessities like food, clothing, transport, and education, we must also acknowledge the importance of being mindful about wasteful spending on extravagant luxuries. The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم has cautioned against such excessive expenditure. Instead, he assured us that adopting an economical approach to spending would prevent one from experiencing deprivation.[12] He also declared spending in moderation to be half of livelihood.[13] This is proof of his mastery over economics and foresightedness, because saving wealth and using it as capital is from the most important principles of economic strength and development, whereas extravagant spending is a huge barrier to this.

5.   Hoarding: Foodstuffs are essential necessities and for this reason they are mostly stockpiled. People are also more compelled in relation to them. The beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم informed that the consequence of this iniquity was affliction with leprosy and bankruptcy.[14] Prevention of hoarding is further proof of his economic mastery because although the hoarder remains affluent due to this, the national economy is destroyed. Whereas, good economic state is reflected in prosperity throughout a nation.

Factors that strengthen the economy

In order to make the Muslims economically strong like a mountain, so that Islam is strengthened, Muslims are neither subdued nor dependent on non-Muslims. Non-Muslims instead become reliant on Muslims, as the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم made the virtuosity of adopting means of economic progress, increased income, just division of wealth and national well-being, openly apparent for all to see. This is also so Muslims may embrace these principles. For example:

To develop interest in trading, he explained the benefits of trade by mentioning that nine tenths of livelihood are found in it.[15] It is apparent that expansiveness in trade results in an increase in employment opportunities, profit and economic prosperity in society.

In emphasising the rights of the poor and needy, he stipulated zakat and other forms of tax, tasking us with ensuring that payments reach eligible recipients on time.[16] In fact, he informed of the financial benefits of this also. He mentioned that the evil of wealth is distanced from the one who gives zakat, [17]and that charity causes increase in wealth.[18] What mastery the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم possessed great mastery over economics, and taught Muslims of easy principles leading to prosperity. Indeed, if all wealthy Muslims gave their zakat to deserving recipients each year in accordance with the principles of zakat, the nation would leave the pit of bankruptcy and enter a new age of  prosperity.

Similarly, he roused interest in planting trees and agriculture by informing that whatever benefit reaches a human or animal due to these trees and plantations will be a form of charity for him.[19]

He encouraged landowners to farm their own land or lease it to another Muslim.[20] In fact, he did this himself practically.[21] Note the economic importance of agriculture, which everyone is now aware of. Grains, crops, vegetables, and fruits are all obtained in this way and humans, birds and animals alike benefit from them. The earth gives up gold and opens up many means of livelihood. The beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم encouraged Muslims in this affair many centuries ago.

Inheritance: The beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم introduced a groundbreaking inheritance law mandating the division of a person’s estate among sons, daughters, mother, wife, and other relatives. This progressive Islamic law stood in stark contrast to the customs of the Era of Ignorance, significantly expanding the circle of inheritance beneficiaries. Importantly, this law extended inheritance rights to women, fostering economic prosperity by promoting wealth distribution.

Partnership: Partnerships also have a great importance in relation to economic prosperity as there are many people who own capital in society, but they do not have time to work or the aptitude or aspiration for it. Whereas many others have all the latter but no capital. Partnerships complement both of these and aid economic progress. After the migration to Madinah, the arrival of so many emigrants at once posed a major economic challenge. However, the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم overcame this challenge with his unparalleled economic expertise by forming a timely brotherhood between them (which in reality was a form of partnership). To promote partnerships, he gave the glad tidings of the support of Allah Almighty for trustworthy business partners.[22]

Teaching good skills: In the pursuit of economic prosperity, hard work, skilfulness, and handicraft play pivotal roles. Nations blessed with industrious and skilled craftsmen are shielded from economic decline. The beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم recognised the vital importance of these matters. To inspire the development of skills and hard work, whilst mentioning the Prophet Dāwūd عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام as a skilful armorer, he declared the earnings of one’s hands as the best provision.[23] The importance of skills and handiwork is apparent from this.

A few shining lights from the lamp of Prophetic statements and actions have been mentioned in a summarised manner here, which bear testimony to his mastery over economic affairs and are sufficient in directly or indirectly bringing light to our economic woes. If these were seriously acted upon, we would achieve economic success in a short period of time.

May Allah Almighty grant us deep devotion for the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم and the felicity of adopting his life example.

اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ خاتَمِ النَّبِیّیْن صلَّی اللہ علیہ واٰلہٖ وسلَّم

[1] Al-Quran, 43:32

[2] aī Muslim: 4093

[3] Al-Muʿjam al-Awsa: 2026

[4] aī Muslim: 284

[5] Ibid

[6] Sunan Abī Dāwūd: 4971

[7] aī Muslim: 4126

[8] Sunan Ibn Mājah: 2247

[9] Sunan Ibn Mājah: 4019

[10] Sunan Ibn Mājah: 2222

[11] aī al-Bukhāri: 2148

[12] Musnad Imām Amad: 4269

[13] Shuʿab al-Īmān; 6568

[14] Sunan Ibn Mājah: 2155

[15] Mawsuʿah Imam Ibn Abi al-Dunya: 213

[16] aī al-Bukhāri: 1395

[17] Al-Muʿjam al-Awsa: 1579

[18] Al-Targhib wa al-Tarhib: 624

[19] aī al-Bukhāri: 2320

[20] aī al-Bukhāri: 2340

[21] aī Muslim: 3966

[22] Sunan Abī Dāwūd: 3383

[23] aī al-Bukhāri: 2072




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