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Economic endeavour, development are important facets of Islam
In Islam, economic endeavour is one of the obligatory functions for both individuals and society and enhancement of wealth and material resources, anywhere, is welcomed provided certain basic prerequisites prescribed by Islam are fulfilled.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT is one of the core themes of Islam. Contrary to the common perception regarding this religion, Islam vigorously guides on several mundane affairs including the economic sphere of human activities. This particularity of Islam has have never been understood well in any era but there is need to highlight it now.

With the growing realisation of inadequacy of vogue theories and practices in dealing with complex economic matters in a globalised world and proven sustainability of some Islamic institutions during critical times, such as the present recession, a variety of Islamic tenets are being revisited by academics, policymakers and executives engaged in economic development of human society for exploring their relevance today. The context of economic principles of Islam also arises in the contemporary world due to rampant impoverishment of Muslims in various parts of the world.

India is no exception. Here too, a paradoxical reference to the ‘Islamic economics’ is being currently made in context of Islamic banking and finance on the one hand, and on the other, to the glaring economic backwardness of Indian Muslims, even after six decades of independence and democratic governance.

Some impart blame on Islam that it comes in the way of economic advancement of Muslims whereas others think that the faith could be used as a motivating force for this purpose. Votaries of both the views do exist and they pursue their respective cause in a mutually unconvincing manner. This calls for underscoring a number of issues for a better grasp of the situation and suggesting policy implications on them.
There is a cumbersome list of such issues which demands sincere intervention on the part of both the state and the community. They comprise inter alia, equitable growth, lack of motivation for ‘worldly’ things, lack of information and facilitation structure, training and capacity building, improper management of Islamic institutions such as Zakat and Waqf, Islamic banking and finance, thrift and investment, muslim participation in various sectors such as agriculture, industries and services, poverty alleviation of Indian muslims whose majority is drifting around the poverty line, and the like.

The foremost issue of Indian economy is the promotion of ‘inclusive growth’. In the absence of adequate institutional back up for ensuring this, a variety of disparities are not only visible on the economic scene of the country but they are also becoming more and more unreasonable with the passage of time.

These disparities do exist between the forward and backward states, between some districts of a state and other districts of the same state, between stronger and weaker communities, between urban and rural people and between the genders.

There can be no denial of the fact that India is still far away from having realised economic democratisation and equitable distribution of resources. The most affected segment of this untoward situation remain to be the Dalits and Muslims in all states, in all districts and in all parts of the country. Their persistent economic backwardness during the last six decades has been substantiated beyond doubt by none less than the committee appointed by the Prime Minister of India himself, commonly called as the Sacchar Committee, which submitted its eye-opening report in November 2006.
Evidently, the promise of inclusive growth seems nowhere near achieving. So, there could hardly be any blame on the conclusion that economically the most insecure class of the Indian nation is its 150 million Muslims; Dalits at least have several constitutional provisions and reservation of government jobs in proportion to their population. And, the irony is that, presumably, the Muslims believe in some of those unblemished tenets, which could guarantee an equitable economic growth anywhere in the world.

The Islamic concept of economic well being is being discussed and one of the resolutions of the seminar convened by Islamic Fiqh Academy of India two years back reads, “To earn wealth through fair means and to spend it on the welfare of the poor and needy as has been enjoined upon by Allah, is not only permissible but appreciable in Islam”.

In his inaugural address of the said seminar,  the renowned Islamic thinker Dr Mohd Nijatullah Siddiqui quoted Maulana Sayed Manazir Ahsan Gilani asserting that ‘endeavour towards the economic development also is a sort of Jihad fi Sabilil Allah’ and remarked that if the economic activities are ‘undertaken with a pious intent, it will demonstrate the noble Islamic values and character with no shades of indolence and insufficient preparations often noticeable in the economic efforts the Muslims take’.
These notable views remind us of the campaign Jihad sa Zindagani (struggle for reconstruction) launched by the Iranian people just after the end of eight year long war imposed on their country by Iraq, on the instigation and support of the United States of America; which enabled the Islamic republic instill a spirit of overall development in its citizens and an urge to come out from the ill effects of this unwished war.
Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, a well known scholar of the country, categorises economic issues under Fiqh Al Hayat, ie, as the jurisprudence of life. This denotes what importance is accorded by Islam to the economic activities of man. From a verse of The Holy Quran (4:5), Dr Khalid Shuaib, a scholar from Kuwait, deduced that wealth and property is meant for ‘support’ (Qayam) to human life and therefore, Islam recognises several economic rights in society.
He also mentioned that some companions of the Prophet (Pbuh) have narrated that ‘if money increases it is a ‘treasure’, provided that its Zakat has been paid’. Maulana Badrul Hasan Qasmi, one of the leading NRI Ulama, quoted an interesting assertion of reverend Ali bin Abdul Muttalib against demeaning ‘this-worldly things’ in these words, “This world is a place of rectitude for one who goes in pursuit of its nature, it will lead to salvation to one who wants to one’s share from this world with dignity and propriety.”
The foregoing references make it evident that in the scheme of Islam, economic endeavour is one of the obligatory functions of both individuals and society and enhancement of wealth and material resources, anywhere, would be welcomed provided they fulfill certain basic prerequisites prescribed by Islam; which are actually in the interest of healthy and sound economic growth of a nation.
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