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The Economic Law of Islam (2)
Economic Issues
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)

Regulations For an Economic Framework

In concordance with the above stated basic principle1, the following regulations have been formulated in the Qur’ān and Sunnah for the development and systematization of the economy of an Islamic State.

Right of Ownership

According to this first regulation, the rightfully owned wealth of a person cannot be usurped nor tampered with in any way, except if on account of some violation by him the Shariah endorses so. The Qur’ān says:

“If they repent [from all un-Islamic beliefs], establish regular prayers and pay zakat, leave them alone.” (9:5)

It follows from the words: ‘leave them alone’ (fa khalloo sabeelahum) of the above verse that once a person acquires the citizenship of an Islamic State after fulfilling the conditions stated in the verse, just as the state cannot tamper with his life, honour and freedom of expression, it also cannot tamper with his wealth and property. If he refrains from what is prohibited, establishes regular prayers and pays zakat, the Almighty bids the state to demand absolutely nothing else from him. The Prophet (sws), while explaining this directive, has said:

“I have been ordained to fight2 with these people until they testify to the oneness of Allah and the Prophethood of Mohammad, establish regular prayers and pay zakat. If they accept these conditions, their lives shall be given protection except if they are deprived of this protection on the grounds of some offence they may commit3. As far as their account is concerned, it rests with Allah.” (Muslim, Kitāb-ul-Iman)

In the sermon of the Last Haj, the Prophet (sws) has rephrased this in the following words:

“Indeed, your blood and your wealth are as sacred and inviolable as this day4 of yours, this month5 of yours in this city6 of yours7.” (Muslim, Kitāb-al-Haj)

Collective Sharing

The second regulation is that everything which is not, or cannot be owned by an individual shall, on the basis of the principle of collective sharing, be regarded as state owned. The Qur’ān says:

“They ask you about the spoils of war. Say: The spoils belong to Allah and the Prophet8.” (8:1)

The Prophet (sws) has explained this principle thus9:

“There are three things in which every Muslim has an equal share: water, grass and fire10 and it is illegal [for any person] to sell them [by taking them in his ownership].” [Ibn Maajah, Kitāb-ur-Rahoon]

Keeping in view the welfare and expedience of its citizens, a state has the right to decide about the mode of usage of such collectively shared11 items. Consequently, the Almighty, taking into consideration the specific circumstances of that period about the spoils of war in the verse quoted above, has ordained that a fifth of them should be spent on collective needs while the remaining amount should be distributed among the Mujaahideen, though actually all of them belonged to the state. The Qur’ān says:

“[You should] know that a fifth of the spoils you get hold of are for Allah and the Prophet and the near relatives and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarers.” (8:41)

Moral Misconduct

The third regulation is that every economic activity which leads to moral misconduct in a person should be prohibited. This regulation is based on the following Qur’ānic verse:

“O ye who believe: this liquor and gambling, idols and these divining arrows are abominations devised by Satan. Avoid them that you may succeed. Satan seeks to stir up enmity and hatred among you by means of liquor and gambling and to keep you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayers. Will you not then abstain from them?” (5:90-91)

The basic reason for forbidding liquor, idols and divination of arrows, together with gambling is that they are filthy and impure works of Satan. It is clear that gambling has been regarded as an impure work of Satan because it gives rise to moral misconduct in a person which gradually encompasses his personality. The reason is that if an economic activity is based on rights and services and rational decisions, it produces a high moral character and if an economic activity is based on chance, fortune and fortuity, it produces an attitude which is based on avoidance of hardwork and service. This gives rise to such mean qualities as cowardice and faint-heartedness which subsequently eliminate the innate qualities of honour, integrity, sincerity and self-respect. As a result, the remembrance of the Almighty finds no place in a person’s heart and he has nothing left but enmity and hatred for his fellow beings. Gambling, on this basis, is a condemned handiwork of Satan, and it is clear from the Qur’ānic directive which prohibits it that if any other economic activity produces a similar moral misconduct in a person, then it should also be prohibited in an Islamic State. Consequently, on this particular basis, other things which have been prohibited by the Qur’ān and Sunnah are the following:

1. Excessive spending and squandering of wealth: ie, a person instead of spending in the way of Allah and adopting a balanced attitude towards his needs and desires, spends lavishly and wastefully so that his pets live regally whilst his neighbours may have nothing to eat. The Qur’ān says:

“Eat the fruits of these orchards when they ripen and give away the share of Allah on the harvest day and waste not: for Allah does not like those who spend wastefully.” (6:141)

“Give to the near of the kin their due and also to the destitute and the wayfarer, and squander not in extravagance. Verily, such squanderers are brothers of Satan and Satan is very ungrateful to His Lord.” (17:26-27)

The Prophet is said to have said:

“Eat, drink and spend in the way of Allah and clothe yourself guarding against wastefulness and vanity.” (Ibn Maajah, Kitāb-ul-Libaas)

If the various ways of squandering wealth which have been explicity forbidden in the Qur’ān and Sunnah are kept in consideration, then no one among the believers can:

(i) waste his wealth in gambling. (5:90-91)

(ii) throw away his money in drinking, adultery and other similar acts of wantonness. (5:90), (17:32)

(iii) make clothes, rugs, pillows and pack-saddles from silk, tissue and other types of expensive clothes and hides:

“He who wore silk in this world, shall never wear it in the Hereafter.” (Bukhārī, Kitāb-ul-Libaas)

“The Prophet has prohibited us from making covers of red silk and expensive hides for pack-saddles and to wear silk-mixed expensive clothes.” (Bukhārī, Kitāb-ul-Libaas)

“The Prophet has forbidden us to wear silk and tissue and to sit on bedclothes made out of them.” (Bukhārī, Kitāb-ul-Libaas)

“He who wore a dress for show and fame in this world, the Almighty shall make him wear the dress of ignominy in the Hereafter and then ignite fire in it.” (Ibn Maajah, Kitāb-ul-Libaas)

(iv) use jewellery and utensils of gold and silver12 or use other expensive items:

“The Prophet has prohibited us from eating and drinking in utensils of gold and silver.” (Bukhārī, Kitāb-ul-Libaas)

“The Prophet has forbidden us to ride on a pack-saddle made from a cheetah’s skin and to wear [ornaments of] gold except if a few pieces are stitched in an attire.” (Abū Daud, Kitāb-ul-Khaatim)

“The Prophet has prohibited seven things for us: 1. gold rings 2. silk 3. brocade 4. tissue 5. red silk or an expensive hide as cover for pack-saddles 6. silk-mixed clothes 7. utensils of silver13.” (Bukhārī, Kitāb-ul-Libaas)

2. Transactions of prohibited items: ie, those items whom the Almighty has prohibited because of an intrinsic or extrinsic tendency in them to lead to immorality; a person instead of informing others of this immorality and urging them to refrain from them, makes them his means of livelihood or sells them to make profit:

“The Prophet has prohibited the fee of a soothsayer and a prostitute.” (Bukhārī, Kitāb-ul-Bayoo’)

“The Prophet has said: Do not buy and sell songstresses nor give them the training to sing. There is no good for you in their trade and to sell them is totally forbidden.” (Tirmazi, Kitāb-ul-Bayoo’)

“The Prophet has said: The Almighty has severely condemned liquor, he who provides it, he who sells it, he who buys it, and he who makes an essence out of it, and for whom the essence is made, and the one who brings it, and for whom it is brought.” (Abū Daud, Kitāb-ul-Ashribah)

“It is narrated by Jaber (rta) that on the occasion of the conquest of Mecca he heard the Prophet saying: Indeed, the Almighty has prohibited the selling of liquor, dead meat, pig and idols.” (Bukhārī, Kitāb-ul-Buyoo’)

3. Hoarding: ie, when commodities of general usage are stored to create a shortage and thereby increase their prices in the market. The Prophet is said to have said:

“He who hoarded edibles for forty days, should know that he has no relationship with the Almighty nor does the Almighty has any relationship with him.” (Masnad Ahmad Bin Hanbal, Vol 2, Pg 33)

“He who interferred in any way to increase the rates in the markets of the Muslims, the Almighty has the right to make his abode in a great fire on the Day of Judgement.” (Masnad Ahmad Bin Hanbal, Vol 5, Pg 27)

4. Aklul-Amwaalil-Baatil: ie, to eat up other people’s wealth and property against all norms of justice and fairness. The Qur’ān says:

“Do not devour one another’s wealth by unjust means.” (2:188)

In this regard, the foremost thing which the Almighty has forbidden is illegal gratification:

“Do not devour one another’s wealth by unjust means and do not use it as a means to reach the authorities in order that you may wrongly and knowingly devour other people’s wealth.” (2:188)

To quote Abū Daud:

“The Prophet has severely condemned the person who gives bribes and the one who accepts bribes.” (Kitāb-ul-Aqdhiah)

Similarly, theft, usurpation, misrepresentation, co-operation with evil, embezzlement, misappropriation, fraudulent weighing and consuming unclaimed items without publicizing them, all are various forms of aklul-amwaalul-baatil. According to the Qur’ān this is a major sin. Consequently, about a similar crime the Qur’ān says:

“Indeed, those who are unjustly devouring the wealth of the orphans, they do not but swallow fire into their bellies; they shall certainly be flung into the raging Fire of Hell.” (4:10)

Similarly dealings which lead to deceit and damage for the parties involved, is also a class, which come under this directive. Following are the traditions in which the Prophet (sws) has explained them:

[Sale and Purchase]

“The Prophet has prohibited the deal which is based on deceit.” (Masnad Ahmad Bin Hanbal, Vol 1, Pg 302)

“The Prophet has said: He who deceives others [should know] that he is not of us.” (Muslim, Kitāb-ul-Imaan)

“The Prophet has said: As long as a fish is in water do not sell or buy it because there is a chance of deception in this deal.” (Masnad Ahmad Bin Hanbal, Vol 1, Pg 388)

“The Prophet has forbidden the sale and purchase of offspring of an animal prior to their birth and the selling of milk while it is in an animal’s udders except if its quantity is ascertained, and the sale or purchase of slaves while he has run away from his owner, and the sale or purchase of the spoils of war before they are distributed, and the sale or purchase of charity before it is given to the recipients and a deal in which a sea-diver is told that whatever he shall obtain in a dive shall be bought for so much money14.” (Masnad Ahmad Bin Hanbal, Vol 3, Pg 42)

“The Prophet has said: the person who buys grain should not sell it unless he takes it into his possession.” (Bukhārī, Kitāb-ul-Buyoo’)

“The Prophet has forbidden a person to rent out a bull for breeding.” (Bukhārī, Kitāb-ul-Ijaraah)

“It has been narrated by Abdullah Ibn Umar (rta) that he said: I observed that in the time of the Prophet, when people bought grain in mounds, and before bringing it to their places sold it out then they were punished for this.” (Bukhārī, Kitāb-ul-Buyoo’)

“The Prophet has said that no city dweller should sell and buy for a villager and [has further] said: Do not increase your bid [at an auction] only to deceive [others], and no one among you should make a deal when your brother is bargaining.” (Bukhārī, Kitāb-ul-Buyoo’)

“The Prophet has forbidden people to exploit others in sale and purchase.” (Masnad Ahmad Bin Hanbal, Vol 1, Pg 116)

“The Prophet has forbidden a person to sell his crop when it is still in spikes, and to sell a date tree in exchange for dates15, and to sell the fruits of an orchard for many years, and to adopt the methods of crop division in which the profit of the landlord has been fixed, and to leave an unspecified exception in a bargain16.” (Muslim, Kitāb-ul-Buyoo’)

“The Prophet has prohibited the deal of pebbles17.” (Muslim, Kitāb-ul-Buyoo’)

“The Prophet has prohibited the deal of pre-Islamic times in which every person touched the other person’s cloth and a bargain would take place in this manner.” (Muslim, Kitāb-ul-Buyoo’)

“Abdullah (rta) narrates that the Prophet has prohibited the deal in which people used to sell camels [by saying that]: whatever offspring this camel gives birth to and when this offspring gets pregnant, whatever it gives birth to, then this [last] offspring is bought.” (Bukhārī, Kitāb-us-Silm)

“The Prophet has forbidden the deal in which people would throw something towards one another and in such a way a bargain would take place.” (Bukhārī, Kitāb-ul-Buyoo’)

“The Prophet has forbidden the sale of fruits of a tree if their nature has not become evident.” (Muslim, Kitāb-ul-Buyoo’)

“The Prophet has forbidden the selling of dates before they catch colour, and the selling of spikes before they turn white and become safe from calamities.” (Muslim, Kitāb-ul-Buyoo’)

“The Prophet has forbidden the sale and purchase of fruit before their nature has become evident, and the sale of wool as well when it is still on an animal’s back, and that of butter oil when it is in butter, and that of milk when it is still in the udders.” (Bahqi, Kitāb-ul-Buyoo’)

“The Prophet has said: losses caused by calamities should be compensated for.” (Muslim, Kitāb-ul-Buyoo’)

“Amir Bin Uqbah narrates that he heard the Prophet saying that no believer should sell a commodity to his brother which is defective, except when he has informed him about these defects.” (Ibn Maajah, Kitāb-ut-Tijaraat)

“It is narrated that the Prophet has said: do not hold the milk of camels and goats in their udders before selling it.” (Bukhārī, Kitāb-ul-Buyoo’)

“The Prophet has forbidden people to intercept tradesmen and buy their merchandise before they reach the markets.” (Muslim, Kitāb-ul-Buyoo’)

“The Prophet has forbidden the deal in which money given in advance becomes the right of the buyer if the deal does not ultimately take place.” (Ibn Maajah, Kitāb-ut-Tijaraat)

“The Prophet has said: The person, who makes a deal by giving money in advance such that he shall obtain the item after it is ready, should carry out this transaction for a fixed measure, a specified weight and a definite period of time .” (Bukhārī, Kitāb-us-Silm)


“Raafai’ bin Khudaij narrates that he says: we had most of the agrarian lands among the people of Medina. We used to divide the produce in such a manner that the produce of a certain part of the land called the landlord’s part would be ours. Sometimes the produce of this part would be defective while the rest of the produce would be secure and sometimes the produce of this part would be secure while the rest of the produce would be defective. Consequently, we were forbidden from such a division of crop.” (Bukhārī, Kitāb-ul-Harth)

“Zaid Bin Thaabit (rta) says: This only happened when two people among the Ansaar, who had a quarrel, came to the Prophet and the Prophet said: If this is the result, then do not rent out your lands18.” (Abū Daud, Kitāb-ul-Buyoo’)


“The Prophet has decreed for all properties which have not yet been divided that they should not be sold without giving the sharers a chance to buy them. But if the boundaries have been determined and the paths have been separated then this is not necessary.” (Bukhārī, Kitāb-us-Shuf’ah)

“The Prophet has said: the neighbour is more entitled to be given the chance to buy a property when it is put up for sale. If he is not present, his arrival should be awaited; But this only necessary when the both have the same pathway.” (Tirmazī, Kitāb-ul-Ahkaam)

Since all the above directives are based on moral misconduct, the directive of prohibition shall be  dissolved  in  circumstances in which this basis no longer exists, just as if as a result of evolution of societies and cultures this basis emerges in a new economic activity, then those charged with authority can prohibit the activity and it shall no longer be allowed.

5. Pettiness: ie, a person adopts a mean attitude in his dealings and transactions or adopts a means of livelihood which is much below his status as a human being. Abū Hajifah narrates:

“The Prophet has prohibited the price of blood and that of dogs19.” (Bukhārī, Kitāb-ul-Buyoo’)

The Prophet has said:

“The person, who starts begging from people without having any need, should know that this habit shall become a stigma on his face on the Day of Judgement.” (Dārimī, Kitāb-uz-Zakaat)

It is on this basis that the Qur’ān has prohibited the pledging of securities against acquired loans except in a journey when it is not possible to write down such transactions and in this regard has further directed the believers to return this security to the borrower as soon as a written documentation is possible20. The Qur’ān says:

“If you are on a journey and a scribe cannot be found, then a pledge with possession [should serve the purpose]. Then if a situation of mutual trust arises, then the person who has been entrusted with the [security] should return this trust and let him fear Allah, His Lord.” (2:283)

6. Bai’-’indat-taa’aat: ie, instead of responding to the call for prayers during the time of worship, a person remains involved in his business. The Qur’ān says:

“O ye who believe! when the call for prayers is sounded on Friday, hasten earnestly to the remembrance of Allah and cease your trading. This is better for you, if you but know.” (62:9)

(Translated from Ghamidi’s “Mīzān”)


1. See “Renaissance”, November 1992

2. It should be noted that the oponents in this case were the Bani Ismael, the nation towards whom the Prophet (sws) was directly assigned. Since the truth had been unveiled to them in its ultimate form, the law for them was either to accept faith or face destruction.

3. For example, they shall be executed if they kill someone or if diyat is extracted from them.

4. ie, the day of sacrifice.

5. ie, the month of Zulhaj.

6. ie, the city of Mecca.

7. Consequently, the Prophet (sws) is said to have said: ‘One who dies while protecting his wealth shall be considered a shaheed.’ (Muslim: Kitāb-ul-Iman)

8. “belongs to Allah and the Prophet” means, if context and arrangement permit, state ownership.

9. Though the chain of narrators of this tradition in these words is weak, yet what is implied is stated in another tradition having no weakness in its chain of narrators.

10. ie, that water, fire and grass which are not specific for someone, for example, rain water, springs and forest grass.

11. for eg. the Prophet (sws) regarded certain lands in his time as himaa (Bukhārī, Kitāb-ul, Masaaqaah, Chapter II), or gave certain lands to certain individuals (Abū Daud, Kitāb-ul-Kharaaj), or fixed the principle of ‘the nearest, the next nearest......’ for using canal or spring water. (Bukhārī, Kitāb-ul-Masaaqaah, Chap 7), or the way the Caliph Umar imposed kharaaj on the state owned lands of Iraq and Syria conquered in his times, according to their production, while leaving them in the hands of their owners. (Kitāb-ul-Kharaaj, Abū Yusuf, Pgs 26-29)

12. Likewise, other expensive metals shall be included in this directive.

13. The exceptions of gold and silk for women for ornamentation, which is their natural requirement, in quantities and means which cannot be regarded as hoarding and ostentation however, exist on the basis of perpetual adherence of the Ummah to them. Indeed, in some Ahādīth they are unconditionally prohibited (Abū Daud, Kitāb-ul-Khaatim, Chapter 8)), but since these Ahādīth are against the perpetual practice of the Ummah as well as against those Ahādīth in which both (silk and gold) of them have been explicitly allowed for women, it is necessary to relate them to hoarding and ostentation. (See: “Ahkaam-ul-Qur’ān”, Abū Bakr Jassaas, Vol 3, Pgs 387-388)

14. The spirit of gambling also exists in this, but since it is actually a case which may cause damage or lead to deceit, we have placed it under this head. A little deliberation would reveal that ‘Bai’-ul-Hisaah’ is also a similar affair.

15. ie, a person for example says that he shall sell the fruit of this date tree for two kilograms of dates.

16. ie, a person says: ‘I sell my grain to you but I shall take something out of it’.

17. In pre-Islamic times, such a bargain existed generally in two forms: (1) people used to make a deal about a piece of land and then the buyer would throw a pebble; the distance covered by the pebble would be regarded as the length of the sold land, (2) people used to throw a pebble and say that whatever thing it touched would be considered as sold.

18. The real nature of mazaari’at is what is evident from these two traditions. Hence, other traditions in which they are unconditionally forbidden, should be understood in the light of these two.

19. ie, dogs which are of no use to the buyer.

20. For further details see “Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān”, Amin Ahsan Islahi, Vol I, Pgs 642-44.

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