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Bringing Muslims back to Islam

By Murray Hunter - posted Wednesday, 28 October 2015


World events and media portrayal of Islam over the last few decades has projected negative images, which are based on a total misunderstanding of Islam and the principles it encompasses.

Islam through many eyes is seen as a homogenous view of the world. In addition, many elements of the media have stereotyped Islam as an extreme religion. This situation has not been assisted by the lack of published academic and intellectual thought by Muslim academics themselves, which could assist in providing to the public domain more balanced views about what the principles of Islam stand for in society.

The focus of most published works on Islamic economics and business has been in the domains of finance, which leads most to the conclusion that Islam has little to contribute in the theories of economics and business.

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The first and most comprehensive model of Islamic economy in modern times was published by Dr. M. Umer Chapra in the early 1990's. His hypothesis was that existing economic models of capitalism, Marxism, socialism and the welfare state have failed to provide full employment, remove poverty, fulfill needs and minimize inequalities of income distribution. Both the market and centrally planned models have been weak in providing overall wellbeing, where problems of family disintegration, conflict and tensions, crime, alcoholism, drug addiction and mental illness have indicated a lack of happiness and contentment in the life of individuals.

With these failings, an alternative system needs to be considered which could optimize human wellbeing. An Islamic view may have potential to solve common economic problems due to the overall humanitarian goal of achieving the wellbeing of all members of society. An Islamic model of economy has never been implemented in any world economy, only versions of political Islam, laced with tribal customs.

The message of Islam derives it's principles from the Al-Qur'an, which is believed to be the direct word of Allah. The HadÄ­ths are documents made up of lessons taken from the life of the Messenger Muhammad, written down by a number of apostles, which put the knowledge from the Al-Qur'an in context in which they were revealed, and assist in developing a general and universal significance for the information sourced within the Al-Qur'an.

The Islamic faith claims that the Al-Qur'an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, who was born into a trading family and brought up by Abu Talib, who was a trader. Society in the Prophet's time was almost totally dependent on trade as a means to earn a living and unlike any other religion, the Al-Qur'an is heavily written in the metaphor of business and trade.

Within many parts of the Al-Qur'an life is paralleled to a business venture, where one earns profits to gain entry into heaven – profits meaning faith and good deeds to others and those that accept Allah's guidance as a bargain to save them from punishment on judgment day.

Islam urges individuals to strive their utmost to earn large monetary rewards and spiritual profits, while at the same time being inspired to be successful and honest people. This is part of the concept of ad-din, which makes material and spiritual pursuits inseparable, where one's whole life is concerned with the needs of humankind here on earth to secure a comfortable life in the Hereafter. Consequently, Islam does not prohibit worldly success, in fact the Al-Qur'an states that Allah has provided opportunities for humankind to obtain success and it is certainly the responsibility of the individual to do so. However involvement in business should also carry with it benevolent intentions for others while seeking success for oneself.

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Islam espouses a market economy with freedom of the individual to operate a business with minimal outside interference;

He who brings goods to the market is blessed with bounty, he who withholds them is cursed.(Ibn Majah & Al Hakim)

A market mechanism is urged with free flowing knowledge without exploitation by middlemen;

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About the Author

Murray Hunter is an associate professor at the University Malaysia Perlis.

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