Wealth as a Responsibility in Islamic Law
Islam permits the fulfillment of a man’s natural inclinations within reasonable limits so that no evil comes out of them. Islamic law permits individual ownership but discourages concentration of wealth within a small section of the society. Also, Islam considers wealth to be one of the indispensable necessities of human life and has outlined laws and guidelines that allow men to acquire, spend and preserve wealth in a responsible manner.
Islamic Law and the Concept of Wealth
Wealth owned by a person is both a trust and a test, according to Islamic Law. The trust aspect means that the property must be used in ways beneficial to the individual and the society. The test aspect means that that those who have more than what they need should take care of others who are in need. While Islamic Law encourages a person to be self sufficient and spend on personal and family needs, it discourages spending on idle desires and luxuries. The law also encourages use of wealth for social welfare.
Islamic Law Discourages Acquisition of Wealth through Unlawful or Harmful Means as All Wealth is Owned by Allah
Here are some basic features of Islamic law pertaining to wealth:
- The law establishes that every individual has a right to work and holds the state responsible to provide work to those who are unable to find it. Islamic Law also calls for provision of minimum wages to fulfill his needs.
- The law allows commercial transactions that are neither oppressive to any of the parties involved nor infringe upon the rights of the others. The law, however, does not allow acquisition of wealth through unlawful and harmful ways. Islam discourages the consumption of each others wealth through unjust means. Collection of interest is considered to be harmful to the social equilibrium.
- Since all wealth is owned by Allah, it is the responsibility of wealth owners to spend it in accordance with the rules and regulations outlined by the Islamic Law. Wealth needs to be spent responsibly and not squandered on useless things or be used to harm others.
- The wealth of orphans and minors should be managed by a guardian. The property or wealth can be transferred to a person on reaching the age of discretion or marriage if they are found to have sound judgment to handle it.
- Islam does not permit gambling, hoarding of wealth and keeping it out of circulation. Some portion of the wealth should be used to help the needy in the form of charity (Zakat).