Mohammad, Radiant Sun of Guidance (29)
Today, we continue to discuss the economic tradition of the Prophet of Islam, Mohammad (Blessings of God upon him and his progeny).
One of the principled and strategic policies of an Islamic economy is prevention of centralization of wealth. Only with adoption of this approach, economic justice can be achieved and maintained in the community. In case of centralization of wealth, the intention for accumulation of wealth is reinforced; class gaps take shape; discriminations emerge; extravagance resurges; sense of sympathy towards the disadvantaged strata fades away; and an economy void of ethics and elevated human values governs the social relations within the community.
Meanwhile, the divine religion of Islam has set two rules for the wealthy in order to prevent the occurrence of such an incidence. These two rules are namely legitimate payments by the wealthy such as Khoms and Zakat; as well as social payments which are shouldered by all of the members of the community, especially the wealthy; in the form of donations to the disadvantaged strata.
For the sake of appropriate distribution of wealth and in order to prevent its centralization, Holy Quran points out a hierarchy. Ayahs of Holy Quran have respectively put emphasis on close relatives; orphans; and the poor and needy, when it comes to appropriate distribution of wealth and prevention of centralization of wealth. Among close relatives, emphasis has been placed on kindness towards parents and fulfillment of their needs. Given that Islamic economy revolves round ethical virtues, no one maintains the right to humiliate and belittle others in return for provision of their needs. Otherwise, such assistances are not valued before God Almighty.
Throughout the glittering history of Prophet of Islam’s life and within the framework of his economic tradition, we observe unique examples which are highly educational and astonishing.
For instance, once 70,000 dirhams was presented to the Prophet of Islam. Prophet Mohammad distributed this sum of money between the poor and needy. Prophet Mohammad always assisted the needy; without considering even a minimal share for himself.
In another case, a poor and needy man approached Prophet of Islam and sought help. The Prophet granted him a number of sheep, which were grazing. That man returned to his land, calling on others to convert to Islam, while mentioning Prophet Mohammad’s generosity.
Belief in monotheism and Day of Resurrection are important principles. If the wealthy would not believe in these principles, there would be no guarantee for presentation of donations and sympathy with the poor and needy. Hence, the wealthy who do not believe in God and who remain unaware of the world maintain no incentive to assist others and only think of accumulation of their wealth, without even pondering about the needy, God, and Day of Resurrection.
103rd to 105th ayahs of Surat al-Kahf note: Say, ‘Shall we inform you about the biggest losers in regard to works? Those, whose endeavor goes awry in the life of the world, while they suppose they are doing good.’ They are the ones who deny the signs of their Lord and the encounter with Him. So their works have failed. On the Day of Resurrection We will not set for them any weight.
In the view of Islamic thinker and philosopher, Martyr Motahari, this group has sacrificed all ethical, human, and divine values for their short-term materialistic interests, ultimately denying God and the Day of Resurrection, while baselessly imagining to maintain a desirable behavior and conduct. Meanwhile, whenever they are asked to help and assist the needy, they respond in an indifferent manner, stating: Shall we feed someone whom Allah would have fed, had He wished?
The selfish ones who accumulate wealth are unaware of the fact that violation of the religious and human rights of the disadvantaged strata is the root cause of hardships of the poor and needy; and if the disadvantaged individuals are entrapped by depravity; the ones who have neglected the rights of the poor and needy are held accountable.
Another important point, which should be taken into consideration in order to prevent the centralization of wealth, is that this goal should turn into an all-encompassing culture and current. This means that an all-encompassing sense of responsibility should take shape in the community and everyone should be committed to his duties, and should consider one responsible towards vulnerable strata, while even prioritizing fulfillment of others’ rights over meeting their own needs.
Upon the astonishing victory of Muslims over Jews of Bani Nazir Tribe in Medina, many facilities were handed over to the Prophet of Islam. At this point, the Prophet of God asked the Muslims of Medina to share their belongings and houses with the Meccan Muslims who had migrated to Medina, and to also share the assets which had been seized, among themselves, if they wanted, or otherwise the Muslims of Medina could keep their houses and belongings to themselves, while they would not have a share of spoils of war.
In response to the call of the Prophet of Islam, the Muslims of Medina noted they wanted to share their belongings and houses with the Meccan Muslims, who had migrated to Medina, while concurrently not seeking any share of the spoils of war.
This culture is rooted in the constructive tradition of Prophet of Islam. Muslims had observed how the Prophet of God allocated the wealth of his venerable wife, Khadija, for the poor and needy. They had observed how the Prophet of Islam generously assisted the needy in different scenes and phases in time, while not even considering a minimal share for him.
One day, the Prophet of Islam asked his infallible cousin, Imam Ali (Peace be upon him) to buy him a shirt. So, Imam Ali headed toward the marketplace and bought the Prophet a shirt for twelve dirhams, handing it over to the Prophet. The Prophet asked the price of the shirt, in response to which Imam Ali pointed out he bought the shirt for twelve dirhams.
Meanwhile, the Prophet said he wanted a cheaper shirt. So, Imam Ali returned the shirt, asking the seller whether he was willing to take it back. The salesman accepted the shirt and returned the money to Imam Ali. Meanwhile, Imam Ali took the money and handed it over to the Prophet. Then, the two of them headed for the marketplace. On the way, Prophet saw a girl, who was crying. The Prophet approached her and asked about the reason behind her sadness. The girl said that her family handed her four dirhams to buy a number of goods. However, she had lost that money and was afraid of going back home. The Prophet gave her four dirhams and told her to buy whatever she wanted and to return home.
Thereafter, the Prophet headed toward the market, buying a shirt for four dirhams. At a short distance, the Prophet saw a needy man who did not have any shirt to wear. The Prophet handed over his shirt to the poor man. Finally, the Prophet bought himself another shirt with the remaining four dirhams and returned home. At home, he prayed and thanked God for his blessed twelve dirhams.