Islam and Free Market Economy
English Essay on “Islam and Free Market Economy”
Economics has become the corner-stock of our present life both for individuals and nations. The Third World countries are fast moving to establish their economies based on the capitalist pattern, commonly adopted in the West. Free market economy is holding sway in most of the developing nations under economics pressure by the Western lending institutions like the IMF an the World Bank. “Join the band wagon or be left on the roadside” is the slogan flung at the impoverished nations of the Third World. The two great agencies of man’s character through history have been religion and economics. Unfortunately, present day man is more affected by the economic agency than by the religious, as he is almost moulded by his everyday work and the material resources he thereby procures. He is reverberating the words of Tennessee Ernine’s pop song of the 50s, “St. Peter don’t call me cause I can’t go. I owe soul to the company store.”
Not a single day passes in the last; quarter o the 20th century without the word Islam being spotlighted in the print or electronic media of the West and mostly to in a derogatory manner using the prefix Islamic for bombs, terrorists, militants, suppression of women etc. The capitalistic demagogues of the West through their voice machines like BBC and CNN shout themselves hoarse, tarnish the centre spreads of the print media with anti-Islamic rhetoric for the sole reason that Islam is their No. 1 enemy and the biggest stumbling block to their continued economic exploitation of the Islamic block of’ countries numbering over 50 in particular and the rest of the Third World in general.
The free market economy as declared by the West to the Third World and being readily implemented by the nations of the South is alien to Islam, and does not fit into the overall scheme of life Islam envisages.educationsight.blogspot.com Economists, in the Western concept consider wealth as anything that satisfies human needs directly or indirectly. The present free market economy permits the production of goods to realise material gains. For example, alcohol harmful to man is considered good because it satisfies a desire.
The material civilisation of the West advocates in the free market by acquiring wealth as the highest purpose of life, without consideration of moral values. In this crazy pursuit for wealth no stone is left unturned. Wealth is promoted as the goal since through wealth man hopes to achieve all material desires that cross his mind. Sri Lanka adopted free market economy 17 years ago, but what has the country achieved? healthy competition? But that’s a thing of the past. Win at all costs is the present motto. The free market economy has invited the country to be the dumping ground for all -the ‘surplus the West produces. The “rubbish” is given a coat of paint and presented in new wrapping and projected through the media via intensified advertising for us to digest. Naive as we are, we fall a prey to it, hook, line and sinker. Whoever heard of “Pizza Hut”, but now cornflakes and pizzas adorn our tables raising cholesterol levels to dizzy heights, but there is no need to worry. Thanks to the free market economy cholesterl-husting drugs condemned in the West for its various side effects are available in plenty dumped by “angels” of multinational corporations. To whet our sexual appetite, the open economy has flooded us with “Playboy, X-rate video films” as worldly relaxation is the ultimate aim, and this kind of literature provides entertainment and excitement for their nerves. For creating novelty, it must be more and more sensational, passionate and Sensual.
The free market economy concept is dictated by the IMF, World Bank, and loans are subject to their dictates. The policies include production of goods by developing countries to be diverted from the domestic market to investment for export-oriented economies with the help of incentives, creation of free trade zones enjoying tax breaks. This policy allows multinational companies to invest and utilise cheap man power as evidences in the FIZ. It is an open license for the exploitation of labour. The developing countries who had a semblance of unity in the past, now start a new• competition in economic activities with each’ other, a competition based on two destructive forces:
1. Competition for supplying cheaper and more docile manpower and granting attractive financial incentives to draw economic investments by multinationals;
2. Competition to gain export market. Advertising low wages, to attract investment encourages exploitation and suppression of workers.
The labourer is a cog in the wheel and de-humanised. Since this society is based on consumerism the worker has to remain a cog to enable him and his family to hope to achieve the purchase of modern gadgetries displayed and baited on the electronic media. Remaining a tool in the hand of the multinationals, the worker has been transformed into a one-dimensional, powerless, alienated, lonely man, man with no mastery over his destiny.
Expansion of modern banking is one of’ the pillars of the free market econ9my and the institution of interest is an important fundamental of banking. Economists argue that it is really interest that brings capital into being, a thing without which production is impossible. This is a myth, the justification would have been valid if capital was concerned only with the actual profit from the process of production. But capital is not. Capital charges a’ fixed interest regardless of what the actual profit may be. With the interest factor being tagged on the capital borrow.9d, the cost of production increases, thereby spiralling the price of goods to the consumer.
Islam, let it be made clear is not against free trade. On the contrary, Islam encourages free flow of goods from one region to another but forbids market forces to determine the price of goods. Islam is definitely opposed to the present concept of free market economy as being now propounded by the West. Islam is not only a belief in God but a system of life. The Holy Quran has condemned excessive involvement in economic pursuits and the amassing of wealth. Islamic life style envisages modest pursuit of economic needs bringing in enough to fulfill one’s basic needs and leaving a surplus for dispersing for the good of society.
Islam does not discourage or restrict endeavours to make material progress; it exhorts the individual to make efforts towards its achievement, but the individual has to be consdous of the fact that a material, prosperous life is not and end in itself, and a high standard of living has no value in itself. Islam preaches clearly that all worldly treasures a riches are of no value with God and man, if not coupled with spiritual values. If wealth is acquired through unlawful means, such wealth is of no use in the eyes of God. In the same way, if the possessor of wealth by lawful and honest means does not give to God his due by helping the poor and using the wealth to help him unfortunate such wealth is of no value to him and will bring more harm than good.
Muslim economics is based on the voluntary and compulsory sharing of the wealth by the rich with the poor. While the free market economy advocates at times ruthlessness like exploitation labour to increase capital, Islam advocates generosity to maximize capital. God in the Holy Quran promises those who give out to the less fortunate,’ that He will increase his wealth tenfold. The Holy Quran condemns the person who hard and amasses wealth in the following manner: “Woe to him who amasses wealth and counts it as a safeguard, thinking that his wealth will make him live forever. Nay but in the life to come he shall be abandoned to crushing torment,” (verse 104: 2-4)
Islam does not want to curb individual initiative. The right of private property is conceded within very defined limits. The State must not dominate the entire sphere of individual life nor can it leave the individual uncontrolled in his-her freedom. Islam although is vehemently against capitalistic policy does not also see eye to with Communistic policy where the State is all embracing and little room is left for individual initiative. The either used by the Holy Quran for the Muslim nations is the nation that follows the middle path, always avoiding extremes.
While Islam permits free trade, it imposes certain conditions. It does not permit trade in items harmful to man like alcohol, drugs, tobacco. To Muslims material welfare is the permissible enjoyment derived from the acquisition according to Islamic tenets. Such a limitation to enjoyment necessarily leads to linking individual enjoyment with humanitarian welfare, as no individual is permitted under Islamic law to inflict any harm through his activities upon others. The modern free market economy has opened the door for multinationals to descend like vultures on the impoverished world, through a process of oppression and exploitation. These multinationals make profits and in the process create large monopolies which fatten their profits by creating artificial shortages. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) denounced monopolies in the following manner: Whoever withholds cereals that they may become scarce and dear is a sinner.
Free market economy promotes the creations of monopolies. Large multinationals are gradually swallowing up the smaller businesses. And through the control of media, which is also under the multinational they promote the consumer-cum producer process. The individual is often trapped in an infantile and fulfilled search for illusory gratification, where there is no time for family, religion and the individual has no time to break out of the recurring behavior pattern in which he or she is trapped. Islam denounces this vicious circle which dehumanizes man to bloat the multinationals. All this should not make any one conclude that Islam discourages materials. All this should not make any one conclude that Islam discourages material progress. On the contrary Islam exhorts man to economic activity in the Holy Quran in verse 62; 90: ‘When prayer is ended then you should disperse in the land and seek God’s grace and remember God often so that you may prosper;”
All the manner of conducting trade and business are permitted the Islam provided they do not contravene or transgress the paramount consideration that no harm should result from them to society indeed they should benefit society. Islam permits seeking of profit but it should not be with in the conception of intransigent and extreme capitalism, which exploits unmercifully the worse, nor should it be the other extreme of communism, which has no regard for the rights of the individuals who possesses hard earned honest wealth. The free market economy is based on a banking system whose prime earning is interest. But Islam vehemently opposes the charging of interest on loans and aims at safeguarding mankind based on usury. The Holy Quran refers to usury or-interest in Chapter 2: 275. Again in the same Chapter verse 279 God had Prophet (PBUH) declare war on the person who receives interest. The Islamic approach is an interest free society. Islam is a code of life and it offers a solution to all ills of mankind, political, social, economic and individuals. The Islamic view of a substitute for interest is to invite investors for joint ventures on the basis of profit sharing and also loss sharing. The difference between profit an interest is that profit is the reward for work enterprise and efficiency, while interest is only for the mere use of capital. Interest free loans, poor tax, charity are part of the Islamic ideology and this prevents money in the hand of the few. Abolition of interest brings about full employment and economic growth, but will not fatten the modern money lenders the banks at the expense of humanity.
All this now clearly reveal why the West has taken cudgels against Islam, because Islam in true form will deal death blow to the Capitalist West.