Articles on Islamic Economics

Islamic View on Scarcity of Resources

Maher Kababji

Socialists claim that economic problems arise from the extraction of surplus value by the Capitalists in the production process. On the other hand, Capitalists urge that scarcity of resources is the basic economic problem which restricts output growth because wants are innumerable, but the resources for satisfying those wants are limited.

Nonetheless, the empirical evidence does not support that resources are scarce for legitimate and compulsory economic needs. The excess of the world output growth over the growth of the world population provides evidence that scarcity of resources does not exist at the global level. Food per capita availability has actually increased in recent decades as per Food ad Agriculture Organization.

Qur’an emphasizes the abundance of natural resources at the macro level:

(قال تعالى : وَجَعَلْنَا لَكُمْ فِيهَا مَعَايِشَ ” (الحجر 15 : 20

  • Meaning: The Almighty said: “And We have provided therein means of living”.

(قال تعالى : وَمَا مِن دَابَّةٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ إِلَّا عَلَى اللَّهِ رِزْقُهَا ” (هود 11: 6

  • Meaning: The Almighty said: “And no moving creature is on earth but its provision is due from Allah”.

(قال تعالى : وَأَنبَتْنَا فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ شَيْءٍ مَّوْزُونٍ” (الحجر 15 : 19

  • Meaning: The Almighty said:” and caused to grow therein all kinds of things in due proportion”.

(قال تعالى : وَإِن مِّن شَيْءٍ إِلَّا عِندَنَا خَزَائِنُهُ وَمَا نُنَزِّلُهُ إِلَّا بِقَدَرٍ مَّعْلُومٍ ” (الحجر 15 : 21

  • Meaning: The Almighty said: “And there is not a thing, but with Us are the stores thereof. And We send it not down except in a known measure”.

In some regions, the available resources may differ from the resources needed to satisfy the requirements of the community sometimes like in the case of famine. But, international trade as well as philanthropy helps exchange of resources and essential commodities.

Qur’an recognizes the differential in resources at the micro level:

قال تعالى : ” وَهُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَكُمْ خَلائِفَ الأَرْضِ وَرَفَعَ بَعْضَكُمْ فَوْقَ بَعْضٍ دَرَجَاتٍ  ” (الأنعام 6: 165)

Meaning: The Almighty said:” the one who has made you the earth, and has raised some of you above some degrees “.

This differential is meant to test the spirit of sacrifice, cooperation and philanthropy among the rich and resourceful persons in society. But, it is different from the scarcity which results in deaths from hunger in the world. Such scarcity is driven by inequitable distribution of resources. Islam emphasizes on feeding the hungry and looking after the poor people through Zakat (compulsory charity), Infaaq (charitable giving) and Waqf (endowments). Furthermore, the state and its executive head is made responsible for ensuring basic needs of the living beings including even the animals in the Islamic social framework. Lastly, the prohibition of hoarding of essential commodities for raising their prices also ensure that disruptions in supply due to greed are contained.

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