Forgotten Miracle in Islamic Economic System

DEC 6, 2021

Miracles are considered extraordinary events manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.

In Islam, the guidance and knowledge we find in the Quran are considered miracles because human beings were unaware of their impact 1400 years ago. Whether it is in the fields of medicine, embryology, astronomy, physics, mathematics, linguistics, prose, vocabulary, prophecy, and numerous other sciences, scholars have diligently done their research to bring to light references providing challenging information that could not have been available to Prophet Mohammad ﷺ at the time of Revelation. For Muslims, such knowledge confirms the claim that the Message of the Quran could only be revealed and inspired by the Divine.

However, some other aspects of the Quran and Islamic way of life are not any less of a miracle and in many ways more critical to our daily lives and need to be stressed more often.

The world vision of the Islamic way of life emphasizes a just economic system. Islam does not deny the market forces and market economy. Profit motives and private ownership is acceptable. But the basic difference between capitalist and Islamic economic systems is that in secular capitalism, profit motive and private ownership are given unbridled power.

In Islam, the market economy is guided by divine injunctions that keep the interests of all parties in balance. Volumes have been written about Islamic economics and several major educational institutes, like Harvard University, have set up centers to study Islamic finance. Within the Islamic economic system, one of the main elements is the aspect of “Riba.” This term encompasses not only the concept of usury but also that of interest.

Islam’s prohibition of transactions involving Riba is not an example for mere reflection but is a realistic and effective prescription to deal with the financial ills, injustice, and abuses created by humankind toward their fellow human beings. This economic aspect is also tangible proof that whatever was prohibited 1400 years ago is for the welfare of humanity, in all regions and at all times.

The principles of an Islamic economic system are based on simple morality and common sense, which form the basis of many religions.

The universal nature of these principles is apparent even at a cursory glance of non-Muslim literature. Usury was prohibited in both the Old and New Testaments of the BiblePlato and Aristotle considered charging interest contrary to nature. Shakespeare and many other writers, particularly those writing in the 19th century, have attacked the barbarity of the practice. Much of the morality championed by Victorian writers such as Dickens – ranging from the equitable distribution of wealth to man’s fundamental right to work – is present in the Islamic economic model.

While wars, disasters, famine, and calamities affect many people and need to be addressed by the people of consciousnesses, 85% of humanity is suffering from debt and economic injustice. Today, developing nations pay the World Bank and the IMF more than 60% of their national budget just to service in the world economy. Even in countries like the United States, per capita debt in 2020 was 84,850 dollars per inhabitant.  These are clear signs that interest-based economies are the source of an epidemic injustice that doesn’t discriminate between “rich” and “poor” because it bankrupts humans on the national and individual levels and benefits the minority.

All prophets have struggled to establish a just system for humanity. Jesus overturned the moneylenders’ tables in the temple because he was offended by their exploitive practice of adding interest to loan capital. In his farewell speech, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ instructed the Muslims to give up all Riba (usury and interest) they have, whether they were lenders, borrowers, buyers, or sellers.

God’s commands are eternal and equitable and do not change based on the needs of the Federal Reserve or International Monetary Fund. Prohibition of Riba is the best cure to free humanity from economic slavery. It was valid during the time of Jesus عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ will be valid until the universe stops expanding.


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