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Islamic Approach to Poverty Alleviation


Islam emphasizes ethical, moral, social, and religious factors to promote equality and fairness for the good of society as a whole. Principles encouraging risk sharing, individual rights and duties, property rights, and the purity of contracts are all part of the Islamic code underlying the financial system. All principles or laws in Islam owe their origin to its Holy Book – the Quran and the sayings and deeds of its Prophet (peace be upon him) summarize in books of Hadith. A saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him) forcefully drives home the central message of Islam regarding poverty: “Poverty is almost like disbelief in God” On another occasion the Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said “There is no asceticism in Islam”. Islam views poverty to be a curse to be eradicated through productive efforts unlike some world religions and philosophies that celebrate asceticism. Poverty is in conflict with“enrichment of self (nafs)”, which is one of the primary objectives (maqasid) of Shariah. Islamic jurists have unanimously held the view that it is the collective obligation (fard kifayah) of a Muslim society to take care of the basic needs of the poor. In fact, according to al-Shatibi, the noted Islamic scholar, this is the raison d’être of society itself.

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