Channel: Jamal Badawi
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benevolent the Merciful, the creator Sustainer of the universe decent blessings upon the 17th messenger Muhammad forever. I mean, I greet you with a greeting that is very common in Islam Assalamu alaikum, which means peace behind you, and your house timer Rashid. Today we have our second program in our new series dealing with the economic system of Islam. We'll be discussing the topic of property rights in Islam. I have joining me as usual on the program, Dr. Jamal battery of St. Mary's University, and the Jamal is no more like Monica said, I want to cry Have you very quickly touch on the main points that we discussed in our program in the one in the new series?
Okay. The first program was basically an introductory program. Some of the questions discussed includes the common question as to what is the relevance of religion in the matter of economics, and we have indicated that
economic behavior is part of the overall behavior or human behavior, which is regulated by religion. And that applies to other religions as well. But in the case of Islam, it's even more manifest, it's not clear.
Secondly, we made a distinction between economics as a field of study, which concentrate on the study of economic phenomena, and trying to derive the laws regulating them like the laws of supply and demand, for example, which is a more universal thing. And on the other hand, the definition of economic system, and we said that you could have different systems based on the kind of philosophy, objectives and principles on the basis of which these systems can be established.
We said that in both of these fields, or both of these aspects,
Muslim jurists and scholars have made
several contributions, and that preceded Adam Smith by nearly 1000 years as early as the eighth century fine writings on economic systems, then
we'll discuss briefly some of the problems in carrying through this type of research and applying or implementing this Islamic principles on a contemporary scene. And we have discussed some of the basic difficulties, such as the compilation of information from variety of sources, in trying to really think hard and go back to the main sources of Islam making a distinction between the conclusive texts and the interpretation, which may be subject to
revision by qualified scholars. And finally, we'll look briefly into some of the basic aspects of the methodology and principles in Islamic economics and how this principle is broad as they may be, have deep rooted very strong influence on how the system is to structure to be structured and operate.
Without turning to today's topic of property rights. In Islam, I wonder if I could perhaps have you shed some light on the nature of the right to own property, instead of the right to own property is an instinctive matters. It is something
in our human nature as humans, it is related to the survival, self preservation.
However, throughout history, we find that the nature of that right and its limits have undergone certain changes. For example,
periods of history, the property right has been basically in the hands of a child, kind of common property. And by the way, this is not on the history. But it's happening in Canada today in some of the Western provinces like Manitoba, and Russia. There's a particular Christian religious sect called the Hutterites who believe in this thing, you'll believe that they own the land junky everything is on junkie by the whole group, and they share the fruits altogether.
In some cases, we find that this right has been restricted or narrowed down to properties which are coming to one particular family. More developments resulted in the property right being recognized largely also in the hands of certain individuals. Of course, they might have been some overlap and those types of attitudes towards property. However, we can say that
and extent of property It is a matter of which dependent to a large extent, upon the kind of philosophy or ideology, which is common in any particular society at any particular time, basically, as to how far you restrict the individual rights of property or expanded, how much you give by way of rights for the society versus the individual.
Now, how does Islam stand on the extent of property rights?
differently than just saying that it's, it takes this position or that I think it would be quite interesting to refers to a unique concept in Islam.
That if you really look into the Quran, before even you get to the definition of my right or your right to property, it tries to put it first in the proper framework, and numerous verses in the Quran, you find that it gives us the clear indication that everything is owned by Allah, that capital G.
For example, one verse in the Quran says, the mathematical similarity, or the mfe him unto God, the nonce, the domain of heavens and earth, and anything in between.
In chapter three, verse 26, coming down the medical marks are not the owners of the entire universe.
So there are similar differences like that in the Quran, which give us a clear indication that property, or the right of ownership, in the absolute sense, belongs to God, and to God, I don't because he's the only one who owns the universe.
But the admission of God as the owner of the universe does not mean that we as human beings, you and I, he and she do not have also the right to own property, it simply puts this individual right of ownership within the broader context, as was indicated last time, it is basically the ownership which is part of our responsibility as trustees of God on earth, at the trusteeship, our responsibility here
the clear evidence in the Quran that there is no objection,
the individual rights of property within that particular framework are numerous. And for example, in chapter nine, verse 104, in the Quran, it says, When and where the him sits, addressing the Prophet, take from the property, the charity or part that will be allocated for charity or social security, as you might call it today. So it uses the term and you know, their property, his property,
showing that there is no contradiction between the ownership and absolute sense, ultimate sense in the hand of God and our human our right as human to own within this boundaries, and to dispose of these properties and use them and benefit from them within restriction that God has, has provided Actually, this is not only in the Quran, find that, in the prophetic tradition in the practice of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him and his companions, and those who follow him also shows clearly that property rights is to be acknowledged and respectable in this
particular framework. And there are also different levels you can say of property.
Now, what is meant by types of property? Can you can you elaborate on that concept when one juror is divided, that's an
Broadus way, by saying that there are certain things which are owned by that, of course, the whole universe is owned by God, but it's owned by God, but no human being, yet has had any access to this property. An example of this, he talked about Mars for example, nobody can say that I own Mars or Jupiter. So it is created by God but nobody had any access to it. But then there are certain properties which are owned by the entire human race, a common property of the human race. An example of that would be oceans for example, what nobody can say, on the Atlantic Ocean, of course, you can claim certain shell and your country, but nobody can claim ownership of the vast oceans.
within a given country or community or society. There may be also certain properties which are still the property of God but its own jointly by the community at large. That's what is called in some countries for example, like crown land, you know, the land which is not necessarily owned by
Any particular individual or, or corporation,
and then there is the type of property which
is in the position of one particular individual, or number of individuals like a corporation, for example, or a family or whatever.
And this is, again, something that they own. However, they own it also within the duties and responsibilities which are imposed on this property and within the particular legal restrictions that Islamic law provides. So there are all types of property in that sense in the level
of this answer, but all of them, of course, belong together just a matter of convenience of classification.
Now, you've made mention of restrictions. Can you give us some examples of these legitimate restrictions on property rights? Well, this restriction, by the way, are all
men excessive and unreasonable, because under the term restrictions, various systems may take excuse and go into great lengths in trying to restrict this basic, instinctive right of property. So when we talk about restrictions, here, we're talking about something not determined by you and me, but something that Islamic law, God's revelation has given some indication as reasonable restrictions. None of this restrictions, for example, is that the acquisition of this property should be through legitimate means. Of course, Islam recognizes the sanctity of property, the right to defend your property. But again, you should obtain this property through legitimate and lawful means. That's one
reasonable restriction, certainly is that when you use your property or benefits from it, you have to use it in such a way that does not cause harm to other people, he has to keep that in mind, the concept of harm or better in Santa Claus is an interesting one, let me just elaborate on it by indicating two angles of it.
One basic rule established in one saying of the Prophet, da, da, da, da, da, da da, one should not harm himself, or others. Which means that, for example, if you have a piece of property or a piece of land in the middle of a residential area, you can say it is my property, I can do with it as I wish and you just start building, let's say, a factory. And as you know, in many countries, even today, there's are there are some regulations concerning the so called zoning, you can just have a big noisy factory in the middle of places designated as residential area. So in Islamic law, long time before these laws came into effect, just from the lives of the Prophet that principle has been
already established. You cannot say that, because I ancestral property, I have the right to monopolize the basic necessities of people and keep holding or withholding basic needs like food or may consider writing on I decided not to sell and let people starve. For example,
another angle of this concept of harm or avoiding harm in using your property
is a real and Islamic law that says that private harm could be tolerated, if it were necessary to or if it was necessary to prevent
a greater harm that would affect a large number of people or affect the public at large. Just to give a very simple example, rather than just the legal definition,
suppose you have a house and it was decided that for the benefit of all,
the road has to be widened and that particular area or some important utility has to be established and there is no other way, then in this case, you can say it is my property. In this case, you're entitled to assert compensation for the benefit of all and I think this is something again, that is not uncommon at all that has been established long time ago in in Islamic law.
Another basic requirement also considering
restrictions on property is that the person can dispose of his or her property the way he or she likes, provided that the person also is mentally capable of doing this. In other words, if the person for example is insane, then for his own protection and protection of society at large, there must be some kind of trustee or guardian appointed member. I think, again, this is not unreasonable,
for his own benefit, to say the least. In addition to this also, one of the basic restriction of property is not a restriction as such, but rather, that you're entitled to your property rights, provided that you also fulfill your duties and obligations emanating from your possession of that property.
I was claims on property specified specifically in Islamic law, there are certain things that are specified and that will give us a clear indication on the nature of these obligations.
But one obligation, which we covered in some length in the previous series on social system
is the obligation to maintain one's family obligation to spend on one's wife and children and in some cases, as we discussed before, relatives, who are in need, depending again on the degree of closeness that we have,
Another important jetty on property is the payment of Zika, roughly translated as charity, not charity really, and the common sense, or the common meaning of the term that it is totally a voluntary thing. But the current Islam is something which is compulsory, which is required, both as an act of worship and obedience to God. So it gives us the spiritual element and the self control and be as conscious of the individual being observant of His deity or her deity.
But in addition to that, also, it could be enforced actually, in Islamic law. If people are neglecting to pay those, there's a cap, the minimum amount of care or quote unquote, charity is two and a half percent, but not of income, it is two and a half percent of assets
beyond the needs the immediate needs of the individual, which has been there for a year. So it's not just the direct income tax as we find for example, in more contemporary systems.
within that system, we find that there are certain parts of your property, which are exempt or non marketable, if you will be subject to the challenge or the cap.
This includes, for example, personal clothing, personal effects, the your basic or
primary residential home,
your transportation means like Gosh,
your students if you have a particular profession that requires certain terms, but beyond this, if you have an extra that exceeds your needs, and you have had that already for one year, then you have to pay a second. And like I said, this is the minimum of two and a half percent. There are some other types of care, for example, on agriculture, which go to 5%, seven and a half and 10%, there are all kinds of details that are involved in the nature of the payment. In other words, the basic needs of a, an average family are exempt from this account. But beyond that, that's a duty on the person to to pay.
In addition to this duty,
jetty, as I should say, that we discussed,
Islam also allows a just ruler
or government to impose additional taxes beyond the minimum amount of the cap of two half percent, if
the amount of Zakah is not sufficient to meet the needs of society. In fact, one of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him narrated in a terrific he says in property, there is a right or a claim beyond the second. So the key is just the minimum. But if the needs are there, like in the case of, for example, warfare, and the country is in bad need of additional funds, and the amount available is not enough, they could it could be imposed, but only, again on those who can afford to make this contribution if there is a famine, and the funds are all exhausted or disasters that government funds are not enough, then additional levies or taxes would be permissible, provided of
course, there's good justification for this are some of the rights required.
You mentioned that for a property right to be recognized property has to be acquired in the legitimate way. How does Islamic law define this legitimacy? Okay, that's a good point because we passed very quickly when we talk about the the conditions or restrictions on property, you mentioned it rather quickly, but I think it's important to give some concrete examples and illustrations as to what really is required is called are regarded in Islamic law as legitimate source or means of acquisition of property and what is regarded also as unlawful.
One of the
rooms are legitimate means of acquisition of property would be to own or possess something as a result of your own
Personal efforts never work. This may include things such as
working for salary or wages,
commercial operations, or whatever this would be one legitimate source, just an illustration of the nature of their miscibility.
Secondly, you could also own property, on the basis not of your own labor, but on the basis of rights that has been given to you by Islamic law. For example, a wife, for example, is entitled by Islamic law for forgiveness, and the responsibility falls fully on the husband. So anything that he gives to his wife or mentor her it is, again her own prepetition is free to take that if she gets hurt, for example, the medicine gift which the Quran mentions, it is exclusively for property. So, university didn't earn it, she is intended to hold that property or disposal.
Another aspect in within Islamic law so that there's the right of property is inheritance, according to the law of inheritance, serviceplan that you can discuss later, there are some interesting elements and it's
your own property on the basis of inheritance. It's legitimate. Thirdly, we mentioned also early Zakah or charity, and if a person is unable to work, or poor, or disabled,
he can own whatever is given to him by way of the cow charity,
receiving a gift. And so is one causes that
causes of them
claim on this item or items as property. Exchange could be another source of property,
exchange of goods and services. Or he might say exchange of utilities,
like barter system, could be an example, would be one source also. That's one. Let's get also some illustration of the unlawful
to usurp the property of someone else, without his or her consent, with regarded as unlawful, which would include things like
embezzlement of public funds this all fall within this category, that's unlawful Islam. So you have no claim on that property if you're caught. In other words, you can say it's my property.
Secondly, even taking the property of other people with their approval, but through crooked means, which are forbidden in Islam, such as cheating, or having a contract whereby you mislead the person or coax him or her into signing something which is unfair, and that's just the kind of deception
that I can make it unlawful gambling, all kinds of gambling, you name it, whatever you talk about government lottery, anything that involves gambling in some form or the other is totally illegitimate, and the property coming as a result of that is not regarded as halal or as lawful property and Islam.
To gain property through underfoot type of labor or work like
the practice of sorcery or magic, prostitution might fall into that.
To get money as a result of participating in a crime. The person is hired as a hit person, for example.
That income of course, is regarded as totally unlawful bribery, for example, could be regarded as such.
Likewise, gaining or acquiring properties through an unlawful contract like usury, or quote unquote, what you cultivate interest is also regarded as unlawful, shackled by this destructions it becomes clear that the permissible and the forbidden are matters which are deeply ingrained and related to the basic moral teachings of Islam and its ethical orientation for the protection of every member in society.
In addition to those legal aspects that we've been discussing, Are there additional ethical directives related to property rights? Yes, there are beyond what is required there could be enforceable even though in a way in Islamic law, you can say that the the legal and the ethical. are rubbish intermingle. They're really
interrelated, but I think it would be a good idea also to look at it also from that angle.
That one of those ethical teachings is the restrictions in Islam, or discouragement of hoarding.
hoarding, I'm not talking here about saving a little bit for a rainy day like, this is permissible to take some slush funds for, you know, for emergencies or possible future needs. If you want to buy a car and you don't want to buy it on interest or something, and you want to save a little by little until you are able to buy. There's no problem with that.
But what Islam really speaks up against quite forcefully, is hurting wealth in a sense of keeping wealth away from circulation.
For example, in chapter nine, verse 34, in the Quran, it says that those who heard gold and silver, and then spent in the way or the path of God, give them the news of civil punishment, and then it talks about their punishment in the Day of Judgment. Now, the this is not just a matter of ethical teaching, it has also a deeper economic implication. Because when people withhold wealth,
they don't use it. I'm not saying that they have to spend it on by way of charity, but do not
invest this excess funds that they have done even from the point of view of the modern economics. It is harmful to society, because you're keeping wealth from circulation. And as such, you're not really contributing much to the enhancement of economic activities, which may be needed to provide jobs for others, and harness the various natural resources available. That's one thing. Another ethical teaching that Islam deal with is the prohibition of
excess expenditure or being too excessive or exuberant and spending. But in the meantime, it also condemned miserliness.
When beautiful verse in the Quran in chapter 17, particularly in 29, it says, Don't,
don't get your hand close to your neck, which is just as like a metaphor of being too miserly. And don't extend it all the way, which is also a metaphor, or allegory of being tourists.
in your, in your extending, so there should be some kind of moderation. And chapter seven in the Quran, verse 31, it says, a shovel will have to sort of fall into what I have been missing, but eat and drink, but don't be wasteful or too excessive, because God doesn't like those who go to excesses. There is another aspect that pretend perhaps, to the question of, of property,
a third teaching
a potential property is the obligation not to leave key resources available
to the community idle. Just to give you an illustration of this romancing of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, he said that a person will form land, like if you have a Burning Man, for example, and a person perform it, he has the right on it. But if he does not make it productive, or use it for three years, then it will be taken away from him, if he use it, and then later on neglected for three years, without using it and making productive, it could be taken away from him so that somebody else can make use of this resources available to the community. So in other words, we'll look at the basic notion of property, as it led to the ethical framework, or the principle and
philosophy of Islam, you find that it stands really in a moderate way, between the right to own property without any qualification, and between the route of having a totalitarian system whereby you're on very little, and some few paragraphs claim that they are controlling the property for the sake of everyone. There's some kind of moderate way of acknowledging the rights of individual property while maintaining also the interest of society. And above all, the moral and ethical obligation in mind.
We stop at that point was their second program in our series we want to invite you back next week when I will continue with our third programming series dealing with economic system and Islam. Thank you for watching. Assalamu alaikum Peace be with you.