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Islamic Redistribution Of Wealth Should Be Able To Eradicate Poverty

Islamic Redistribution Of Wealth Should Be Able To Eradicate Poverty


Poverty is a crucial issue that has been discussed for decades and yet no there is no
solution to this matter as of today. There are many ways to deal with poverty but nothing seems
to really work out as there are still many people who are considered to live in poverty. Poverty
knows no boundaries. The people who are facing this issues are not just from low-income
countries but also from fully developed countries. However, there are issues arise on how to
measure poverty as different counties are adapting different poverty measurement. Yanagisawa
(2011) states that one of the major academic dilemmas in the issue of poverty is on how to
operationally define and measure it. Poverty is commonly defines as a situation where one
cannot acquire the basic needs in sustaining life. The issue here is how one determine what is
basic needs? Basic needs also include nonphysical needs. For example, the needs for dignity,
self-respect, and social inclusion are widely seen as universal, even though not directly tied to
physiological needs (Karelis, 2007, p. 3). Describing basic needs could be very complicated as
it varies on how an individual perceived it. In order to include the relevance of the subjective
experience of the person, Karelis (2007) proposed that we use a definition of poverty that is
always short for having insufficient resources to meet what are typically seen as basic needs in
that place and time.
The effects of poverty are not only at the individual level but it may also effect the
society and the country as a whole. First of all, poverty may affect the psychological well-being
of a person. The person my feel intimidated to other people in the society and it may lead to low
self-esteem and suicidal. Besides that, people living in poverty have less chance for higher
educational opportunity compared to other people. The children are forced to enter the labor
force in order to sustain their lives. Thus, lower educational level most probably will results in
lower rate of wages and their hardships is expected to continue to their future generations. Other
than that, higher poverty rate will increase the rate of crimes as these people are more desperate
to find access to the basic needs. This will eventually effect the society as a whole where their
safety is at stakes. Poverty will also affect the health rate of the people. These people has higher
chances to be effected with health problem that is related to nutrient and cleanliness.

Islamic Redistribution Of Wealth Should Be Able To Eradicate Poverty

The issue of poverty is very crucial to be solved as it symbolizes humanity and justice in
the society. It is questionable how in the same country, some people are wasting money and
having so many left-over foods while at the other side, some are struggling to keep living, to
fight the coldness and hunger. There is obviously something wrong about the system we are
living in that allow this situation to keep happening.
Islam is a religion that underlines the importance of this issue has prepared many
solutions to overcome it. However, it seems as it is not working because Islamic country is also
facing this similar challenge. Islamic redistribution of wealth highlights the importance of fair
and justice in redistributing the wealth. It introduce the action of waqf, zakah and sedeqah. These
actions promotes brotherhood and cooperation among the society. Besides that, the main
objective of Islamic Shariah is to ensure that everyone is having access to darruriyat. Darruriyat
means necessities or basic needs and it is divided into five major categories which are life, faith,
intellect, lineage, and property. According to Islam, it is essentials to ensure that each individual
in the society is protected and have access to these five major categories. Thus, what is the
problem that the Islamic countries are not able to eradicate poverty even though they are
practicing all of these? It is believed that Islamic redistribution of wealth should be able to
eradicate hardcore poverty by improving the redistribution of zakah, empowering the role of
waqf and eliminating the practice of riba in the society.
Improving the redistribution of zakah
The redistribution of zakah has to be improved for it to play a vital
roles in eradicating poverty. Zakah is that portion of a mans wealth which is designated
for the poor (Sayyid Sabiq, 1991, p.1). It is also defined as: a compulsory levy imposed on the
Muslims so as to take surplus money or wealth from the comparatively well-to-do members of
the Muslim Society and give it to the destitute and needy (Zaim, 1989, p.101). The objective of
zakah is to purify the wealth of the rich and to help the needy. Action of zakah will shift some
wealth of the people who has surplus to the people who is in deficit. However, it is unfortunate
that the zakah is not achieving it objective in todays era.

Islamic Redistribution Of Wealth Should Be Able To Eradicate Poverty

Zakat is regarded as very important that once, based on Islamic history, during the era of
caliphate Abu Bakar, a war was declared to those who refused to pay zakah (Nur Barizah and
Abdul Rahim, 2007). This shows how important it is the role of government to ensure that all
muslim are fulfilling their duty. However, nowadays in the context of Malaysia, the government
has a limited role as to ensure all the people due to pay zakah as they are no law regarding this. It
is up to the individual itself as to pay zakah. Besides, the introduction of conventional tax has
made people more reluctant to pay zakah as the conventional tax is enforced by law.
Nevertheless, the collection of zakah in Malaysia has been overwhelming throughout the years.
As eliminating the poverty would be one if the indirect impact, the redistribution of zakah has
not been really efficient seeing the poverty situation that is happening right now in Malysia.
There are people who are eligible to received zakah money but did not received it and struggles
alone. These people are being abandoned as some of them genuinely do not now about the zakah
money. The body that has been entrusted with redistribution of zakah money rarely went to the
field and look for the people who are eligible zakah receiver and expects these people to come to
the office, fill in the forms and follow all the formal procedures. All these procedures are not
efficient and may be complicated for some of the people who are too old or are not healthy to
come down to the office and apply it.

As an alternative, the body that is entrusted to redistribute the zakah money should do
more field work and look for the eligible zakah receiver thoroughly. Besides that, the neighbors
or any individual that come across these people should be proactive to help these people to
receive their rights. Some portion of zakah money are being used to improve the infrastructure of
the zakah collection place and hire people to work to administer the collection of zakah. This is
not wrong but eradicating poverty should be prioritized over anything as the zakah money to
achieve the noble objective of zakah. There is an urgent need for education and political will of
modern governments in order to ensure the success and survival of the zakah system (Nur
Barizah and Abdul Rahim, 2007). Thus, it is important to improve redistribution of zakah as it is
believed to be able to assists in the eradication of poverty.

Islamic Redistribution Of Wealth Should Be Able To Eradicate Poverty

Draft 2
Improving the role of waqf
Besides that, the current role of waqf should be improved so that it would be able to
contribute in eradication of poverty. An act of waqf was practiced long ago in human civilization.
For examples, during the era of pharaoh, he allocated a property for monks and during the era of
Greek civilization, hints of library waqf and educational centers was identified (Habibollah,
Hamed and Davoud, 2010). According to Habibollah, Hamed and Davoud (2010), waqf can be
defined in Islamic perspective as:
In Islam, waqf can be defined as keeping property and allocate it to solidify good goals.
Usually Waqf include Durable Goods and long lasting estates such as agriculture,
commercial and residential, or Waqf of libraries, agricultural machinery, livestock, stock,
savings and cash. Waqf means does not use of personal property and allocated benefit for
determined goals. Ownership of dedicated property cannot be transferred to another
person; except under certain conditions that could be upturn and benefits form can to be
allocated to intended goals. (p.p 181-182)
It is important to note that from the definition above, once property has been put aside for
waqf, it cannot be retrieved and it ownership cannot be transferred unless under approved
situations. Waqf property is an act of charity that focuses on helping the weak and poor people.
The most common type of waqf is religious waqf where people allocated some of their property
to build mosques and religious schools (Habibollah, Hamed and Davoud, 2010). Most of the
mosques are built on the basis of waqf. However, there are so many other things that could be
applied through waqf that could help in the process of eradicating poverty.
One of the way to improve the role of waqf is to introduce waqf as social
entrepreneurship model. The nature of Social entrepreneurship is the cooperative activities such
as the philanthropically activities alms, charity, benevolence, and sense of responsibility for the
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Islamic Redistribution Of Wealth Should Be Able To Eradicate Poverty

problems of the vulnerable and deprived classes of the society (Habibollah, Hamed and Davoud,
2010). Social entrepreneurship is an action where people use their entrepreneurial ability to
tackle social issues like poverty and low income. These days, social entrepreneurship has become
known and more common among the society. Government alone would not be able to tackle all
the arising social issues and need the extra help from the volunteering sectors (Habibollah,
Hamed and Davoud, 2010). Therefore, instead of applying waqf to only religious matters like
building mosque and religious schools, the functions of waqf could be widened. Waqf could be
used in other areas such as humanitarian, economics, cultural, education and health (Habibollah,
Hamed and Davoud, 2010). For example, waqf could be used to provide skills training so that
people living in poverty will have better chance at finding works. Thus, by integrating waqf as
social entrepreneurship, it opened the doors to many other possible areas and increases the
possibility to change ones life in a long term period. It will leave direct impact to nations
economy performance (Habibollah, Hamed and Davoud, 2010).

Eliminating practice of riba

Oh you who believes! Fear Allah and give up what remains of your demands (for riba),
if you are indeed a believers (Quran, 11:278). From this verse, Allah has urge the believers to
not involve with riba. There are other ayah in the Quran which reminds the believers never to
involve with riba and how Allah declare war towards those involve in riba (Quran 11:279). This
reminder should never be taken lightly as practice of riba is considered as one of the major sins
for Muslim. Prohibition of riba does not fall upon the poor or needy people but to all Muslim
regardless of who they are and their purpose of involving with riba (Mohammad Nejatullah,
2004)

Riba is rooted from Arabic word which means increase or excess. According to the
Qur'an (11:275-11:276), riba is neither a sale (defined as an on the-spot exchange of equal value)
nor a voluntary charitable act it is an inequitable exchange destructive to and out of place in a
fair economic order (Seniawski and L.Barbara, 2001). Riba is not considered as sales. Thus, if
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Islamic Redistribution Of Wealth Should Be Able To Eradicate Poverty

there is an exchange of the same items, it has to be made at the same time and with the same
value. The second part of definition explains on how riba is an act of non-voluntary charitable act
in economic process where exchange took place in an unequitable amount. Some insist it is the
increase imposed on the debtor at the maturity of the debt in case he/she fails to pay the debt,
(Mohammad Nejatullah, p. 37). This definition portrays an action that is very familiar in human
culture nowadays called interest. Interest is the contemporary term of riba and it prohibition is as
what is upon riba.

There are many reason as to why riba is prohibited but to associate it with poverty, riba is
prohibited because it implies improper appropriation of wealth and its ultimate effect on the
negative growth (Mohammad Nejatullah, 2004). Riba implies improper appropriation of wealth
as people with more money could simply just lend their money to people and charges interest.
They will have an increase in their property without exerting any effort. On the other hand,
people who needs money need to work hard to not only pay the amount of debt but also to pay
the excess amount in the debt. Riba results in negative growth of wealth as it may misrepresented
ones wealth with amount of production and signifies that person has higher productivity when
what is actually in store are debts and interests. Thus, riba should be eliminated completely as the
harms it brings to humanity. As an alternative, Islamic finance has introduced a lot of Islamic
banking and models to help Muslims especially to avoid riba.

Conclusion

The issue of poverty has been addressed for so many years and people has comes up with
different ideas and alternatives to eradicate this issue. It can be seen that current system is unable
to addressed this issue effectively, thus government and other related bodies should play an even
active roles to help people living in poverty. Islamic ways of life suggests that all Muslims are
brothers and sisters and it is an obligation upon us all to ensure our brothers and sisters has
access to basic needs in life.