We are currently experiencing an economic crisis that is affecting every aspect of our lives. The crises challenge our condition, our values and our lifestyle. How we survive through this, will greatly be influenced by our economic insight, wise planning, hope and our moral strength.
Human behaviour may be categorized into three basic types of relationships: spiritual, social and economic. They stem from the human being’s basic relationship: to the Creator, to the environment and to other human beings.
Economic relations are an outcome of creations instinct to survive in the physical world, the human drive to seek good things, to secure interest, and most importantly to satisfy needs. This seeking of meeting one’s basic needs is an obligation as is evidenced in the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad, that seeking of lawful means of livelihood is an obligation after other obligations. Accordingly, human beings, in relation to the environment, has been predisposed to utilize all possible resources to satisfy human. The earth is thus made available for human use, without abuse or misuse. The circle of things available for the benefit of humanity is much greater than that of the environment.
The Quran says: “And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: behold, in that there are Signs indeed for those who reflect.” 45:13. Human beings are thus invited to use this opportunity for benefit and not to "corrupt the earth"
But “needs” seem always to be expanding, due to the complexity of utilizing the resources of the environment. The complexity of life, arising from his relationship with the environment, made it difficult for him to cope adequately with his increasing needs, some of which are not NEED, but GREED. Remember, there is normally enough to meet the world’s need, but never enough to meet the world’s greed. The instinctive greed of the increasingly material world gave rise to man's unbridled exploitation of his environment and of his fellow human being. It is due to this that the human community faces oppression in the form of economic exploitation.
In this life our existence is surrounded by certain necessities, which hold a tight grip on us from the day that we are born. Some of these necessities such as food, clothes and shelter are basic and the preservation of life’s system depends on them. Needs of this type are natural. The other types of ‘needs’ are non-essential and are constantly changing and can never be totally fulfilled.
Greed forces the individual to pursue materialism in a manner that makes material gains an axis on which the mind rotates; and insatiable desire for material wealth becomes the primary objective of life. It is perchance to this kind of mentality that Allah refers to when posing the question: “Have you seen the person who makes a god of his desires?
An ancient Taoist saying goes: There is no crime greater than having too many desires; there is no disaster greater than not being content; there is no misfortune greater than being greedy.
A wise once said: “You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need.” Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) said: “True wealth is not in how much you have, but in how contented you are with what you have. He used to pray: “O Allah! I seek Thy protection from a self that is never gratified.”
Those who are stingy due to fear that spending and being generous will deplete their wealth, The Prophet said: A person says, "this is my wealth, my things" but all that he really has is three: (i) What he consumes and digests, (ii) what he wears and wears out, (iii) what he gives in charity and it continues to benefit and the rest you leave behind when you depart from this world.”
Unless there is cessation of the various forms of oppression manifest in the unjust distribution of economic resources, disciplining of human nature to achieve control of the instinct of self‑love and utilization of economic resources to satisfy the needs of all humanity, the world will continue on a downward economic spiral. We are instructed therefore, not be greedy, neither stingy/selfish, nor wasteful, nor extravagant.