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Friday, 28 March 2008

A Just Society Makes No Room For Poverty

Bandar Seri Begawan - The Government of Brunei Darussalam is committed to eradicating poverty by year 2035 as contained in its National Development Plan. Poverty is one of the social ills of the economy, and it can lead to insecurity and acts of evil. This is a great challenge for all of us individuals and all the relevant institutions primarily the Ministry of Religious Affairs in achieving these objectives.
The Islamic institutions can certainly play a major role in achieving the zero poverty vision in line with the objectives of Islam - among others, the protection of religion and life. Surely, that will never be achieved without a plan of action and strategic planning through "Islamic Microfinance Project Enterprises” that leads to the empowerment of human beings.
Islam is a dynamic faith that gives a fair chance to each human being to enable him or her to live a decent life so he can be an active agent of Allah the Almighty on earth to serve the wider community, creating wealth and sharing it responsibly to achieve peace and justice.
What makes the rich richer is the opportunity that the poor don't have due to various reasons that need to be critically addressed by our government that has started to be seriously concerned about this social ill.
One of the many tools is by managing its zakat (alms) fund more effectively and efficiently - may it be collection, disbursement and effective utilisation of fund through "Islamic Microfinance Project Enterprises".
Indeed, if the scheme will be properly implemented and well managed, then we will see a new breed of successful entrepreneurs coming in to our country.
The Quran and the Sunnah perspective of the oppressed and the poor is very clear. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is known to ask Allah the Almighty for him to be resurrected among the poor on the Day of Judgment. Asked by his wife 'Aishah the reason for such a request, he explained that "because they will be resurrected and admitted to Paradise thousands of years before the rich. The Prophet was also heard saying that `Fear the prayer of the oppressed, for indeed between him (her) and Allah has no barrier'."
The payment of zakat is one of the most important pillars of Islam to achieve social justice through wealth distribution. Zakat and prayer are mentioned in the Qur'an 82 times. As for the five tenets on which Islam is based, if anyone denies any one of these, then he is a disbeliever. Thus zakat is an obligatory payment upon all Muslims who satisfy the necessary conditions.
Islam was entrusted by Allah the Almighty to Prophet Muhammad as a religion to eradicate social injustice and oppression on earth. This is the Maqasid of Syariah and this is the raison d'etre of Islam. Islam links the Ibadah (worshiping) with Muamalat (all kinds of socio-economic interaction).
It seeks to improve the condition of man by providing mutual cooperation and the spirit of brotherhood within society - so the strong will help the weak and the rich will help the poor.
And due to this fact, zakat is viewed as one of the tools, besides sadaqah and wagaf, in Islam in freeing the poor from poverty and discourage the hoarding of wealth among the rich.
It is not until recently when society felt an urgency to solve the problem of poverty' in the country. His Majesty raised this recently in the recent meeting of the State Legislative Council, stressing that the nation needs to look into this matter seriously.
Fighting poverty and other social evils is one of the greatest Ijtihad. We can never hope to establish a just society unless we uproot poverty.
According to the Prophet (pbuh), there is a thin line between poverty and disbelief (Kaada alfagaran yakum kufran), what this means that poverty maybe is regarded as one of the root causes of evil and disbelief.
The author is a student at the Centre of Islamic Banking, Finance and Management, Universiti Brunei Darussalam.-- Courtesy of The Brunei Times
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