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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: June 2012

9 - The Problem of Poverty in Islamic Ethics

The problem of poverty occupies a central place in Islamic ethics. This chapter offers a survey of how Muslim thinkers over the centuries have grappled with the problem of poverty. The "problem" may be divided into three ethical concerns: why poverty; who are the poor; and what are the best means to alleviate poverty. Building upon moral-legal injunctions and admonitions in the Qurʾan and sunna of the Prophet and the first four "rightly guided" caliphs, legists dealt at length with these issues in the jurisprudential (fiqh) literature. This literature demonstrates that the four principal schools of Sunni jurisprudence and the dominant school of Shi'i jurisprudence agreed broadly on the general ethical approach to identifying the poor and to dealing with poverty, including the assignment of responsibilities to society and state. Zakat is arguably the primary instrument in Islamic ethics for poverty alleviation and distributive justice.
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Poverty and Morality
  • Online ISBN: 9780511779084
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