Is the West really after Middle Eastern Oil?

 

Petro-Dollars & Post Fordism global variables

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

One of the questions that has a unilateral answer by majority of Muslims and Arabs is, ‘what are the western powers doing in the Middle East?” The answer that will be presented for this question is: “they are after our oil”. However, this answer might be somehow true if we were living in post WWII, when Fordism and Keynesianism was the prominent way of life that drove politics, economics and social evolvements. Nonetheless, since the mid-70s or specifically after the global oil crisis in 1973, the rationales and tendencies of western powers regarding their foreign policy in the Middle East shifted drastically in an entirely new and different direction. The priorities of the western world in that part of the world had changed, as the entire western political and economic system was evolving and shifting itself toward new means, as the old system was viewed as limitation on benefiting from global economy.

Fordism & Keynesianism

The notion of Fordism and Keynesianism is applied to the time after WWII (1945) until mid-1970s, where the global economy was entirely dependent on oil, as almost all commodities and prices were linked to oil. The characteristics of western societies during that period, which was named after Henry Ford can be summarized in the following points:

  • Giant manufacturing firms, where assembly lines and division of labour was sought to be the best way for mass production of standardized goods.
  • High wages, job protection (unions) and growth of Middle class.
  • Suburbanization or manufacturing regions.
  • Heavy participation in politics.
  • Heavy government intervention.

Therefore, once the oil crisis hit the global economy the western powers were facing what was known as the ‘legitimacy crisis’, as majority of people lost the hope and trust in their governments, since they were unable to address the rising prices and stagnant growth. This crisis was mandating a drastic and total evolvement and change, as diversifying the global economy was becoming a necessity since alternative sources of fuel and means of revenues were becoming necessitated.

Post-Fordism & Neo-Liberalism

As mentioned earlier, the old system was viewed as a limitation on benefiting from the global economy, which was rapidly growing in different parts of the world. Therefore, the states shifted their intervention toward facilitating globalization and free-trade. Due to this shift, majority of large corporations and manufacturing firms moved their operations to the (third world countries) or what is known today as the developing world or global south. This action, which was as a result of multi-national corporations forming in various part of the world, enabled those companies to maximize their revenues, as high wages and job protection means were not sought in their new locations.

In addition, to diversify the local economies of western societies and address the employment plunging rates, emphasis on new industries was introduced. Finance, Insurance and Real State were the new industries that were leading the global powers, and all the previous upper giant manufacturing firms had to adopt to the new system. Therefore, to facilitate the growth of those new industries, empowering new means of evolvement and sufficiency was conducted by emphasis on high-tech and innovational firms. Silicon Valley, Seattle, Wall Street and other destinations were rapidly becoming the new economic giants leading the global economy, as they were creating and developing various means revenue generation and alternatives for diversification.

As the technological superiority of the west grew the tendency to reduce dependency on oil was increasing, as corporations started researches to develop new sources of fuel. Wind Turbines, electric generators, nuclear reactors, Hybrid technology, Flex Fuel capability and most recently the technology to extract oil and fuel from sand was the last path to achieve energy and fuel alternatives.

In addition, the new world had introduced certain cities that were controlling the entire global economic system, and even the oil market was being driven by these market and their supply and demand ratios. Places, like New York, London, Tokyo, Beijing and ultimately the new emerging economic powers (India, Brazil, China, Indonesia and Russia) developed a system were the entire world market is dependent on their market and its fluctuation. Therefore, oil was not the driving force of world economy any more, as even oil producing countries have realized that high prices of oil are not in their benefit, since such a notion would only encourage the tendency to develop alternative sources of energy.

Petro-Dollars

However, to conclude that oil is no factor in Middle Eastern politics is a vague and inaccurate statement, as the impact of petro-dollars in Middle Eastern politics is very evident and affectual.  The revenues generated by oil has enabled Middle Eastern states to adopt a distributive system, where wealth is allocated according to political agendas, legitimacy and containment means. Presently, it is obvious that oil producing countries (Gulf States, Iraq and Iran) are the centre of various regional conflicts and tensions, were petro-dollars fuel proxies and direct military intervention. Therefore, other priorities and necessities such as global security, economic security and collective stabilization of the Middle Eastern region have mandated western powers to re-shape their involvement in this part of the world.

Google Raised $11 Million For Refugees, Migrants In Just 3 Days

Credit: Raad Adayleh/AP
Syrian refugee students welcome as German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel visits the classroom during his visit at the Zaatari refugee camp near Mafraq, north of Amman, Jordan.
 
Google launched a massive fundraising appeal last week for refugees and migrants, and the entire world stepped up to the challenge. The search engine pledged to match donations until the collective effort raised $11 million. It reached the goal in just two-and-a-half days.

Rita Masoud, a refugee who left Afghanistan and later became a product marketing manager at Google, launched the initiative on September 15. She wrote an open letter on the company blog, in which she requested donations for migrants and refugees and explained the donation matching process.  Google directed the money to four nonprofits: Doctors Without Borders, the International Rescue Committee, Save the Children, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The company solicited donations through a banner on its homepage that read: “Help refugees and migrants in urgent need. Google will match your donation.”

Google is in good company with others who have launched initiatives to help refugees. Apple CEO Tim Cook stated the corporation will donate $2 for every $1 an employee gives. And last week, TripAdvisor promised to match its community’s donations up to $375,000.

Although Google has stopped matching donations, it encourages individuals to contribute directly to the nonprofit recipients, saying, “The crisis isn’t over.”

Islamic Taxation System (KHOMOS)

 

Jurisprudential Principles & Implementations in Society

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

The revenue generation method of today’s modern states is conducted through taxation, which varies from a country to another according to the GDP and financial obligations of that specific state toward its citizens. The revenues generated from these taxes enables the state to provide necessary services for its citizens, which include infrastructure, health care, pension, education, security, social welfare and other services. Therefore, taxation in another word is the financial life line of any system, which presents itself as the governing entity to manage the affairs of a state or a nation.

However, one of the principles that is exclusive to Shia Muslims that falls under the category of taxation, is the concept of ‘Khomos’, which translates to one-fifth in English. The direct indication to this concept is found in the 41st verse of Chapter 8 in the Holy Quran, where it says: “and know that anything you obtain, then indeed, for Allah is one fifth of it and for the messenger and for his holy household and the orphans, the needy, and the stranded traveller”. This concept is also legislated through many other narrations from the Holy Prophet and the 12 Imams, where they have clarified the criteria, details, collection methods, deliverance and disbursement methods and means.

According to this principle, Shia Muslims are obligated to pay 20% of their earnings to an Imam or an agent of an Imam, where he will spend those revenues in the fields provided by the Quran and the narrations from the Prophet and his holy household. However, this Islamic obligation considers all the aspects of a Shia Muslim’s life, as Islam acknowledges the various financial responsibilities that each individual carries. Therefore, the actual law goes as following:

    • Each Shia Muslim, who has reached the age of adolescence is obligated to take aside 20% of his/her yearly earnings, after he/she covers all of the debts obligations, shelter, food, transportation and other financial responsibilities. Therefore, if a Shia Person earned $50,000 during a year cycle, he should pay all of his/her financial obligations, then whatever is left from that earning is subjected to that 20% taxation (Khomos).
    • The legal taxation that a Shia Muslim is subjected to, where he/she resides is included in the financial obligations that he/she has to fulfill before taking that 20% aside.

 

  • For Example:

 

$50,000 Yearly Earning

– $9,000 Taxes

– $38,000 Financial Obligations (Shelter, Health Care, Education, Transportation, Food, etc…)

Remaining: $3,000

$3,000 x 20% = $600 (Khomos)

Therefore, whether the remaining balance of the yearly earnings is $3,000 or $1,000,000, the Khomos rate applies and mandatory to be paid before the end of yearly cycle, which is set according to the person’s decision. Note: the start of each yearly cycle can be set on any date, the Shia Muslim chooses, however, it must be according to the Islamic Lunar calendar.

Who Do I give the Khomos to?

The deliverance of Khomos, was not a major issue during the life time of the Imams, as Shia Muslims were either delivering those funds to them directly, or giving them to the agents sent by the Imams around the Muslim world. However, after the occultation of the 12th Imam, many questions about the legitimacy of this concept have been raised, where some scholars have argued that Shias are not subjected to this principle during the absence of an infallible Imam. A specific school of thought within Shia Islam, argued that Shia Muslims are obligated to save aside the khomos during the absence of the Imam, but they should either bury it, or hide far away from ever being found. Nonetheless, these hidden and buried funds will be taken out by the 12th Imam, once he returns and reappears to his followers.

However, majority of Shia scholars and Shia Muslims practice this principle, as this law is considered to be behind the continuous independent Shia scholars have benefited from since the occultation of the 12th Imam. According to this school of thought, jurists (Shia Scholars) are the general agents of the Imam, where Shias are obligated to follow and take the laws and rules of their religion from, as they are considered the narrators of Prophet’s traditions. Therefore, majority of Shia Muslims give their Khomos to the scholars, and scholars distribute these funds according to the guidelines set by the Quran and the traditions of Prophet Mohammad and his holy household.

How is Khomos spent and distributed?

Presently, Shia scholars divide the Khomos into two categories:

  1. Right of the Imam (Imam Al-Mahdi, which falls under the category of: for Allah, his messenger and his household)
  2. Right of the Sadah (Plural of Sayed, which means the progeny and descendants of Prophet Mohammad)

The right of Sadah is allocated to this group, since they are not allowed to receive charity, as charity is forbidden for the Prophet, his holy household and his progeny and descendants. Therefore, this allocation was designated to be a mean for this category to help them in case they face hardships and financial problems, where they are not able to provide for themselves and their families. However, in certain occasions the scholars allow Shia Muslims to deliver the Sadah Right themselves to virtuous individuals and families, who descend from the progeny of Prophet Mohammad. This method is followed in places, where delivering the Khomos to the scholar is hard or harmful for Shias, as they are allowed to distribute this part of the Khomos themselves. In addition, due to other necessities such building a mosque, school, orphanage, shelter house and other means, Shia scholars allow their followers to distribute the entire Khomos on their behalf by themselves. However, this type of exemption require a direct permission and ruling from the scholar himself, as Shia Muslims are not allowed take this decision by themselves.

The first part of the Khomos (Right of the Imam) is usually taken by Shia scholars, and it is spent on issues and necessities sought as important and mandatory by them. The funds allocated to the Right of the Imam category are spent for seminaries, as these religious schools require substantial funds to operate. The necessity of these seminaries come from the desperate need of the Shia communities around the world for Shia Imams and clergies to manage their religious and spiritual affairs.

The other means for spending the right of the Imam, include, helping the needy, the stranded travellers, orphans, sheltering the homeless, marriage allowances for the needy and other means to simplify the lives of those who need such help.

The deliverance of Khomos to Shia scholars has enabled them to stay away from the influence of states and governments, since these political entities view the religious authority of scholars as a great tool for obtaining legitimacy and validity. Therefore, Shia religious authority has been able to mandate its needs and requests upon the governments, during oppression and dictatorships, where the state is very hostile toward them. However, Shia scholars have managed to stay away from politics during this entire time, and never let their financial independence be a mean for interfering with the affairs of the state, whether the state is democratic or coercive.

 

 

What the California Drought Means to the Rest of the U.S.

By Amanda C.
Edited by Ali Reza

The drought in California is not a short-term issue that can be quickly resolved. In fact, it has persisted for seven years now (according to NASA it started in 2008), forcing lawmakers and residents to take more drastic measures to try to conserve available water resources. California residents and businesses are being asked to reduce their water consumption as much as possible and be mindful of more critical uses.

However, the impact of the drought does not just affect those living in California. It reaches much further and takes a toll on the United States as a whole. While other states may not be facing a water shortage themselves, they feel the effects of California’s struggles.

Rising Costs of Food

Much of the nation’s produce is grown in California. It is shipped throughout the country and brings in valuable revenue. With such a heavy drought, farmers are being forced to cut back on their crops because they don’t have the water supply to sustain them all. Their yields are down which means less product to ship and sell. The produce and other crops that are being distributed come at a higher price because they are in short supply. Grocery stores across the United States are raising their prices to try to accommodate for the increased price they pay for these limited items. Some farmers are also choosing to sell their water to the state to help offset shortages and still bring in revenue. This also impacts the amount of crops produced.

In addition to crops, animals are also affected. Farmers must make sure that they have enough grain and water to support their livestock. People across the nation feel the impact at the meat counter as they see prices rising. However, this also puts more focus on non-California growers and gives them a chance to maximize their return. Other growers throughout the United States may see more demand for their products.

One upside to the drought is that for California vintners and growers, it means a better vintage. Wine grapes actually thrive with little water so these businesses are still seeing plenty of yield and producing wine. This is one area of business that is not so hard hit.

Economic Troubles

The impact of the drought on California businesses can have a ripple effect.  As previously mentioned, the effect on agriculture will increase food prices nationwide. This means that even those who do not live in California will be paying more for groceries. Businesses may see less revenue and production which could negatively impact the economy. Furthermore, there may be reductions in force as employees get laid off to cut costs and scale business to accommodate for changes driven by the drought. More people could be looking for work and drawing from unemployment as they search in a tighter job market.

Changes to Tourism

With so many restrictions on water usage, this could also affect tourism in California. Drier, hotter weather means less snow for skiing in the mountains, more struggle to keep businesses open, and potentially fewer luxuries at hotels and resorts. Business owners must find ways to make ends meet while still accommodating visitors. Rather than washing linens every day, visitors staying for several nights may be asked to wait a day or two in between. Restaurants are beginning to only refill water glasses upon guest requests rather than when they begin to get low. With less snow on the mountains, some resorts have shut down early this season. Fewer tourists once again has a ripple effect on the economy.

As California strives to adapt to the drought crisis, the rest of the nation will as well. Limited supplies of produce and other food sources mean changing menus and adjusting diets. People will be re-examining their budgets to accommodate for higher prices and thinking twice about where they are headed on vacation. As California waits to see if it will catch a break and get much needed rain to help curb the effects of the drought, the rest of the nation waits with it.

Employment News: 6 In-Demand Jobs

By Amanda C (Contributor)
Edited by Ali Reza

With continual news coming out of the Department of Labor regarding the improvement of the American economy, there is a general feeling of hope and excitement amongst workers.  Consult this list and learn where the most in-demand jobs happen to be and the educational requirements for each role.

  • Biomedical Engineering.  Professionals in this field are responsible for developing and designing artificial organs and prosthetic limbs.  Most entry-level positions in this field require at least a Bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering, or at the very least, a four year certificate from an accredited program.  For professionals interested in faculty-level positions or engaging in research in this field, a Master’s degree is typically required.
  • Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts.  These technology professionals have the ability to configure and organize the internal IT systems used by corporations.  Usually requiring a BS in Technology or Computer Science, candidates in this field are in high demand as office settings become more virtual with workers operating in off-site environments.  Additionally, added potential is given to workers who have this type of background and who also hold MBAs in Information Systems.
  • Home Health Care Professionals.  As Baby Boomers continue to retire, the field of home health care is an ever expanding one.  These individuals help elderly or disabled clients with ongoing health needs, and advise families on nutrition, cleanliness, and overall health.  Professionals in this field typically require either a certificate from an accredited institution or an Associate’s degree.
  • Physician’s Assistants.  A professional who serves as Physician’s Assistant engages in duties related to administration of medication, conducts physicals, counsels patients, and is key in maintaining the overall flow of a medical office.  A PA is required to have a Bachelor’s degree in the field.
  • Pharmacy Technicians.  A Pharmacy Technician works under the supervision of a lead pharmacist and is responsible for preparing medication and delivering upon customer service needs.  Pharmacy Technicians are responsible for completing a program that typically lasts for six months to two years—depending on the program, a professional in this field usually holds a Pharmacy Technician Certificate or an Associate’s degree.
  • Computer Software Engineers.  The role of a Computer Software Engineer is one that is ever changing, largely because technology processes continue to develop at such an alarming rate.  A professional in this field is responsible for applying theories of computer science in the design and development of software.  Degrees held by these in-demand professionals are typically Bachelors-level and focus on computer engineering, computer science, mathematics, and information technology.  Moreover, this field is one where a professional has the option of also working independently or on a freelance basis—there are many organizations that are searching for contract workers.

The salary ranges for these fields do vary, as do the demands placed on professionals who operate in these areas.  In order to know if one of these fields is right for you and your career, take the time to properly research salary information and other statistics.  Up-to-date, factual information can be found on job resource websites such as Glassdoor.com.

 

How Countries are Competing to Attract Foreign Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship is ultimately a win for everyone. When a new business takes root and finds success, it can obviously be life-altering for the entrepreneur, and just as surely, the provision of new products and services is a boon to consumers. But in an even broader sense, entrepreneurship benefits everyone: When entrepreneurs set up shop, they create new economic stimulus, buying opportunities, and tax revenues for the nation in which they operate.

To put it simply: Entrepreneurship is good for national economic growth—which makes it not too surprising at all to find more and more national governments competing for global talents.

In many ways, this is the most significant form of international business competition in 2015: National governments trying to lure enterprising business-starters from foreign soil onto their own, poaching them from their mother countries in hopes of harnessing some of these economic benefits.

This is one of the rare issues on which there is widespread political agreement. Though general immigration laws remain a sticking point in U.S. politics, most everyone agrees that the targeted approach to encouraging the immigration of specific, talented entrepreneurs is beneficial.

It makes sense, even if it may also seem easier said than done. How, in the end, does one country compete with another to bring over entrepreneurs of foreign origin?

For answers, look no further than to the nation of Chile; whose national government has done much to draw thinkers, inventors, and business launchers from other parts of the world. To encourage these expatriates, the Chilean government has implemented an over-arching entrepreneurial incubation program that essentially boils down to two things: Money and travel visas.

On the one hand, Chile has awarded significant grant money to enterprising young business starters who are willing to bring their ideas to that nation. At the same time, these entrepreneurs are awarded travel visas to ensure their stay in Chile is comfortable and relatively hassle-free.

Of course, programs like this one are not unique to Chile, nor are they without some minor problems of their own. For one thing, there is a certain level of infrastructure needed to ensure that grant applications are reviewed and that only truly promising people are accepted into the program—but of course, the economic benefits of homegrown entrepreneurship more than offset these infrastructural costs.

When it comes to attracting foreign entrepreneurs, some countries have built-in advantages. Simply put, it’s easier to obtain bank loans and conduct other transactions in some nations as opposed to others, something that doubtless gives a leg up to the United States, Canada, and even Great Britain, among others.

Other issues are more cultural. Even grant money and a work visa can be unpersuasive if the entrepreneur simply does not want to live in a new land for an extended period of time, something that’s likely when there is a stiff language requirement. Multi-cultural and multi-linguistic countries have the advantage, though even here cultural hurdles can arise.

Something else that entrepreneurs must consider is the nation’s global profile, its level of prestige. The United States, Canada, China, Japan—all are nations that have a certain reputation for innovation and an entrepreneurial bent. Investors looking for the next big thing look here, which provides entrepreneurs in these nations a good platform for turning their ideas into concrete realities.

In a nation like Chile, that reputation for innovation is not quite there yet, though perhaps the current efforts at entrepreneurial development will foster it. That’s the catch-22 that many countries now face: They need to develop a better reputation for supporting entrepreneurs, but to do so they first have to actually coax entrepreneurs to set up shop on their soil.

For entrepreneurs, of course, these are exciting times. More and more, it seems like the opportunities are endless; and for anyone who has a brilliant idea, there may well be several governments vying for the rights to help launch it.

Muslims & Contemporary Challenges – Part 2

This is article is the continuation and the last part of Muslims & Contemporary Challenges.

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

After reviewing the intellectual and cultural challenges in the previous part, I will dissect a new set of challenges that Muslims are facing in contemporary era. As argued in the previous part the challenges are connected to each other, where intellectual struggles would ultimately lead to social challenges, which would definitely result in other continuous types of challenges and struggles. It is obvious that lack of intellectual and social comprehension would result in economic inferiority, which is due to the fact that means of advancement and reforms are not available. In addition, ignorance and the inability to overcome the mentioned struggles, are the perfect pavements for establishing an authoritarian system. Therefore, the primary struggle that would present itself would be the political struggle, which Muslims have been facing for centuries. However, political struggle with Carry all types of challenges and hardships but the main struggle and challenge would be economic struggle, which is linked to the corrupt nature of any authoritarian regime.

Political challenges:

As discussed in previous articles, no one can deny that lack of freedom has been a big part of Muslim characteristic. However, this type of hardship is emerged and formed through a wide range of factors and variables, which are rooted directly in the intellectual and social foundation of Muslim societies or any other society that is being governed by an authoritarian regime. Political leaders become dictators when they don’t face the consequences of their actions on policies, how over evaluating and supervising the conducts and policies of the governing institution, requires thorough and precise knowledge of the necessities needed by a society. In addition, the ability to differentiate between right and wrong policy is major part of the solution, which will prevent the emergence of an authoritarian system that will use the ignorance of the citizens to control and contain them, and ultimately use their wealth and capabilities for its own benefits.

Unfortunately, the Muslim world has been governed by Regimes that invest in the ignorance of their citizens, and put in enormous efforts to ensure the ignorance is kept and contained. Therefore, it is the responsibility of Muslims to seek knowledge, intellect and immune themselves against any type of misuse and corruption. Muslims are able to present hundreds of reasons and factors for their current conditions and circumstances, but these statements would hold no ground when acknowledging that whomever was or still is responsible for their hardships, is actually using their lack of knowledge about their own conditions, to control them and rule them without giving anything back and without being held responsible for his/her misconducts.

However, intellect and knowledge should not be limited to academic institutions. It is obvious due to the corrupt nature of authoritarian regimes seeking education might not be an option for a large portion of the population. Therefore, a Muslim or any other human must acquire knowledge and intellect by any means necessary. Intellectual development and advancement is accomplished through hard work and continuous efforts, nonetheless, academic institutions organize and prepare and guide each individual to seek knowledge and education. Each human being must be able to advance and develop his intellectual capabilities, which will result in a logical and rational arguments against any oppressive and coercive system.

It has been argued through numerous pulls and studies that Muslims and Arabs in general، are in the bottom of the list when it comes to reading and updating their general information. Assuming this information only applies to 50% of the population in the Muslim world it is still very endangering and worrying.

 

Economic Challenges:

When it comes to economic hardships, an observer might argue that Muslim countries are not in need of economic aide. They have the largest natural resources reserves and economic superiority on many levels, which makes them better than most parts of this planet. This statement would be precise if the wealth of Muslim nations was capitalized and invested in the societies for building infrastructures, and providing for the basic necessities of the people. The political struggles of the Muslim nations is accompanied by its own sets of economic laws and rules, which are unique. Favouritism, corruption, bribery and many other wrong policies have pushed people to seek alternatives. We tend to see majority of the population active in the agricultural fields, are leaving their regions and heading for the cities, which is effecting an important part of a country’s source of income. In other sectors, Muslims countries have the highest numbers of Public Sector employees, which are putting heavy burden on the states. Majority of these Public sector employees have paid top dollars for gaining those positions, which means they would do anything necessary to regain the money they have paid and accumulate wealth and unfortunately, these cases mean more harassment to citizens and widespread of bribery and corruption. In addition, the states are using such positions as a mean of gaining loyal subjects and implementing favoritism, which would ultimately divide the population into categories.

The list of economic challenges of Muslims are very long, and overcoming these challenges doesn’t need a revolution, since the recent revolutions in some Muslim counties have proven to be useless and catastrophic as a matter fact. Therefore, the Muslims need a major movement which will include Intellectual, social, political and economic reform, or in other word they need something more like a renaissance. Muslims must realize that achieving such a change is possible and it is only a matter of will, major sacrifices and choosing the right leadership to lead this renaissance.

Eradication of Poverty from the Viewpoint of Shia Jurists – Part 9 (Final Part)

Below is part 9 and the final part of article ‘Eradication of Poverty from the Viewpoint of Shia Jurists’, a research paper article written by religious scholar Ostad Daneshgar. You can read and review each part by going to  Part 1, Part 2, Part3, Part4, Part5, Part6, Part7, Part 8.
By: Mostafa Daneshgar

To sum up, last article seeks to find the views of jurists and the way they have dealt with the issue of poverty and absolute poverty in particular. Therefore, the article has been trying to address such issues as the rulings with regards to combating poverty, the duties of the government and the wealthy in the fight, the limits of their responsibilities as well as the question whether battling absolute poverty comes before other levels of poverty. What follows are the results of the study in a nutshell.

  1. In case someone is in urgent need of food, it’s incumbent upon everyone in possession of food to save them. If there’s only one person available to do so, then it becomes Wajib-e-aini (an act whose performance is obligatory for all Muslims). If there is more than one, the obligation becomes Wajib Kafai (a Muslim duty that won’t be obligatory for others if done by somebody), because saving the life of a person in need is viewed as an obligation in itself. Still, since offering is an obligation only to a level which is enough to remove the risk unless doing beyond that is required.
  2. Apart from the urgent situation and needs, the duties of the rich with regard to the needy fall into two categories. First, financial obligations such as Zakat, Khoms, Fitrah Zakat, Kaffarahs, harvesting right, and even Nazr. And second, voluntary donations by the rich like loans, public donations and donations mentioned in a person’s will, which the wealthy believers do for the sake of God and the afterlife reward.
  3. According to jurists, governments have a responsibility toward the poor, and can make use of sources of funding in their possession. Part of that funding needs to be spent on battling poverty, while the amounts which have no defined target should be allocated to the public interests of the Muslim community. It’s the religious government which decides what amount to be spent on combating poverty and which level of priority that fight is has.
  4. Some of the sources of funding allocated to combating poverty have targeted eradicating absolute poverty. A loan is another source through which the needy put together a limited amount of money to run a business and save themselves from normal poverty and even absolute poverty. However, lending would make no sense for the needy who are unable to pay the amount back. Different forms of charity, such as cash donations and harvesting right are voluntary moves considered to be rewarding deeds which are aimed at eradicating absolute poverty, while Fitrah Zakat and Kaffarahs are obligations upon the rich for the same purpose.
  5. Zakat is considered as the crucial obligatory source of funding in the battle against poverty. It appears that jurists have not set a priority for the levels of poverty when it comes to Zakat, because neither Shia nor Sunni scholars believe in the extension of Zakat to different groups of the poor. Indeed, they have allowed the rich to spend their Zakat on any group of the poor which might not be the worst-hit by poverty. Second, aside from Sheikh Tousi in his Mabsout, no other scholar has addressed the question of insufficiency; that is when the amount paid is not enough to meet the demands.  (One exception is late scholar Sadr in his treatise “Our Economy”). Such an issue has not been addressed probably because of the fact that the scholars do not consider a heavier responsibility for the rich and the government beyond what has been already set, no matter whether the payment suffices or not.
  6. The point mentioned above indicates that jurists in general have not set priorities as to what levels of poverty should be tackled first. In other words, taking into account the quotes which consider Zakat as a sufficient source to meet the demands of the needy, the scholars have found it unessential to address the question of insufficiency. Indeed, they say, in case everyone upon whom paying Zakat is obligatory does so, poverty will be definitely uprooted. To put it in another way, the existing poverty is not due to the Zakat being inadequate, it’s rather because not all the rich have lived up to their responsibility to pay it. If this is a logical reason, then it can justify the jurists’ refusal to address the issue of insufficiency and the necessity for extension. In fact, it is supposed that even if extension does not take place, Zakat in itself should be sufficient to eradicate poverty. And when prioritizing is on a time basis, that still does not necessarily mean combating absolute poverty does not come before the other levels. However, in case the prioritizing is not about the timing and rather about the payment only, that means insufficiency has been an assumption that contradicts the issue of sufficiency of Zakat for the needy. Another reason why jurists never raised the issue of insufficiency could be the fact that they do not recognize financial duties for the rich other than the os already defined and set. As a result, to them, it’s out of the question whether the set paid amounts eradicate poverty or not, because in either case what matters is that the rich have lived up to their duty. This very conclusion has been drawn upon quotes which are still being questioned by some.
  7. Putting the above mentioned points together, it’s concluded that according to the jurists the necessity to combat poverty has been addressed in such obligations upon the rich as Zakat, Khoms, Kaffarah and Fitrah Zakat as well as government funding. Now, if even after those payments are made and obligations lived up to, poverty still exists, that would not create a new obligation on the rich to pay beyond the levels already defined. Nevertheless, combating poverty could be strengthened with extra charitable activities which the jurists have advised the rich to turn to on a voluntary basis, emphasizing extra financial assistance and observing brotherhood rights for good reasons and in an effort to gain divine reward and blessings in the afterlife.

 

Eradication of Poverty from the Viewpoint of Shia Jurists – Part 8

Below is part 8 of ‘Eradication of Poverty from the Viewpoint of Shia Jurists’ research paper article written by religious scholar Ostad Daneshgar. There will be one last part coming after this post concluding the entire research paper. You can read the previous parts by going to  Part 1, Part 2, Part3, Part4, Part5, Part6, or Part7
By: Mostafa Daneshgar

 

2) Issue of food: according to Shahid Thani in his Sharh Lame’h, the following are considered as emergency cases about food:

a) When a person fears he might die if he is not given food on time.

b) When a person is sure that if he fails to eat, he may fall ill or his illness may deteriorate.

c) When failure to eat causes severe body weakness and makes the person in question lag behind fellow passengers on a trip and puts him in trouble.

50) A review of the way the Islamic scholars have addressed these special cases could help one understand them better. When a person fears he may die if he fails to eat, or he may get sick or his illness may worsen, then if there’s no food donation around, he’s allowed to eat a limited amount (enough to remove the risk) of the meat of dead or Haram animals. Now, if a food supply is available, there will be two possibilities: first the person may afford to pay for the food in which case it’s obligatory upon the owner of the food to accept the deal because the other party’s health is at risk.

The same holds true when the person in question is sick or a lack of food may deteriorate his health condition. When the person is able to afford to pay, the payment becomes obligatory, because failure to do so is considered inflicting a loss on the food owner, unless he willingly and voluntarily refuses to receive the payment. But now the question is what should be done when the food owner offers it for a price higher than the normal rate? In such a case, Sheikh Tousi argues, the person in the emergency situation is allowed to take the food by force, because legally and basically that food is considered his share when the other party refuses to offer it. He goes on to say that if the person is not able to do so by force, then he can resort to a trick so that he won’t have to pay an amount bigger than the real price. Still, if that doesn’t work either, then he should pay the price which the owner demands. Tousi has found that there are differences among scholars regarding this last issue. He says a group of them has accepted the last resort while others contend that the person in emergency should not pay beyond the normal amount, because they believe the case of such a person is like the case of a person who’s forced to do so. And that’s the view which Sheikh Tousi himself finds better.

51 Allameh in his Mokhtalef, Mohaqiq in his Sharaye’ as well as Saheb Javaher all believe that if the person in emergency affords to pay the price above the normal rate, he can do so, but in case that price is beyond his power, then it’s not incumbent on him to pay. Another question is, now, what if the person in emergency has no money to pay, would it be then obligatory on the one in possession of the food to offer it for free? The answer by such scholars as Sheikh Tousi in his Khalaf and Ibn Idriss in Sara’er is negative. They argue that first of all donating one’s property does not come before losing it. Therefore, that doesn’t make it forbidden for the owner if he refuses to offer the food. Secondly, protecting the other person’s life is obligatory only when there’s “consensus” on that and consensus becomes convincing only once the reasons are strong enough. As a result, it cannot be asserted for sure that protecting the other person’s life in exchange for someone’s property is absolutely obligatory, because the conventional ways and rules negate that. For instance, when a person’s life can be saved by paying money for his release or someone who is ill can be cured by donation, the common rules have not made such payments obligatory, meaning that protecting the other person’s life is not an absolute must. Still, unlike what Sheikh Tousi and Ibn Idriss argue, other scholars believe that donating food to a person in emergency is obligatory. They have cited different sources and quotes, one of them by Imam Sadiq as narrated by Ibn Abi Amir in his Mo’tabareh: “Anyone who utters a word which may contribute to the death of another fellow Muslim will be deprived from Allah’s compassion on the Day of Judgment.” 54 Deprivation from God’s compassion comes when the person commits a forbidden deed. And for the case mentioned above, the food owner commits a forbidden act when he utters the words “I’m not giving away”, which leads to the death of the other side that is in urgent need of the food. Meanwhile, Saheb Javaher says the absolute necessity and obligatory nature of protecting another person’s life is so obvious that it does not demand any reasoning or explanation. 55) Now, having accepted the argument by the majority of scholars that offering food is obligatory, now the next issue is the amount. How much is the food owner obliged to donate? Should he offer only a limited amount, enough to remove the risk and save the life of the needy person, or should he give a share big enough to make the other side feel full? Shahid Thani raises two possibilities and offers explanations for both. 56 Saheb Javaher has found obvious faults in the argument that it is obligatory for the food owner to offer an amount which makes the needy person feel full. Thus, he maintains that the limited amount to save the person’s life in emergency would suffice and beyond that, is not an obligation upon the food owner. 57) What makes the issue challenging is the fact that two major contradictory points have to be taken into account, that is the necessity to protect the life of the needy person on one hand, and the notion that “any body has the freedom and legal power to decide about his possessions”. Now the contradiction arises when one has to observe both notions. However, the protection of the other person’s life is a priority over the second notion. Still, the amount being offered does not have to go beyond the emergency level. In fact, beyond that level would no longer make the first notion a priority over the second one.  Therefore, offering an amount beyond the risk level is not an obligation. If the owner does so, however, he will be doing thawab that’s a deed deserving divine reward. Now, another question is about the case in which the person in need is in an emergency situation and there is more than one person in possession of food to meet his demand. Apparently, this has not been addressed. But jurists’ understanding says it’s Wajib Kafai upon them i.e. if the demand is met by a few, then it’s no longer an obligation for the rest.

 

Conclusion (Last part Coming)

Eradication of Poverty from the Viewpoint of Shia Jurists – Part 7

Below is the continuation and part of three of previous article previous article, Eradication of Poverty from the Viewpoint of Shia Jurists – Part 6.
By: Mostafa Daneshgar

One of the issues that has been raised with regards to the spending of Zakat is extension and non-extension. Indeed, the question is: considering the fact that individuals eligible to receive Zakat fall into eight categories, should the amount of Zakat be the same among all of them or only a certain category should receive it? Shia scholars believe that although there are eight categories of individuals eligible to receive Zakat, the extension of the payment among all of them is not obligatory. Therefore, even though it is said that the two words poverty and destitution indicate two different levels, if they are used together, the scholars believe the extension is not obligatory. There is no reason to study the differences between the two. This is because any finding to that effect will have no scientific ground.

  1. In his Tazkerat-ul-Foqaha, late Islamic scholar Helli asserts that Shia jurists unanimously believe that extension is not obligatory. The same opinion is shared by Sunni scholars as well. Such prominent thinkers as Hassan Basri, Thouri, Abu Hanifeh, Ahmad, Umar, Haziqeh, Ibn Abbas, Saeed Bin Jubair, Tah’ei, Ata’ and Abu Obaid also hold the same view. Malik, however, contends that though extension is not obligatory, it is a necessity that the needier be a priority. 45 Considering the fact that there is a wide diversity in the levels of poverty, ranging from people lacking the bare essentials of living to those earning a lower amount than what they deserve, the view that extension is not obligatory and that paying people within each of those categories indicates that there’s a lack of a clarified method to combat the ugliest and worst side of poverty namely absolute poverty.
  2. Question of Zakat when it is not sufficient to meet the demands of the needy; Regarding Khoms for the Sayyids, Islamic scholars argue that when that share is not enough, it’s on the ruler to complete it through funding from public property. Although, the issue of insufficiency of Khoms has been addressed by Islamic scholars, little has been done in the case of Zakat. 46 The only scholar who’s dealt with the matter is Sheikh Tousi in his “Mabsout”. In fact, other than Tousi, no scholar has elaborated on the question that if Zakat only partially meets the demands of the needy, what should be done to resolve the problem?Tousi maintains that to complete the share and fully meet the demands of the needy, the required funding has to be supplied by public property. Now, the question is why jurists have failed to address the issue of insufficiency. Two major reasons could explain this. First, they might believe that with Zakat being appropriately paid, the demands of the needy will be fully met; hence there will be no need for other sources of funding to be resorted to. As a result, except for Sheikh Tousi, no other jurist has elaborated on the issue. It appears that the root of such a stance that’s shared among the majority of the scholars who believe that Zakat would suffice the needs of the poor is in the quotes, as some of them have made it clear that should the rich observe paying Zakat, that would be enough for the needy and poverty will be eradicated.In his Sahiheh, Abdullah Bin Sanan quotes Imam Sadiq as saying “The same way He made it obligatory for His servants to practice prayers, Allah Almighty has obligated Zakat as well…The Great Lord has made it incumbent upon the rich to sufficiently supply the needs of the poor. Indeed, Allah would have raised the level of Zakat had it not been enough to meet the demands of the needy. Therefore, the poverty which the needy suffer from is rooted in the refusal on the part of the wealthy to pay their share, not insufficiency in God’s rule.”47 Mohammad Bin Moslem’s Sahiheh and credible quotes from Imam Sadiq also confirm the same notion. 48 According to those quotes, God has defined Zakat in a way that it manages to fully meet the demands of the needy.The problem, nevertheless, lies in the fact that some of the wealthy do not live up to their responsibility with regard to Zakat. Therefore, it seems that the scholars’ belief in the abovementioned principle is the main reason why they never tackled the question as to what should be done when Zakat is not sufficient. In other words, they might believe that there’s no more right for the poor beyond what has been set in the rules of Zakat, regardless of whether the amount meets their demands or not. As a matter of fact, once Zakat is paid, it means the duty has been fulfilled and the rule has been observed.Even paying an amount more than what has been set, demands a justification and explanation on the part of the payer. This perception could be based on quotes and citations which emphasize that there’s no obligation on one’s wealth except for what the 9-artcile rule of Zakat has set. 49 Taking into account the arguments mentioned above, it could be concluded that from the viewpoint of Islamic jurists there’s no specified and separate stance to combat absolute poverty that is the situation in which the individual is unable to meet his bare essentials such as food, clothing and housing. This could be explained by the notion that the funding provided by Zakat, Khoms, and Kaffarahs which are obligatory for the wealthy could suffice the needs of the poor.

    It’s the government which has the duty to collect the payments offered by the wealthy and use them in public consumption. Indeed, there’s no more responsibility beyond that for the wealthy. The fact that those payments suffice the eradication of poverty as asserted in some major quotes could explain this stance of the scholars. The same holds true for the government, that is, if the public property is not enough to eradicate poverty, the government does not have to resort to new funding resources or increase taxes. Now, another issue with regard to Zakat is the target.

    From the viewpoint of Shia jurists, Zakat is a uniquely Shia concept while Sunnis (except for deviated groups) believe it’s for all Muslim sects. In other words, for the former, the non-Shia citizens are exempt from Zakat regulations but for the latter all non-Muslim people living under the Islamic rule are exempt.  Still, some quotes indicate that if the establishment is a religious one, then paying Zakat will not apply to Shias only.

 2) Issue of food: (Coming soon)