The Psychological Role of Islam in Economic Development

Baqir Al-Sadr Muhammad

in Islam in Transition: Muslim Perspectives

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195174304
Published online November 2007 |
The Psychological Role of Islam in Economic Development

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Born in Baghdad, Baqir al-Sadr, an intellectual, religious, and political leader, excelled in religious studies in Najaf and wrote his first book, Our Philosophy, in 1959. This was followed by Our Economy (1960), among the most influential twentieth-century books on Islamic economics, as well as other works on Quranic interpretation, jurisprudence, theology, and philosophy. A member of the Jamaat al-Ulama in Najaf, founded by his uncle Murtada Al Yasin in 1960, he published the review al-Adwa. Baqir al-Sadr is also credited with having begun a reform of the courses of study in Najaf and had a project to reform the institution of religious leadership. His published fatwas are considered innovative. Two fatwas led to his elimination by Saddam Hussein's government. One prohibited membership in the Bath party and praying behind Imams who collaborated with the regime. The other called for open armed struggle against the regime. On April 8, 1980, he was liquidated along with his sister, Bint al-Huda.

The work from which this preface is selected was written in 19601961. Sadrs writings were the inspiration for Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeinis doctrine of the mandate of the jurist [wilayat al-faqih; Pers. vilayat-i faqih]. Here, however, al-Sadrs point is to show that post-independence elites have chosen either the capitalist or the socialist model to develop their economies and that neither model has brought success. The leaders have been faced with the artificial conditions created by the colonialists in the region in order to prevent development by the Muslims. Sadr commends what he terms the Islamic program and its economic system to the elites of the Muslim world, whom he chides for not applying them. He maintains that such a program is naturally more fitting because Muslims are familiar with its principles or will at least be comfortable with them once they understand their content. Members of the ummah (Islamic community) will not be able psychologically to separate either the capitalist or socialist model from their own colonial experiences, whereas if they adopt a model rooted in the ummahs own experiences and history, the necessity of operating with an alien approach to development will be obviated. Sadr maintains that in the West the individual has long been oriented to life in this world, even to the point of bringing God to earth in the person of Christ. Accordingly, the capitalist and socialist systems adopted in the West were suited to their experiences and expectations. Muslims, however, are oriented to the invisible and to their membership in groups. For better or worse, this has kept them from grasping personal freedom in the way the Europeans have. But because God has made the human being His trustee and steward on earth, Muslims develop the proper sense of responsibility toward its resources. This is the best way to develop ones community, because it guards against apathy and indolence on the one hand and greed and avarice on the other.

Chapter.  5266 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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