Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Role Of Ethics In Ensuring Effectiveness Of Poverty Eradication And Development Schemes.

(This topic was one of the four short essays that I did for my Islamic Economics Assignment @ INCEIF for my CIFP course. It is quite brief as the lecturer had restricted the essay to a maximum of three pages. Feel free to comment. )
The Role Of Ethics In Ensuring Effectiveness Of Poverty Eradication And Development Schemes.
Ethics should not be attached to religious belief per se although every single religion advocates high ethical value. If this is correct than ethical people will only be among those who are religious. Ethics in general, encompasses moral values of a society. However, moral values changes with the development of civilization. What may be morally right before may not be so in the present day.
Ethics in Islam is a mirror of good values that is enshrined in the Shariah. It covers not only the outward acts but also includes spiritual in nature. It includes the ethics of individual, society, legal creatures (like companies, corporation, organization etc.) and most importantly the relationship between the three entities mentioned above. Islamic ethics will ensure the relationship that man has with man and most importantly man’s relationship with Allah. In other words, Islamic ethics is comprehensive and is constant over time. This is because the Shariah itself never changes but the Shariah changes those who embrace it. It is this reason why Islamic ethics is very important especially in the eradication of poverty.
To understand the importance of poverty we must understand Maqasid Shariah. Maqasid Shariah protects the five basic fundamentals of mankind’s basic needs which are:
i) Religion, ii) Life, iii) Intellect, iv) Progeny or Lineage  and v) Wealth. 
The fulfillment of these needs is considered as the basic goal of Shariah. These needs are arranged according to the following three hierarchy which are:
 i) Daruriyyah (necessity); ii) Hajiyat (convenience) and iii) Kamaliyat (completeness) or Tahsiniyyat (refinements). 
Poverty finds its importance in the first hierarchy i.e. Daruriyah. If someone cannot fulfill the needs of Maqasid Shariah at the Daruriyah level, he is considered to be in poverty.
Poverty has been a problem for all societies in every single civilization. It is no longer regarded as an economic phenomenon but has been accepted as social and political problem. Imam Ghazali understands poverty to be a state of not being able to fulfill one’s need. To ascertain if one is poor would depend on the concept of poverty line income. The basic requirement of one’s need differs between places and countries. Therefore, the poverty line income may change and is not static. Hence, the absolute poverty test is relative to the poverty line income. It is the government’s duty to determine the poverty line income to accurately characterize someone as being poor. Poor is further divided into needy and destitute. The destitute are those who are hard-core poor and should receive priority when attention is given to eradicate poverty. If we are able to distinguish one to fit the categories mentioned above, we can also determine who can receive zakah and who are supposed to give zakah.
Islamic ethics acknowledges the problems associated with poverty and thus made it a point to ensure an effective way to eradicate poverty in society.
The hadith where the Prophet guided a destitute man to trade his mat for some food and an axe to chop fire wood would be the basis for the eradication of poverty. An analysis of that hadith shows that it is important to guide a poor man and educate him with means to get out of poverty. Give a man a fish and he eats for the day, teach him how to fish and he will be able to eat for a lifetime is what the Chinese saying teaches us. Thus education is the most fundamental scheme.
Islam also has funding scheme which would allow the authorities to use to alleviate the poor. Namely, they are Zakah, Waqf, welfare stipend from the Baitul Mal, gifts, compulsory stipend by a wealthy family member and finding of treasure just to name a few. The rest such as spoils of war and al-Fay are no longer applicable in this era.
There is a need to create a new cycle of wealth and opportunity in order to phase out the poor from being in poverty. Currently the management of Zakah and Waqf have been extended to not only provide basic funding but to also provide scholarship for the needy and qualified students to further their education and be able to obtain decent jobs with a decent lifestyle. Successful companies also have Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to help create awareness to the middle and upper class society the current situation of the poor and how they can help to improve such condition. For example, “The Kids and Cash Program” by the Securities Industry Development Corporation, the training and development arm of Securities Commission, have been able to reach primary school children at the outskirts of each State in Malaysia to educate them about the importance of saving money.
There is an NGO in Malaysia called Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM) which gives small loans with a very low service charge to hard-core poor for them to initiate small scale business. Its idea is to provide for individuals from the hard-core poor group some capital for them to earn an honest living. After educating the borrowers of their rights and responsibilities, they are placed in small groups where their business development is monitored by their peers with a need for regular updates to the AIM. The concept is similar to the hadith except that AIM provides the small loans as capital apart from assisting them in their business as well.
Even if such programs are not done by an Islamic institution per se, if its functions and objectives are to eradicate poverty and is in compliance with the Shariah, it should be accepted. This is because, as have been mentioned in the first paragraph, ethics should not be restricted to religion per se. However, as Muslims, eradication of poverty is our responsibility to do so.
 (Allah knows best)
Blog adjourned.

2 obiter dictum:

Twiggy said...

apesal besar sunggoh font u nih

two_one said...

Masa ni belum reti control size font yang sesuai... sekarang dah pandai dah. tq.