This is a bit of a complex topic, so I think the best way to talk about it is through an example.
Riba and Monetary System
Growing up Muslim, I was always fairly interested in how the system worked. So for example, while most Muslim took the idea of Riba (Banning Interest) to generally mean they abstain from mortgages or credit cards, I tended to think of it as part of the system.
For example, at one point the idea of a fiat monetary system appeared blatantly UnIslamic to me as the entire economic system is based on Riba. Creating money out of nothing. I won't get into it much here, but there was a time I thought remaking the fiat economic system was the reason there was so much poverty and that the solution was to move towards an Islamic gold standard. I spent an inordinate amount of time learning and figuring all this out. You can just google 'Fiat money Islam' and you'll probably get a bunch of hits. Here's just one example.
It was pretty humorous as that let me down a semi-libertarian path in Canada as those were pretty much the only folks talking about a Gold Standard.
Yet, it became much more than that. The more I read about Riba the more I understood it to mean almost any kind of unearned money. This led me down the path of Islamic Economics, which is basically a free market with regulations for monopoly, price fixing...
At that point, I became a fairly Libertarian-Freemarket person and stood firmly against socialism, fiat money.... as a matter of religious principle. I was aware of the irony that in North America, such views are mainly held by Right-Wing Christians. I considered much of the welfare state, much of the taxation, much of the monetary system, and Canadian government programs UnIslamic.
I put this against as my experience, as while most Muslims were content to leave Riba to just mean don't pay interest a loan, it let me down a vastly different path to look at a much bigger picture that has very deep Islamic roots.
CharityI took a similar approach to charity. While for most people, charity is simply giving out money, the more I read, the more I saw the depth.
- Smiling is charity.
- Guiding someone is charity
- Making someone's life easier is charity
- Holding your tongue is charity
- Teaching is charity
Naturally, this was more my mindstate and the expansive nature of values became something I continued. Things like social justice became about paying people a fair wage and not just trying to get the best price. I often wondered how people could talk highly of charity and give free money, while at the same time not paying the working person a good wage. If there's anything to encourage, it would be to reward good work.
While I'm pretty much aganostic with respect to the economic system these days, my mind continues to wonder about various things in Canada.
We talk of the welfare-state, but it really seems limited to healthcare and education in Canada. Often these take up 50% of the budget. People cringe at even the thought of paying a small amount out of pocket towards healthcare of education. Yet, from a social welfare perspective, aren't thing like transit, jobs, housing, food... just as important if not more important than healthcare and education?
It's all just very fascinating to me.