Religious Studies

Islam: poverty and wealth

The world’s religions teach that God is good, and that God wants all people to enjoy a ‘good life’. Religious people believe that they have a responsibility to try to make the world a better, more equal place for everyone.

Human rights

The world is a place where many people are poor and suffering, while there are some very rich people and institutions living more comfortable lives. People living in developing countries often have a very low standard of living: they do not benefit from modern medical care, have few opportunities for education and little or no access to technology.

Religions teach that this is wrong; everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy the wealth that God’s world has to offer.

Religions teach that this is wrong; everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy the wealth that God’s world has to offer.

The First Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

The Declaration also says:

freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people, the peoples of the United Nations have … determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom

Muslim teaching

Muslims are required to live according to the teachings of the Qur’an (the Divine Book revealed to the Prophet Muhammad) and some jobs are therefore haram (forbidden). Lending money is forbidden if the lender benefits from riba (interest):

That which ye lay out for increase through the property of (other) people, will have no increase with Allah.

Surah 30:39

When people owe money Muslims should be sympathetic to the debtor:

If the debtor is in a difficulty, grant him time till it is easy for him to repay. But if ye remit it by way of charity, that is best for you if ye only knew.

Surah 2:280

There are Muslim banks with special facilities so that Muslims are able to borrow money without the bank making interest on it.

Gambling is also forbidden in Islam:

Satan’s plan is (but) to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah, and from prayer: will ye not then abstain?

Surah 5:91

Many Muslims will not take charitable donations towards building a mosque or school if the money has come from gambling or a lottery.

Muslims in the United Kingdom take an active part in raising money for their mosque where it is distributed to the poor; many will send money to Muslim communities abroad.

Muslim charities such as Muslim Aid and Islamic Relief work to help people in developing countries.

The generous man is near God, near Paradise, near men and far from Hell, and the ignorant man who is generous is dearer to God than a worshipper who is miserly.


Work is a central part of Muslim life:

But Allah has created you and your handiwork!

Surah 37:96

The Qur’an says that Muslims cannot profit from alcohol or gambling, from brothels or prostitution, lying, fraud or burglary:

And do not eat up your property among yourselves for vanities, nor use it as bait for the judges, with intent that ye may eat up wrongfully and knowingly a little of (other) peoples’ property.

Surah 2:188

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