Islam on Wealth and Poverty

For Islam, all belongs to God, who provides material sustenance for humanity. At the same time, people are morally bound to support themselves and their families; idlers and thieves are considered parasites. Islam's protection of private property is tempered by its recognition that the poor have a claim on the property of the rich, who are exhorted to give generously out of their surplus. Almsgiving is a pillar of Islam, and sharing one's wealth with the poor is recognized as an effective means to atone for sin. Within this broad framework, differences of opinion abound. For example, demanding interest on loans used for meeting basic necessities of life, defined as usury, is roundly condemned, while debate continues on the status of modern banking practices, even as their potential contribution to social prosperity is recognized. With the emergence of oil wealth, especially in the Gulf, great energy has been devoted to reviving the financial norms of Islam, evident in the emergence of an influential international Islamic banking system. Today, robust national and transnational Islamic social institutions provide poverty relief, education, and health services, often more effectively than the state.