Maximum facets of Al-Ghazali’s life depended upon Islamic principles, and his economic thinking were no exception. Every economy tries to maximize the returns of economic activities in which it is involved. Whatever , it be the organizing principles of an economy, economic activities are broadly classified into three broad categories-primary, secondary and tertiary, which are known as the three sectors of an economy. The economy will run through economic activities of production, consumption, investment, and exchange which relates to prices of goods and services, on the one hand, and prices of factors of production on the other.
Al-Ghazali held an economic activity at the topmost level in his life and economic thought. According to him, economic activities are not only necessary for the attainment of welfare and overall benefit to society, but also for achieving excellence and purity here and the Hereafter, spiritual completeness and salvation. The worldly life of humanity and the ordinary business of life is a function (dependency) of the economic activity of people, and for that reason, Ghazali also regarded being economically dynamic and active was an authorized part of the Islamic or Sharia law (Ghazanfar & Islahi, 1997).
Allocation and optimization of resources are the twin goals of economic activity. And, Al-Ghazali established three-goal lines of economic activity that he assumed were attached to one’s religious responsibility as well as advantageous to the individual: goal of self-reliance for one’s subsistence, endowments for the welfare of one’s progeny, and providing facilities for those in financial and economic need(Ghazanfar & Islahi, 1997). The material groundwork or underpinning of social and economic life is the economy or a broad framework within which the economic activities are carried out.
Every economy tries to maximize the returns of economic activities in which it is involved. Economic self-sufficiency empowers one to integrate the individuality of one’s republic, provides ideological and political freedom, and autonomy in defense. Furthermore, it safeguards the rich material, traditional, and cultural lives of the people. Ghazali argued that living for mere survival, or living which only offers the basic requirements for one and one’s household is not good for the macro level or for the economy as a whole because it would not be a satisfactory exercise to be held by the general population due to disadvantageous outcomes and negative externalities that he thought that would bring upon the economy.
Melancholy or unhappiness is fashioned once we strive for wants which are unlimited (Robins, 1945) and the conviction that one should satisfy only one’s own wants and desires. Nonetheless, Ghazali did admit that some people would prefer a low standard of living at their own will for the sake of their individual religious drives and for the illumination of the soul. Too much material lust is not good which is why he discourages people from holding excessive material goods, indicating that money earned over and above one’s needs must be handed over to the poor so that their standard of living is improved.
Egalitarianism or classlessness prioritizes equality for all people. Al-Ghazali thought that economic egalitarianism or equality of income in society should not be forcefully thrust upon people, but rather they should be motivated by the spirit of Islamic brotherhood so that they voluntarily share their wealth and capital, even though he is well acquainted with the fact that this will not always be the case. According to him, wealth earned could be spent in two possible ways. First is good spending, such as keeping good health for oneself and the family along with looking after others and their needs. It also encompasses any other arrangement or activity benefiting the Islamic community. The second being what in economics we call uneconomical activity which Al-Ghazali would consider waste, outlay on extravagant or unnecessary goods and services.
Terms of Trade can be understood as the number of import goods an economy can obtain per unit of export goods(Salvatore, 2010). As far as trade and business is concerned, Al-Ghazali discoursed the need of exchanging goods and services across nearby cities as well as larger borders, since this permits more goods and services, which are very important both from trade and welfare point of view and not yet available, to be easily reached to more people in a number of places. Growth and development from low-income to middle-income to high-income country rank or position depends heavily on efficacious and successful trade mechanisms. He recognizes the need of trade and its overall positive and beneficial impact on the economy, even if creating wealth in this way might not be well-thought-out as righteous in his views but he never encouraged people taking supernormal or excessive profits from their trade transactions.
There is a need for a paradigm shift from the pure economic-based approach to a spiritually based approach which has its roots in religion and philosophies of great Muslim philosophers including Al-Ghazali. We need to revisit the philosophy and economic thought of this great thinker. We need to realize the fact that happiness encompasses the transformation of the self, and that this transformation entails the realization that individual is predominantly a spiritual being. And he who knows himself is truly happy (Al-Ghazali, 1991). Our faith needs to be made strong enough to bring equilibrium in all state of affairs. Extravagance must be avoided and the principle of the economy be followed by heart. Emphasis needs to be put on Islamic Ethics which inspires a man to take all necessary measures to be polite, upright and virtuous. The concept of man and his activities in Islam needs to be understood in order to understand the philosophy of Al-Ghazali , in general’ and his economic thought , in particular.
Al-Ghazali, Abu Hamid. (1991). The Alchemy of Happiness. Trans. And ed. Claud Field and Elton I. Daniel. London: M.E. Sharpe.
Ghazanfar, M.S. & Islahi, A.A. (1997). Economic Thought of Al-Ghazali. Islamic Economics Research Series, King Abdul-Aziz University-2. Scientific Publishing Centre. Retrieved fromhttp: //www.Targheeb.com/phocadownload/Trade/economics%20thoughts.pdf.
Robins, L. (1945). An Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science.Macmillan and Co., Limited ST. Martin’s Street, London. Retrieved fromhttps://is. Muni .cz /el /1423 /jaro2013/HEN444/um/Robbins-1932.pdf.
Salvatore, D. (2010). International Economics. Eleventh Edition. Wiley. Retrieved fromhttps: //www.academia.edu/23746793/International_Economics_Eleventh_Edition_Dominick_Salvatore.
—The author is a Research Scholar at the Department of Economics, Central University of Kashmir and an Academic Counsellor, IGNOU STUDY CENTRE 1209,S.P. College, Srinagar. She is also Editor in EPH – International Journal of Business and Management Science & Asian Journal of Managerial Science and the recipient of IJRULA title awards, 2018 winner (Best Researcher, 2018). She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org