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Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Role of Islam in Protection of Consumer Rights

The Role of Islam in Protection of Consumer Rights 


Islam is a complete code of life, which protected rights of consumes through the Shari’a Law on trade and commerce mechanism. Islamic Economic System is different from others as it prohibits some types of trade and provides specific principles for lawful trade and commerce.  
Quran is the divine revelation by Allah almighty through angel Gabriel to Muhammad (SAW). Although revealed about fourteen and half centuries ago, It is regarded as the most effective and efficient doctrine of consumer protection. Islam arrived in Sub Continent in 7th century AD and played the most important part in the consumerism of subcontinent.

In 624 AD, one of the disciples of Muhammad (SAW), Malik Bin Deenar, came to Kerala (India) and started trading with locals in a way that was new and welcoming to them, the way trading with honesty, ethics and general concern for consumer. The locals, inspired by Malik Bin Deenar, informed the local king Cheraman Perumal. King summoned Malik Bin Deenar to understand why his practices of trade were different from local traders. In response, Malik Bin Deenar said that he was a follower of Islam and all his honesty and ethics in trade was due to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

According to historians, king Perumal was so impressed by the principles of Islam that he became the first person in subcontinent to convert as a muslim and left for Hajj in Makkah.
For a Businessman, Islam has emphasized that there is no other way than to satisfy a consumer. He has to satisfy the consumer even if the market forces to drive down the profits. Profit are just the means to keep the business alive, in the end the consumer should always be satisfied. Quran is also very particular about contracts. It is said in Quran,

                "The almighty says... O you who believe! Fulfill your contracts".(5:1)

The standardization of measurements and weights is also addressed in Quran as follows,

                "Give full measure when ye measure, and weigh with a balance that is straight; that is the most fitting and the most advantageous in the final determination."(17:35)

These days, when it is common practice to artificially manipulate prices, it should be noted that Quran does not allow the storage of food and grains over 40 days for the purpose of increasing prices. It is astonishing that Quran and Islam addressed the consumer rights about fourteen and half centuries ago and introduced the concepts of standardization and calibration of measures. Contract law was also emphasized in Quran for protection of consumers and accountability of macroeconomic system of a country.

Fundamental principles of Islamic Economic System:
Fundamental principles of Islamic Economic System are:
·        Earning by Halal means: Muslim are not allowed to earn and spent in any way they like. They must follow some rules in this regard. (a). Any earning from the production, sale and distribution of alcoholic drinks are unlawful as are earning from gambling, lotteries and from interest (Riba) transactions. (5:90-91, 2:275)
(b). Earning  by falsehood, deceit, fraud, theft, robbery is unlawful. (2:188, 4:2)
(c). Hoarding of foodstuff and basic necessities, smuggling and the artificial creation of storages are unlawful. (3:180, 9:34-35)
(d). Earning from brothels and from such other practices which are harmful to society are also unlawful. (24:23)
·        Liberty of individual: In Islamic system a Muslim has liberty to earn in any lawful means. Islam does not interfere with the freedom of speech, work and earning of an individual provided this freedom is not against the principles of Islam. Every individual will be answerable to Allah (swt.) for his  or her actions. (4:7, 36:71, 16:111)
·        System of Zakah: Compulsory payment of Zakah is one of the basic pillar of Islam and one of the main principles of Islamic Economic System. Every Muslim who owns wealth more than his needs must pay the fix rate of Zakah.
·        Prohibition of interest (Riba): Interest is neither a trade nor a profit. Islam prohibits all transactions involving interest. The Quran says: “They say, trade is like interest and Allah has allowed trade and prohibited interest.” (2:275)
From the above discussion we can say that consumer rights is protected in Islam.
Written By-
Md. Manjur Hossain Patoari 
Lecturer, Dept. of Law, International Islamic University Chittagong.  Cell: 01812-378390
Moderator In Blog-
A.S.M.Mamun Hossain, Advocate and CEO-Lawyersheaven Group
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