Dear scholars, As-Salamu `alaykum. My question is related to the Islamic stance on Private Property. I once argued with a devout Marxist about the ideals of Marxism and Islam. I put forward the logical idea that like his belief in Marxism, Islam also ensures equality in society. He argued that Islam believes in Private Property and that this is always a matter of discrimination and inequality in society. Please tell me how to respond to his logic, even though his argument did not seem very convincing. Jazakum Allah khayran.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Dear questioner, we would like to thank you for the great confidence you place in us, and we implore Allah Almighty to help us serve His cause and render our work for His Sake.
In his response to your question, Dr. Monzer Kahf, a prominent Muslim economist and counselor states:
“Dear brother in Islam, I suggest that you read more details about this issue as a few words in a Fatwa will not be sufficient. One suggestion I would like to make, is that you read the item about ‘Property’ in the Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World.
In brief, private property is an essential part of life in Islam, so much so that one of its pillars, Zakah, is actually based on it. Life becomes unbearable without private property. Furthermore, Islam believes that in the reality of life people are not equal in their abilities to produce and in their abilities to save and accumulate wealth. This reality is completely accepted in Islamic thought.
Equality between mankind is in matters of dignity, in access and opportunities, the standing of the individual before the law, and similar matters. But if one person is able to produce more than the next person then that person has full command on what he/she produces. Additionally, recognizing the differences in real life, Islam also establishes the principle of mercy, so that in spite of these practical differences, no person is to be left alone to fall below the level of human dignity. This principle of mercy is implemented through the obligation of paying Zakah, obligatory financial responsibilities (family, neighbors, etc) and voluntary charity. Islam is the only system/religion that makes helping others an obligation and an unequivocal right of the needy that does not require state legislation nor does it depend on it.”