Agriculture is something that is highly regarded in Islam. Islam promotes professions which require labour and hard work, and agriculture also requires hard work and labour. Allah’s Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) has given the glad tidings of Paradise to the person who farms a land. Once ‘Ali (may Allah be please with him) heard the Prophet praising another man and so he became curious and began to follow that person to see what it was that caused the Prophet to praise him. Ali found nothing special in his life; he was just a farmer who did farming and fulfilled his basic religious obligations.

A number of hadīths promote the profession of farming and the field of agriculture. The Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] said,

“There is none amongst the Muslims who plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, but is regarded as a charitable gift for him.” (Bukhari 2320)

Thus, when a person sows seeds, which then grows into crops, then many creatures benefit from the crops and the trees. When an insect eats from the crops, the farmer is rewarded for this. When people sit under the shade of the tree, the farmer gets a reward for this. When people buy food from the market, the farmer gets a reward.

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In the Islamic scheme of things, there is no way to receive full advance payment in any business except agricultural harvesting. Islam permits the farmer to take full payment for his crops in advance. This particular practice is known as a Bai-e-Salam.

Islam reduces the amount of Usr (1/10 zakah) if there is no natural rain and the farmer irrigates his land through a hand pump or artificial irrigation.

Islam has also waves off zakah and usr on vegetable crops, such as tomatoes, okra, and cabbage, which cannot be stored for a long time.

Abu Obadiah, a Muslim jurist of the 9th century, who has compiled a voluminous book on taxation in Islamic estates, has suggested a new strategy for land distribution. He said that if a person could not cultivate the land, the government should give that uncultivated piece of land to another needy person who can cultivate it and benefit the government and the people.

Farming activities were also appreciated during the regimes of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) and pious caliphs of Islam.

 

Narrated by Anas bin Malik that Allah’s Messenger said,

“There is none among the Muslims who plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it but is regarded as a charitable gift from him.” (Bukhari, no. 2320)

Ibn Khaldun’s views on taxation on crops

Islam reduces the tax on agriculture so as to make it available to every person in society, irrespective of whether they are rich or poor, since it is counted as essential goods. Ibn Khaldun, a famous economist and historian, has recommended that the government reduce the tax burden on agricultural products. He presented the argument that heavy tax reduces the level of production in the economy, which may reduce the supply of food grains in the market and lead to cost-push inflation in the economy.

He explained that a heavy tax duty reduces the productivity of the country including agriculture. As for light tax, it has a positive relation to revenue generation.

Later on, many Western economists supported Ibn Khaldun’s ideas regarding taxation, the government, and general economics. Professor Laffer and Adam Smith were highly influenced by the idea of Ibn Khaldun.

[Islahi, A. A. (2006, November). Ibn Khaldun’s theory of taxation and its relevance today. In Conference on Ibn Khaldun, Madrid, during (pp. 3-5).]

Maqasid-al-Shariah and Agriculture

The concept of Maqasid al-Shariah in Islam stresses on the social welfare of each member of the society. In an Islamic society, a level playing field, including access to natural resources provided by Allah need to be ensured for all members of the community so that every member can enjoy the opportunities and rights to groom themselves. In fact, Islam emphasises the production of food grains. There is a particular chapter in the books of Islamic Jurisprudence which deals with the issue of agriculture, and this demonstrates the significance that agriculture has.

Importance of Agriculture in Economics

Farming and agriculture is an industry which is counted as a primary sector for an economy. It also aids in the growth of secondary and tertiary sectors of the economy; thus, agriculture becomes an essential sector of the economy. During times of war, the enemy always seeks to cut the supply of the primary resources, such as food and water, of its adversary. Once food and water disappears, people automatically begin to die due to starvation and instability. In a nutshell, agriculture and farming is an essential part of the economy. For a country to be successful, it needs to be well off in the primary sector, and the successful development of the primary sector then fuels the development of the secondary and tertiary sectors of the economy.

In a hadīth, the Prophet beautifully narrated the virtues of cultivation and the occupation of farming.

“There is none among the Muslims who plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it but is regarded as a charitable gift from him.” (Sahih Bukhari, 2320)

He says that when a person sows crops or plants a tree, which then fully grows and begins to yield fruit, and the people eat from the fruits of the tree, people stay under the shade of the tree, and many birds and insects eat the fruits of that tree, then Allah will reward the farmer and caretaker of the farmhouse and the tree.

Islam gives relaxation to the farming business and reduces the amount of usr when it is irrigated through artificial means.

Billions of dollars’ worth of industry is based on the primary sector of the economy. The primary sector provides the raw materials and food grains from agriculture, farming, mining, and fishing. The secondary sector obtains these raw materials, and makes finished goods from the, such as clothes, housing, furniture, cars, medicines, various kinds of foods, etc. The tertiary sector provides services for the public. In a nutshell, the primary sector promotes the secondary and tertiary sectors. Therefore, the well-being of the secondary and tertiary sectors is based on a powerful and healthy primary sector.

Thus, it is concluded that the primary sector plays an instrumental role in the development of an economy. It stimulates the growth and development of the economy. In most of the developing countries, the primary sector has a good percentage of share in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of that country. Spoilage of the primary sector will affect both sectors of the economy and it may ruin the entire economy.

The primary sector is needed to meet the demands of the consumers. Therefore, Islam has emphasised agriculture, which is considered as one of the prime sources of economic growth.

Role of Bai-e-Salam

Bai-e-Salam is one of the business contracts in Islamic Jurisprudence which promotes the business of farming and agriculture. A deep study of Islamic Jurisprudence and books of hadīth dealing with muamilat reveal that the contract of Bai-e-Salam is made for the welfare and protection of farmers. No other business has such special attention as agriculture and garming in Islam.

This is the only profession where Islam permits taking a full down payment of their products with delivery to be done in the future.

Needs for organic foods

We should support and encourage our farmers to grow crops naturally and educate them to grow organic foods, which are the need of the present time. Inorganic and contaminated foods are highly injurious to health. Today, almost every household contains diabetics and heart patients. It is the result of unnaturally produced foods which continuously boost the pharmaceutical industry. However, we cannot produce organic foods without the cooperation of the farmers. Thus, it is important to save the livelihood of farmers by helping, encouraging, and educating them.

In summary, the agricultural sector is the core of economic growth. It plays a significant role in economic development. It is a field and profession that Islam promotes, and there is a multifold reward for the people who engage in the occupation of farming.

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Irfan Shahid

Prof Irfan Shahid is an India-based shari'ah scholar and economist. He has graduated from Lough borough University, UK. His area of studies includes Economics, Banking, Stock Markets, Islamic Finance, and Islamic Studies. He has authored several books and research papers on Economics, Islamic Finance and the Stock Market. Prof Shahid has worked as an assistant professor at Mazoon University College, the Missouri Institute of Science and Technology, USA, and various universities in India, the Middle East, and the UK. He has also worked for the Islamic Development Bank, Jeddah. For further details, please refer his website: www.irfanshahid.net

1 Comment

  • Peter Orkhon

    March 28, 2024 - 2:43 pm

    This is an informative and unique content on Aljumuah Magazine. We appreciate Aljumuah’s efforts in printing such an article. Agriculture and organic foods require an Islamic view. Kindly print some articles on currency in the Islamic context.

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