Pakistan Institute of Development Economics

JEL Classification : B59, I3, P4
Wealth as an Indicator of Socio-Economic Welfare: Islamic Views
Publication Year : 2014

According to western views, wealth is unambiguously good, and so human welfare is positive when wealth is in excess of needs, and negative if it is less. Islam has a substantially more sophisticated view of the relation between wealth and welfare. Excess wealth is a trial, which can bring great rewards if utilized correctly, and also bring great harm if utilized incorrectly. Similarly, poverty is a trail which can bring great rewards if borne with patience and prayer, and also cause great harm if it leads to begging from others. Thus there is no clear and simple relationship between wealth and welfare. This means that Islamic approaches to constructing an index for welfare must be substantially more complicated than those currently in use in the west. It is worth considering the reasons for undertaking the project of measurement and assessing what needs to be measured, and whether measurement itself is necessary, for achieving these goals?