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Islamic View on Scarcity

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        In this pair assignment, we have chosen to discuss on the topics of market failures and scarcity and efficiency according to Islamic perspectives.

Scarcity and Efficiency

        The definition of scarcity is a condition in which wants always exceeds the limited resources in order to satisfy client or society. These resources can be resources that come from the land, labor resources or capital resources. Scarcity refers to the basic economic problem. This situation requires people to make decisions about how to allocate resources efficiently, in order to satisfy basic needs and as many additional wants at possible. In conventional economics, the basic economic problem is said to be: that society’s wants are unlimited relative to the limited supply of productive resources. This creates the problem of scarcity in the economy

        Efficiency means the ability to accomplish something with the least waste of time and effort; competency in performance. We need this measure for marketing activities and business processes since it helps us see when we are minimizing resources or time needed to complete a process. In digital marketing, for example, efficiency involves increasing conversion rates and reducing costs of acquisition.

Since Islamic teachings cover all aspects of life, there are also Islamic views on the problem of scarcity. When it comes to Islam, it analyzes the concept of scarcity from a different perspective where there is no concept of ‘relative scarcity’ in the economy as believed by the secularism. To Islam, ALLAH SWT has created ‘abundant and sufficient’ resources for the usage of all people and His other creations inclusive of animals and plants. Thus, there is no big deal to recognize the factors of production being relatively scarce. There are few verses in the Holy Qur’an relating to this issue. In  In Surah al-Ahzab for example, ALLAH SWT mentioned that:

“For us God sufficed, and He is the best organizer” (al-Ahzab : 48)

Further, in another Surah of Ibrahim He asserted as:

 “It is Allah who has created the heavens and the earth and sends down rain from the skies, ad with it brings out fruits wherewith to feed you; it is He who has made the ships subject to you, that they may sail through the sea by His command; and the rivers (also) has He made subject to you” (SurahIbrahim:32)

As a result, the scarcity issues only arise due to the ‘availability’ which caused by limited knowledge and capability of men to search the location of created resources, to derive the method to extract and to formulate its usage for benefits of the people. In Islam, Allah owns everything, and we as human beings are given responsibility or Amanah to utilize these resources to survive in this world.  So, as Khalifah (leaders) on earth, we have to use them to achieve falah (success) and with responsibility.

Resources are actually given enough for all human being until the end of the Day, whether there is scarcity or not, it all depends on how they use the resources.  If there is inadequacy, then it is the responsibility of the society to find means and ways to solve the problem.  This can be done through various ways:

  1. improve technical know-how
  2. redistribution of resources
  3. curtailing human wants

Actually, scarcity is a problem made by human being.  When there is moral accountability in utilizing resources, there will be no problem of scarcity.  Nothing in this world is morally free, even if it is economically free.



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