Land has been an important factor of production since ancient times. In agrarian economies, it is still the most significant agent of production as most of the population depends on agriculture, fisheries, dairies or allied activities. Most of the Muslim countries now-a-days have an agrarian base and their economic well being is a function of the proper utilization of land.
The agricultural development of a country depends on numerous factors majority of which are of a temporal character. Therefore, most of these matters have been left to the people of each age, except a few general instructions about the development of dead lands, peasant-landlord relationship, and the rights of the state to donate public lands to the individuals.
Emphasis on the development of dead lands is indicative of the Prophet’s (Sall Allah-o-alaihe wa sallam) interest in the utilization of resources for the well-being of people. Good peasant-landlord relationships are fundamental for the economic well-being of the population dependant on the soil. An unregulated land tenancy system can give birth to innumerable injustices. A Shari’ah committed to the enforcement of justice could hardly remain indifferent to it. The Holy Prophet (Sall Allah-o-alaihe wa sallam) has given general instructions to regulate the peasant-landlord relationships, but details of the law have been left to the temporal context within the framework of Shari‘ah. Further, the Holy Prophet (Sall Allah-o-alaihe wa sallam) has put curbs on the powers of the state to donate estates to individuals as checks against injustices. Similarly, the power of state to donate pieces of public lands to individuals could have led to injustices in the society. The Holy Prophet (Sall Allah-o-alaihe wa sallam) has laid down its limits as well.
Source: Economic Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): A Select Anthology of Hadith Literature on Economics, Muhammad Akram Khan. Republished with permission.
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