Scarcity: East and West

Journal of Islamic Economics, Banking and Finance, Volume 6, Number 1, January-March 2010. p. 87-104

18 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2017

See all articles by Asad Zaman

Asad Zaman

Al-Nafi; Akhuwat University

Date Written: March 31, 2010


Economic Theory suggest that central problem of economics is scarcity, thus the remedy for economic problems is growth -- accumulation of greater wealth to remove scarcity. Islamic teachings differentiate strongly between needs and wants. Needs are limited, and there is no scarcity of wealth required to fulfill needs of all human beings. Scarcity is cased by trying to fulfill wants, which can never be done, since wants increase when they are fulfilled. Instead of striving for more wealth, the Quran teaches us to restrict our idle desires, strive to lead simple lifestyles, and to spend on others less fortunate than us. It also teaches us to be content with what we have, and not envy those who have more material wealth. We should also have compassion for others, and not seek to make them envious of our consumption, if we have more. In particular, ‘conspicuous consumption’ is not permitted in Islam. If we return to these simple formulae of Islam, Islamic societies would enjoy much more satisfaction with much fewer consumption goods than currently being produced. Instead of growth and higher standards of living, social welfare consists of equitable consumption at comfortable, but not luxurious standards of living.

Keywords: Needs and Wants, Scarcity, Islamic Economics, Luxury, Conspicuous Consumption

JEL Classification: P4, I3

Suggested Citation

Zaman, Asad, Scarcity: East and West (March 31, 2010). Journal of Islamic Economics, Banking and Finance, Volume 6, Number 1, January-March 2010. p. 87-104, Available at SSRN:

Asad Zaman (Contact Author)

Al-Nafi ( email )

64 Fullerton Crecent
Markham, Ontario L35 3G5

Akhuwat University ( email )

Ferozepur Road
Kasur, Punjab 55110
55110 (Fax)


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