Islam And Fair Trade

From | By Suzan El-Ajou This great in depth article was written to highlight the essential 'fair trade' ethics tha...

From | By Suzan El-Ajou

This great in depth article was written to highlight the essential 'fair trade' ethics that are required in Islamic business. Although fair trade as a concept was established in the 20th century, Islam has always taught people to be proficient, efficient and to play fair. 

"What are the congruencies between Islamic business ethics and the Fair Trade principles?

With one-fifth of the world’s total population identifying themselves as Muslim1, and with the consideration that they are active participants in world markets, it is imperative to include the Muslim community in business affairs and look for ways to reach out to them. By looking into the similarities between Islam and Fair Trade, there are many ways the two can cooperate with one another to ensure success in business ventures for all parties involved. By making fair trade opportunities relevant to the Muslim community, it is also essential to encourage them to take a bigger part in these opportunities as they are in line with the Islamic belief system and further facilitates their goal of helping humanity.

The Roots of Fair Trade and Islam

For the purposes of this article, the definition used for fair trade will be:
“Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South. Fair Trade Organisations [sic], backed by consumers, are actively engaged in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade.” (Khan & Thaut, 2008)

The roots of Fair Trade can be traced back to churches in North America and Europe since the late 1940s. The goal was to provide relief to refugees and other poverty stricken communities by selling their handicrafts to Northern markets. Producers in the developing world were offered high returns through direct trade and fair prices. In the United States, Alternative Trade Organizations (ATOs) have followed this model with Fair Trade handicrafts, and an Equal Exchange was formed in 1986 to import Fair Trade coffee to the US market.2

Islam lays the groundwork for all aspects of a Muslim’s life. The compilation of revelations used for this can be found in the Qur’an. In practicing the religion, the Qur’an is supplemented through the reported authentic words (Hadith) and actions (Sunnah) of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him) and by the Shari`ah (Islamic system of law). Shari`ah, which takes its roots from the Qur’an, considers “details of required duties and outlines all types of human interactions. It essentially constitutes what elsewhere would be considered criminal, personal and commercial law....”

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