#Coronanomics: Understanding A Virus From An Islamic Economic Perspective - Dr. Aliyu Muhammad

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Thursday, March 26, 2020 / 5:30 PM / Bukola Akinyele  for WebTV / Header Image Credit: WebTV

 

As the global coronavirus pandemic continues to surge in terms of the socio-economic impact across nations, Dr. Aliyu Dahiru Muhammad, Deputy Director, Training & Linkages, International Institute of Islamic Banking and Finance, Bayero University Kano gave insights into what he termed "Econovirus" from an Islamic economic perspective" in a recent discussion with WebTV.


In terms of concept the scholar acknowledged that there is no word in the dictionary ascribed to "Econovirus" and is simply coined to signify some discussions on the subject matter of interest.


Econovirus according to him as a concept, means a situation whereby an Economic system is adversely affected by the hazard of a killer disease called Coronavirus or Covid-19 as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) which emerged from the Chinese city of Wuhan in December, 2019.


Speaking further he said as earlier stated the disease emanated from China in December, 2019, which some analysts as usual attributed to the ongoing North-South divide and the rising tension and competition in economic and military space between world super powers.


In his view, the conspiracy theory was weak because even if created artificially the virus could not make a significant global impact without the permission of Allah.


He quotes the Quran saying "And you cannot will unless (it be) that Allah wills-The Lord of the Universe (Q:82:29)". Also clearly stated in the Quran, the lecturer noted that, "...but whatever of evil befalls you, is from yourself (Surah An-Nisa' 4:79)".


Quoting  another verse Dr Aliyu said refernced the Holy Quran as saying, "And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much" (Ash-Shoora 42:30)".


The Islamic banking teacher noted that one of the major sins of humanity has been dealing in Riba (Usury or Unjust exploitative gains) in the economic and financial system against the code of Shariah (Islamic law). According to him Allah says "Those who eat Riba will not stand (on the Day of Resurrection) except like the standing of a person beaten by shaitan (Satan) leading him to insanity".

 

He underscored the fact that there has been excessive focus on Riba (Usury or Unjust exploitative gains) in the global financial and economic system, while Allah will give increase for Sadaqat (Alms, Charity).


The Islamic Scholar further quoted the Quran as saying "Allah will destroy Riba and will give increase for Sadaqat (alms and charity) and Allah likes not the disbelievers and sinners. O you who believe! Be afraid of Allah and give up what remains (due to you) from Riba, if you are (really) believers. And if you do not do it, then take a notice of war from Allah and His messenger but if you repent, you shall have your capital sums. Deal not unjustly and you shall not be dealt with unjustly" (Q:2:275-279).


Giving insight into the effects of the COVID-19 on the global financial and economic system, he highlighted the following as the short-term, medium-term and long-term prospects;


Short Term

  • Over 460,000 people have been affected by the disease in 180 countries (WHO)
  • Over 20,000 lives have been lost in more than 180 countries
  • Cutting of supply of finished goods and raw materials within countries and internationally
  • Less demand for energy globally
  • Drop in oil prices by almost half, from $60 per barrel to almost $30 per barrel.
  • 100% flight cancellations by major airlines
  • Increased borrowing to supplement budget and fight the virus
  • Total or partial lockdown of many countries

 

Medium Term

  • Possible loss of jobs in mega industries and supply chain sectors
  • Cutting of salaries and wages
  • Rigid labor mobility
  • Fall in consumer spending
  • Shrinking of global economy
  • Innovation in some sectors to meet up with the challenge of short supply

 

Long Term Effects

  • Sluggish growth in the new decade
  • Diversification of some economies
  • Increase in demand for Health Insurance
  • Other effects can be positive or negative, depending on policies adopted by different countries

 

Potential Solutions

Of course, Healthwise, according to Dr Muhammad, there are various solutions. These include, restricting travelling, limiting exposure to the environment, constant hand wash by all, cleanliness and relevant drugs.


All these are material solutions but relevant. In addition to this, there are non-material aspects such as shunning dealing in Riba (Usury or Unjust exploitative gains in business transactions), seeking forgiveness from Allah , ensuring justice and fairness among people, reciting the Prophetic Dua (Prayer) for protection against any killer diseases and giving charity.


Dr Muhammad referred to the following Quranic verses, "Oh Allah I seek your refuge from leprosy, insanity, mutilation and all serious illness." And "I seek refuge from the perfect words of Allah from evil of what he has created".


The Islamic Finance expert, noted that the "Econovirus was a temporary undesirable economic and health phenomenon, albeit with devastating effect on the global economy and the environment. Its causes are beyond the material and reflect spiritual deficiencies, noting that its emergence exposes the weaknesses in global advancement in science and technology especially in developed nations. Muhammad points out that only the will of Allah can stop the phenomenon from spreading. The banking lecturer urged Nigerians to avoid economic sins such as injustice and dealing in Riba among other things, he insisted that the country needed to, "pray for the best" he said.


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