Elimination of Poverty: Challenges and Islamic Strategies - Economic Research Forum (ERF)

Elimination of Poverty: Challenges and Islamic Strategies

Ismail Sirageldin

June, 2000


10 pages

I3. Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty

Poverty is a complex phenomenon, a consequence of lack of growth and inequality. Effective policies require technical and empirical understanding of poverty that is combined with efficient institutions and a supportive system of social values. The paper focuses on four basic tenants of the Islamic ethical system and treat the Islamic ethos as an ideal, through which socioeconomic policies dealing with poverty elimination are assessed. Islam views society as a unified entity in which individual freedom and human dignity is supreme although subject to the axiom of responsibility. These ethical tenants indicate that policies should not develop ‘dependency,’ amoral activities, or lead to the institutionalization of poverty. Policies based on transfers that do not lift the poor from their dependency status should be avoided except in cases where such shift is not feasible. Based on the conceptual and empirical evidence, the paper concludes that Islamic ethics support a poverty-alleviation strategy based on the principle of promoting economic growth with productive equity

Senior Associates

Ismail Sirageldin

Professor, Johns Hopkins University



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