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Socio-economic justice and poverty in Nahj Al-Balagha

Amin Mohseni-Cheraghlou (American University, Washington, District of Columbia, United States)

International Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Finance and Management

ISSN: 1753-8394

Article publication date: 20 April 2015




This paper aims to present an account and discussion of Imam Ali’s view on poverty and socio-economic justice. The concept of socio-economic justice is of utmost importance in Islamic teachings.


This exercise is based on examining Nahj al-Balagha, a tenth century collection of sermons and letters of Imam Ali Ibn Abutalib.


First, in Imam Ali’s view, socially just outcomes can only be achieved through just means and procedures. Second, acute and visible inequalities and side-by-side co-existence of extreme wealth and poverty in a society point to the existence of socio-economic injustices. Third, a society that is suffering from severe and continuous socio-economic injustices or, in other words, acute poverty and inequality will cease to prosper and develop. Fourth, the main objective of an Islamic governance system is to adopt policies, institutions and procedures that would reduce or eliminate socio-economic injustices. A government that fails to reduce socio-economic injustices, in Imam Ali’s view, has failed in its main mission of protecting the rights of the public and ensuring their prosperity. Finally, regardless of government action or inaction, each individual in a society is also responsible to reduce socio-economic injustices to the best of his/her knowledge and ability.


This paper aims to present the first comprehensive account of Imam Ali’s view on poverty and socio-economic justice and it could prove to be practically useful to modern Muslims and non-Muslims alike, whatever their position in society.



Mohseni-Cheraghlou, A. (2015), "Socio-economic justice and poverty in Nahj Al-Balagha", International Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Finance and Management, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 20-35.



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