|Are Natural Resources Scarce?|
The answer to this question is 'No' if considered in the divine sense. That is, the resources are created according to all the needs of human beings as well all other creatures. However, if these are not used as ordained or if distributed unjustly, theses may appear to be deficient.
It is now consensually recognized that the human population is growing at an exponential rate (a J-shape curve), therefore, within a few centuries the earth shall be full by human beings. In 2000, the world population was 6.2 billion. The UN estimates show that by 2050, a 3 billion people will be added. This raises big question; does the earth has that much carrying capacity?
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, International Data Base.
Some social and other scientists think that carrying capacity is not enough to host so much people on earth. There is another category of scholars (for example, see Julian Simon) who believe that more people will provide more innovative skills for larger global outputs. Cohen (1995) suggests three possible solutions:
1. Increase human productive capacities through technology and innovation
2. Reduce numbers and expectations of people through such means as family planning and vegetarian diets
3. Change the terms of people's interactions through improved planning and government to enhance social justice.
This was however, a contemporary view. In religious resources, particularly those relating to Mahdism doctrine, a number of signs (problems, disasters etc) have been predicted that will appear before the appearance of the Imam or second coming of Jesus. It can also be found from the religious literature that at least some of these problems can be solved by promoting the prescribed supplications and other acts. For the purpose of explanation, we take the example of water crises or water stress predicted to happen before the appearance of Imam Mahdi (May God Hasten his appearance).
Water crisis is one of the most alarming concerns mentioned both in contemporary sciences and in Mahdvi literature. It indicates a time when available water on earth will not be sufficient to fulfill the life needs on earth. 'The Earth has a finite supply of fresh water, stored in aquifers, surface waters and the atmosphere'. The water available in oceans to potable water but it requires resources beyond reach which also have been predicted in religious literature.
The water crisis is likely to cause wars and violence in some parts of the world. Thomas Homer-Dixon (1999) has quantitatively proved a correlation between 'water scarcity and scarcity of available arable lands to an increased chance of violent conflict'. A report indicates that countries which rely heavily on water for irrigation, such as China, India, Iran, and Pakistan, are particularly at risk of water-related conflicts.
Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue (2002) reports that "Water is our most precious resource and sustains all life on earth. Yet there is now no doubt that this lifeline is no longer assured for future generations, and it is generally thought that a global water crisis is imminent. Already, many countries are suffering from shortages of water or degraded water quality.
In addition, it is clear that the present practices of humans are damaging our freshwater ecosystems and reducing biodiversity. If these practices continue, the future of life on earth will be threatened. They further mention from the World Water Vision Commission Report that 'The world is now beginning to feel the first pangs of a more chronic and systemic water crisis'. Keeping in view the severity of the water crises, and its predictions in Mahdvi doctrine, a deeper look and a formal analytical framework for further research on this subject seems to be justified for inclusion in the divine economics and also is the need of the time.
What is Divine Economics?
The Divine Economics is a recently developed framework to study economics and religion in each other's perspective using scientific process. It comprises of theoretical model, empirical work, a series of papers and some survey instruments.
It is similar to conventional economics because is based on rational choice theory but departs from it by incorporating religion in the model. Hence it becomes similar to the economics of religion.
However is different from that also because substantial work in the economics of religion is done under the Christian and Jewish religions ignoring Islam. Hence, this aspect makes it closer to Islamic economics but it differs from Islamic economics on the basis of sources of jurisprudence; the mainstream Islamic economics is constructed over Sunnite school of thought lead by Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Taimia, Ibne Khuldoon, Abu Yousaf, Imam Shatibi, Imam Ghazali, Shah Waliullah, etc ignoring almost all of the 12 Imams from the family of the Holy Prophet (Imams of AhleBayt).
On the contrary, the Divine Economics takes a comparative view of both of the schools of Islamic thoughts.