The economics of religion is gradually attracting economists' interest. Now some economists are found to believe that religious activities are also based on economic rationality; otherwise, these could not have been undertaken. According to a study in 1998, about 200 papers on economics of religion were available written by economists and other social scientists (Iannacconne, 1998).
Although Adam Smith wrote on importance of religion in his economics, yet very significant contribution on this subject appears to be of Christian and other economists such as Azzi and Ehrenberg (1975) and Iannaccone 1984, 1988, 1990, and later.
Some other studies such as Mack and Leigland (1982), Barro 2003 also created intellectual curiosity leading to subsequent research in this filed till recently when a formal framework titled 'Divine Economics' appeared in early 2000.
Although, no work yet seems to be available directly about the use of natural resources in perspective of religiosity levels among individual households or community.
However, the viewpoint of the economists who worked with reference to religion guides one to realize that there might exist a systematic relationship between religiosity and use of natural resources.
As according to such economists, all the activities are chosen in the same way as people choose other commodities of choice in order to gain utility. Iannaccone (1990) states that "The neoclassical account of self-interested, gain-seeking individuals is incapable of describing the behavior of Christians who are trying to live according to the stewardship principle.
Furthermore, since all humans are created in the image of God, and hence are by their very nature religious and moral beings, the neoclassical model fails to capture an essential dimension of human behavior."
Individuals are endowed by nature with the instincts to serve their self-interests, which may or may not be in conformity with societal interests at large. It is not difficult to see that many things individuals do are the result of self-interest. This behavior leads to efficient allocation of resources. Chapra (1992) notes that any efforts to prevent an individual from serving self-interest, is bound to fail.
However, individuals are motivated by family and fellow companions or other factors that their self-interests make allowance for the interest of others' too [Schwartz (1966) and Zaman (1992)]. This type of belief may result in restructuring of resource allocations in such a way that social interest becomes possible to be served along with self-interest.
In religious societies, such altruistic behavior is common. In a truly religious society, the amount of contribution for other person's utility may be affected by many factors including the following: a) high degree of faith in afterlife may reduce self-centered consumption making room for sharing with others, b) Religious teachings and temptations for kind and caring attitude can lead to higher level of time and monetary contributions for others. These ideas have been dealt in economics of religion and particularly in Divine Economics.
A step further is to explore whether religiosity or a particular type of religiosity plays any role in management of natural resources, such as water when it is scarce? Because in times of scarcity peoples selfish motives may become more stronger than their altruistic motives.
The objectives of the present paper are 1) To further extend the faith-based analytical framework of natural resource use, 2) To analyze one of the predicted problems before the appearance of Imam Mahdi, that is water scarcity and elaborate the a model of individual behavior in this context, 3) To modify and extend the empirical model for future analysis of interrelationships among religiosity and natural resource use behavior, and 4) To explore how closely the Mahdvi doctrine affects the theoretical basis as well as practical aspects of natural resource use patterns.