FAIR TRADE

fair-trade-in-islam-logo“Give full measure and full weight in justice, and wrong not people in respect of their goods” (Quran 11:85)

We live in an economically unjust world where even as food prices soar farmers in the developing world rarely reap the just rewards for their efforts. While they already suffer due to antiquated agricultural practices and poor access to markets, global trade rules also tend to disadvantage them in favour of multinationals and big traders. Farmers in developing countries are also unable to compete with richer countries who protect their markets with mechanisms such as subsidies – a system where governments give money to local businesses to make their product cheaper than imported goods.

This leaves these farmers struggling to pay for essentials like food, school and healthcare and means they are unable to break the cycle of debt and poverty.

One example of an initiative that aims to change the way international trade takes place and promotes fairer terms of trade for both producers and buyers is Fairtrade. It incorporates the principles of transparency and accountability in trading relations. This in turn favours some of the world’s poorest producers and helps eradicate poverty by:

·         Setting a minimum price to cover costs of production

·         Setting a premium to support sustainable development

·         Providing adequate job training to producers, making them more self-sufficient

·         Foreseeing long term trading contracts, entitling producers to earn a steady income to make future work           plans

·         Establishing cooperative networks on an international scale to increase product sale

Fair trade, thus, has a positive impact on the livelihoods of millions of people across the world. It ensures that they receive decent wages, have better working conditions and greater job security.

It is important to realise that Fair trade is not just a lifestyle choice but an Islamic requirement. In the Quran we are ordered by Allah to eat that which is Halal, and Tayyib (good and pure). While most of us are conscious of whether or not our food is Halal, very few of us investigate whether our food is Tayyib, including whether it has been traded ethically. We should think a bit deeper about where our food comes from, and whether any person or animal has been exploited or treated unfairly during its production. We have a responsibility to ensure that we are not consuming products that contribute towards trade injustice and increase inequality.

Just as it is our individual responsibility to promote trade justice and fair trade, it is also important that we come together as a community in this endeavour. We can do this by working with Mosques to get them to promote and instil the ideals of trade justice as an act of worship. This is a practical way of showing to our community that we are ready to take a stand against injustice and that with their help we can support farmers and their families in the developing world to earn a dignified and sustainable livelihood.

Remember, Fair trade is Islamic trade: “God loves those who are fair and just” (Quran 49:9).