Since, from the point of view of those who perceive in some sort of a savior, or who wait for second coming of Jesus or who clearly believe in Mahdi’s appearance, a righteous path, the path of the Prophets, the path of monotheism and the path of global justice, would be the path that goes through the doctrine of a savior.
This provides a theoretical justification why the doctrine of any savior can not be neglected in any impartial social research. Therefore, a researcher can derive a religiosity indicator from one’s love and devotion to the cause of savior.
In particular, since Muslims believe in appearance of Imam Mahdvi because of the outcomes of his appearance, therefore, in the list of Islamic religiosity indices, there has to be another set of indices which originates from the Mahdvi perspective. For example, there is complete consensus in both major schools of Islamic thoughts that Mahdi’s purpose (and achievement) will be, “...Implementing the laws of Islam, establishing justice and fighting heresy and oppression” then an individual shall be classified as more religious if, among other good deeds, he also has deeper devotion with these acts.
The Mahdvi perspective enters into the analytical discussion from three dimensions; one, for believers of Mahdism, natural resource use patterns of individuals and communities demand for obeying the Islamic principles of justice, benevolence, sacrifice, economy simplicity. Two, before the re-appearance of Imam Mahdi, a terrible era of disasters, violence, and destruction has to pass when among other things, safe water and other natural resources shall be very scarce and according to believers, shall be restored during Imam’s era. Three, the economists, scholars and others who don’t believe in the doctrine of Mahdism, perhaps can hardly avoid studying how any such perception about future affects the present day decisions.
Therefore, in perspective of Mahdism doctrine, an alternate theoretical model for analyzing natural resource use can be thought of logically. It would emerge from some issues usually neglected by the conventional economics and propositions offered by the divine economics (Hamdani, 2002, Hamdani and Ahmad 2002).
- Water is a natural public good, and as with all public goods there tend to be unequal distribution in the end.
- Normally the cost of extraction is taken as the cost of production and forgets that nature had planned to offer its treasures for all the humankind and not only for the profits of those who could extract them, so pricing issues need to be reviewed.
- Keeping the above in mind, placing price mechanism for optimal and competitive use of water, which has no substitute at all, could be a bad mechanism, as normally price works for either non-essential items or in a substitutable economy.
- Religion provides that institutional mechanism (through self-accountability and fear of God) that cannot be ensured up to 100% vigilance for corruption except with a very hi-tech monitoring systems..
- It provides the necessary religious human capital required for optimal utilization of such natural public goods on which others are dependent as a necessary part of life.
- Religious human capital is that kind of Human capital which solves for the problems of social welfare which otherwise markets have failed to provide worldwide, both from the supply side and the demand side.
Any divine religion such as Islam makes its followers to believe that serving social interest also serves self-interest. To serve self-interest in the afterlife perspective means that individual has to please Allah through certain ordained actions that include, for example, serving the parents, teachers and neighbors, helping the needy, transferring knowledge to others and restraining from prohibited acts like theft, murder, and cheating etc.
In a truly religious society, a person does not live in social isolation and that his/her personal pleasure/displeasure and the pleasure/displeasure of others are mutually interdependent. In other words utility of one individual depends, among other things, on utility of some other person(s). This leads us to the following proposition.
Among religious people, others’ welfare is an argument in their own utility function. Hence other things held constant, less religious person will serve his/her self-interest in each market in less altruistic manner and a more religious person will serve his/her self-interest in each market in a less selfish manner.
Other things held constant, a more religious person will forego his/her own consumption to give proportionately more donations for enhancing others’ consumption, as compared to a less religious person. Moreover, the effects of a change in commodity prices and wage/income level on the monetary donations will be systematically different between more religious and less religious persons.
From the preceding discussion we conclude that it is very much ‘economic’ to remain social, voluntary actor, donor, honest and just in a society for one’s selfish and selfless interests and for economic and non-economic motives. If the conventional economic man who aims to maximize his/her pecuniary benefits, is replaced by the real man who aims to maximize pecuniary plus other (e.g. social spiritual) benefits, then both individual justice as well as social justice will become integral part of the consumer behavior for their implied economic rationality. And the individual’s objective function will coincide with the social or global welfare function, as is claimed to happen during the era of Imam Mahdi or the second coming of Jesus (Tabbassi, 2006).
Natural Resource Model (NRM) in Divine Economics
Hope for an afterlife reward (divinely promised benefits in heavens) is central to consumer behavior in divine religions including Islam. Some other religions too have similar belief. Some empirical studies indicate that people do various activities in the hope of afterlife consumption (see for example Azzi and Ehrenberg; 1975).
In particular religious and altruistic activities of individuals have some expected stream of benefits in an afterlife based on pattern of their lifetime allocation of time.
Since the model of a Muslim’s behavior who is to maximize his/her lifetime utility, where life means life here and hereafter through allocation of total time (24 hours a day), a rational individual will take ‘afterlife’ as a factor in economic decision making e.g. allocation of time and goods.
The Divine Economics postulates that such consideration of individual will result a systematic change in his/her economic choices, religious practices, social habits, personal thoughts, and conviction etc. which is likely to vary with individual’s religiosity level. Therefore, a more religious individual would be less likely to choose activities which are prohibited and abominable ones.
Hence under Divine Economics Model or ‘Faith Model’ individuals would be more likely to use natural resources in a way such that their acts are not harmful for other fellow human being, or nature. So the point of departure from conventional economics comes when a truly religious individual reveals not choosing using too much water even if it is abundant (Hadith of the Holy Prophet, PBUHAP).
Similarly he will not be polluting water even when nobody is watching his behavior (Nobody can be Muslim unless his fellows are safe from his verbal and physical acts – Hadith). The very famous event in Islamic history explains the behavior modeled in the divine economics that is when at the end of a battle, a number of companions of the prophet were about to die of thrust and a single glass of water was available, everyone passed it on to the next one to save him at the cost of own life. This is so because he has to choose acts of greater goodness much the same way as he chooses a commodity having greater utility in a given conditions. .
Extension in the Model with Mahdism Perspective
A model of natural resource use under Divine Economics has been presented by Hamdani 2007 and further elaborated in Hamdani and Freeman 2008 based on the above mentioned arguments. The model provides a general framework of natural resource use analysis that can be considered in perspective of Mahdism doctrine. The next section presents the modified empirical model.
The holy books of divine religions contain many commandments regarding the use of God’s blessings on earth. There are numerous references to water and related phenomena in the Divine books e.g. Qur'an and Bible such as the word "water" has been mentioned in Qumran 63 times. The other water related words river, fountains, springs, rain, hail, clouds also occur many times in these books causing an influence on the reader’s perception and behavior about water use.
As regards, use of natural resources, the following model for pedagogical purpose was presented in the aforementioned studies;
The Original Model: Wig =Water Scarcity level, Time cost, Religious human capital, Environment (technology, others’ behavior and infrastructure), other conventional economics variables}