Understanding, or consciousness, that exists on reflection and contemplation does not happen at random nor individually, rather, it is a communal activity that takes place within the framework of what we call rational methodical reflection, I mean a reflecion in conformity with rules that are the scientific rules of reflection in our present time, [and within] a thought framework formed on the mode of scientific achievements…Hence every novelty, through this reflection and founded on active communal action, leads to a decisive new social view of human conduct…I mean it leads to new creativity in thought and in action (social conduct or creative, innovative activity).
Commercial insurance, which insurance companies carry out, does not achieve the legal characteristic for co-operation and joint responsibility though both reciprocal insurance and social insurance achieve the functional characteristic which Islam prescribed for co-operation and making sacrifices. So these two types of insurance exist [based] on the intention of co-operation, joint responsibility and donation without desiring to pursue profits. Accordingly, they are both hence considered, in our view, a proper application of the theory of insurance. Moreover, one may apply reciprocal insurance through co-operatives in all its forms, trade unions and mass institutions. As for social insurance, the state carries it out with the intention of insuring some classes of the nation against specific dangers.
The objective of [having] Islamic banks is that they take the place of commercial banks considering that they operate on interest, and it is here that some Islamic jurists are of the opinion that the mudaraba (silent partnership) contract1 in Islam is considered a legal basis for some contemporary credit processes, accordingly, it modifies the banking regime until it is consistent with the laws of the Islamic silent partnership contract and until the profits from silent partnership take the place of prohibited interest. On the other hand, there are those who think that the bank is not a silent partnership investment agent and that the depositors are not financiers but rather they are all merely partners. Hence, it is the principles of partnership that must gain currency and not the principles of silent partnership. In any case, the value of Islamic bank operations will become clear to us whenever we recognise that the relation between transactions that involve the cost of interest and transactions conducted upon the principle of equity partnership in profit (through the silent partnership contracts or partnership contracts) the relation will, to a large extent, resemble the relation between fantasy and fact or imagination and reality.1. NOTE: “Mudaraba is a partnership where capital is provided, in cash or assets (no debt is accepted) by one party – the fund provider – and labour is provided by the other party – mudarib.” http://lexicon.ft.com/Term?term=mudaraba [Translator]↩
Production, distribution and exchange
In the view of Islamic jurisprudence, which is deduced from the Qur’an and the Hadith, the state intervenes in order to expand production within the framework of the lawful and the forbidden, with the following things:
a) occurrence of a specific or general harm
c) earning through [the act of] scrounging and bogus jobs
d) municipal facilities
e) activities that clash with the ethical objectives approved by Islam
f) guaranteeing the minimum production level of basic needs
g) achieving the concept of social justice which Islam advocated
Perhaps the most important assurance to achieve and continue development is what Islamic jurists have unanimously agreed on, namely to divide commodities and services that concur with human interests into three groups: necessities, needs and beautifying enhancements and what these jurists determined, namely, the necessities taking precedence over the needs and the needs taking precedence over the beautifying enhancements. This is what is called priorities of development in modern terminology.
Islam treats distribution issues on a wider scale and more comprehensively as Islam does not suffice with distributing national income, that is, only the total commodities and services produced, but it also treats the most profound aspect of distribution: distribution of natural resources. It is known that the distribution of natural resources precedes the production process itself. That is to say, individuals carry out their productive activity in accordance with the way by which productive resources are distributed. Accordingly, the distribution of natural resources takes place before production; as for the distribution of national income, it is linked to, and depends on, the production process itself because it treats the results yielded by production.
Ownership and its standards in Islam
In the last many years concern for the issue of transferring public ownership to the private sector started to increase in both developed and developing countries, however, Islam has placed rules for distributing ownership that are appropriate in every place and time since Islam does not approve the link that prescribes that the form of ownership [should] change whenever the need of production to change is renewed or whenever some [people] respond to the whims of those who call for change but rather the matter in Islam’s perspective is that of a person who has general needs and deep-rooted inclinations that have to be satisfied within a framework that does not contravene [one’s] innate nature and at the same time preserves a person’s humaneness and develops it. So an individual in their capacity as a private human being has needs that must be satisfied through private ownership. Besides, Islam takes into consideration the innate social sentiment in a person where every individual feels that they are a member of society and that they are unable to live on their own. That is why public ownership is there to satisfy public needs, although some individuals are often unable to satisfy their [own] needs through private ownership and so such [people] suffer deprivation and a wide disparity becomes apparent in incomes and riches among individuals; accordingly, Islam made the third form of ownership – namely ownership of the state, or ownership of the Treasury – in order that it could serve as a fund for the state, providing it with the essential finances to achieve social stability.
Islam and the economic problem
The relative scarcity of resources is not a real problem, for the problem from the perspective of the Islamic viewpoint is not in the scarcity of resources, but [rather] in humans’ discontinuation in discovering them since there are many directives that urge and call people to continuous productive work, to seek knowledge and to search to understand the secrets of the cosmos and to discover resources and bounties that nature is replete with and which God has made favourably disposed to humanity. Moreover, there are customs or rules for utilising these resources through which their benefit will be proper, their yield double and their income increase. These customs are of two types: material and spiritual [and are] as an actualisation of Islam’s method of dealing in the spiritual aspect when treating every matter.
Work is an obligation and right at one and the same time
Islam is concerned with establishing the right to work for every human being. The right of the worker over the state is that it facilitates the opportunity of work for them and doesn’t procrastinate, leaving such a right for later, as productive work is one of the basic human needs; it gratifies a natural propensity in the person, provides a source of sustenance for them and stresses their place in the Muslim community as a useful member 1 and, consequently, their sense of belonging to such a Muslim community. If people are the creators of growth, and its goal, at the same time, then undoubtedly the priority in any plan for growth becomes providing productive work for all those capable of doing such work. Consequently, capital-intensive growth that leads to an increase in unemployment of a large number of workers is not, therefore, something to consider.2 What’s more, youth unemployment sometimes contributes to crime and instability. Crime is linked, first and foremost 3, to poverty and social instability, but it trends upward 4 whenever there are large groups of unemployed youth.
Islam has granted women rights which Western civilisation has not granted them as yet; Islam has granted women the right to work and the right to earn, when needed, but retained for them the right to care 5 in the family because life according to Islam is greater than money and body.
1. Literally: useful individual. ↩
2. Literally: a place of consideration.↩
3. Literally: in the first place.↩
4. Literally: tends toward increase.↩
5. That is, the right for the woman to being cared for or receiving care.↩
The Islamic view on development
The Islamic view on development is comprehensive of all aspects and constituents of human life, and isn’t [one that is] limited to the economy. It therefore deals with all phenomena of life and [all] aspects of activity within it. Likewise, it deals with feelings, conduct, conscience and sentiments. The values that such development deals with are not just economic, nor are they, generally speaking, material [either]; rather, such development is merely that of economic and material values blended together with abstract and spiritual values. Furthermore, development does not exist without morals, as morals are not [a matter of] supererogation that can be dispensed with, after which a person will have a successful working life. Moral values are a deep-rooted element that extends far down in Islamic conceptualisation and in Muslim society in such a manner that no aspect of life, nor all of its activities, is devoid of such an element.
Every individual has the freedom to grow their wealth [of multifarious kinds] 1, though within the legal limits. So a person must not adulterate nor monopolise human essentials, nor lend 2 their wealth 3 at interest, nor do their employees wrong with regards to pay so as to increase their [own] profits; all this is forbidden. Only pure means exclusively are permitted in Islam for developing resources. Pure means usually don’t inflate capital to the point that widens the gulf between the classes in incomes and in riches. Capital only inflates in such an exorbitant manner with crimes hidden behind modern ways of exploitation. Inflation on the one hand, and recession on the other, are considered a path of enormous devastation.
1. NOTE: The arabic word ‘amwal’, which has been translated here as ‘wealth’, is plural of ‘mal’. ‘mal’ is a noun which means: All desirable goods, articles, utensils etc. (whether edible or not), trade goods for sale, real estates, money, or animals that an individual or group owns. [al-mu’jam al-wasit] When the writer uses the plural ‘amwal’, we can think of this to mean ‘kinds of wealth’ [translator]↩
2. Literally: give. [Translator]↩
3. NOTE: The plural word ‘amwal’ is used here in the original Arabic. See the previous note on ‘mal’ above [Footnote 1]. [Translator]↩
The human-societal life is a spirited communal action…[it is] trial and error…and a transcendence of the past…[it is] stimuli and reactions as a product of this effectiveness and bears a historical consciousness that is the reserves of the cultural society just as it bears a future goal, since this is undoubtedly what gives life’s action a social or humanistic meaning.
If an animal reacts to its surrounding stimulants in a repeated, conventional way which we describe as instinct, then the human-societal reaction is not likewise, rather, it is an adaptation to novelty, that is, it is a critical, rational action in order to harmonise with novelty and transcend convention and a departure on a path of fashioning life founded on a methodology and principles that are [both] recognised in the interim by the name of principles of logic and scientific research methodology.
The human-societal existence, according to this conception, is the historical effectiveness for this activity. A person, because they are governed by objective rules of activity for their existence, yet by virtue of the consciousness and intellect that they own, [which] are the harvest of their accomplishments and activity, they are in a state that makes them fit to make new circumstances for the activity of the laws and indeed up until forming a new existence that has its new rules.
ألم أك جاركم ويكون بيني وبينكم المودة والإخاء
Was I not your neighbour whilst there was between me and you love and brotherliness?
Meaning: [The poet,] Al-Hutay’ah, reprimands the Al-Zibriqan family with this verse and says to them: I was an adherent of yours living under your protection and there was familiarity and brotherhood between me and you, then I turned away from you towards others; there must be a reason on your part for this as you are unfit for neighbourly association and love.
Creativity is the renewal of life, so today’s day is unlike yesterday, and let [us have] the future of tomorrow be even more beautiful, enjoyable, radiant and perfect by virtue of active communal action. Therefore, human life is distinguished from that of animals in that [the former] is not a typical continuum nor a spontaneous regularity. In order for society life to really be humane in impression and nature it is necessary that it constantly be renewing, that is to say, [that it be] a regular creative life.
The society which does not know creative life is a society destitute of the essential human characteristic that distinguishes it from the animal and destitute of the joy of renewal, construction and change…that is, destitute of the craft of existence and society’s responsibility of existence.