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Yes, Islam is the solution… but how?
Islam is a system for human life which is based on making God’s law alone govern in all situations of life. Furthermore, Islam – which takes charge of organising all human life – didn’t deal with life’s different aspects haphazardly nor did it treat it as various parts. That is to say, it has an integrated, complete conception about divinity, existence, life and the human being.
Those preachers of Islam who want to adopt Western methods of thinking accept defeat when they try to renew their lives by adopting Western ways of thinking, living and conduct. This leads them to bury alive the life which they are working to revive because, from the very first moment, they depart from their unique natural way: thinking that is based on Islamic fundamentals that make the moral element deep-rooted in building life and that look at the moral goals of society, but that [also] don’t make benefit the supreme goal for morals. That is to say, Islam actualises all good goals of life while preserving the moral element in it. Its greatest dynamic value lies in that it doesn’t compartmentalise life, nor does it separate the means from the goals. Likewise, it doesn’t prescribe conflict between the material and the spiritual in the entity of life, nor in the nature of the cosmos and the human being; rather, it prescribes that life is a whole unit which travels in its entirety towards the goals compatibly and harmoniously.
Consultation is the Islamic philosophy of governance in the Muslim state, and it is likewise the Islamic philosophy of the Muslim society and of the Muslim family. Islam’s stance towards consultation didn’t stop at the point of considering it [to be] one of the human rights, rather it went to the point of making consultation an obligatory religious ordinance on the entire Muslim community – rulers and subjects – in the state, in society, in the family and in various modes of human conduct. As for the method of consultation, Islam didn’t set a specific system for it, but [rather] left the complete right and full freedom for the Muslim community in devising and inventing systems, organisations, ways and means that bring the goals and objectives of consultation close to action and offering when they are applied and put into practice.
Islam’s policy of governance exists after acceptance of the necessity of consultation between the ruler and the subject; [it exists] on the basis of justice from the rulers and obedience from the subjects. [The notion of] justice in Islamic law, therefore, is an obligatory ordinance and isn’t merely one of the rights that the person holding them is able to waive whenever they want or neglect without bearing the responsibility and [incurring] sin. As for obedience of the subjects, it means to determine [judiciously] when and when not to hear, and likewise to give obedience, together with establishing the Book of God the Exalted; thus, obedience to the ruler’s commands is not unconditional and absolute, nor should [one] persist in obedience even if the ruler was to forsake the law of God and His Messenger.
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], though within the legal limits. So a person must not adulterate nor monopolise human essentials, nor lend their wealth 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.
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 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. What’s more, youth unemployment sometimes contributes to crime and instability. Crime is linked, first and foremost, to poverty and social instability, but it trends upward 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 in the family because life according to Islam is greater than money and body.
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.
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:
- occurrence of a specific or general harm
- earning through [the act of] scrounging and bogus jobs
- municipal facilities
- activities that clash with the ethical objectives approved by Islam
- guaranteeing the minimum production level of basic needs
- 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.
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) contract 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.
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 Islamic organisation of stock exchanges require that chief elements of the salam contract [a type of forward sale contract], in that it is the selling of a known thing up to a certain term, be applied to future contracts in both paper money markets and commodities markets with the availability of the most important pillar of the forward sale contract, namely the intention to hand over the commodity. It is incumbent on Islamic governments to allocate equipment for surveillance over companies that deal in the stock exchange so that heads or managers of companies do not tamper with budgets thereby affecting the prices in the stock exchange and they and their subordinates gain benefit from differences in prices. This is in addition to strengthening surveillance on stock exchange traders generally so that no swindling takes place at the stock exchange. Consequently, those markets are able to perform an active role as a system for finance and investment.
The financial system for the Islamic state
Islam has placed a financial system in accordance of which money does not exceed the goal for which it was [intended]. Among the most prominent features of the Islamic financial system is that it is a system that exists within the religious, social and economic directives of Islam; that its task is to support the message of Islam in the aforementioned areas; that the goal [of having the system] is to protect the Islamic economy; to provide work for every capable [person]; protecting such work; supporting production with its various kinds and work in its abundant availability and quality; distributing income to those deserving it in a just manner and guiding public and private spending. Financial resources at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to rely on obligatory alms, [items of] seized and surrendered [or ‘free’] booty and the Jizya tax. During the time of the second caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab, financial resources became plentiful and projects appeared that require multifarious expenditure, consequently other financial resources were created such as land tax and commercial tithing.
The ruler is deemed responsible for the realisation of social stability by lawful methods. Islam has certainly guaranteed the plentiful availability of revenues through two principal means:
- Imposing secure financial obligations that are to be taken continuously, such as obligatory alms.
- The creation of public sectors and directing the state to invest those sectors. Islam prescribes fair regulations that prevent wealth from accumulating with a group and that lead to the fragmentation of ownership, including inheritance, wills and Islam’s combating of the amassment of money, the abolition of interest on the capital and the abolition of capital investment for natural resources.
One thing certain now is that the Islamic state, with the tremendous and various natural resources that it has, strives through common work to achieve its economic liberation and negate its subordination to foreign [countries] by virtue of adopting an independent developmental policy. Under the increasing commercial patronage by industrial countries and the aggravation of the external debts problem for an increasing number of Muslim states, the concept of self-reliance has come to have a communal dimension, meaning that it extends to comprise the establishing of [one] type of the aspects of co-operation and relations, that have mutual interest, with a group of Muslim states that suffer similar problems and concerns, there exists a variety of profitable co-operation among them. The co-operation may comprise the following vital matters:
- Establishing different types of joint-projects.
- The existence of a tariff preferences system among countries of the Islamic world.
- Sharing the available technology developed by these countries.
- Forming unions for producers of commodities and raw materials in Muslim countries.
- Unifying stances with regard to international issues raised such as the issue of foreign indebtedness, the international monetary system and the stance with regard to transnational corporations.
Finally, we come to say that the Islamic methodology is [suitably] placed to operate from stages of conditions of a single human person and is [also likewise] placed for this human being that lives on this earth. [Moreover] it takes into consideration human disposition, their energy, readiness, strength, weakness and their changing conditions that they encounter. Development in the Islamic methodology is not based on fanciful desires that clash with human disposition, their reality and circumstances of their life; it is a process that guards human creation and society’s cleanliness. So it does not allow the construction of a materialistic reality whose concern is partly to dissolve creation and pollute society under the judgement of necessity that clashes with that reality. Rather, it always intends to construct a reality that helps to preserve creation and society’s cleanliness with the slightest effort that an individual and society put in. As for positivistic ideologies, they make the entire matter arbitrary in [the span of] one generation. In the rugged and perilous road that adherents of these ideologies follow, battles and wars [spread] around, massacres take place, [streams of] blood flow, values become crushed, matters become unsettled, they then become crushed at the end and their contrived ideologies become crushed under the judgement of nature which oppressive ideologies do not withstand.
|Article title:||Yes, Islam is the solution… but how?
(نعم الإسلام هو الحل.. ولكن كيف؟)
|Author :||Abd al-Rahman Zaki (عبدالرحمن زكي)|
|Published by:||Al-Arabi Magazine (مجلة العربي), December 1994|
|Link to the Arabic article:||http://www.3rbi.info/Article.asp?ID=5084|
|English translation last revised on February 2020|
 The Arabic word ‘amwāl’, which has been translated here as ‘wealth’, is the plural of ‘māl’. ‘Māl’ 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-Wasīṭ]
When the writer uses the plural ‘amwāl’, we can think of this to mean ‘kinds of wealth’. [Translator]
 Literally: give. [Translator]
 The plural word ‘amwāl’ is used here in the original Arabic. See the previous note on ‘māl’ above (Footnote 1). [Translator]
 Literally: useful individual. [Translator]
 Literally: a place of consideration. [Translator]
 Literally: in the first place. [Translator]
 Literally: tends toward increase. [Translator]
 That is, the right for the woman to being cared for or receiving care. [Translator]
 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]
 The words in square brackets are not in the Arabic original. [Translator]
 The words in square brackets are my own words. [Translator]
 Jizya tax is a head tax on free non-Muslims under Muslim rule. (Hans Wehr Dictionary)
 There is no new paragraph here in the Arabic original. [Translator]