ISLAM AND SOCIALISM
By Dr. M. H. Durrani
Socialism is based on materialism. It not only rejects God but also denies every kind of moral responsibility. Lenin, the father of Socialism says:-
"We deny all morality taken from super-human or non-class conceptions. He says this is a deception, a swindle, a befogging of the minds of workers and peasants in the interest of landlords and the capitalists. We say that our morality is wholly subordinate to the interests of the class struggle of the workers."
That is why we find that people in some of the countries are the most suppressed in the world of today. There is left for them no vestige of freedom, liberty or sanctity of human life. They are like big prison houses where some kind of subsistence is provided to every inmate in exchange for his/her hard labour.
As regards fulfillment of the formula for treatment of each individual according to his ability, it has been falsified beyond proof. Not to speak of its fulfillment, no one has ever taken the trouble to tell who is to determine the needs of each individual according to his ability, it has been falsified in a Socialist State, the difference between the ruling class and the worker is even greater than the one existing in Capitalist countries. As far as morality is concealed, Socialism gives its followers free license to do whatever they like provided they remain subservient to the State.
Our moralists admit the evils of modern capitalism; its avarice and greed, its indifference to justice, its enslavement of the poor, its control of governments, its love of gambling and speculation, its shirking of personal responsibility, its manipulation of the press and the like medias, but at the same time they held them to be a lesser evil than those attendant upon Socialism. Our moralists also preach that the right of an individual in property is a moral right. It belongs not merely to the community at large but to private corporations, families and individuals. Every man has the right, not only to a general use of nature's bounties but to the possession of some of these as his own. The control of public utilities such as telegraphs, railroads and subways, by States or Municipalities is not Socialism, nor is the State ownership of any particular industry.
Islam insists upon limitations of the right of private ownership, a principle too often ignored by economists, who hold that man could do what he pleased with his own property. The private owner is only a STEWARD of his property according to Islamic teachings, and must so use it that other men may enjoy its benefits on certain just conditions. Are not the earth and fullness thereof of the lord? If, therefore, our possessions are the common gift of the Lord, they belong also to our fellowmen. The right use of the property must provide the worker with a fair wage and enable the consumer to buy what he needs at a fair price. In case of injustice, the State has the right to interfere to enforce the just limitations of private ownership. While pointing out the hazards of riches, it tolerates the presence of the rich, who are faithful to God and are obedient to His Laws. Instead of condemning private property, Islam insists upon its proper use and distribution through works of charity.
One of the greatest problems which has always confronted human society, is undoubtedly the problems of distribution of wealth, with which is the foundation stone, so to say, of materialistic civilization of modern Europe, has led to concentration to wealth in fewer and fewer hands and to the impoverishment of the masses.
To Islam is due the credit of not only solving the problems of wealth but also of developing higher sentiments and building of character, which are the foundations of a lasting civilisation for the human race. Islam accomplishes both by its institution of charity which goes under the name of Zakaat (the poor-rate). Every possessor of wealth over a certain limit in the Islamic Commonwealth is required to contribute annually one-fortieth of his wealth (including goods of trade) to a common fund to be managed by the State, or by the Muslim Community where there is no Muslim State. The fund is to be utilized by the State or the Community for amelioration of the poor. Zakaat, therefore, acts not only as a levelling factor, but also as means of developing the higher sentiments in man, those of brotherly feelings and goodwill towards the fellowmen while the rigid system of State ownership and of distribution without any distinction, result in total loss of man's virtuous inclinations. By this means, that is, Zakaat, wealth is made to circulate, as it were, in a living organism, a fixed portion of the wealth of the richer members being given to the centre, from whence it is sent forth to the chosen parts of the body-politic which need it most. The institution of Zakaat thus becomes an effective device for the uplift of the nation as a whole.
Islam offers the pure and simple solution to the knotty problem by (1) ensuring to the worker the reward for his work, big or small, in accordance with the merit of his/her work and (ii) by earmarking for the poor a share in the wealth of the rich. Thus while the right of property is maintained in its fullest sense, an arrangement is made for equalizing conditions by taking a part of the wealth from the rich for distribution amongst the poor according to the principle of Zakaat and also by a more or less equal division of property among heirs on the death of the owner. Thus H. A. R. Gibb says:
Within the Western World Islam still maintains the balance between exaggerated opposites. Opposed equally to the anarchy of European nationalism and the regimentation of Communism, it has not succumbed to that obsession with the economic side of life which is characteristic of present day world. Its social ethic has been admirably summed up by Professor Massignon: Islam has the merit of standing for a very equitable conception of the contribution of each citizen by the tithe to the resources of the community; it is hostile to unrestricted exchange, to banking capital, to State loans, to indirect taxes on objects of prime necessity, to private property, and to commercial capital. Here again it occupies intermediate position between the doctrine of bourgeois capitalism, and of Bolshevist Communism.
Islam came as the friend of the poor and the destitute, and as a matter of fact it did accomplish an upliftment of the poor to which history affords no parallel. It raised men from the lowest rung of the social ladder to the highest positions in life, it made of slaves not only leaders in thought and intellect but monarchs in actual fact. Its social system is one of equality which is quite unthinkable in any other nation or any other society. It lays down, as one of the fundamental principles of religion that the poor have a right in the wealth of the rich, a right which is exercised through the State which collects annually a portion of the wealth amassed by the rich, to distribute it among the poor.
Islam puts forward a detailed and systematic plan for building the kind of society it needs to carry out its programme of creating a new and better world by the establishment of virtue and eradication of vice.
"The Believers, men and women, are protectors, one of another: they enjoin what is just and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers; practice regular charity, and obey God and His Apostle. On them will God pour His Mercy: for God is Exalted in Power, Wise". (9: 71)
Such is the type of the Believers who can reasonably be expected to establish all the virtues, which have always been regarded as praiseworthy and to eradicate all the vices which have universally been condemned.
(Courtesy: Yaqeen International)