NOT A MERE ECONOMIC QUESTION
By Dr. M. H. Durrani
"Is not the social question merely an economic question, with which Islam has nothing to do?"
No, it is not a mere economic question. The "social question" is above all a moral and religious matter, and for that reason must be settled by the principles of morality and according to dictates of religion; hence, Islam condemns both those who maintain that the solution of social question is solely an economic problem or those who hold that the sole province of religion is after life.
ISLAMIC WAY OF LIFE
Islam presents a complete system of life both for the individual and the community, covering all aspects of human life from birth to death. It regards man as a moral creature and provides economic, political and social systems, so co-ordinated and equilibrated among themselves as to enable man to achieve his spiritual and temporal values together. Islam, then, offers a comprehensive guidance, a veritable code of life which is valid for all times and for all people. Its message is universal and applicable to all conditions in which different people in different geographical areas of the world might find themselves.
In view of this we can easily understand that man is not created as a merely economic creature living for food, clothing and shelter. Almighty God created us to grow up and develop into fine and perfect human beings. The chief purpose and perfection of every human being consists in loving God above all things and his fellow-brothers as oneself.
This being so, there appears to be three important things for us in this life:-
Firstly: we must know God and love Him.
Secondly: we must learn to love what He loves.
Thirdly: we must serve Him and do His Will.
Therefore, when God created human nature, He must have given all men the right at least to those things that are essential to their development and perfection, that is to say, those things which are necessary to help them love God, their fellow beings and themselves. The Soviets maintain that they have democratic Socialism. And the implication is that the people have regained their freedom and liberties and personal rights. The fact cannot be got away from that whoever is property-less is dependent on property owners; and when the Government owns all the property, the whole nation is utterly dependent upon the Government and lost its real liberty and surrendered its personal rights.
Man has got the right to live, with the corresponding duty to protect his life. Nobody could lawfully take the life of his neighbor, not even his own and commit suicide. God alone is the Master of life and death. Man is, therefore, bound to use this right; otherwise the continuation of the human race would be endangered or might even come to a stop, which is clearly against God's Will. Man has the right to bodily integrity. Nobody is allowed to mutilate or injure himself willfully or endanger his life, because he not only has the right to bodily integrity, but is bound to use and protect it. Similarly, man has the right to practice religion and love God. That is what he has been made for. God claims that man should worship Him. Hence, this duty is obligatory upon man and he is bound to perform it. In other words he is bound to use his right. The same ought to be said as regards the right to follow one's conscience. So there are rights of which there is no freedom of choice as to their use. Man is bound to use or exercise them willy nilly.
Above all other created things, God takes special care of man, the Crown of His creation, because He gives him special guidance. Only to man He has given will and reason, not to others. He has given him laws, which are a safeguard for him and help him reach final destination. On top of it all he has given him additional safeguards in His Own Words as a sure guidance, so much has He care for man.
The value, therefore, of every human individual is enormous. By creating and bringing order into this world, it was man whom God made in His own likeness. Human life is a substantial and essential part of God's creation. Reflecting on all this and in view of God's plan of the universe and man's place in it, man and woman, it is quite obvious that the task of man in bringing forth new human beings is a very important one, and one sublimely social, a sacred trust from God, wonderful, fine, generous and noble. Hence it is also the sacred duty of man to be grateful and not only to care for the continuation of mankind but also for the absolute value of every human individual.
It is so important to understand that human rights come from God Himself and are His gifts to man. Anyone who denies this may quite reasonably argue that no individual has any right at all, and that the Government orders us all just as it wishes. So you could be lawfully prevented from going to school, having a family, a home of your own, bringing up your own children, living with your parents, choosing your own job, following or practicing your religion according to your conscience and so on. That is one of the reasons why people who do not believe in God or who have no religion are often the greatest enemies of the rest of men. It is also one of the reasons why religion - Islam - is such a great champion of the liberties of mankind and the greatest enemy of individual or community dictatorship.
Human rights are so dear in God's eyes and so highly does He value them that He Himself never destroys them. Especially true is this of man's freedom even when He knows that man will misuse this gift and inflict terrible harm and misery on others.
When this happens, God always gives sufficient help and strength to the souls of the sufferers to make up their loss. At least in the case of those who use this help and cling to Him, He will always draw good out of evil, even if it requires a miracle to do so. Therefore, in history it has not unoften happened that when some great evil has arisen in the world, God has arranged some greater good to counterbalance it. But this does not allow anyone to ignore the rights of others on the plea that God will see that good comes out of it in the end. Whatever God may do, it will always be wrong for one of His creatures to go against His known Will and to make life harder than it need be for another to test His Providence. However, any person who attempts such a course of action will draw down God's punishment upon himself.
It is perfectly true that Islam not only teaches the principles of justice and charity but it also denounces social evils. If these principles are followed, they would work the social reformation of the world. Islam's divine mission is pre-eminently a spiritual one, but despite the supreme value of the individual soul, its primary duty is of loving God and one's fellowmen.
Thus Islam is not only confined to prayers, fasting and sacrifices. It is a complete code of life for all peoples, all places and all times. It is not just a religion discussing private spiritual relations between the worshipper and worshipful. It discusses not only spiritual matters but also physical, moral, material and social affairs on individual, family, social and national levels. As such, political aspects to find an important place in the social question by the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah. If a king is ordered to observe certain laws to govern his country, the subjects as well have been enjoined to pay allegiance to their ruler, foreign or otherwise. Similarly, a law-giver, a statesman, a judge, a military officer, a merchant, a craftsman, a son, a father, a brother, a husband, a wife, a neighbour, a friend, the rich, the poor, in short persons in various capacities and walks of life will find therein principles of guidance to make them useful members of society and good citizens. Thus, Islam knows that the ultimate end of the social question depends upon the universal recognition of the moral teaching which Allah gave the world. So Islam, like its Divine Founder, has a mission pre-eminently spiritual to guide all men.
Thus, Islam gives us rules and regulations adapted to the various needs and requirements of life. The Holy Qur'an is not merely a collection of moral precepts, or a book of rituals; it gives us, on the one hand, a true conception of Godhead and enlightens us on the great truths such as angels, revelation, prophethood, future life, heaven and hell. On the other hand, it also supplies us with principles to guide us in political, social, economic and domestic affairs, so that the whole human society, acting upon them, may attain perfection. Of course, Islam holds itself aloof from all particular forms of government or parties, and from all special theories of economic and social reform. On principle, Islam is opposed both to Socialism which identifies itself with materialistic aims and methods, and decrees the abolition of private property, and to heartless individualism which unduly exalts private interests while ignoring the claims of social justice and charity. Our true happiness lies in seeking the Divine Kingdom and once we begin it, we must not give it up at any cost, until we find it, for to give up half-way is to fail completely.
We see now that God is absolute Goodness. Not merely the relative good that we know as being the opposite of relative evil, but the absolute good which is something infinitely higher, which is a state of wholeness, completeness and perfection such as we cannot describe. We see in the Holy Qur'an that the word "Azall", spoken by God, was really due to His love and His Perfect Law and Order. So long as people lived according to the Divine Order, they prospered. It was only when they wandered away from it that they fell on evil times. The Holy Qur'an taught that God extends His goodwill to all equally. He does not bestow His good upon some and sends evil upon others.
"Praise be to God,
The Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds,
Most Gracious, Most Merciful;
Master of the Day of Judgement" (Ch.1 v.1-4).
From this we see that all men alike, the good and the evil, the just and the unjust, have God's Bounty showered upon them. God is not kind to one and harsh to another. He is the same to both. He is their sole unquestionable Designer. He has designed them on two patterns, of 'Saadat' and 'Shaqawat' - 'direct suggestion' and 'anti-suggestion'; the cherished goal of one is 'Heaven', of the other 'the Hell'. He makes His sun rise on the sinners and on the submissive, sends rain on the just and the unjust, but while the life of one who is in harmony with the All-Good is blessed, that of the one 'who departs from the Divine Order' appears to be punished or afflicted. This is due to 'being out of correspondence with the Divine Good.' We are not punished for our sins: rather we are punished through our sins, for the sins. If we depart from our centre (the centre and source of all Harmony and Blessedness) we meet with all manner of disorders and adversities, but directly when we get back to our Divine centre, order and harmony are restored.
Thus, we see that God does punish us, but is always full of loving kindness; we seek punishment ourselves by putting ourselves outside love. Therefore,
"If any of you did evil in ignorance, and thereafter repented and amended yourselves, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Ch.6 V.54).
Let us submit, while yet there is time, to Divine Commands and adopt the Islamic Way of Life
in its entirety and ensure salvation both Here and Hereafter.