Below is a transcript of my following presentation:
Broadly speaking there are six fundamental systems or policies that are crucial from an ideological point of view. These are:
Ruling System : Education Policy: Social System : Foreign Policy : Judicial System :
Economic System : It is the economic system of Islam which is the topic of the rest of this presentation.
This is the most important slide of the whole presentation so I am going to spend a few minutes on this slide. We all look at Man, Life and Universe. We are all human beings, we live our life on this earth which is really a very insignificant planet in the unlimited vastness of universe. But there is a very fundamental difference between how secularism looks at Man, Life and Universe vs how Islam looks at these three. Secularism has no definitive point of view regarding the origin of these three. It has some theories but they keep on changing, as such it does not compel its followers to have any specific theory about the origins of these three. One is free to believe in a creator if one so desires but there is no compulsion. The issue of the existence or absence of a Creator is not important. This means that existence or absence of a Creator has no bearing on man, he is free to live his life and use the resources of the universe as he sees fit. There are no guidelines about how to live in this universe. Similar to this evasive outlook about the origins is the attitude about what comes after this life ends. Here again secularism has no firm answer. Once again man is free to believe that his life comes to an end when he is declared dead or he can believe that after this worldly life comes to an end another life starts. This is the key difference between secularism and Islam. Secularism has no firm point of view as to where we are coming from, why we are here and where we are going. Islam on the other hand has a very definitive point of view on these issues. It tells us that Allah created man, gave him life and put him in this universe. He gave us clear guidelines to live our lives in this universe and use its resources according to his commandments. If we do that then He will grant us place in heaven and if we violate his commandments then he will punish us by putting us in hell.
Even though secularism has no definitive guidelines about where we are coming from and where we are going but it has to have a “creed” or some fundamental beliefs on which to base the functions of its society. The three basic beliefs are: Freedoms & Equalities, Morality, Interest & Benefit. The theory is that based on the understanding of these three beliefs the majority will come up with Ruling System, Education System, Social System, Foreign Policy, Judicial System and Economic System. The idea behind this theory is that the majority of ordinary people are fully capable of understanding all these very complex systems and can come up with rules and regulations that will be beneficial for the whole society. The fact of the matter is that forget about ordinary people even the so called experts of one field hardly agree or understand all the aspects of even their own field. Their knowledge is so compartmentalized and influenced by their education and life experiences that they cannot see the whole picture of their own field, let alone other fields. For example think about people who consider themselves experts in economics. How many of them fully understand all aspects of the games that are played on Wallstreet, let alone the social ramifications of these games. What ends up happening in reality is that a certain group of people gain control and they actually make the rules. And in order to keep the system of exploitation running they create the illusion that the majority is responsible for the way the system is. And it is only natural that these people make rules that are beneficial to them and the group that they belong to. The group can be of the rich wallstreet financial tycoons or of communist manipulators. Each will make rules according to their own limited understanding but unlimited biases towards the other group.
As stated earlier, Islam on the other hand has a very definitive point of view. It tells us that Allah is the sole Creator, He created all that there is for a purpose. This is not some game or some random statistical process. He sent his prophets and revelations to inform the mankind about Him and what He wants us to do. The last of these prophets is prophet Mohammad ( PBUH ) and the last book from Allah is the holy Quran. The life and actions of prophet Mohammad ( PBUH ) is known as Sunnah. Quran and Sunnah combined form the core of the Islamic creed. Even the other two i.e Ijma Sahaba and Qiyas are derivates of Quran and Sunnah and as such cannot contradict what is in Quran and Sunnah. Now Allah is the creator of all things, living and dead. He created us all with all sorts of differences and in all sort of different circumstances. Some of us are black, some are not. Some of us were born in wealthy families, some were not. Some of us are given very strong and healthy bodies but some are not. But like a loving mother who does not want her strong child tormenting his week siblings, Allah also does not want one group of people exploiting another group. He is the Creator of all these differences as such a poor person is not His friend just because he is poor. Similarly a rich person is not Allah’s enemy because he is rich. Both are in their respective states because Allah put them in those states. What Allah wants to see is how they behave in their respective states. Does the rich uses his worldly resources to further exploit the poor or does he follow Allah’s commandments regarding wealth and share it with his less fortunate fellow human beings. Similarly Allah wants to see how does a poor person behaves does he work to earn an honest living or does he rob or steal from the rich. The systems that emanate from Quran and Sunnah are beneficial for the whole humanity because they are provided by the Creator Himself for the betterment of the whole humanity not just one group. As such they are free from any biasness which one group may have against another.
Continuing on with the previous slides it is helpful to take a further look at the foundations and ramifications of both Islamic and Western idelogies. As discussed previously the foundation of Islamic ideology is based on Quran and Sunnah where as Western ideology has its basis in Greek philosophy, Roman civilization, mixed with some Christian beliefs and profoundly influenced by scientific rationalism. Quran provides clear philosophical answers for questions pertaining to man, life and universe. Greek philosophy on the other hand is a jumble of godly myths and ideals of perfection with no clarity of purpose. Sunnah provides practical guidelines about how to live and conduct affairs in this world as ordained by the Creator Himself. These guidelines are for the betterment of the whole humanity not just for one privileged group. Roman civilization on the other hand provided a system for worldly affairs in which Romans were the preferred human beings and everyone else was a barbarian, to be exploited for the glory of Rome. The Roman gods and goddesses had no place in the daily affairs of man.
Now what are the ramifications of these differences? Being from the sole Creator Himself, Islamic ideology has no conflicts which are inherently present in Western philosophy. In Islam Allah is the real and ultimate owner of all that is in heavens and earth. He gives more to some and less to others, it is His decision. On the other hand we have Greek Utopia in the form of Communism, perfect society, make every one equal, state owns every thing, no private ownership. On the flip side, in Islam the ones with more are required ( not optional ) to share with others. Compare that to Imperial Rome – Capitalism, unrestrained exploitation & accumulation of resources by a few.
Now let us see what is the crux of the economic problem. According to Islamic economic system, Human needs are of two types : Basic Needs which are (limited) and luxurious desires. World resources are enough to fulfil basic needs of all the people of world.
Capitalism on the other hand makes no distinction between basic human needs and desires, it lumps the two as needs. This deliberate lumping together of desires and needs confuses the issue, because desires are unlimited while there are limited resources to fulfil them. The fact of the matter is that there are enough resources in the world that we can fulfill the basic needs of all the people of world. This fact is supported by a study conducted by United Nations Development Program. UNDP calculates that an annual 4 percent levy on the world's 225 most well-to-do people (average 1998 wealth: $4.5 billion) would suffice to provide the following essentials for all those in developing countries: adequate food, safe water and sanitation, basic education, basic health care and reproductive health care.
Communists went to the other extreme. They based their ideology on materialism and disregarded human desires. For example they disregarded human desire to posses. Which meant that people no longer owned the house in which they lived or the farm that they cultivated.
This fact about human needs vs desire is very appropriately displayed by one of the Occuply Wallstreet protestors. The fact of the matter is that corporate greed is the manifestation of uncontrolled human desire to acquire wealth.