This full-length text is, as stated by the author himself, dedicated to answering the following question: "What is the system that suits humanity, the one through which humanity achieves a happy social life?" The author critically analyzes the most prominent systems known today, namely Capitalistic Democracy, Socialism and Communism, and then presents the Islamic system as opposed to these and describes how Islam can solve the social problem through its religious message.
We express our gratitude to Allah, the most Glorified, the One Who can grant us success in publishing this book, Contemporary Man and the Social Problem ( الإنسان المعاصر و المشكلة الاجتماعية ) which was written by the great scholar, martyr and Islamic thinker, Sayyid Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr and translated by Mr. Yasin T. al-Jibouri. This is his third book, after The Revealer, the Messenger and the Message" ( المرسل و الرسول و الرسالة ) and A General Outlook at Rites ( نظرة عامة في العبادات ), the publication and distribution of which has been undertaken by our Organization, W.O.F.I.S.
In the Preface to the translation of The Revealer, The Messenger and The Message, we wrote a biography of the eminent author; and in the foreword to this book—Contemporary Man and the Social Problem—, the author himself discusses its subject matter. Therefore, there is no need to repeat what we have written before about the author or what the author himself has written (in his foreword) about this book. It is from Allah, the Almighty, that we seek help, and we rely on Him for accomplishment, success and support; surely He is the Lord and the best to help.
Board of Writing, Translation and Publication
World Organization For Islamic Services
Muharram 1, 1400 A. H./November 26, 1979 A. D.
Three years ago, we attempted a humble undertaking: studying the deepest bases on which each of Marxism and Islam stands, and the book Our Philosophy فلسفتنا interpreted our attempt. That was a starting point for a successive strain of thought trying to study Islam from base to top .
So was Our Philosophy, then, published to be succeeded, after about two years, by Our Economy اقتصادنا; and the two intellectual brothers (meaning books) are still waiting for other brothers to join, so that the whole intellectual series, which we aspire to present to Muslims, may be completed.
From the very beginning, we noticed that in spite of the unmatchable welcome with which the series was met, so much so that the copies of Our Philosophy were sold out within only few weeks—there is a considerable paradox between the high Muslim intellect and the general intellectual atmosphere in which we nowadays live. It is even very difficult, for many, to live upto this high standard of Muslim intellect without exerting a great deal of hard effort. It was inevitable, then, to initiate successive series of books through which the reader ascends higher steps of Muslim intellectualism that may enable him to appreciate its supreme standard.
Thus emerged the idea of "The Islamic School": an attempt to use a scholastic procedure in introducing the Muslim intellect through successive series parallel to the main series; (i.e., Our Philosophy and Our Economy), sharing its burden of carrying the Muslim intellectual message and agreeing with it in mutual and main purpose, although it differs in degree and level.
As we were contemplating on issuing "The Islamic School", we defined the characteristics of the Muslim intellect composing the general outlook and intellectual taste of the presumed School.
These characteristics may be summed up thus:
1. The direct aim behind establishing "The Islamic School" is to supply conviction, more than innovation; therefore, it derives its intellectual topics from Our Philosophy, Our Economy and their intellectual brothers, displaying them all within a specific scholastic framework, without confining itself to ideas presented for the first time.
2. "The Islamic School" does not always restrict itself to proving the form of any particular idea. Such form here is less clearly highlighted than in Our Philosophy and her sisters—all this is done according to the degree of simplification expected from scholastic series.
3. "The Islamic School" deals with a broader intellectual horizon than that of Our Philosophy and her sisters. It does not only deal with the major aspects of the general Islamic intellect. It deals with the different philosophical, historical or Qur'anic topics which affect the growth of the Islamic awareness, the building and completion of the Muslim character, from both intellectual and spiritual standpoints.
Allah Almighty has decreed that the idea of "The Islamic School" should meet another idea derived from the Introduction to Our Philosophy, and that both ideas get intermingled with each other and see the light in the form of this book.
The other idea came out of the dear readers' persistence that we must reprint Our Philosophy, and to attempt broadening and simplifying the topics in Our Philosophy before we reprint the whole book for the second time, a matter that requires a leisure which I do not have at the present time.
Accordingly, the dear readers' wish started to make a direction towards the Introduction to Our Philosophy itself because reprinting such Introduction would not take as much effort as reprinting the entire book. The influx of requests left no room to suspect the necessity of responding to them.
There did both ideas meet: Why should the Introduction to Our Philosophy not be the first series of "The Islamic School"?
And so it was.
But we were not satisfied with printing the Introduction only; we also introduced some significant adjustments, giving some of its concepts a broader explanation, such as the concept of the egotistic instinct. We added to it two important chapters: One is "Contemporary man and his capacity to solve the social problem", which is the first chapter of this book and which deals with the human capacity to establish the social system that guarantees happiness and perfection.
The other chapter is "Islam's standpoint regarding freedom and security". It is the last chapter of this book. In it we attempted a comparative study between the standpoint of each of Islam and capitalism towards freedom, and that of Islam and Marxism towards security.
Thus did the Introduction multiply, taking a new name: Contemporary Man and the Social Problem, as the first series of "The Islamic School"; verily, only Allah grants success.
Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr
The world problem that occupies peoples' minds now, affecting the heart of their present existence, is the social problem which can be summarized by giving the most frank answer to this question:
What is the system that suits humanity, the one through which humanity achieves a happy social life?
Naturally, this problem occupies a prominent and serious position. In its complexity and diversity of suggested solutions, it poses as a source of danger to humanity itself, for system is included in the calculation of the human life, affecting the core of its social entity.
This problem is deeply rooted in the distant epochs of the history of human existence. Mankind faced it ever since it had sprung up in its social life. The human social entity stemmed from several individuals linked to each other through common bonds and ties. These bonds, naturally, need general directions and organization. Indeed, it is on the extent of the harmony between this system and the existing human reality and its interest that both social stability and happiness depend.
This social problem has pushed humanity, in its intellectual and political arenas, to wage a long battle and engage in a struggle full of different sorts of combat, and by different codes of the human mind, aiming at erecting and engineering the social structure, trying to sketch its plans and lay down its pillars. It was a tiring struggle, crowded with miseries and iniquities, full of laughter and sorrow, one in which happiness was espoused to misery. All this occurred because of all the different colors of abnormality and deviation that characterized those social systems. Except for glimpses that shone during moments of the history of this planet, the social existence of man would have lived in continuous misery and dived into tumultuous waves.
We do not want to display, now, the rounds of the human struggle in the social field, for we do not want, by making such type of research here, to narrate the history of agonizing humanity, showing the different spheres through which it revolved since time immemorial. Instead, we want to partake in humanity's present living circumstances and in the rounds it reached, so that we may know the destination that a round is expected to reach, and the natural shore towards which a ship should make its way and dock, so that it may reach peace and goodness, coming back to a stable life of justice and happiness after a long struggle and tiring endeavour, after journeying for so long in different places and directions.
In fact, contemporary man's awareness of today's social problem is stronger than at any past epoch of ancient history. Today, he is more conscious of his relationship to the problem and to its complexity, for modern man has come to realize the fact that the problem is of his own making, and that the social order is not imposed on him from above, the way natural phenomena operate, for these phenomena govern man's relationship to nature.
Man now stands in contrast with ancient man who often used to look at the social order as though it were an order of nature, facing it without choice or power. While he could not develop the law of earth gravitation, by the same token, he could not change his social relations. Naturally, when man starts to believe that those relations are but one aspect of behaviour while man himself chooses without losing his own will within their sphere, the social problem then starts to reflect in him—in man that lives it intellectually—a revolutionary bitterness, instead of the bitterness of yielding
Modern man, on the other hand, started to be contemporary to a tremendous change in man's control over nature, a change that has never been preceded. This growing control, terrifying and gigantic, increases the complexity of the social problem and doubles its dangers, for it opens to mankind new and great avenues of utilization; and it doubles the significance of the social order on which depends the distribution of each individual's share of those tremendous outcomes that nature today bestows on man with generosity.
Man, after all, inherited from his predecessors, along ages, a broader experience, more inclusive and deep, that resulted from the social experiences which ancient man had had, and in their light he studies the social problem.
Having acquainted ourselves with the essential question humanity faced ever since it practiced its conscious social existence, artistically attempting to answer it along its remote history, we want now to cast a look at what humanity, now and in all other ages, possesses of capacities and essential conditions required for giving an accurate answer to the essential afore-mentioned question, i.e., "What is the system which suits humanity best, the one through which it can achieve happiness in its social life?"
Can humanity provide the answer?
And what is the required amount—in its intellectual and spiritual composition—of conditions necessary to succeed in providing the answer?
What sort of absurdities’ can guarantee humanity ultimate success in the test and terseness in providing the answer to the question, in the way it chooses to solve the social problem, in reaching the best system that guarantees humanity's happiness, uplifting it to the highest levels?
In a clearer expression: How can contemporary man perceive, say, that democratic capitalism, dictatorship, social proletarianism, etc., is the best system? If humanity perceived this or that, what are the absurdities which guarantee that it is right and correct in its perception?
Even if it secured all of that, will it suffice to perceive the best system, knowing it fully well, to put it to practice in order to solve the social problem on its basis? Or will the implementation of the system depend on other elements which may not be available, in spite of the "knowledge" of its practicality and merit?
The points which we have raised now are related to a large extent to the common concept of society and cosmos; therefore, the method to deal with them differs among scholars, each according to his respective common concepts; so let us start with Marxism.
The windmill (Marxism argues), for example, inspires man to feel that the feudal system is the best system for him. The steam mill that succeeded it teaches man that capitalism is worthier of implementation. Today's electrical and atomic means of production give the society new intellectual concept, believing that the social system is the fittest Marxism sees man as being spiritually and intellectually conditioned to the method of production and the type of producing powers.
Being independent of these powers, he cannot think in social terms, nor can he know the best system. The producing powers, according to Marxism, dictate to him such knowledge, allowing him to answer the essential question which we laid out in our Introduction above, and he, in turn, will recur their echo carefully and faithfully.
Humanity's capacity to conceive the best system, then, is exactly its own capacity to interpret the social outcome of all producing powers, returning their echo.
As for the old conventional conception, it is now wrong, since a more modern social conception has been invented
What assures the Soviet man that his viewpoint is accurate is the belief that such view represents the new aspect of the social awareness, expressing a new stage of history; so, it has to be correct, unlike old viewpoints
It is true, though, that some social views may seem to be new—in spite of their falsehood—such as the Nazi view in the first half of this century, as it seemed as if it were expressing a new development in history But how fast are such veiled views uncovered, proving through experience that they are nothing but an echo to the old views, an interpretation of worn-out historical stages, not new views per se.
Thus does Marxism assert: the "modernity" of the social view, i.e., its birth as the outcome of newly-formulated historical circumstances, is the guarantor of its accuracy as long as history is in escalating advancement
There is something else, and that is: Today, for example, humanity's perception of the social system, as being the fittest, is insufficient, according to Marxism, to put it to practice unless and until the class that benefits from it more than others (this, according to this example, is the proletariat) is violent, a class struggle will take place against the class that benefits from keeping the old system. This mad struggle interacts with the concept of the fittest system; hence, such struggle will get fiercer as long as that concept grows and becomes clearer and, in its turn, it deepens the concept, helping it grow as it gets more strong and prevalent
This Marxist viewpoint is based on the materialistic historical ideals which are criticized in our broad study of economic Marxism1 . What we add here is that history itself proves that the social ideals concerning identifying the type of systems that are the fittest are not created by the producing powers; rather, man has his own originality and creativity in this sphere, independently of the means of production.
Otherwise, how can Marxism explain to us the ideas of nationalization, socialism and state ownership during distant and separate periods of history? If the belief in the idea of nationalization—as the fittest system, according to the Soviet man nowadays—is the result of the sort of today's producing powers, what is the meaning of the appearance of the same idea in remote times when these producing powers were non-existent?
Did not Plato believe in communism, imagining his ideal city on a communist model? Was his conception the outcome of modern means of production which the Greeks never possessed? What can I say? But the social ideas two thousand years ago reached a stage of maturity and depth in the minds of some great political thinkers to a degree which paved for them the way of their implementation just as does the Soviet man nowadays, with only few adjustments.
This is Woo-Di, the greatest of China's emperors from the Han dynasty, believed, out of knowledge and experience, in the social system as being the fittest. He put it to practice during the period from 140 - 87 B.C., making all natural resources the property of the nation and nationalizing the industries of salt extraction, iron mining and wine-making He wanted to put an end to the authority of commissioners and commercial competitors.
He established a special system for transportation and exchange under the auspices of the state, trying thereby to control trade in order to be able to avoid sudden price fluctuations. The state workers themselves used to undertake carrying and delivering goods to the respective owners throughout the country, and the government itself used to stock whatever items were left of the nation's need, selling them when their prices rose above the necessary limit and buying them back when their prices fell He set to establish great common institutions to create jobs for the millions of those who could not be absorbed by the private industries.
Also, in the beginning of the Christian era, Wang Mang ascended the throne and became enthusiastic about the idea of emancipating slaves and putting an end to both slavery and feudalism, just like what the Europeans believed in doing at the beginning of the capitalist era. He abolished slavery, took the lands from the feudal class, nationalized arable lands and distributed them among the peasants, forbade buying or selling lands in order to avoid repossession. And he nationalized mines and some other major industries, too.
So, could Woo-Di or Wang Mang have derived their social inspiration and political policies from steam power, electricity or the atom, the energies which Marxism considers to be the bases of social thinking?
So do we derive this conclusion: Perceiving this system or that—as being the fittest—is not the making of this producing power or that.
Also, the advancing movement of history—the one through which Marxism proves that the "modernity" of thinking guarantees its accuracy—is nothing but another myth of history, for certainly reactionary and melting trends of civilization are numerous indeed As for non-Marxist thinkers, these decide that man's ability to conceive the fittest system grows with him from the many social experiences through which he lives.
Therefore, when social man puts to practice a specific social system, embodying it within his own living experience, he can notice from his experience of that system the faults and weak points that hide within the system, for these will be eventually discovered, enabling man to conceive a more terse and informed social system.
Thus, man will be enabled to conceive the fittest system, putting his answer to the essential question in the light of his experience and knowledge. The more complete and numerous the experiments or systems he tries are, the more knowledge and terseness he achieves, becoming more capable of defining the fittest system and determining its dimensions.
Our main question: "What is the fittest social system?" is but another way of asking: "What is the best method of home-heating?" This question faced man ever since he felt cold for the first time inside his cave or hideout; so, he engaged himself in thinking of an answer to it, until he was led, through his observations and numerous experiences, to a way to make a fire. Then he persistently struggled to find a better answer to the question across his prolonged experiences, until he finally discovered electricity for heating.
So was the case with thousands of other problems which he faced throughout his life. He found the way to solve those problems through experience, and his perception increased in exactness as his experiments increased in number. Among such problems are: the problem of getting the best medicine for tuberculosis, the easiest method for oil drilling, the fastest means for transportation and travel, or the best method for wool-weaving, etc
Just as man has been able to solve all of these problems, providing answers for all of those questions through experience, so can man answer the question of "What is the fittest social system?" from his social experiences that disclose both advantages and disadvantages of the particular system scrutinized, pointing out the reactions to it on the social level
This is accurate to a certain degree: The social experience allows man to provide the answer to this question: "What is the fittest (social) system?" just as natural experiments enabled him to answer several other questions which encompassed his life ever since it had begun.
But we have to differentiate—if we want to study this issue deeper—between the social experiences that formulate man's perception of the fittest system and the natural experiments from which man acquires his knowledge of nature's secrets and laws and the methods to benefit from them, to find out, for example, the best medicine, the fastest means of travel, the best method for weaving, the easiest method for oil-drilling, or even the best way to divide the atom.
For the social experiences—social man's trials of different social systems—do not really reach, in their intellectual output, the same degree like that of natural experiments, i.e., man's experiments of the natural phenomena, for these indeed differ from the first in many points. Such a difference leads to man's varying ability to benefit from both natural and social experiments.
So, while man is capable of comprehending the secrets of natural phenomena, ascending to the peak of perfection as time passes by, due to his natural and scientific experiments, well, he really cannot help taking a slow pace in his attempt to comprehend the fittest social system, without ever being able to achieve absolute perfection in his social thinking, no matter how diversified and numerous his social experiences may be.
It is mandatory on us, in order to know all of this, to study these significant differences between the nature of a social experience and a natural one, so that we may be able to reach the fact we have already decided, that is, the natural experiment may be able to grant mankind, across ages a complete image of nature to be used to utilize the natural phenomena and laws. As for the social experience, this cannot guarantee mankind to discover such a complete ideology concerning the social issue.
The most significant of these differences may be summarized thus:
First: The natural experiment can be initiated and practiced by one individual, comprehending it through noticing and observing, directly studying all what may be disclosed of its facts and shortcomings and coming to a specific idea hinging on that experiment.
As for the social experience, it is but the embodiment of an already practiced and implemented system. The experience of the feudal or capitalist system, for example, means the society's implementation of this system during a period of its history; hence, such an experience cannot be done or absorbed by just one person.
Rather, the entire community implements the social experience, consuming a life-span of the community's age far wider than does this individual or that. When one wants to benefit from a certain social experience, he cannot be contemporary to all of its events, just like being contemporary to an actual natural experiment while implementing it; rather, he can be contemporary to one side of its events, necessarily depending on his assumption, derivation and (knowledge of) history while scrutinizing all the aspects and consequences of the experience.
Second: The thinking crystallized by a natural experiment is much more subjective and accurate than that derived by man from a social experience.
This is a most essentially significant point which forbids the social experience from reaching the level of a natural and scientific point; therefore, it has to be thoroughly clarified.
In the natural experiment, the interest of the person performing it is tied to his discovery of the truth, the complete honest truth, without covering anything up, and he most often does not have the least interest in falsifying the truth or discomposing its features, an action which will eventually be found out through experiment.
If he, for example, wants to examine the effects of a certain chemical on tuberculosis germs, while putting it in those germs' environment, he will not then be concerned except about knowing its degree of effect, albeit if it is high or low, and he will not benefit in treating tuberculosis from falsifying the truth, over-estimating or under-estimating such an effect. Accordingly, the trend of the mind of the person experimenting the method will naturally be directed towards subjectivity and accuracy.
As for the social experience, the interest of the person performing such an experiment does not always stop at his finding out the truth, discovering the fittest social system for all mankind; but it may even be to his own personal advantage to conceal the truth from the eyes of the beholders The person whose interest hinges on the capitalist system and on monopoly or on the banking interest system, for example, will find out that his benefit lies in the truth which emphasizes that the system of capitalism, monopoly and bank interest is the most suitable one, so that the profits such system brings him will continue.
He, therefore, is not being naturally subjective, as long as his personal impulse urges him to discover the truth in the colour which agrees with his own personal interests. So is the case with the other person whose personal interest conflicts with interest rates or monopoly; nothing concerns him more than truth convicting the interest and monopoly systems.
When such a person seeks the answer to the social question of "What is the most suitable (social) system?", out of his own social research, he always is pushed by an internal power that favours a specific viewpoint. In other words, by no means is he a neutral person per se. And so do we come to know that man's thinking of the social problem cannot usually guarantee subjectivity and selflessness to the degree that ensures the accuracy of man's thinking while treating a natural experiment or dealing with a cosmic question.
Third: Suppose someone has been able to free himself intellectually from his self impulses, reasoning with subjectivity, finding out the fact that this system or that is the most suitable for all humanity, well, who can guarantee this person's concern about all humanity's interest if such interest does not agree with his own? Who is going to guarantee this person's effort to put the most suitable social system for humanity to practice if it does conflict with this person's own interest? Is it sufficient reason, for example, for the capitalists who believe that Socialism is a more fitting social system (than Capitalism) to go ahead and implement it even though it does conflict with their own interests?
Is it sufficient that the belief of contemporary man (the man of Western civilization)—in the light of the experiences which he has lived—indecency and permissiveness, is his belief in what all these relationships include of moral dangers, decay and disintegration, on man's tomorrow and future, causes him to rush to develop such relationships in the method which guarantees humanity's future, protecting it from sexual and instinctive disintegration, as long as he does not feel any contemporary danger to the present in which he lives, and as long as such relationships do, indeed, provide him with a plenitude of pleasure and fun?
We, then, in the light of all of this, do feel in need not only for finding out the most suitable system for all humanity, but also in need for an impulse that makes us concerned about the interest of mankind as a whole, trying to bring such system to reality, even when it conflicts with that portion (of society) we represent out of the whole.
Fourth: The system that social man establishes, the one in the practicality and efficiency of which he believes, cannot be qualified to bring this man up, i.e., uplift him in the human sphere to wider horizons because the system which social man makes always reflects its maker's present circumstance, his spiritual and psychological status. So, if the society enjoys a low degree of strength and solidarity of self-will, it indeed has never been capable of growing this will up—by establishing a firm social system which nurtures self-will and firms solidarity.
For so long as it does not possess a solid will, it then is incapable of discovering such a system and of implementing it; rather, it establishes the system that reflects its disintegration and melting self-will. Otherwise, can we expect a society which does not possess its self-will to oppose the temptation of wine drinking, for example, without enjoying a will uplifting it above such a cheap desire like this? Can we expect such a society to execute a firm system that bans similar cheap desires, nurturing man's self-will, restoring to him his freedom, emancipating him from the slavery of desire and temptation? Of course not!
We do not expect firmness from a disintegrating society, even when such a society realizes the danger of disintegration and of its consequences. Nor do we expect the society which is enslaved by the desire of wine drinking to free itself from such desires on its own free will, no matter how aware of wine's effects such a society may be.
For awareness is deepened and focussed by the society if it continues disintegrating itself and satisfying its desires; and the more it continues to do so, the more it becomes incapable of treating the situation and uplifting its humanity to higher degrees. This is the reason that caused man-made civilizations to be incapable of establishing a system which makes man oppose his slavery to his own desires, uplifting him to a higher human level.
Even the United States, which best expresses the greatest of man-made civilizations, has failed to enforce the law that forbids drinking, for it is self-contradictory to expect a society, which gave up itself to its own desires and to their enslavement, to institute laws that uplift it from the pitfall in which it has willingly chosen to throw itself. But we do find the Islamic system—which is brought by Divine Revelation (contrarily to man-made systems)—capable of nurturing humanity, in the system's own way, uplifting it to high pinnacles, banning wines and other evil desires, creating in man a conscious and firm self-will.
What remains for us—after having explained a portion of the essential differences between the social experience performed by the entire society and the natural experiment performed by the individual himself—is to raise the last question in treating the problem under discussion (the problem of the extent of mankind's capacity in the field of social organization and in selecting the most suitable social system), and the question is: "What is the scientific value of organizing the group's life, laying the grounds for social living and of the social system on scientific bases derived from natural experiments which are as exact as the experiments performed in the spheres of physics and chemistry, getting rid of all the weak points we studied while dealing with the nature of the social experience?"
In other words: Is it possible—while organizing social life and getting acquainted with the most suitable social system—to leave aside humanity's history, by passing the experiences human societies performed across ages, those experiences towards which we have nothing to do but glance from a distance, hiding behind curtains of time that separate us from them, can we lay aside all this by building our social life in the light of scientific experiments which we ourselves live and practice on this individual or that, so that we may get to know the most suitable social system? Some optimists may tend to answer this question in the affirmative, considering what the Western man enjoys today of tremendous potentials; for is it not that the social system is the one that guarantees satisfying man's needs in the best possible way?
Is it not that man's needs are realistic matter of fact things that can be scientifically measured and tested like all other natural phenomena? Is it not that the methods of satisfying these needs mean limited measures scientific logic is capable of measuring and subjecting to tests, studying their effects to satisfy the needs and the results which they bring about? So; why can the social system not be laid on bases of such experiments?
Why can we not find out, through experiment on one person or many persons, the sum of natural, physiological and psychological effects which play a role in activating individuals’ intellectual gifts, broadening their intelligence, so that if we want to organize our social life in a way that guarantees broadening the mental and intellectual gifts, we make sure that all such effects will be present in a multitude in the system for all individuals?
Some amateurs may imagine more than this, reasoning thus: "This is not only possible, it also is what modern Europe actually did in its Western civilization after discarding religion, ethics and all intellectual and social axioms, directing itself in building its life towards science, hence, jumping in its modern historical procedure, opening the gates of heavens and possessing the treasures of earth. " But before we answer the question we have raised above (i.e., our inquiry about the extent of the possibility of laying the grounds of social life on a scientific experimental basis), we have to discuss this latest image of Western civilization and this superficial trend of believing that the social system, which represents the essential facet of this civilization under discussion, is the product of its scientific element.
The fact is this: The social system in which Europe believed, the social principles it called for and in which it believed, did not really result from an experimental scientific study; rather, it was more theoretical than experimental, more of philosophical principles than experimented scientific ideas, the result of a mental understanding and the belief in limited intellectual principles more than a result of a derivative reasoning or an experimental research in man's needs, his psychological, physiological and natural characteristics.
One who studies modern European Renaissance—so-called by the European history—with understanding, he will certainly be able to comprehend that the general trend of the Renaissance in the spheres of the substance did indeed differ from its general trend in both social and organizational spheres. In the sphere of substance it was scientific, for its ideas about the world of substance were indeed based on observation and experiment. Its ideas about the composition of water and air, about the law of gravitation or atom-dividing, were all scientific ideas derived from observation and experiment.
As in the social field, the modern Western mind was based on theoretical, rather than scientific, ideas. For example, it calls for human rights declared in its social revolution, and it is quite obvious that the idea of right is not scientific, for man's right of freedom, for example, is not a substance capable of measurement and experiment, so, it is out of the reach of scientific research; rather, need itself is the substantial phenomenon which can be scientifically studied.
If we observe the principle of equality among all members of the society—this principle is regarded theoretically as one of the basic requirements of modern social life—we will find out that this principle was not derived scientifically from closer observation, for people are not equal in the scientific criteria except in their general human quality. After that, they all differ in their natural, physiological, psychological and intellectual qualities. The principle of (social) equity expresses an ethical value which is mental, rather than experimental, conclusion.
So, do we clearly distinguish between the stamp of the social system in modern Western civilization and the scientific one? And so do we realize that the scientific trend of thinking in which modern Europe excelled did not include the field of social principle in the spheres of politics, economy and sociology. By this we declare only the truth, and we do not want to blame Western civilization for its negligence of the value of scientific knowledge, in the field of social organization, or for not building such system on the bases of natural scientific experiments, for indeed such scientific experiments can never be suitable as bases for social organization.
It is true, though, that man's needs can be subjected to experiment on many occasions, and also the methods of satisfying these needs. But the basic problem in social organization is not to satisfy the needs of this individual or that; rather, it is to create a fair equilibrium among the needs of all individuals, and to define their interrelations within the framework which allows them to satisfy these needs. Obviously, the scientific experiment on this individual and that does not allow discovering such a framework, the nature of such relationships and the method of finding out such equilibrium.
Instead, all this can be found out during the whole society's implementation of a (particular) social system, for all the points of weakness and strength in the system will eventually be discovered. Accordingly, what must be followed in order to find the needed fair equilibrium, which guarantees the happiness of all, will also be discovered. Add to this the fact that the same needs, or their consequences, cannot be discovered in one scientific experiment.
Take this example: The person who gets used to committing adultery, as a happy person, you may not be able to discover what he really lacks or what grieves him, but you will possibly find out that the society that lived, as did this same person, a large span of its lifetime allowing itself to follow its sexual desires, you may find it after a period of its social experience falling down, its spiritual entity cracked, its moral courage, free-will and intellectual spark all gone.
So, not all the results which have to be known, while establishing the most suitable social system, can be discovered in a scientific experiment which we perform inside natural and physiological laboratories, or even inside psychological laboratories on this person or that. Rather, their discovery depends on long-term social experiences.
After this, using a natural scientific experiment in the field of social organization is sure to be motivated by the same personal inclination which threatens our use of social experiences. For as long as the individual has his own personal interests—that may or may not agree with the fact decided by the experience—, the possibility will always be there that this individual's mind is self-motivated, losing the subjectivity which characterizes scientific ideas, in all other areas as well.
Now, having come to know man's capacity to solve the social problem and answer its essential question, we exhibit the social doctrines which occupy humanity's mind nowadays, among which an intellectual or political combat is going on, according to the extent of their social existence in man's life. These doctrines are four:
1. The Democratic System
2. The Social System
3. The Communist System
4. The Islamic System
The first three of these doctrines represent three human viewpoints that attempt to answer the essential question: "What is the most suitable (social) system?" They are answers which mankind put for this question, according to his potentials and limited capacity the extent of which we have explained a short while ago.
As for the Islamic System, it offers itself on the social level as a religion based on Divine Revelation and Endowment, not an experimental ideology stemming out of mankind's capacity and potentials.
The world today is sharing two of these four systems: the democratic capitalist system is the basis of government in a large portion of the globe, while the socialist system is prevalent in another large portion. Each of these systems possesses a great political structure, protecting it in its struggle with the other, arming it in its gigantic battle waged by its heroes for leading the world and uniting the social system in it. As for the communist and Islamic systems, their actual existence is purely intellectual. The Islamic system, however, went through one of the most glorious and successful experiences of all social systems, then tempests blew on it when the field was—or was almost—empty of principled leaders.
Hence, the experience remained at the mercy of people in whose hearts Islam had not yet matured, nor were their souls filled by its spirit and essence. Consequently; these souls were incapable of resisting and withstanding. So; the Islamic structure crumbled, and the Islamic system lingered as an idea in the mind of the Muslim nation, a creed in Muslims’ hearts, and hope which its striving sons try to bring to reality.
As for the communist system, it still is an experience which has not been fully tried; yet, the leadership of the social camp is directing its mind nowadays towards preparing a social environment for it, having failed to put it into practice when it took the reins of government in its hands and declared the implementation of the social system, practising it as a step towards "true communism".
So, what is our position as Muslims vis-à-vis these systems? And what is our case for which we have to dedicate our lives and towards whose shore we have to lead our ship?
So let us start with the capitalist democratic system, the system which cast a sort of injustice in the economic life, a dictatorship in the political, a stagnation in the intellectual life of the Church and whatever is related to it, preparing the reins of government and influence to a new ruling group which substituted its predecessors yet played their very social role only in a new manner.
Capitalist democracy has been based on a limitless belief in the individual, and that his personal interests by themselves guarantee, naturally, the society's interest in different fields, and that the idea of government is but for the protection of individuals and their personal interests; therefore, the government must not go beyond this objective in its activities and actual scopes.
Capitalist democracy may be summarized by declaring the four norms of freedom: political, economic, intellectual and individual. Political freedom allows every individual's speech to be heard and opinion to be respected in determining the nation's general well-being, planning, construction and appointing the authorities for its protection. For the nation's general system and ruling organ are a matter directly linked to the life of each of its individuals, affectively touching one’s happiness or misery; so, it is natural, then, that each individual has the right to participate in and build both system and organ.
Had the social issue been as we said before, a matter of life or death, happiness or misery of the natives on whom general laws and regulations are enforced, it equally is natural not to let an individual or group, whatever the circumstances may be, take its responsibility as long as there is no individual whose purity of purpose and wisdom of mind rise above inclinations and mistakes.
Therefore, there has to be a complete equity in the political rights of all citizens, for they all are equal in bearing the results of the social issue and obeying the demands of constituting and executing authorities. On this basis stands the right of voting and the principle of general election which guarantee that the ruling organ, in all its authorities and offices, represents the majority of citizens.
Economic freedom hinges on belief in free economy on which the open door policy has been erected, determining to open all doors and prepare all fields before the citizen in the economic field. So, everyone has the right to ownership for the sake of both consumption and production. Such productive ownership, which renders the mass capital without a limit or restriction, is equally allowed for everyone. Each individual, then, possesses an absolute freedom to produce, in any norm or method, accumulate, increase and multiply wealth in the light of his own personal interests and benefits.
According to the allegation of some defenders of this "economic freedom", the laws of political economy, which naturally are based on general principles, can guarantee the society's happiness and keep an economic equilibrium in it, and that the personal interest, which is the strong motive and real goal of the individual in his work and activity, is the best to guarantee the general social interest, and that the competition which takes place in the free market is solely sufficient to create the spirit of justice and equity in different accords and contracts.
The natural laws of economy, for example, interfere in keeping the natural level of price in a manner which can almost be mechanical, for if the price rises above its fair natural limits, demand will decrease, according to the natural law which rules that "The rise of a price causes a decrease in demand", and the decrease in demand causes in turn the lowering of the price, according to another natural law, and it does not leave price until it lowers it to its previous level, thereby removing exceptions. The personal interest always imposes on the individual to think of the way to increase and improve production, while decreasing its expense and cost.
This (according to the same theory) brings forth the society's interest at the same time when it is regarded as a private issue which also concerns the individual. Competition naturally demands restricting prices of goods and paying workers and labourers fair wages without injustice or inequity, for each seller or producer fears raising his prices or the lowering of the wages of his labourers because of the competition of other sellers and producers.
Intellectual freedom means that people must live free in their doctrines and beliefs according to their reasoning or whatever their liking and inclination inspire to them without obstacles from the authority. The government must not rob any individual of this freedom, nor must it forbid him from practising his right in it, the proclamation of his ideals and beliefs, and the defence of his viewpoints and reasoning. Personal freedom expresses: the emancipation of man in his behaviour from different kinds of pressures and restrictions.
Therefore, he possesses his will and (the freedom to) improve it according to his personal desires, regardless of whatever happens as a result of applying such control over his personal conduct of consequences and results, unless they clash with the control of others over their own conduct. The deadline at which the personal freedom of any individual stops is: others’ freedom. As long as the individual does not harm this latter freedom, there is no problem in conditioning his life in the manner which he/she likes, following different customs, traditions, rituals and rites one finds to be palatable, for this is a private matter which is linked to his/her existence, whether present or future.
As long as he possesses such existence, he is capable of faring with it however he pleases. Religious freedom, according to the norm of capitalism it advocates, is but an expression of the individual freedom in its doctrinal aspect, and of the personal freedom in the practical aspect which is related to doctrines and conduct.
From this exposition we can reach this summary: The wide intellectual line of such a system, as we hinted to it, is: Society's interests are linked to those of the individual: The individual is the basis on which the social system must be erected. A good government is the apparatus which is utilized for the service and benefit of the individual and the strong instrument to keep and protect his interests.
Such is the capitalist democracy in its basic principles for the sake of which several revolutions broke out and many peoples and nations strove to achieve under the leadership of leaders who, when describing such new system and counting its merits, describe paradise in its blessing and happiness and what it contains of aspiration, bliss, dignity and fortune, and on which several amendments were made, but such amendments never touched its heart's essence; rather, it stayed maintaining the most significant of its principles and bases.
It is obvious that this social system is a purely materialistic one which mankind has followed separately from both his beginning and end, limited to the utilitarian aspect of his materialistic life, placing his assumptions thereupon. But this system, while being saturated with a domineering materialistic outlook, has never been based on a materialistic philosophy of life or a detailed study thereof. Life within the social atmosphere of this system has been separated from every relationship outside the materialistic and utilitarian limits, but there has been no complete philosophical comprehension prepared for the establishment of this system for the purpose of such separating operation1.
I do not mean that the world did not contain schools for philosophical materialism and its adherents; rather, it contained popularity of the materialistic inclination as the result of the experimental mentality which was widespread since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and by the spirit of doubt and intellectual upheaval brought forth by the intellectual revolution which befell a group of notions used to be considered among the most clear and accurate facts2 and by the spirit of rebellion and anger against the alleged "religion" which was freezing the minds and intellects, flattering tyranny and iniquity, supporting the social corruption in every battle it waged against the weak and the oppressed.3
These three factors helped promote materialism in the minds of many a Western mentality. All of this is true, but the materialistic system has never been based on a philosophical comprehension of life, and this is its contradiction and incapacity, for the social aspect of life is linked to the reality of life: It is not crystallized in a correct form except when it is based on a central basis which explains life, its reality and limitations.
The materialistic system lacks such a basis, for it implies deception and cheating, speed and little consideration when the realistic aspect of life is frozen and the social issue is studied separately from it, although the continuation of the intellectual balance of a system is its restriction of attitude, from the beginning, to the reality of life which attitude provides society with the social ingredient: the mutual relationships among people and one’s method in understanding it and discovering its secrets and values...
Had mankind in this planet been the making of a managing and overwhelming Power that knows his secrets and obscurities, appearances and peculiarities, organizing and directing him., then he would have naturally surrendered, in his direction and life-conditioning, to such Creating Power, for that is wiser than him regarding his own affairs as being more knowledgeable about his reality, more righteous in faring and more moderate than he is...
Also, had this limited life been the beginning of a perpetual one that will stem out of it, taking its hue there from, with its balances depending on the extent of the first one's moderation and righteousness., then it would have been natural to organize the present life, since it is the beginning of an immortal one based on both materialistic and non-materialistic principles.
Therefore, the issue of believing in God and in life to have sprung from Him is not a purely idealistic matter detached from life so it would be separated from life's spheres, for which special codes and laws would have to be legislated, while by passing that matter and separating it. Rather, it is a matter linked to the mind, the heart and life altogether.
The proof for its closer link to life than democratic capitalism itself is that its idea is based on the belief that there has been neither individual nor a group of individuals whose infallibility of objective, intellectual inclination and discretion are of the degree which allows entrusting the social issue to it and to depend on it for the establishment of a righteous life of the nation.
This very basis has neither position nor meaning except when built on a purely materialistic philosophy which does not recognize the establishment of a system except by a limited human mind. The capitalist system is materialistic in all the sense the world implies; it either implies materialism, without daring to declare its link to it and dependence on it, or it may be ignorant of the extent of the natural link between the realistic matter of life and its social aspect. Therefore, it lacks the philosophy on which every social system has to lean. It simply is materialistic even though it has never been based on a materialistic philosophy with clear outlines.
The result of such materialism with whose spirit the system has been overwhelmed is that ethics have been left out of all calculations, without winning any existence in that system, or say their concepts and ideals have been altered, and the personal benefit has been declared as a super-most priority and all types of freedom are means towards achieving this priority. Resulting from that are all calamities and catastrophes, troubles and tribulations about which the modern world has complained (and will keep complaining).
Advocates of democratic capitalism may defend its attitude towards the individual and his personal interests by saying that the personal interest by itself brings forth the social interest, and the results achieved by ethics in their spiritual values are also achieved in the democratic capitalist society, not through "ethics" but through the special "motives" and their service: When man performs a social service, he, too, achieves a personal benefit, being part of the society for which he labours.
When he save someone's endangered life, he also earns a benefit for himself, for that person's life will serve the social body a portion of which service will be his own. Therefore, the personal motive and the utilitarian sense suffice to guarantee and ensure the social interests since they, when analyzed, amount to personal interests and individual benefits
Such an apology is closer to vast imagination than to reasoning. Imagine if the practical criterion in the life of every individual in the nation had been the achievement of his personal benefits and interests, to the widest possible range, and had the State been providing for the individual his freedom, sanctifying him without reservation or limitation..., then what would the position of social work have been in the dictionary of such an individual?
How can the link between the social interest and the individual one be sufficient to direct the individual towards the occupations called forth by ethical codes, knowing that many such occupations do not bring him any benefit?
If it happens that they do contain some benefit to him, since he is a member of the community, it often happens, too, that such minute benefit (which cannot be conceived except analytically) would be counteracted by transient benefits or individual interests which find in freedom a guarantee to their achievement, so much so that the individual would trample over all systems of ethics and spiritual conscience.
If we wish to discern the consequent series of social tragedies resulting from this system which does not stand on a studied philosophical base, this research's scope will only be too narrow for that; therefore, we would like to just allude to them thus: The first of such series is the minority ruling the majority, controlling its interests and essential affairs. Political freedom has meant that the establishment of systems and codes as well as their execution is the right of the majority.
Let us suppose that the group which represents the majority of the nation holds the reins of government and legislation while having the democratic capitalist mentality, which is a mentality purely materialistic in its trend, inclinations and objectives, what will be the fate of the other groups?
Or, say, what can the minority expect in the shade of laws legislated for the benefit of the majority to protect its interests? Will it be strange, then, if the majority legislates laws in the light of its own interests, neglecting the minority's interests, following an unjust trend to achieve its desires that may harm others’ interests? Who will maintain this minority's existing entity and defend it against injustice, as long as the personal benefit is the concern of every individual, and as long as the majority does not know, in its social concept, any values for the spiritual and intellectual principles?
Naturally, sovereignty will stay under the system as it did before, and the symptoms of monopoly and trespassing on the rights and interests of others will linger in the social atmosphere of this system as it did in the old social systems The only difference is that degrading the human dignity used to be done by the individual to his nation; now in this system it comes from the majorities against the minorities, the first composing a huge number of humans.
This is not the whole story. The tragedy would then be simple, but the stage is set for more laughs than tears. The case worsens and becomes more severe when the economic issue results from this system later on; therefore, the economic freedom is decided in the fashion which we have described above, sanctioning all the ways and means of getting rich; no matter how outrageous or odd in method or manner, guaranteeing what it had advertised when the world was busy in a big industrial revolution and science was giving birth to the machine which overturned the face of industry and wiped out manual industries and the like.
The coast was then clear for an outrageous wealth for the nation's minority. Opportunities enabled the latter to benefit from the modem means of production, provided by limitless capitalist liberties with sufficient absurdities for their utilization and use to the furthermost limit, annihilating thereby many groups of the nation whose industries were wiped out by the machine that shook their livelihoods without finding a way to withstand the torrent, since the promoters of the modern industries were armed with "economic freedom" and all other "sacred" liberties.
Thus does the field remain vacant except of that elite group of the promoters of industry and production, while the middle class is being reduced to the generally low level, and this crushed majority falling at the mercy of that elite group that does not think or calculate except according to the "democratic capitalist" mode.
Naturally, then, it would not extend its kind and assisting aid to them in order to get them out of the pit and give them a share of its tremendous profits. Why should it, since its "ethical" criterion is benefit and pleasure, as long as the State guarantees absolute freedom in whatever it does, so long as the democratic capitalist system is too narrow for the intellectual philosophy of life with all its related concepts?
The matter, therefore, has to be studied in the manner inspired by this system, which is: These important men take advantage of the majority's need for them and their living standards to oblige those who are capable of working in their occupations and factories for a limited time and for wages enough only to sustain them. This is the "logic" of pure utilitarianism which they would naturally adopt, dividing the nation consequently to a group in the peak of wealth and a majority in a bottomless pit: Here, the nation's political right is crystallized in a new form.
As for equality with regard to the citizens' political rights, even though it is not wiped out of the system's record, it has survived this turmoil only as a shadow and pure ideology: When the economic freedom records the results which we exposed above, it will come to the conclusion of the deep division which we have explicated, taking control of the situation and holding the reins, conquering the political freedom before it.
Because of its economic status in the society and capacity of using all means of propaganda, and because of its capacity of buying supporters and helpers, the capitalist group controls the reins of government in the nation, seizing power in order to use it for its own interests and to guard its objectives, and both legislative and social systems will be controlled by capital, after it has already been supposed by the democratic concepts to be the right of all the nation. Thus does democratic capitalism become in the end an authority monopolized by the minority, a means through which several individuals protect their own existence at the expense of others, according to the utilitarian mentality inspired by the democratic capitalist "culture".
Here we reach the worst series enacted by this system. Those people in whose hands the democratic capitalist system has placed all sorts of influence, providing them with every kind of power and potential, will direct their attention, inspired by this system's mentality, towards the horizons and feel inspired by their interests and objectives—that they are in need of even new areas of influence for two reasons:
First: The abundance of production depends on the extent of abundance and availability of essential materials; therefore, whosoever's share of such materials is larger, his producing capacities will be stronger and more plentiful. These materials are spread in God's vast lands. It is necessary to obtain them, then the lands which contain them have to be seized [by force if need be] for absorption and utilization.
Second: The strength of the producing speed and power, motivated by the anxiety for plenty of profit on one hand, and the low standard of living of many nations, due to the materialistic greed of the capitalist group and its competition with the public through its utilitarian means, on the other, make the public unable to purchase products and consume them. All of this makes the big producers in dire need of new markets to sell their surplus products. Finding such markets means thinking of seizing [colonizing] new lands.
Thus is the matter studied in a purely materialistic mentality. Naturally, such mentality, the system of which has never been based on spiritual or ethical principles and the social system of which admits nothing but filling this limited life with different sorts of pleasures and desires, finds in these two reasons a justification and a "logical" appetizer to transgress on peaceful countries, trespass on their dignity, control their provisions and potential natural resources, utilizing their wealth for marketing its surplus products.
All of this is a "reasonable" and "permissible" matter, according to the "ideals" of individual interests on whose bases both capitalist system and "free economy" stand; from here is the giant of materialism sets free to invade and wage wars, scuffling and tying, colonizing and exploiting in order to satisfy the mania of wills and whims. Look into the tragedies humanity has suffered because of such system which is materialistic in spirit, form, manner and aim, even though it has never been based on a certain philosophy in agreement with that spirit and form, in harmony with such manners and objectives, as we have pointed out above.
Judge for yourself the share of happiness and stability of a society based on the principles of this system and ideals, one which lacks self-denial and mutual trust, true compassion and love, and all the good spiritual trends, so much so that the individual lives in it feeling that he is responsible only for his own self, that he is in danger because of each and every interest of others that may clash with his own, as if he is living in a continuous struggle and race, unarmed except by his own powers, aiming thereby at none other than his own personal interest.
In socialism, there are many creeds the most famous of which is the socialist creed, which is based on the Marxist theory, and argumentative materialism, which is a certain philosophy of life and a materialistic comprehension of it according to the dialectical method. Dialectical materialists have applied this dialectical materialism to history, sociology and economy. So, it has become a philosophical creed in world affairs, a method to study history and sociology, a creed in economy and a plan in politics. In other words, it formulates all of mankind into a particular structure as regarding his way of thinking, his attitude towards life and his practical method therein.
There is no doubt that the materialistic philosophy and the dialectical method have never been innovations or creations of the Marxist creed. The materialistic trend has lived within the philosophical field for thousands of years, once in the open and once hidden behind sophistication and absolute denial. Also, the dialectical method of reasoning is deeply rooted in the lines of human thinking. Its lines were perfected at the hands of Hegel, the well known idealistic philosopher. Karl Marx only adopted such "reasoning" and philosophy. He tried to apply it in all fields of life; so, he made two researches: One of them is his purely materialistic, in a dialectical method, interpretation of history. The other is his claim therein that he found out the contradictions within the capital and surplus value which the capitalist steals in his creed from the labourer1.
On these "achievements" has he erected his belief in the necessity of abolishing the communist and socialist societies which he considered to be a step for mankind to completely apply communism. The social field in this philosophy is one of battling contradictions, and every social situation which prevails on such field is but a purely materialistic phenomenon which harmonizes with the other phenomena and materialistic climes and is affected by them. But he at the same time carries his own self-contradiction in the essence, and a battle of contradictions will then be waged within its context until all contradictions assemble to cause a change in that situation and prepare for another one.
Thus does the battle linger until all mankind form one single class, and the interests of every individual will be represented in the interests of that unified class. At that moment will harmony prevail and peace become a reality, and all bad effects of the democratic capitalist system will be completely removed, for they resulted only from the existence of many classes within one society, and such multitude resulted from dividing the society into a producer and a labourer. Therefore, such a division has to be stopped by abolishing (private) ownership. Here, communism differs from socialism in the main economic outlines, for the communist economy hinges on:
First: Abolishing private ownership and its complete eradication from the society, giving wealth to the public and placing it in the hands of the State since the latter is the legal representative of the society in managing and utilizing it for the common welfare. The communist belief in the necessity of this absolute nationalization is due to the natural reaction of the consequences of private ownership in the democratic capitalist system.
This nationalization has thus been justified: It is meant to abolish the capitalist class and unite the society into one class in order to put an end to that struggle and to forbid the individual from utilizing different means and methods to accumulate his wealth in order to satisfy his greed, motivated by his own selfish interest.
Second: Distribution of products according to individuals’ consumption need. It can be summed up thus: From everyone according to his capacity, and for everyone according to his need. This is so because every individual has natural needs without which he cannot live. So, he gives the society all of his endeavour so that the society may provide him with his living necessities and take care of his livelihood.
Third: An economic procedure planned by the State, in which it combines the society's need with production in its volume, diversity and limitation, so that the society will not be inflicted with the same line in the communist economy, that is, the abolishment of private ownership, has been substituted with a moderate solution: nationalization of heavy industries, foreign and domestic trades, putting all of them under government monopoly; in other words, abolishing large mass capital by freeing the simple industries and trades, leaving them to the individuals.
The wide line of the communist economy collided with the reality of the human nature, to which we referred above, for the individuals started neglecting the performance of their duties and of being active in their jobs, running away from their social obligations; the system is supposed to guarantee their livelihood and the fulfilment of their needs.
Also, it is supposed not to exert any further effort; therefore, why should the individual exert himself and sweat as long as the result is already in his calculation, the result of both states of laziness and activity? Why should he rush to provide happiness for others, trading the convenience of others for his own sweat, tears, life and energy, since he does not believe in any principle in life except that of a purely materialistic nature?
Therefore, the advocates of such a creed were forced to freeze absolute nationalization. They were also forced to adjust the other line in the communist economy by allowing wages to vary in order to push the labourers to be active and perfect in their jobs, making the excuse that these variations are only temporary, and that they will disappear once the capitalist mentality is crushed and man is created anew.
For the latter purpose, they continuously create changes in their economic methods and socialist modes in order to follow the failure of an old method by trying a new one. They have not yet succeeded in getting rid of all basic cornerstones of the capitalist economy. For example, the interest loans have not been totally abolished, although they are, in fact, the basis of social corruption in the capitalist economy.
All of this, however, does not mean that those advocates have had shortcomings, or that they have not been serious in their creed or unfaithful to their doctrine; rather, it means that they have clashed with reality while trying to put them to practice, finding their path full of obstacles and contradictions put forth by the human nature before the revolutionary method of the "social reform" which they have been promising. Reality, then, forced them to go back on their word in the hope that a miracle would sooner or later take place.
As regarding the political aspect, communism, in its long run, aims in the end at erasing the "state" from the society when the miracle takes place and the "social mentality" prevails on all humans, so much so that all people will be thinking of nothing but of the materialistic social welfare. Before then, as long as the miracle has not taken place yet and people are not unified into one "class", when the society is still divided to capitalist and proletariat forces, it is necessary that the government should be purely proletariat; so, it is a democratic rule within the circle of labour and also a dictatorship regarding the masses. They have reasoned thus: Proletariat dictatorship of government is necessary in all stages passed by mankind, using the individual mentality for the protection of the interests of the working class, strangulating capitalism and forbidding it from coming to the field again.
In fact, this creed, represented by Marxist socialism then by Marxist communism, is distinguished from the democratic capitalist system in its reliance on a particular materialistic philosophy which adopts a particular concept of life to which all idealistic principles and values are not ascribed and which is analyzed in a certain sort of analysis which does not leave room for a Creator above the natural limits, nor to an anticipated compensation beyond the borders of this limited materialistic life. This contrasts democratic capitalism, for although it is a materialistic system, it has never been based on a precise philosophical foundation.
The accurate linkage between the realistic understanding of life and the social issue as accepted by materialistic communism versus democratic capitalism has neither believed in this theory, nor has it tried to explain it. Hence, the communist creed is worthy of a philosophical study and of a test through tackling the philosophy on which it has hinged and from which it has been derived.
Judging any system is dependent on the extent of the success of its philosophical concept in portraying and comprehending life. It is easy to comprehend, when we cast the first glance at the simplified or "accomplished" communist system, that its general nature is the fusion of the individual into the society, making him a tool for the achievement of the general criteria which it enforces. It completely contradicts the free capitalist system which puts the society at the service of the individual for the achievement of the latter's interests.
It seems that it has been predestined for the individual and social personalities, according to the precepts of both systems, to clash and to duel with each other. The individual personality has become victorious in one of them, the one based on the individual and his own personal benefits, inflicting the society thereby with economic catastrophes which have shaken its existence and mutilated life in all its sectors. The social personality has won in the other, which has come to correct the mistakes of the previous one, assisting the society and reducing the individual personality to dissolution and annihilation, inflicting the individuals with severe dilemmas which ruined their freedom, personal existence and natural rights of selecting and rationalizing.
Actually, although the communist system has treated several inflictions of free capitalism by abolishing private ownership, such a treatment has had some natural consequences which have made such a treatment very costly and the method to put it to use very exerting and cannot be used except when all other ways and methods fail. On the other hand, it is an incomplete treatment which does not guarantee the eradication of social corruption, for it has not really been successful in its diagnosis of the ailment and the discovery of the point from which evil has set out to subjugate the world to the capitalist system, keeping that point maintaining its position in the social life of the communist creed. Therefore, mankind has not won a definite solution to his greatest problem, nor has he obtained the medicine to medicate his ailments and uproot his sickening symptoms.
As regarding the consequences of this treatment, they are, indeed, great: They can put an end to the freedom of individuals for the sake of substituting communist ownership for private ownership. The case is so because this tremendous social change contradicts the general human nature upto, at least, the present time, as its promoters admit, since materialistic man still thinks subjectively, calculating his interests through his own limited individualistic eyes.
Establishing a new structure for the society in which the individuals dissolve completely, a structure which totally puts an end to personal motives, requires a strong power to hold the society's reins with iron hands, suppressing any resisting voice, strangulating any opposition, monopolizing all means of news media and the press, enforcing a belt around the nation nobody can by any means go beyond, and becoming habituated to charging and doubting, so that the rein of authority may not suddenly slip out of its hands.
This is natural in every system desired to be imposed on the nation before the mentality of such a system ripens in it and its spirit prevails. Yes, if materialistic man starts reasoning socially, realizing his interests in a social mentality, with his own personal feelings, desires and inclinations melting through his own self, then a system in which individuals "melt" can be established, leaving in the arena none but as huge “social” giant.
But the achievement of this in the materialistic man, who does not believe except in a limited life without knowing any meaning for it except materialistic pleasures, needs a miracle to create paradise on earth and to bring it down from heaven. The communists promise us such a paradise, waiting for that day when the factory changes the human nature, creating him anew with idealistic thoughts and deeds even if he does not believe the weight of an atom in ideal values or ethical principles. If such a miracle happens, then we will have a talk with them.
As for the time being, the position of the social structure which they desire calls for the confinement of individuals within the limits of this structure's idea and its guarantee for protection by the group that believes in it and using caution concerning it by suppressing the human nature and the psychological emotions, forbidding them by all possible means from setting themselves free.
Even when he wins a total assurance and a social guarantee of his livelihood and needs, for the social wealth provides him with all of these during the time of need, the individual who lives in the shade of a system like this will be better off if he can get such an assurance without losing the pleasure of breathing the fresh air of cultivated freedom rather than being forced to melt his personality in fire and drown himself in the tumultuous social sea.
How can he have a desire for freedom, in any field, when he is deprived of freedom in livelihood, while sustaining his life is totally tied to a particular "committee", although economic and sustaining freedom is the basis of all other norms of freedom? The advocates answer this question by still asking: "What can man do with freedom and enjoyment of his right to criticize and publicize his opinions while moaning under a horrible social burden? What benefit can his discussion and opposition bring him when he needs accurate nutrition and guaranteed life more than opposition or the fuss freedom brings him?"
Those who ask such questions look only at capitalist democracy as if it is the only social issue which competes with their own in the field; therefore, they underestimate the value of the individual dignity and its rights, for they see it as a menace to the general social torrent. But humanity has the right not to sacrifice any of its principles or privileges as long as it does not have to. It has but to choose either a dignity which is an ideal privilege of humanity, and a need which is its materialistic privilege, only if it lacks the system which can combine both aspects and succeed in solving both problems.
The man whose energy is being squeezed by others, without finding a good and comfortable life or a fair salary and an assurance during the time of need, is indeed one deprived of enjoying life, separated from a stable and quiet life. Also, a man threatened every moment, questioned about every movement, liable to be arrested without a trial and be imprisoned, banished or even killed for any reason, is indeed one who lives in fear and terror; horror forbids him from enjoying the pleasures of this life.
The third man, the one whose life is comfortable, feeling assured of preserving his dignity and safety, is indeed humanity's sweet dream. So, how can such a dream become a reality? When will it become an existing actuality? We have said above that the communist solution to the social problem is incomplete, in addition to its consequences to which we have also referred. For he, although human emotions and feelings breathe within him, is evoked by the general social pressure which caused some thinkers to resort to the new solution, but they did not put their hands on the causes of corruption so that they could eradicate it; rather, they eradicated something else; therefore, they were not successful in their medication.
The concept of private ownership is not the one responsible for the sins of absolute capitalism which shook the world and its felicity, so much so that it is not the one that forces millions of labourers to be idle for the sake of the investment of a new machine which put an end to their industry, as it happened at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, nor is it the one that forces the capitalist to destroy large quantities of his products in order to maintain their price and in preference of extravagance to satisfy the need of the poor thereby.
Nor is it the one that invites him to make his wealth a gaining capital multiplied through usury, absorbing the civilians' endeavour without production or toil. Nor is it the one that pushes him to buy all consumption goods from the market in order to monopolize them and raise their prices. Nor is it the one that forces him to open new markets, even when the freedom and rights of nations will be violated by them and their prestige and freedom weakened. All of these terrifying calamities have not resulted from private ownership; rather, they are the breed of the materialistic individual interest which has been made the criterion of life in the capitalist system and the absolute reason for all acts and dealings.
When a society is based on such an individual criterion which is self-advocate, nothing can be expected from it except what has already befallen. It is from the nature of this criterion that all curses and calamities befall the entire human race, not from the principle of private ownership. If the criterion is changed, and a new cultivated objective for life is put forth, one that harmonizes with the human nature, only then will the real remedy of the greatest human problem become a reality.
In order to reach the first circle in analyzing the social problem, we have to question that materialistic individualistic interest established by the capitalist system as a criterion, a pretext, a goal and an objective and ask: "What is the idea which made such a criterion seem to be correct according to the democratic capitalist mentality which inspired it?" This very idea is the real basis of the social tribulation and the failure of democratic capitalism in bringing about man's happiness and safeguarding his dignity. If we can abolish such an idea, we will put a definite end to all conspiracies against social welfare and intrigues against the society's rights and accurate freedom and be successful in utilizing the private ownership for humanity's good, upliftment and advancement in the industrial spheres and production fields.
So, what is this idea?
This idea is summarized according to the limited materialistic interpretation of life on which the West has erected the colossal monument of capitalism. If every member of the society believes that his only field in this great universe is his personal materialistic life, believing also in his freedom in using and utilizing this life, and that he can gain nothing from this life except the pleasure made available to him through materialism, adding these materialistic creeds to his egoism, which is essentially inherent within him..., then he will choose the path of materialists and execute all of their methods, unless a mighty power deprives him of his freedom and stops him.
Egoism is the instinct more general or ancient than any other we have come to know. All other instincts are its own branches and divisions, including the instinct of survival. Man's love for his own self, which means his love for pleasure and happiness for his own person, and his hatred of pain and suffering, is the motive which pushes him to make a living and provide himself with his nutritious and materialistic needs. Therefore, he may put an end to his own life by committing suicide if he finds out that the pain of dying is easier than tolerating the pains of which his life is full.
The natural reality, that is, that which hides behind every human life, directing it with its fingers, is egoism which we call "loving pleasure and hating pain". Man cannot be required to willingly tolerate the bitterness of pain without enjoying some pleasure simply in order that others may get their own pleasure and felicity except when he is robbed of his humanity and is given a new nature which neither loves pleasure nor hates pain.
Even the marvellous norms of self-denial, which we see in mankind and about which we hear throughout history, are, in fact, subject to the same principal motivating power: egoism. Man may be influenced by his son or friend, and he may sacrifice himself for the sake of some ideals and principles, but he would never perform such heroism unless he derives a particular pleasure from it and a benefit which exceeds the loss he suffers by preferring his son's or friend's benefit to that of his own, or by sacrificing himself for the sake of a principle in which he believes.
Thus can we interpret the general behaviour of man, in the spheres of egoism and sacrifice alike. Man has an inherent readiness to enjoy different things: materialistic, like enjoying eating, drinking, sexual pleasures, etc., or non-materialistic, like behavioural and emotional pleasures, that is, enjoying ethical principles and a spiritual companion, or a particular faith, when man finds such principles or that companion or this faith to be part of his own entity.
This readiness which prepares man to enjoy such different sorts of pleasures differs in degrees among individuals and varies in effectiveness according to the variations in man's circumstances, natural elements and the upbringing which influences him. When we find out that such readiness matures naturally in man, such as his readiness to enjoy sex, for example, we find out that the other kinds of readiness may not appear during one's lifetime, and that they remain waiting for the natural elements to help them mature and blossom.
Behind all such readiness is the egoistic instinct which outlines man's behaviour according to the degree of maturity of such readiness; it pushes a person to prefer one kind of food to another when he is hungry, and it pushes some other person to even give his own food to others. This is so because the first person's readiness to enjoy the ethical and emotional principles which pushes him to self-denial is hidden: The auxiliary elements of upbringing have neither centralized nor matured such readiness. The other person has won such sort of upbringing; therefore, he enjoys ethical and emotional principles, sacrificing his own self for their achievement.
When we want to make a change in someone's behaviour, we have to change his concept of pleasure and benefit, including the suggested behaviour in the general framework of the egoistic instinct.
If the egoistic instinct occupies such a position in man's world, and the "self" means nothing but a limited materialistic energy, and pleasure is nothing but whatever fun and felicity materialism brings, it would be natural for man then to feel that his sphere of gaining is limited, his scope is short, and his objective in it is to get an amount of materialistic pleasure. The way to get that is, of course, confined to life's vein: wealth, which opens the door to man to achieve all of his purposes and desires. This is the natural sequence of materialistic reasoning which leads to a complete capitalist mentality.
Can you see if the problem can be totally solved if we refuse the principle of private ownership, while maintaining such materialistic concepts of life as those thinkers have tried? Can society be saved from the tragedy of such principles by only abolishing private ownership so that it would gain a guarantee for its happiness and stability? The only guarantee for man's happiness and stability depends to a large extent on ensuring that those charged with responsibility will not deviate from their scopes and reform plans in the field of action and execution.
Such responsible persons are supposed to embrace the same purely materialistic concepts of life on which capitalism stands. The only difference is that they have shaped such concepts in new philosophical structures. Reason would suppose that the personal interest quite often stands in the face of the common interest, and that the individual has to choose between either a loss and a pain which he endures for the sake of others, or a gain and pleasure which he enjoys at their own expense. So, what guarantees the nation and its rights, the doctrine and its objectives, will have during such critical moments through which the rulers go?
The individual interest is not represented in private ownership only, so that we would rule out our supposition to abolish the principle of private ownership; rather, it is represented in many different manners and forms. A proof for that is the treason of many past rulers discovered today by the advocates of communism who have revealed how those rulers deviated from the same principles which they had professed to adopt.
The wealth controlled by the capitalist group, under the shade of absolute economic and individual liberties, dealing with it according to its materialistic mentality, is given, when the state nationalizes all sorts of wealth and abolishes private ownership, to the state apparatus itself which is composed of a group controlled by the same materialistic concepts of life which oblige them to give priority to their own individualistic interests, according to the egoistic instinct, refusing that man should give up his pleasure and interest without a compensation. So long as the materialistic interest is the dominating power, according to the materialistic concepts of life, new fields for struggle and competition will be reserved, and the society will be exposed to different dangers and exploitation.
Danger to humanity is all hidden within such materialistic concepts and whatever goals and deeds stem from them. Unifying capitalist norms of wealth, the small or the big, into one huge wealth to be taken care of by the state, without any new development of the human intellect, does not curb such a danger; rather, it turns the entire nation into labourers working for one company, tying their life and prestige to the promoters and owners of that company.
Yes, this “company” differs from the capitalist company: The owners of the capitalist company are the ones who own its profits, spending them according to their own inclinations, while the owners of the other company do not possess any of that, as the system assumes. But the fields of individualistic interest are still open, and the materialistic concept of life, the one that makes such an interest a goal and a justification, still remains
The world has two ways to avoid the danger and establish the pillars of a stable society:
One is this: Mankind has to be changed, or a new nature be created within him that would make him sacrifice his personal interests and limited materialistic achievements for the sake of the society and its interests, in spite of his own belief that there are no principles except those materialistic ones, and no gains except those of this limited life.
This could be accomplished if egoism were uprooted from his nature's essence and substituted with love for the group; therefore, man will be born not loving his own self except as being part of the society, feeling no pleasure for his own happiness and benefits except as they represent part of the general happiness and common interest. The "instinct" of loving the group will then guarantee its running after its own interests and the achievement of its own objectives in a mechanical manner and mode.
The other, the one the advocates of communism dream of bringing into man's future, promising the world that they would create it anew, a creation which would make it move mechanically to serve the group and its interests, is this: So that such a great feat is accomplished, we have to trust the world leadership to them, just as the patient is entrusted to the surgeon for surgery in order to chop off his bad parts and adjust the crooked ones. Nobody knows how long such a surgical operation, which puts man at the mercy of the surgeon, will last.
Man's submission to that is but the greatest proof of the extent of injustice which he has suffered in the democratic capitalist system which has deceived him with the alleged "freedoms", robbing him finally of even his own dignity, sucking his blood in order to present him as an easy drink to the pampered group represented by the rulers. The idea of such an opinion which advocates treating the problem by "modernizing" man and creating him anew, hinges on the Marxist interpretation of egoism.
Marxism believes that self-love (egoism) is neither a natural inclination nor an instinctive phenomenon within man's entity but a result of the social condition which is based on private ownership, for the social status of private ownership is what formulates the spiritual and innate composition of man, creating in the individual his own love for his personal interests and individual benefits.
If a revolution occurs in the bases on which the social structure stands, and general ownership and socialism substitute private ownership, then the revolution will be reflected in all corners of the society and in the inner context of man; so much so that his personal feelings will change to common feelings, and his love for his own interests and individualistic benefits will change to loving the common interest and benefit, according to the equilibrium law between the status of Islamic ownership and the totality of the overall phenomenon according to which they condition themselves.
In fact, this Marxist interpretation of egoism judges the relationship between the self's reality (the egoistic instinct) and the social circumstances in an upside-down manner. Otherwise, how can we believe that the personal motive is the outcome of private ownership and all the class contradictions resulting from it?
If man did not have, before hand, the personal motive, he would not have caused such contradictions, nor could he have thought of private ownership and personal monopoly. Why should man monopolize the system's achievements, placing it in such a way that protects his own interests at the expense of others, if he does not feel the personal motive within the depths of his own self?
The fact is that the social appearances of egoism in the economic and political field are but the result of the personal motive, of the egoistic instinct. This motive is deeper than it is in man's entity; therefore, it cannot vanish, nor can its roots be pulled out by simply removing such effects, for an operation like this is not more than substituting effects for others different than the first in shape or appearance yet similar to them in essence and reality.
Add to this, if we interpret the personal motive (the egoistic instinct) subjectively, as a reflection of the phenomenon of individualism within the social system, such as the phenomenon of private ownership, as Marxism has done, would this not mean that the personal motive will lose its subjective and causing factor from the social system by abolishing private ownership because, although it is a phenomenon of an individualistic nature, it still is not unique in kind, as there is, for example, the phenomenon of private management which is kept even by the socialist system?
Although it abolishes private ownership of the means of production, the socialist system does not abolish the private management by the ruling apparatus which practices proletariat dictatorship and monopolizes the supervision over all means of production and their management. It is not logical to manage the means of production at the moment of their nationalization by a social common management of all the individuals of the society.
The socialist system, then, maintains distinguished individualistic phenomena, and it is natural that such phenomena maintain the personal motive, continuously reflecting it in the inner context of man, just as the phenomenon of private ownership used to do.
Thus do we come to know the value of the first way to solve the problem: the communist way which regards abolishing the legislation of private ownership, wiping it out of the law, as the only guarantee to solve the problem and "modernize" man. As regarding the other way, which is stated above, it is the one followed by Islam because of its belief that the only solution to the problem is to develop man's materialistic concept of life.
It has not started with abolishing the concept of private ownership; rather, it assaulted the materialistic concept of life and put for life a new concept, basing on it a system in which the individual is not treated as a machine in the social apparatus, nor is the society a group ready to serve the individual.
Rather, it has given each his rights, and has guaranteed the individual his dignity, spiritual and materialistic. Islam has placed its hand on the real cause of sickness in the democratic social system, and whatever systems branch from it, wiping them out in a manner which harmonizes with the human nature.
The basic hinging point to what the human life has suffered different sorts of miseries and calamities is the materialistic outlook of life which may be summed up thus: the supposition that only man's life on earth is worthy of all consideration. It establishes the individualistic interest as the criterion to each action and activity.
According to Islam, democratic capitalism is a system doomed to collapse and will certainly fail not because of the allegations of the advocates of communist economy, the self-contradictions of capitalism and the elements of destruction carried inherently by private ownership, for Islam differs in its logical approach, political economy and social philosophy from the concepts of such allegations and their argumentative manner, as I have clarified in my works Falsafatuna (Our Philosophy) and Iqtisaduna (Our Economy), and it guarantees the position of private ownership within a social framework, one free of such alleged contradictions.
The reason for the failure and aggravating situation with which democratic capitalism is afflicted, according to Islam, is rendered to the purely materialistic concepts of democratic capitalism which cannot make people happy in a system that learns its essence from it, deriving its general outlines from its essence and direction.
There has to be, thereupon, some other source, other than the materialistic ideas about the universe, from which the social system quenches its thirst, and there has to be an accurate political awareness stemming out of true concepts of life, adopting the greatest of man's issues, attempting to achieve it on the basis of such concepts and studying the world affairs from that angle. When such political awareness matures in the world, wiping away any other political awareness, the world will then be able to enter a new life shining with light, full of happiness. This deep political awareness is the true message of Islam in the world, and such a delivering message is, indeed, the eternal message of Islam which has derived its social system, which differs from all the systems we have so far explicated, from a new intellectual base for life and the universe.
Through such an intellectual base, Islam has defined the proper outlook of man at his life. It has made him believe that his life stems from the principle of absolute perfection, that it is but a preparation for a world free of toil and suffering, hence providing him with a new ethical criterion in his steps and stages. This criterion is: the pleasure of Allah Almighty. Not everything the individual interest imposes is permissible, yet everything causing an individual loss is prohibited and undesirable.
Rather, the goal which Islam has drawn for mankind in his life is Divine Pleasure, and the ethical criterion through which all deeds are weighed is the amount one is able to obtain of such a sacred goal. The straight man is that who achieves such a goal. The complete Islamic character is the one which has made all of its various paces along the guidance of such goal and the light of such criterion and within its general framework.
This change in the ethical concepts, criteria and objectives does not mean changing the human nature and creating it anew, as the communist idea meant. Egoism, that is, man's love for his own self and for the achievement of his personal desires, is natural in mankind, and we do not know of any research in any experimental field which is more clear than that of humanity in its long history which proves the "self" of egoism.
If egoism had not been natural and inherent within man, early man would not have rushed, before forming his social entity, to achieve his needs and defend himself against the dangers and try in his primitive ways through which he protected his life and maintained his existence to get what he desired and in the end enter the social life and assimilate in relations with others for the purpose of achieving such needs and avoiding such dangers. Since egoism occupies such a position in the human nature, any definite solution to the great human problem must be based on belief in such a reality. If it is based on the idea of developing or overcoming it, then it will be an idealistic solution which does not have a place in the reality of the practical life man has been leading.
Here, religion performs its great message the burdens of which no one else can bear, nor its constructive goals and wise objectives can be achieved, except on its bases and principles. It combines the ethical criteria put by man with the egoistic instinct centred within his nature. In other words, religion unites the instinctive criteria of working and living; that is, egoism, and the criterion which ought to be the basis for working and living, in order to guarantee (for mankind) happiness, prosperity and justice.
The instinctive criterion demands that man must give preference to his own personal interests over those of the society and the factors which maintain its unity; and the criterion which must preside and prevail is that in the estimation of which all interests equate, and according to the concepts of which all individual and social principles strike a balance. How is it possible, then, to coordinate both criteria and unite both balances so that the human nature might return in the individual to be a factor of goodness and happiness for everyone, after it had been for a long time a factor that caused tragedies which developed selfishness, as it pleases?
The coordination and unification occur in a manner guaranteed by religion for the strayed humanity, and this has two styles: The first style is to concentrate on the realistic interpretation of life, propagating its comprehension in its accurate hue, as introductory prelude to an everlasting life in which man achieves an amount of happiness which depends on his endeavour during this limited life in the hope to achieve the Pleasure of Allah.
The ethical criterion, that is, achieving Allah's Pleasure, while winning its great social objectives, simultaneously ensures the achievement of the individual interest. Religion, therefore, leads man to participate in the construction of a happy society and the maintenance of its just issues which, all in all, achieve the Pleasure of Allah Almighty, for that is included in the estimation of his personal gain, so long as every deed and activity in this field will be quite handsomely rewarded.
The society's issue is also the individual's, according to the precepts and concepts of religion regarding life and its comprehension. Such a style of coordination cannot be achieved under the shade of a materialistic comprehension of life, for the materialistic comprehension of life makes man naturally looking at none but his present scope and limited lifespan, contrarily to the realistic interpretation of life presented by Islam. The latter expands man's scope, imposing on him a deeper outlook at his own interests and benefits, turning a quick loss into a real gain within such a deep sight, and the quick gain is turned in the end into a real loss:
مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلِنَفْسِهِ وَمَنْ أَسَاء فَعَلَيْهَا
Whoever does a good deed, it is for his own self, and whoever does wrong, it is against his own self. (Qur'an, 41:46).
وَمَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَى وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَأُولَئِكَ يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ يُرْزَقُونَ فِيهَا بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ
And whoever, male or female, does a good deed, while truly believing, shall certainly enter Paradise in which he will be sustained without a limit. (Qur'an, 40:40) .
يَوْمَئِذٍ يَصْدُرُ النَّاسُ أَشْتَاتًا لِّيُرَوْا أَعْمَالَهُمْ، فَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًا يَرَهُ، وَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ شَرًّا يَرَهُ
On that Day (of Judgement) shall people be presented in numerous numbers in order to be shown their deeds; whoever does good even the weight of an atom shall receive its reward, and whoever does wrong even the weight of an atom shall receive its punishment. (Qur'an, 99:6-8).
ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ لاَ يُصِيبُهُمْ ظَمَأٌ وَلاَ نَصَبٌ وَلاَ مَخْمَصَةٌ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَلاَ يَطَؤُونَ مَوْطِئًا يَغِيظُ الْكُفَّارَ وَلاَ يَنَالُونَ مِنْ عَدُوٍّ نَّيْلاً إِلاَّ كُتِبَ لَهُم بِهِ عَمَلٌ صَالِحٌ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يُضِيعُ أَجْرَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ، وَلاَ يُنفِقُونَ نَفَقَةً صَغِيرَةً وَلاَ كَبِيرَةً وَلاَ يَقْطَعُونَ وَادِيًا إِلاَّ كُتِبَ لَهُمْ لِيَجْزِيَهُمُ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنَ مَا كَانُواْ يَعْمَلُونَ.
[This is so] because thirst does not afflict them nor fatigue nor hunger in God’s way, nor do they tread a path which enrages the infidels, nor do they receive from the enemy (any injury) but on account of its being reckoned to their credit as a deed of righteousness. Indeed God does not allow the reward of those who do good to go in vain. Nor do they spend anything (in the way of God), be it small or big, nor do they cut across a valley, except that it is recorded to their credit so that God may reward them with better than what they were doing. (Qur’an, 9:120 – 121).
These are but some magnificent portraits our religion presents as an example for the first style, the one it follows for the purpose of coordinating both criteria and the unification of both balances, joining the personal motives with the ways of goodness in life and developing the individual’s interest in a manner that would make him believe that his personal interests and the general matter-of-fact interest, as outlined by Islam, are inter-related.1
As regarding the other method followed by religion to incorporate the personal motive with the society’s principles or interests, it is to guarantee to nourish man spiritually and help the growth of humane feelings and ethical inclinations within him. Within the human nature, as we have pointed out before, there are energies and capabilities of different inclinations. Some of them are materialistic the appetites of which open naturally, such as the appetite for food, drink and sex, while others are intellectual inclinations which blossom and grow through cultivation and care.
Therefore, it is natural for man, if left for himself, to be controlled by the materialistic inclinations, for these blossom naturally, while the intellectual inclinations and their innate readiness remain veiled within the soul. Religion, believing in an infallible leadership supported by God, entrusts the task of cultivating humanity and nurturing the intellectual inclinations therein to this leadership and its branches, creating thereby a group of righteous emotions and feelings, and man starts loving the ethical principles and ideals which religion brings him up to respect and to die for, and it removes from his path all obstacles composed of his own interests and benefits.
This does not mean that egoism is obliterated from the human nature. Rather, it means that the action geared towards the achievement of such principles and ideals is a complete execution of the will of egoism, for the principles, because of religious upbringing, become loved by man as means of deriving a "special" pleasure from them.
These, then, are the two ways from which results the joining of the ethical issue to the personal matter. One of them may be summarized thus: providing a realistic interpretation of an everlasting life not for the purpose of man turning away from this life, nor is it for his submission to injustice and acceptance of iniquity. Not at all; it is for the sake of checking man through the accurate ethical criterion provided by that interpretation with sufficient assurance.
The other way may be summarized thus: The ethical education resulting in various feelings and emotions within man which guarantee the implementation of the ethical criterion according to the inspiration of the soul. The spiritual comprehension and ethical education of the soul, according to the Message of Islam, are the coordinating factors in treating the deeper cause behind the human tragedy. Let us describe the comprehension of life as a prelude for a perpetual one, according to the spiritual comprehension of life, and let us describe the emotions and feelings, nurtured by the ethical education, as "the ethical feelings of life".
The spiritual comprehension of life and the ethical feeling thereof are the two bases on which the new ethical criterion put by Islam for humanity stands, and this (criterion) is: achieving the Pleasure of Allah. This Pleasure, the one put forth by Islam as a general criterion for life, is the one which leads the boat towards the shores of righteousness, goodness and justice. The basic characteristic in the Islamic system is represented through its erection on a spiritual comprehension of life and an ethical feeling thereof, and the wide line in this system is: the regard for both individual and society, and ensuring the equilibrium between the individual and the social life: The individual is not the central base in the legislation and government, nor is the big social being the only thing the State looks at or for whose sake it legislates.
Every social system which does not stem out of this comprehension and feeling is either a system which follows the individual in his egoistic inclination, thus exposing the social life to the most severe consequences and dire perils, or it is a system which suppresses the individual's instincts and paralyzes in him his own nature for the sake of "protecting" the society and its interests, hence an everlasting bitter struggle starts between the system and its legislations, and the individuals and their inclinations.
Nay! The social existence of the system will always be exposed to failure at the hands of its own promoters, as long as they, too, have their own personal inclinations and instincts, and so long as these instincts find, through suppressing the other "individualistic" instincts and taking charge of strict leadership, a wide scope and a field unmatchable for setting out and utilization.
Both spiritual comprehension of life and the ethical feeling thereof do not only result in a complete system of life in which there is high regard for each component of the society, each individual will be granted his liberty which has been cultivated by that comprehension and feeling and which the State restricts when there is any deviation from it. I say: Every doctrine which does not produce for mankind this sort of system can never be other than cooling the air off and alleviating woes rather than providing a remedy and a definite eradication of social desires and vices.
The intact social structure is erected on none other than a spiritual comprehension of life and an ethical feeling thereof, one from which both a system is set forth to fill life with the spirit of this feeling and the essence of that comprehension. This is Islam in the most precise and wonderful expression: a spiritual and ethical doctrine from which springs a perfect system for mankind which portrays the clearly marked scope, determining his goal to be even higher than that scope, acquainting him with his achievements there from.
As for its abolishment of the spiritual comprehension of life, stripping man of his ethical feeling thereof, considering the ethical concepts as pure whims created by the materialistic interests, and that only the economic factor is the criterion for all values and ethics, hoping from all of this to achieve man's happiness and social stability..., this, indeed, is but a hope, a desire, which can never be achieved until mankind is turned into a mechanical apparatus organized by few mechanical engineers.
Basing man on the basis of that spiritual comprehension of life and the ethical feeling thereof is not a hard or impossible task, for religions during man's history have performed their great message in this respect, and all what the world today contains of spiritual values, ethical awareness, virtuous feelings and emotions do not have an explanation more clear and logical in their pillars and bases other than the great endeavours undertaken by religions to cultivate humanity and its natural motives and whatever required for living and working.
Islam has carried the torch of bursting light after mankind had reached a certain degree of awareness. It preached the spiritual and ethical base on the widest scales and furthermost scopes, raising thereupon the banner of humanity. It established an intellectual State which ruled the world for a quarter of a century, aiming at the unity of all mankind into one intellectual base which portrays the mode and manner of life. The Islamic State, therefore, has two functions: One is to lift mankind through the intellectual base, stamping his inclination and feelings with its stamp. The other is watching him externally and bringing him back to the base if he practically deviates from it.
Therefore, the political awareness of Islam is not only an awareness of the structural aspect of the social life, but it also is a profound political awareness which stems from an entirely complete outlook towards life, the cosmos, sociology, politics, economics and ethics.
This inclusive outlook is the complete Islamic awareness. Any other sort of political awareness can either be a superficial political awareness which does not look at the world except from a particular angle without basing its concepts except on one particular hinging point. Or it may be a political awareness which studies the world from the purely materialistic angle which provides mankind with feuds and sufferings of all various shapes and hues.
We have come to know, from the above contents, that freedom is the central point in the capitalist thinking, and the concept of "insurance" (rather, assurance) is the basic revolving point in the socialist and communist systems. For this purpose we will be studying, comparatively, the position of Islam and capitalism from freedom, comparing thereafter between the "insurance" according to Islam and according to the Marxist creed. When we say "freedom", we mean thereby its general meaning; that is, rejection of others' domination, for this concept is the one which we can find in both civilizations, even when its frame and intellectual base vary in both1.
When we start comparing freedom according to Islam with freedom according to the democratic capitalist system, basic differences appear to us between the freedom which has been lived by the capitalist society and advocated by capitalism, and the freedom whose banner Islam has borne and adopted by the society which Islam has created, providing its own experience on history's stage. Each of these norms of freedom bears the stamp of civilization to which it belongs and with whose concepts of the cosmos and life it agrees, expressing the intellectual and psychological state which civilization created in history.
Freedom, in the capitalist civilization, has started as a bitterly overwhelming doubt, and this doubt changed, in its revolutionary expansion, into a doctrinal belief in freedom. Contrarily to this is freedom in the Islamic civilization, for here it is but an expression of a firm central conviction (i.e., belief in God) from which freedom derives its revolution.
According to the firmness of this conviction and the depth of its implication in man's life do the revolutionary powers in that freedom multiply. Capitalist freedom has a positive connotation. It considers man to possess his own self, faring with it as he pleases, without surrendering in that to any external authority.
For this purpose, all social institutions, which affect man's life, derive their legal right to control every individual from the individuals themselves. Freedom, according to Islam, maintains the revolutionary aspect of freedom: man’s emancipation from the slavery of idols' control, all idols from whose yoke humanity has been suffering throughout history. But it erects this great task of liberation on the basis of a submission purely for Allah, and for Allah alone.
Therefore, man's submission to God in Islam (instead of possessing his own self, according to capitalism) is the tool through which man breaks all other norms of submission or slavery, for this sort of submission, in its sublime meaning, makes him feel that he, together with all other sorts of power with which he coexists, stands on the same grounds before one Lord. Therefore, no power on earth has the right to fare with his destiny as it pleases or to control his existence and life. Freedom, according to the precepts of capitalist civilization, is a natural right for man, and he may give his right up whenever he pleases. But it is not so according to Islam. Freedom according to Islam is essentially tied to submission to Allah. Islam does not permit man to yield, to be enslaved or to give up his freedom:
Do not be a slave of others, since Allah created you free.2
Man, according to Islam, is to account for the use of his freedom, and freedom is not a state of irresponsibility.
This is the difference between both norms of freedom in their general characteristics. Now we are going to explain this concept with more details:
Freedom was initiated in the capitalist civilization under the shades of an overwhelmingly bitter doubt which dominated the mainstreams of the entire European thought as a result of the intellectual revolutions which succeeded each other at the dawn of modern Europe, shaking all the Western intellectual pillars.
The idols of European thinking started falling down one after the other due to the revolutionary discoveries in the world of science which cast their light at the Western man with new concepts of the world and life, and with theories completely in contradiction to the accepted precepts of the past, those which formed the cornerstone of his intellectual entity, intellectual and religious life.
Western man started, across those successive intellectual revolutions, to look at the cosmos through new eyes, and at the intellectual heritage humanity had left him since the dawn of history with looks of doubt and suspicion. He started to feel that the world of Copernicus, who proved that the earth is but a planet of the sun, differs a great deal from the conventional world which Ptolemy spoke of, and that nature, which started revealing its secrets to Galileo and his peers among the scientists, is a new thing compared to the portrait inherited down from the saints and former thinkers like Saint Thomas Acquinas, Dante and others.
Thus does he suddenly, and with a trembling hand, throw his former precepts, trying to be relieved of the frame in which he lived thousands of years. In its escalating revolutionary torrent, doubt did not stop there. Rather, it wiped out all values and precepts common to humanity and on which it depended to check behaviour and regulate relationships. So long as the new cosmos contradicts the old concepts of the world, and as long as man keeps looking at his reality and environment from a scientific angle, rather than from mythology, then there has to be a reassessment of the religious concept and likewise of all goals and principles man has lived before his new outlook of himself and his world crystallizes.
On this basis has the religion of Western man faced the dilemma of "modern" doubt, and it does not really hinge except on an emotional basis which soon started drying up because of the Church's tyranny and might. It was natural, then, that all of these ethical bases melted at the conclusion of this defeat. So were the principles and ideals which check man's behaviour and tolerate his extremism, for ethics have always been linked to religion throughout humanity's existence. When they lose their religious source which provides them with true values and links them to the world of the unknown and of the rewards, they become an empty ruin and an unjustifiable tax. History always highlights this fact.
Greek advocates of sophistry disbelieved in deism because of their dependence on a "sophisticated" doubt, so they rejected the ethical restrictions, rebelling against them, and Western man repeated the story anew when "modern" doubt engulfed his religious creed. He revolted against all sorts of disciplinary manners and ethical codes. Such manners and ethics seemed to him to be linked to an ancient phase of man's history.
Western man set out as he willed to behave as he liked, filling his lungs with the fresh air in which "modern" doubt occupied the position of principles and standards, when they used to restrict the internal inclination of man and his behaviour. Here were the ideas of the intellectual freedom and the personal liberty born: The idea of intellectual freedom has come as a result of a revolutionary doubt and a mental disturbance which blew up all intellectual precepts.
So much so that there remain no more sublime facts the denial of which is not permissible, as long as doubt extends itself to all spheres. And the idea of personal liberty comes as an expression of the negative results reached by "modern" doubt in its intellectual combat against faith and ethics, for it is natural that the man who conquers his own faith and ethics is to believe in his own personal liberty and reject any authority to check his behaviour and control his will. According to such a sequence, modern man reaches doubt, intellectual freedom and finally "personal liberty". Here comes the role of economic freedom to form a new series of this "civilized" sequence:
Having believed in his personal liberty, modern man starts placing his goals and criteria on this basis.
Having practically disbelieved in the religious outlook of life and the cosmos, and their respective relationship to the Creator and to whatever reward or punishment man awaits, life starts to him to seem as a chance to win the largest possible portion of pleasure and materialistic enjoyment which cannot be achieved except through wealth. Therefore, wealth returns as the magic key and the goal towards which modern man labours, the man who enjoys complete freedom in his behaviour.
It becomes necessary to establish the basis of economic freedom and open all fields before this free being to work for the achievement of this new goal: wealth, which Western civilization puts up as a new idol for mankind, and every sacrifice mankind offers in this respect is now an honest deed and an accepted scapegoat. The economic motive becomes dominating as long as the march of modern civilization becomes more distant from the spiritual and intellectual principles which he has refused in the beginning of the march. The mania for wealth increases to dominate the situation, and the precepts of goodness, virtue and religion disappear, so much so that Marxism, during one of the Western civilization's dilemmas, imagines that the economic motive is the impetus which directs the human history in all ages.
It is not possible that the idea of economic freedom can be separate from another idea which is: the idea of political freedom, for the essential condition for practising a free activity on the economic stage is the removal of the political obstacles and the conquest of the difficulties put forth by the ruling authority through the possession and nationalization of the governing apparatus, so that the individual may rest assured that there is no power which can separate him from his achievements and desired goals.
Thus were the general outlooks or basic series, of which Western man composed his civilization, completed. He worked sincerely to establish his life on their basis and adopt a world call of them. In this light can we clearly see this "civilization" in its characteristics to which we have pointed out at the beginning of this chapter, for it is a civilized phenomenon which started as a bitter and disturbing doubt and ended as a doctrinal belief in freedom.
It is an expression of the belief of Western man in his control over himself and his possession of his will after he had refused to submit to any authority. Freedom, according to capitalist democracy, does not only mean the denial of others' control; rather, it means much more than this: It means man's control over himself and the practical separation between himself and his own Creator and destiny.
As for Islam, its position from freedom essentially differs from that of Western civilization, for it takes care of freedom in its negative implication or, rather, in its revolutionary output which liberates mankind from others’ control, breaking the chains and shackles which handcuff him. It considers the achievement of this negative implication of freedom as one of the greatest goals of the Divine Message Itself:
وَيَضَعُ عَنْهُمْ إِصْرَهُمْ وَالأَغْلالَ الَّتِي كَانَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ
And He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are on them... (Qur'an, 7: 157).
But it does not link this concept to its positive implication according to the concepts of Western civilization, for it does not consider man's right to be liberated from others' control and standing by their side on par as a result of man's control over himself and his right to determine his behaviour and conduct in life; that is, what we would label "the positive implication of freedom according to the concepts of Western civilization".
Rather, it links freedom and liberation from all idols and artificial shackles to sincere submission to Allah. Man, after all, is a servant of Allah Who does not recognize any submission except to Him, or he yields to any idolatrous relationship of any colour or shape. Instead, he stands on equal footing in his own sincere submission to Allah with the rest of cosmic creation. The essential basis of freedom in Islam, therefore, is unity and belief in sincere submission to Allah before Whose hands all idolatrous powers are crushed, the powers which trampled on man's dignity throughout history.
قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ تَعَالَوْا إِلَى كَلِمَةٍ سَوَاء بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ أَلاَّ نَعْبُدَ إِلاَّ اللَّهَ وَلاَ نُشْرِكَ بِهِ شَيْئًا وَلاَ يَتَّخِذَ بَعْضُنَا بَعْضًا أَرْبَابًا مِّن دُونِ اللَّهِ
Say: "O People of the Book (Christians and Jews)! Come to common terms between us and you: that we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with Him; that we install none, from among ourselves, as lords and patrons other than Allah." (Qur'an, 3:64) .
قَالَ أَتَعْبُدُونَ مَا تَنْحِتُونَ، وَاللَّهُ خَلَقَكُمْ وَمَا تَعْمَلُونَ
He said: "Do you worship that which you have (yourselves) carved?! But Allah has created you and your handiwork." (Qur'an, 37:95-96).
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ عِبَادٌ أَمْثَالُكُمْ
Verily those whom you call on besides Allah are servants like unto you.. (Qur'an, 7:194).
أَأَرْبَابٌ مُّتَفَرِّقُونَ خَيْرٌ أَمِ اللَّهُ الْوَاحِدُ الْقَهَّارُ
Are many lords differing among themselves better, or the one Allah, Supreme and Irresistible? (Qur'an, 12:39).
Thus does Islam base the liberation from all kinds of slavery on the principle of admitting an absolute submission to Allah, making the relationship between man and his Lord the firmly-rooted basis for his liberation in dealing with all people and with all natural things in the cosmos. Islam and Western civilization, although both practicing the operation of man's liberation, differ in the intellectual basis on which this liberation stands.
Islam bases it on the belief in man alone and in his control over himself which has doubted all principles and facts that are lying behind the materialistic dimensions of man's existence. For this purpose has the idea of freedom in Islam been rendered to a believing doctrine which believes in the Unity of God, and to a firm conviction in His control over the cosmos. The deeper this belief goes into the Muslim's heart, and the more centralized his unifying outlook to Allah is, the more elevated his soul will be and the deeper his feeling of dignity and liberty, and the more stiff his will to stand in the face of tyranny, corruption and enslavement by others:
وَالَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَهُمُ الْبَغْيُ هُمْ يَنتَصِرُونَ
And those who, when an oppressive wrong is inflicted on them, (are not cowed but) help and defend themselves. (Qur'an, 42:39).
Contrarily to this is the idea of freedom according to Western civilization: This is the product of doubt, unbelief and the result of disturbance and rebellion, not of conviction or stability, as we have already come to know. We can classify the democratic capitalist norms of freedom, for the purpose of comparing them with Islam, into two kinds:
1. One of them is freedom in the personal sphere of man, which is what democracy labels "Personal Freedom".
2. The other is freedom in the social sphere. This includes the intellectual, political and economic norms of freedom.
Personal freedom treats man's conduct as an individual, albeit if he lives independently or as part of the society. As for the three other norms of freedom, these treat man as an individual living among the group, permitting him to voice his ideas to others as he likes and granting him the right to choose the kind of ruling authority which he prefers, opening before him the way to all different kinds of economic activity according to his capacity and inclination.
Modern Western civilization has tried hard to get the largest possible share of freedom for each individual in his/her personal conduct, the share which does not harm other people's freedom. It is not important, after making this freedom available for all individuals, how they would use it, the outcomes resulting there from, the psychological and intellectual reactions thereof, as long as each individual is free in his/her behaviour and conduct, capable of executing his/her own will in all personal spheres. The drunkard, for example, is allowed to drink as much liquor as he wants and sacrifice the last particle of his consciousness and awareness as long as he does not bother others or become a menace to their lives in one way or another.
Mankind has become intoxicated with the tones of this "freedom" and slept therein for sometime, feeling for the first time that he has broken all the chains and that this giant, who has been suppressed within his depths for thousands of years, has set out for the first time and has been permitted to do whatever he willed in the light, without fear or worry. But this sweet dream did not last long. Man started waking up slowly to gradually realize that he is disturbed, that this freedom has chained him with huge chains, destroying his hopes for a free humane setting out. He found himself being pushed in a carriage running on a planned path without being able to change or improve its course.
All his consolation and solace, while looking at his destiny on his planned path, is that there is someone who has said that this carriage is the carriage of freedom, in spite of these cuffs and chains in his hands. But when did freedom change into a chain? And how did setting out lead to those cuffs which pull the carriage along its planned destiny, and in the end man woke up to witness such bitter reality?
This, indeed, is what Islam had predicted fourteen centuries ago when it did not contend itself with providing such superficial meaning for freedom for humanity which has been inflicted with all these contradictions in the modern living experience of Western man. Rather, it went further and brought forth a much deeper concept of freedom. It declared a revolution not only against the chains and shackles as they appear, but, rather, against their psychological and intellectual roots. Thus has it guaranteed man the highest and purest norms of freedom people have ever tasted across the passage of history...
If freedom, according to Western civilization, starts from "liberation" to end in norms of slavery and chains, as we shall explain, then vast freedom, according to Islam, is quite the opposite, for this starts from pure submission to Allah Almighty to end with liberation from all norms of humiliating slavery. Islam starts its operation to liberate man from the inner content of man himself, for it sees that granting man freedom is not by saying to him: "This is the path. We have cleared it for you; so, walk along it in peace."
Rather, man becomes truly free when he can control his path and maintain for his humanity the right to determine his path and portray its characteristics and directions. This depends, above all, on man's liberation from the slavery of the desires which occupy his mind so that the desire may turn into a tool which attracts man to what he likes, not a pushing power to exhaust man's will without being able to practice towards it any potential or ability, for if it has been so, man would have lost his freedom in the first place.
It does not change the reality when his hands are free as long as his mind and all his human concepts, which distinguish him from the animal kingdom, are chained and frozen. We all know that the essential thing which distinguishes man's freedom from that of the animals is generally the fact that, although they both act according to their respective will, animals’ will is always subservient to their desires and instinctive inclinations.
As for man, he is equipped with the capacity to control his desires, using his mental logic in their respect. The secret of his freedom, as a human being, then, is confined within this capacity. If we freeze it within him, being satisfied with granting him the superficial freedom in his practical behaviour, providing him with all capabilities and temptations to respond favourably to his desires, as the "modern" Western civilization has already done, then we would gradually destroy his human freedom in exchange for the desires of the animal which is confined within his depths, making him a tool to satisfy those desires, so much so that when he looks at himself, during his passage, he will find himself the indicted one, rather than the indicting, one whose affairs and will are overcome.
Contrariwise: If we start with that capacity in which the secret of human freedom is confined, giving it growth and nourishment, remaking man as a human being, not as a beast, making him aware of the fact that his message in life is much more sublime than that abhorred beastly destiny driven to him by those desires, and that his high principle for the purpose of whose achievement he is created, is much, much more elevated than these trivial objectives and cheap gains which he gets through his materialistic pleasures.
I say: If we do all this until man is liberated from the slavery of his own desires, emancipating himself from their captivating influence, possessing his own will..., the free man will then be created who can say "Yes" or "No" without his mouth being suppressed or hand chained by this temporary desire or that cheap thrill. This is exactly what the Qur'an has said when it put for the Muslim individual his particular spiritual stamp, developing his criteria and principles, pulling him out of earth and its limited goals to vaster horizons and more sublime objectives:
زُيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ حُبُّ الشَّهَوَاتِ مِنَ النِّسَاء وَالْبَنِينَ وَالْقَنَاطِيرِ الْمُقَنطَرَةِ مِنَ الذَّهَبِ وَالْفِضَّةِ وَالْخَيْلِ الْمُسَوَّمَةِ وَالأَنْعَامِ وَالْحَرْثِ ذَلِكَ مَتَاعُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَاللَّهُ عِندَهُ حُسْنُ الْمَآبِ. قُلْ أَؤُنَبِّئُكُم بِخَيْرٍ مِّن ذَلِكُمْ لِلَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ جَنَّاتٌ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا وَأَزْوَاجٌ مُّطَهَّرَةٌ وَرِضْوَانٌ مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ بَصِيرٌ بِالْعِبَادِ .
Fair in the eyes of men is the love of things they covet: women and sons; heaped-up hoards of gold and silver; horses branded (for blood and excellence); and (wealth of) cattle and well-tilled land. Such are the possessions of this world's life; but in nearness to Allah is the best of the goals (to return to). Say: "Shall I give you glad tidings of things far better than those?" For the righteous there are gardens in nearness to their Lord, with rivers flowing beneath; therein is their eternal home; with companions pure (and holy) and the good pleasure of Allah, for Allah is well aware of (all) His servants. (Qur'an, 3:14-15).
This is but the war of liberation in its internal context of man, and it ultimately is the first basis and the head start to liberate mankind according to Islam. Without it, all norms of freedom would become falsehood and deception, and in the end captivity and chains. We see, in the light of this Qur'anic guidance, that the method the Qur'an uses to deliver mankind from the yoke of desires and the slavery of pleasures is the general method which Islam always uses to cultivate humanity in all fields: the method of Tawhid (Unity of God).
Islam, when it liberates man from worldly slavery and its vanishing pleasures, connects him with heavens and its gardens the similitude of which is the Pleasure of Allah, for Tawhid in Islam is the aid for man's inner liberation from all norms of slavery, and it is the aid for the human liberation in all fields. Suffices us here to mention one example which we have left behind in a previous chapter, in order to know the glorious results of this liberation and the extent of the difference between the true freedom of the Qur'anic man and those artificial norms of freedom advocated by the modern nations of the Western civilization.
The nation the Qur'an liberated, when it called it in one word to renounce wine, has been able to say "No" to wine and erase it from its dictionary after it used to be part of its entity and an article of its necessities. It was in possession of its own will, free in facing its desires and animal impulses. In short, it enjoyed a true freedom which allowed it to control its conduct. As for the nation which modern civilization has created, granting it its individual freedom according to its particular method, in spite of this artificial mask of freedom..., it really does not possess any of its own will, nor can it control its own existence, for it has never liberated its inner content.
Rather, it yielded to its pleasures and desires under the cover of individual freedom until it lost its freedom while satisfying such desires and pleasures. The strongest propaganda campaign against liquor conducted by the government of the United States has not been able to liberate the American nation from the slavery to liquor, in spite of the huge materialistic and spiritual potentials the ruling authority and various social institutes used for this purpose.
This fearful failure is but the result of Western man losing his real freedom, for he cannot say "No", whenever convinced, as does the man of the Qur'an. Instead, he says the word which his desire forces him to articulate. For this reason, he has not been able to free himself from liquor's entanglement, for he has not, under the shade of the Western civilization, won a real emancipation within his spiritual and intellectual content.3
This internal emancipation, or inner-building of man's entity, is, according to Islam, the cornerstone in the establishment of a free and happy society. As long as man does not possess his will, is unable to control his inner situation or maintain his cultivated humanity in determining his conduct, he can never truly free himself socially in order to resist temptation, nor can he wage the battle of an external liberation with merits and bravery:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّى يُغَيِّرُواْ مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ
Verily, never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls). (Qur'an, 13:11).
وَإِذَا أَرَدْنَا أَن نُّهْلِكَ قَرْيَةً أَمَرْنَا مُتْرَفِيهَا فَفَسَقُواْ فِيهَا فَحَقَّ عَلَيْهَا الْقَوْلُ فَدَمَّرْنَاهَا تَدْمِيرًا
If We will to perish a village, We would order the rich in it who would make corruption therein; then it would be opportune for Our call, and we would totally ruin it. (Qur'an, 17: 16).
While waging the war of humanity's inner liberation, Islam likewise wages another war to liberate man socially. It ruins, in the internal content of man, the idols of desire which rob him of his human freedom. It smashes, in the field of exchanged relationships among individuals, the social idols as well. It emancipates humanity from its slavery. It puts an end to man worshipping man:
قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ تَعَالَوْا إِلَى كَلِمَةٍ سَوَاء بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ أَلاَّ نَعْبُدَ إِلاَّ اللَّهَ وَلاَ نُشْرِكَ بِهِ شَيْئًا وَلاَ يَتَّخِذَ بَعْضُنَا بَعْضًا أَرْبَابًا مِّن دُونِ اللَّهِ
Say: "O People of the Book (Christians and Jews)! Come to common terms between us and you: that we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with Him; that we install none, from among ourselves, as lords and patrons other than Allah." (Qur'an, 3:64).
Man's submission to Allah makes all people stand on equal footing before the Hands of the worshipped Creator; there is no nation that has the right to colonize and enslave another nation, nor is there a group of the society allowed to rob another group or violate its freedom, nor is there one human being who has the right to pose himself as an idol to be worshipped by others. Once more do we find out that the second Qur'anic battlefield for the purpose of liberation uses the same method it used in the first, that is, the battle to liberate man internally from the control of his desires, and it is used in all other Islamic epics, which is: Tawhid.
As long as man acknowledges submission to Allah alone, he would naturally reject any idol or fake worship of any person or being. He would lift his head up high with dignity, and he will not feel the humiliation of slavery and submissiveness to any power on earth or to any idol. The phenomenon of idol-worship in man's life has been initiated for two reasons: One of them is his slavery to his own desire which makes him surrender his freedom to the human idol which can satisfy and guarantee the fulfilment of that desire. The other is his ignorance of the points of weakness and incapacity that lie behind those idolatrous masks professing deism.
Islam has emancipated man from slavery to desire, as we have come to know above, and from the fakery of those deceitful idolatrous masks:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ عِبَادٌ أَمْثَالُكُمْ
Those whom you call as gods other than Allah are but His servants like your own selves. (Qur'an, 7:194).
It naturally follows that he conquers idol-worship and wipes out from the Muslim minds idolatry in all its various shapes and colours. In the light of the bases on which the liberation of man from the slaveries of desire in the personal field stands, and his emancipation from idol-worship in the social, albeit if the idol is a nation, a group, or an individual, can we know the individual's sphere of practical conduct in Islam.
Islam is different from the modern Western civilizations which do not restrict this practical freedom of the individual but those of others. Islam takes care, first of all, as we have already come to know, of emancipating the individual from the slavery of desires and idols, allowing him to behave as he pleases as long as he does not go beyond Allah's limits. The Qur'an says:
هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ لَكُم مَّا فِي الأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا
It is He Who has created for you all things that are on earth... (Qur'an, 2:29).
وَسَخَّرَ لَكُم مَّا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا مِّنْهُ
And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth. (Qur'an, 45:13).
Hence, Islam puts the cosmos in its entirety at the disposal of man of his freedom, but it restricts freedom to the limits which make it congenial with his internal liberation from the slavery of desire and his external liberation from the slavery of idols. As regarding practical freedom in adoring the desire and clinging to earth and all what this implies, renouncing human freedom in its true meaning...
As regarding practical freedom in remaining silent about injustice and relinquishing right, worshipping idols and getting closer to them, pursuing their own interests and giving up the real great and true message of man in this life..., all of this is not permitted in Islam: It is nothing but the destruction of the deepest meanings of freedom in man. Instead, Islam understands it to be part of a perfect intellectual and spiritual program on the basis of which humanity must stand.
When we highlight this liberating and revolutionary aspect of Islam in the social sphere, we do not imply thereby that it agrees with the democratic social norms of freedom in their particular Western framework. While differing from the Western civilization in its concept of personal liberty, as we have come to know a short while ago, Islam also differs from it in its concept of the political, economic and intellectual freedom.
The Western concept of political freedom expresses the basic idea of the Western civilization which claims that man possesses himself, and nobody has the right to give him directions. Political freedom has been a result of practicing such basic idea in the political field, for as long as the structure, colour and laws of the social life directly affect all members of the society, then everybody has to participate in the operation of social construction as he pleases, and no individual may force another to do what he does not like or subject him by force to a system which he does not accept.
Political freedom starts conflicting with the basic idea as soon as it faces the reality of life, for it is quite natural that the society contains numerous different opinion, and adopting some people's opinion means depriving others of their right to have their own will and control their own destiny. Here has the idea to adopt the majority's opinion come as a collaboration between the basic idea and political freedom.
But it is an incomplete collaboration because the minority enjoys its rights of freedom and self-will similarly to the majority, and the majority's opinion deprives it of using its right; therefore, the principle of the majority is not more than a system through which one group plays havoc with another group's rights, with only a numerical difference.
We do not deny that the majority principle maybe one accepted by all people; therefore, the minority tries hard to execute the viewpoint of the majority as being the one with more followers, even though it spontaneously believes in another viewpoint and tries to attract the majority to it. But this is an assumption the validity of which cannot be ascertained in all societies. There are many minorities that do not accept any viewpoint other than their own even if such a viewpoint opposes that of the majority.
From this we can come to this summary: The basic idea of the Western civilization, as soon as it functions in the political field, starts contradicting itself and facing the reality, turning to a norm of despotism and individualism in government shown in the best way by the majority ruling the minority. Islam does not believe in this "basic idea" of the Western civilization, for it is based on man worshipping Allah, and that Allah alone is man's Master and Sustainer, the only One Who has the right to arrange his life-style:
أَأَرْبَابٌ مُّتَفَرِّقُونَ خَيْرٌ أَمِ اللَّهُ الْوَاحِدُ الْقَهَّارُ؟ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِهِ إِلاَّ أَسْمَاء سَمَّيْتُمُوهَا أَنتُمْ وَآبَاؤُكُم مَّا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ بِهَا مِن سُلْطَانٍ إِنِ الْحُكْمُ إِلاَّ لِلَّهِ أَمَرَ أَلاَّ تَعْبُدُواْ إِلاَّ إِيَّاهُ
Are many lords differing among themselves better or the One God, Supreme and Irresistible? The Command is for none but Allah. He has commanded that you should worship none but Him:... (Qur'an, 12:39-40).
And it blames those individuals who yield to others, granting them the right of Imamate in life and Divine upbringing:
اتَّخَذُواْ أَحْبَارَهُمْ وَرُهْبَانَهُمْ أَرْبَابًا مِّن دُونِ اللَّهِ
They take their priests and anchorites to be their lords in derogation of Allah. (Qur'an, 9:31).
Therefore, neither the individual nor all the individuals combined have the right to monopolize authority other than Allah, directing the social life and establishing curricula and constitutions, etc. Among the outcomes of such "equality" in this life we come to know that man's political liberation is based on the belief in the equality of all society members to bear the burdens of the Divine Trust and their cooperation in enacting Almighty Allah's commandments: "Everyone of you is in charge and is responsible for those of whom he is in charge." Political equality in Islam differs in shape from its Western counterpart: It is equality in bearing responsibility, not in ruling.
Among the results of this equality is man's emancipation in the political field from the control of others and the eradication of all norms of political exploitation, individualistic and class government.
For this reason do we find the Glorious Qur'an renouncing Pharaoh's rule as well as the society whom he ruled, for he symbolized the control of the individual over the government and the domination of one class over all others:
إِنَّ فِرْعَوْنَ عَلا فِي الأَرْضِ وَجَعَلَ أَهْلَهَا شِيَعًا يَسْتَضْعِفُ طَائِفَةً مِّنْهُمْ
Truly Pharaoh elevated himself in the land and broke up its people into sections, depressing a small group among them... (Qur'an, 28:4).
Any political structure which allows an individual or class to exploit and subjugate other individuals or classes is not accepted by Islam, for it opposes the equality among the society members in bearing responsibility in their absolute submission to Allah Almighty. As for the economic freedom, it is, in its capitalist concept, only a freedom in appearance which may be summarized thus: allowing every individual to behave as he pleases in the economic field without the interference or pressure of the ruling apparatus.
Having permitted the individual to behave as he pleases, capitalism is not further concerned about securing anything he wants. In other words, it is not concerned with allowing him to want anything. For this purpose do we find out that economic freedom, in its materialistic concept, does not bear any meaning to those who were not allowed by opportunities to live, nor were the circumstances of competition and economic racing prepared for them.
Thus does freedom become merely a mirage without being able to grant these people of its meaning except according to the amount of freedom it grants the individuals who are incapable of, say, swimming when we say to them: "You are free to swim as you please, wherever you like."
If we really want to let them swim freely as they choose, giving them a chance to enjoy this sport as those who can swim enjoy it, we would have secured their safety during that and asked the expert swimmers to protect them, watch over them and not abandon them while swimming else they should get drowned; hence, we would have really promoted true freedom and the ability to swim for all in reality, even though we may have restricted a little bit the activity of the expert swimmers for the sake of protecting the life of others.
This is exactly what Islam has done in the economic field: It called for both economic freedom and assurance, incorporating them into a unified structure, for all are free in the economic field, but within certain limits. The individual is not free when the security of other individuals and the maintenance of the general welfare demand that he gives up some of his freedom. Thus have the ideas of freedom and security been coordinated in Islam.4
As for intellectual freedom, this, according to Western civilization, is permitting any individual to think, declare and propagate his ideas as he pleases, as long as he does not harm the concept of freedom and the bases on which it hinges. For this reason, democratic societies try hard to oppose fascist ideas, limiting their freedom or annihilating them altogether, for such ideas fight the very same basic idea and intellectual premise on which the concept of freedom and the democratic bases stand.
Islam differs from democratic capitalism in this situation as a result of its being different from it in the nature of the intellectual base it adopts which is Tawhid and linking the cosmos to One Lord. It allows the human mind to set out and declare itself as long as it does not revolt against its intellectual base which is the true basis of the availability of freedom for mankind according to Islam, granting him his free and glorious character which does not dissolve before temptations, nor does it kneel down before idols.
Both Western civilization and Islam allow intellectual freedom as long as there is no danger resulting from it against the essential base and freedom itself. Among the fruits of the intellectual freedom in Islam is the war it wages against imitation and stagnant thinking, against mental submission to myths or to ideas of others without consciousness or scrutinizing. Islam aims thereby at creating an analytical mind or an experimental one in man.
It is not enough to establish the free mind in man by just saying to him: "You may think as you please", as has the Western civilization done, for this expansion of freedom will be at the expense of freedom itself, and it quite often leads to hues of intellectual slavery symbolized in imitation, fanaticism and the glorification of superstitions.
Rather, in order to create the free mind, according to Islam, man has to nurture the analytical or experimental mind which does not accept an idea without scrutinizing, nor does it believe in a doctrine unless it is proved, so that this conscious mind may ensure the intellectual freedom and protect man from misusing it because of imitation, fanaticism or scruples. In fact, this is but the share of the Islamic struggle for the internal liberation of man.
Just as it emancipated man's will from the slavery of temptation, as we have already come to know, so has it liberated the human consciousness from the slavery of imitation, fanaticism and superstition. In both this and that has man become free indeed in his mind and will.
وَالَّذِينَ اجْتَنَبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ أَن يَعْبُدُوهَا وَأَنَابُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ لَهُمُ الْبُشْرَى فَبَشِّرْ عِبَادِ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَمِعُونَ الْقَوْلَ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ أَحْسَنَهُ أُوْلَئِكَ الَّذِينَ هَدَاهُمُ اللَّهُ وَأُولَئِكَ هُمْ أُوْلُوا الأَلْبَابِ
So announce the god tidings to My servants, those who listen to the word, and follow the best (meaning) of it. Those are they whom Allah has guided; those are men of reason. (Qur'an, 39:17-18).
وَأَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الذِّكْرَ لِتُبَيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ مَا نُزِّلَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
And We have sent down unto thee (also) the Message; that you may explain clearly to men what is sent for them, and that they may give thought. (Qur'an, 16:44).
تِلْكَ أَمَانِيُّهُمْ؛ قُلْ: هَاتُواْ بُرْهَانَكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ
These are their (vain) desires. Say: "Produce your proof if you are truthful." (Qur'an, 2:111).
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمُ اتَّبِعُوا مَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ قَالُواْ بَلْ نَتَّبِعُ مَا أَلْفَيْنَا عَلَيْهِ آبَاءَنَا أَوَلَوْ كَانَ آبَاؤُهُمْ لاَ يَعْقِلُونَ شَيْئًا وَلاَ يَهْتَدُونَ
When it is said to them: "Follow what Allah has revealed," they say: "Nay! We shall follow the ways of our fathers." What?! Even though their fathers were void of wisdom and guidance?! (Qur'an, 2.170).
Insurance in Islam differs from socialist insurance which is based on the Marxist principles in many respects due to the difference between the two systems of insurance in the foundations, frameworks and objectives.
We cannot attempt here except to display some aspects of such differences, having been satisfied with our detailed study of them in our book Iqtisaduna (Our Economy).
It is one of the human rights enforced by Allah Almighty. As such, it does not differ according to circumstances or social levels. As for insurance according to Marxism, it is the right of the machine, rather than of man. When the producing machine reaches a particular point, social security becomes an essential condition for its growth and increase of production. Unless the producing powers reach this point, the idea of insurance does not make any sense. For this reason, Marxism considers insurance to belong to particular societies during a limited period of their history.
It is the result of fraternal sympathy which prevails in the Islamic society. Islamic brotherhood is the frame which does the role of insurance therein. The hadith says: "The Muslim is the brother of every Muslim; he neither does him injustice, nor does he abstain from his rescue. He does not deprive him. Therefore, Muslims have to persevere, visit each other, cooperate with each other and console those who are in need."
As for Marxism, it regards social security as nothing but the result of a huge and bitter struggle which must be sparked and widened, so that when the class struggle starts, and one class victoriously wipes out the other, only then shall social security prevail. Insurance according to Marxism is but an expression of a tight unity and overwhelming fraternity; it hinges but on a polar contradiction and a destructive struggle.
It does not concern one group rather than another. It covers even those who are incapable of participating in the general production at all. They are, however, insured in the shade of the Islamic society, and the State has to make available for them all means of livelihood. As for Marxist insurance, it derives its existence from the class struggle between the working class and the capitalist class the result of which is a victory for the working class (proletariat) and its cooperation with and participation in that wealth.
For this purpose, there is no Marxist explanation for the insurance of the life of those disabled who live far away from the class struggle because of their affiliation with the working class rather than with the capitalist class, since they have no right to take any gain from the struggle and its booties.
It is the responsibility of the State alone. In Islam, it is the responsibility of both individuals and State; therefore, Islam has set two principles: one of them is the principle of general cooperation, and the other is the principle of social security. The principle of cooperation means that each Muslim individual is responsible for ensuring the livelihood of others according to his capacity.
Muslims should practice this principle even during the cases when they lose the State which practices the legislative injunctions. The hadith states that: "Any believer who denies another believer the use of something which he needs, while he or someone else is able to let him do so, then Allah will resurrect him on the Day of Judgement with a black face, blue eyes, his hands tied up to his neck. It will be said: 'This is a traitor who betrayed Allah and His Messenger'; then he will be thrown into Hell-fire."
The principle of social security determines the responsibility of the State in this respect. It has to ensure a level of honourable prosperity for all citizens from the State and general sources of income, and also from its treasury.5 For the clarification of this principle, the hadith says: "The ruler receives wealth and distributes it, according to the Commandments of Allah, to eight shares: to the poor, the destitute, the tax-collectors, those who do not mind helping Muslims, the slaves, those incapable of paying their debts, in the Way of Allah and to the wayfarers who are unable to buy their journey back home.
Eight shares he distributes among them, each according to his need, without stringency or fear. Whatever remains will be turned back to the ruler. Whatever lacks, and people do not have enough, the State has to finance their need from its own budget according to their need, so that they will all have enough."