Sunday, January 11, 2015

not feeling je suis charlie...,

al-islam |  Someone may say, "The economics you claim to exist in Islam do not comprise an economic doctrine but an ethical code the religion (of Islam) provides as guidelines which Islam exhorts people to follow. Just as Islam enjoined the prohibition of deception and backbiting, etc., it also enjoined helping the poor. 

It prohibits injustice, admonishes the rich to console the needy, forbids the strong from confiscating the rights of the weak, and warns the first against earning their wealth through illegal means. It also imposes a mandatory rite, among others, called zakat. It imposes it besides prayers, pilgrimage and the fast in order to make a variety in the means of worship, and to emphasize the necessity of helping the poor and being generous to them.

"All of this has been done by Islam in accordance with a general ethical procedure, and these injunctions, pieces of advice and directives are no more than ethics which aim at the growth of the good energies within the Muslim individual's own self, and to tie him closer to his Lord as well as brother man. They do not imply an economic doctrine or the level of a generally inclusive organization of the whole society.

"In other words, the above stated injunctions, which have an individualistic ethical nature, aim at the individual's reform and the growth of goodness within him. They do not have a social organizational nature. The difference between the preacher who ascends the pulpit in order to admonish people to be kind and compassionate, to warn them against injustice, wrongdoing and trespassing on the rights of other, and like the social reformer who plans the sort of relations which have to exist among people, defining rights and obligations."

Our answer to all of these arguments is as follows:

The facts about Islam and its economics do not agree at all with such an interpretation which reduces the level of Islamic economics to that of mere providing counsels and ethical codes. It is true that the ethical trend is obvious in all Islamic tenets. And it is true that Islam contains a huge multitude of injunctions covering all spheres of life, the human conduct, and the economic sphere in particular.
It is also true to say that Islam has gathered the most fascinating means to ethically nurture the Muslim individual, help the growth of his good energies and bring out of him perfection personified. But this does not at all mean that Islam confines its teachings to ethically nurture the individual while setting social organization aside. Nor does it mean that Islam preaches only to the individual rather than being, in addition to this, a doctrine and an organization for the society in its various aspects of life, including its economic life.

Islam has not forbidden injustice, admonished people to be just, warned them against transgressing against the rights of others, without defining the concepts of injustice and iniquity, from its own viewpoint, or without outlining the rights not to be trespassed. Islam has not left the concept of justice, injustice and righteousness clouded with obscurity, nor has it left their interpretation for others, as do ethical preachers. 

Rather, it has brought a defined image of justice and general rules of coexistence of people in the fields of wealth production, distribution and handling, considering any deviation from such rules and the justice it defines as sheer injustice and flagrant transgression on the rights of others.

This is the difference between the position of the preacher and that of the advocate of the economic doctrine. The preacher preaches about justice and warns against injustice, but he does not lay down the criteria for justice and injustice; rather, he leaves such criteria to the commonly followed customs, those that are recognized by both preacher and the congregation to which he preaches alike.
As regarding the economic doctrine, this attempts to put down such criteria and mold them into a well-planned economic system that regulates various economic fields.

Had Islam come simply in order to say to people, "Quit injustice! Practice equity! Do not be transgressors!"—leaving to them to define the meaning of "injustice," to draw the portrait which embodies justice and to agree on the rights required by equity according to their own circumstances, education and the ideals in which they believe and the interests and needs they realize. 

Had Islam left all of this for people to determine, confining itself to enjoining justice and attracting people towards it, forbidding injustice and warning them against it through both methods of attracting and warning…, then it would have, indeed, remained a preacher and nothing else.

When Islam required the Muslims to quit injustice and practice equity, it at the same time provided them with its own definition of justice and injustice. It has taken upon itself to differentiate between the fair method in distribution, handling and production, and the foul one. It has indicated, for e.g., that forceful possession of land without tilling it is injustice, that maintaining it on the basis of utilizing it is "permissible," that the accumulation of wealth by acquiring a portion of the produced wealth in the name of "interest" is injustice, that its own achievement of profit is right, and many such relations and norms of behavior in which Islam has distinguished between injustice and justice.


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