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Islam and Russia – Part 6

ISLAM AND RUSSIA PART 6 (Dr. Qazi Muhammad Barkatullah) ECONOMIC STRUCTURE ‘Money makes the mare go’ is a proverb. It is thus of great significance to understand the economic structure of both Islam and the Soviet Union. The readers are advised to look into the books by the late Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II relative to the subject. These books are: ‘The Economic Structure of Islamic Society’ and the ‘New World- Order of Islam!1 The books are published by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Foreign Missions Office, Rabwah (Pakistan). The ‘Economic Structure of Islamic Society’ is an English version of an Urdu speech given in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1945. This book examines minutely the teachings of both Islam and Communism. It is evident through the period that Communism has failed to promote the classless society it had advocated. The greatest danger which •Communism holds to our civilization is its negative attitude towards’religion. The idea of God is meaningless in Communism and so are the moral and spiritual values which spring from it. Concerning the economic system of Islam, the book develops the thesis that Islam combines the policy of free enterprise with state control in a proper manner. The’New World Order of Islam’is an English version of an address which answers the question: How does Ahmadiyyat, the True Islam, propose to deal ;With.the problem of social inequality in the world? The Ahmadiyya solution is the solution of Islam shaped under divine guidance for present needs by the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement. It builds on Islamic teaching and emphasises the progressive nature of that teaching. Islam assimilates’the essentials of an economic structure which provides for the needs of all human beings. Individual efforts should not be weakened in this process; and that the system devised should be voluntary and not invoke forcible dispossession or confiscation. While Communists proclaim to create a classless society they actually have people who on one side roll in luxury and on the other side people who live in want and distress andTn order to have their needs provided for they must undergo manual labour. Czarist Russia was not a paradise for the people living in Russia. Karl Marx diagnosed that all ills in the Russian society were brought by wealthy people. So he suggested a remedy that capitalists should be crushed. Their wealth should be taken away by force. It would create a society where every body would be equal. So he exploited the wage-earner protelariat through violent revolution. Practical experience through the time, however, has shown that Russia has been unable to create the classless society which brought the Communist regime to power. 6 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS The idea of everybody being equal and that the basic needs of everyone should be fulfilled, were borrowed from Islam which was actually being practised during the early days of Islam. During the days of the Holy Prophet of Islam, the social and economic teachings of Islam proved fully equal to the demands made upon it. The Holy Prophet practised a simple mode of living for himself and his companions who then followed suit. However, as soon as the Muslims achieved political power, the needs of the poor were fulfilled. The companions of the Holy Prophet made great sacrifices. Hazrat Abu Bakar, on one occasion, contributed the whole of his property. On another occasion, Hazrat Usman contributed almost the whole of his belongings in order that the needs of the people be fulfilled. As time passed, and the boundaries of the Muslim State became wider, the needs of the poor were fulfilled in a more organized manner. During the time of Hazrat Umar, regular records’ of the whole population was maintained. Necessities of life were provided for everybody according to fixed scales. In this way, everybody rich or poor, was adequately provided for and the means adopted were suited to the circumstances of that time. People are given the wrong notion that the principle of providing the necessities of life to every individual was invented by the Bolsheviks. As already explained this is entirely incorrect. This principle was laid down by Islam and was practised in an organized manner during the early period of Islam. Under the scheme invented by Hazrat Umar, a breast-fed child did not qualify for any relief. The treasury became liable to provide relief for a child only after it had been weaned. Hazrat Umar was accustomed to go on rounds to be sure that everybody was secure and comfortable during the period of his Khilafat. It so happened that he heard a child crying in a cottage. Hazrat Umarwent to inquire why the child was crying. The mother did not recognize that it was Hazrat Ameer-ul-Momeneen Umar who was inquiring about the child. So she said: Umar has made a law that an allowance can be drawn for a child only when he has been weaned. I have stopped suckling the child prematurely to draw the allowance on my baby’s behalf. The child is hungry and therefore he is crying. Hazrat Umar relating the incident himself says that on hearing this he blamed himself that by those rules he might have interfered seriously with the physical growth of the next generation. He then issued directions immediately that the child allowance should be paid as soon as a child is born. PROVISIONS Lenin said in 1921 ‘those who do not work will not eat.’ But the Communist Lenin has since perished. The Creator of the heavens, earth and everything in between Almighty Allah is here from the beginning to the end. And there is only One God: ISLAM AND RUSSIA . 7 “And your God is One God; there is no god but He, the Gracious, the Merciful.”(Holy Quran, 2:164) It is Allah who makes provision for His creation: “And there is no creature that moves on the earth but it is for Allah to provide it with sustenance.” (Holy Quran, 11:7) “God has provided sustenance for all His creatures. He has even provided the means of subsistence for worms and reptiles that dwell in the bowels of the earth. Human reason is at a loss to know how and whence the worms and insects found in such unlimited numbers on and inside the earth get their food. Man who presumes to have solved the mysteries of the universe is not yet fully acquainted with all forms of life, to say nothing of the different kinds of food on which they subsist. But God has made ample provision for them all. The verse points out that God, having supplied the physical needs of the meanest of His creatures, certainly could not have neglected to make similar provision for the moral and spiritual needs of man who is the acme of His creation. The verse refers not only to the temporary and permanent abode of every living thing but also to the utmost limit to which its powers can develop.” (F.N. 1297: English Commentary). “He enlarges the provision for whomsoever He pleases. Surely, He knows all things full well”. (Holy Quran, 42:13). “It is We Who distribute among them their livelihood in the present life, and We exalt some of them above others in degrees of rank, so that some of them may make others subservient to themselves. And the mercy of Thy Lord is better than that which they amass”. (Holy Quran, 43:33). Whatever is created on earth is for the benefit of all mankind. No single individual, nation or country has any monopoly on it: The Holy Quran says: “He it is Who created for you all that is in the earth.” (2:30) This is the concept of human ownership of wealth according to the teaching of Islam. All the wealth contained in this world belongs to all mankind. The real owner of this wealth is the Creator, Almighty Allah. Accordingly, the rivers, mountains, mineral wealth and everything else has been created for the benefit of all mankind. As such, any race, country, class or single individual should not make any claim for its ownership. For, mines could be worked to greater advantage, rivers too and also mountains produce 8 . REVIEW OF RELIGIONS wealth in a number of ways. Agricultural crops, chemicals of various kinds having medical or commercial value are obtained from the earth directly or indirectly. All these resources constitute an immense wealth and make it common legacy for all mankind. So no single country or individual is justified to claim exclusive rights. All the people of all races, all the creeds, all nationalities, rulers and the ruled together have a due share of all the natural wealth and no one should be permitted to deprive them of any part of it. Islam also seeks to reduce the power and influence of those who are engaged in the production of wealth by harassing or utilizing natural resources. These people then claim complete control over the wealth so produced. But according to Muslim principles the community.at large is entitled to share such wealth because the natural sources which have been created for the benefit of the whole of mankind have been used in the production of this wealth. For instance, all mineral wealth belongs to the nation or to the community and no particular individual is. entitled to its complete appropriation, Islam prescribes that 20% of all mineral wealth must be paid to the State to be utilized for the benefit of the community at large. To sum up thus it is Almighty Allah who provides sustenance for His creation no matter where, they are; an individual is free to utilize his or her talents for an individual enterprise to have better chances to improve his or her prospects in this world and the world to come; the natural resources are to be shared by all irrespective of race, colour, creed, nationality and the wealth generated should be treated as a trust from God and subject to obligation and responsibility. DIVERSITY : There is evidence of diversity in nature throughout the ages to this time. Islam, recognizes diversity in human life. The hollow claim of Russian equality proved simply hollow throughout the Russian Bolshevik period. There are rich people in Russia and poor people in Russia. Islam recognizes people having “more or less” wealth. Islam, however, also recognizes that all righteous people, rich or poor, are equal in the sight of Allah; and most near to Allah are those who are most righteous: “Verily the most honourable among you, in the sight of. Allah, is he who is most righteous among you.” (49:14) Unlike the claim of equality, by Russia, which in no way has become evident and practical, Islam recognizes diversity and its beauty ;in all walks of life. The verses in the. Holy Quran are explicit on this topic: “And in the _ earth; there are diverse ;.tractS:,.. adjoining on.e • another, and gardens of vines, and cornfields, .and datepalms, growing together from one root and others not so growing; they ISLAM AND RUSSIA are all watered with, the same water, yet we make some of them excel others in fruit. Therein are signs for a people who use their understanding.” (13:5) “Behold, how we have exalted some of them over others in the present life; and .surely the hereafter shall be greater in degrees of rank and greater in excellence.” (17:22) “Dost thou not see that Allah sends down water from the sky, and We bring forth herewith fruits of different colours; and in the mountains, are streaks white and red, of diverse hues, and others raven black.” (35:28) “The verse purports to say that when rain falls upon dry and parched land it gives rise to a vast variety of crops, flowers and fruits of different colours,tastes, forms and kinds. The rain-water is the same but the crops, flowers and fruits it produces are vastly different from one another. This difference is evidently due to the nature of the soil and the seed. Similarly, when Divine revelation, which at many places in the Quran has been likened to water, comes to a people, it produces different effects upon different men according to the soil of their hearts and to the way in which they receive it.” (F.N. 2418; English Commentary). “And in like manner, there are men and beasts and cattle, of various colours. Only those of His servants who are endowed with knowledge fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Mighty, Most Forgiving.” (35:29) . “The kaleidoscopic variety in form, colour and kind to which reference has been made in th preceding verse does not only exist in flowers, fruits and rocks but in men, beasts and cattle as well. The words, an-Nas (men), ad-Dawabb (beasts) and al-Anaam (cattle) may also represent men of different capabilities, dispositions, and natural aptitudes. The expression ‘Only those of His servants, who are endowed with knowledge fear God’, lends weight to the view that these three words stand for three classes of men from among whom only those endowed with right knowledge fear God. Knowledge, here, however, does not necessarily mean spititual knowledge but also knowledge of the laws of nature. A reverent study of nature and its laws inevitably leads one to realize the great powers of God and consequently makes him hold God in reverential awe.” (F.N: 2419; English Commentary). “And Allah has favoured some of you above others in worldly gifts.”(16:72) 10 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS “Briefly, but very beautifully, the verse has laid down the Islamic Law with regard to private ownership. Whereas on the one’ hand Islam has recognized the right of private ownership by emphasizing the word “their” in the expression “of their worldly gifts” it has, by using the words ‘will restore’, also laid down all things by all human beings as such, because only that thing is “restored” to another person which belongs to him. In fact, the Quran has accepted the principle of dual ownership of everything —• the right to possess a property to be recognized in the person who earns it by the sweat of his brow and the right in that property of all human beings. Islam, in reality neither believes in the right of unrestricted private ownership nor in complete and unreserved possession of wealth and the means of its production by the State. It adopts the middle course.” (F.N:1558; English Commentary). WEALTH Wealth in Islam is not something to be discarded and looked down upon. Its acquisition is not prohibited. A procedure, however, has been laid down in Islam, that the amassing of wealth in one hand would not be possible. Rather an individual’s wealth would be treated like a trust to look after the needs of other members of the community. Islam, as such, does not outright condemn capitalism but puts a strong hold on the evils of capitalism to spread. Communism on the other hand takes away the hard earned money of individuals, crushes individual capitalism and has created a sort of collective capitalism. All that glitters is not gold. A classless society that Communism advocated has not come into existence. There are rich people these days as well as poor people in Russia. Recently, when Mr. Gorbachev toured India, his wife displayed a very expensive ring on her finger. But when the couple came back to Russia, the ring became invisible from the sight of the Russian people. (Reference: Photos in National Enquirer, issue July 7, 1987) In early days when the idea of classless and equality of Russian people was very fresh, Mr. Churchill paid a visit to Russia. Mr. Stalin was in power those days. A banquet was held in honour of Mr. Churchill in Moscow. On returning to England, Mr. Churchil spoke on an occasion that he wished his capitalist country could afford to feed him on the same sumptuous scale as in a country ruled over by a proletariat government. The fact is that a new class- of wealthy people have come into existence as compared with the common people in Russia. In restaurants food served is graded into five classes, tickets are available according to the party influence or the nature of the job a person may be on. (Reported in Australian Newspaper – Sun) The idea of classless society is not working even in Russia. There is a good deal of difference in the Russian people in different segments of the Soviet Union. People who can still be labelled as poor are not on equal steps, ISLAM AND RUSSIA 1 \r example, in Bukhara and Moscow. They are not equally well-housed, well-clothed, well-fed, well-educated and well-taken care of medically. The same is applicable in other parts of Russian territories. It is evident that the doctrine of equal rights is not fully lived upto in the day to day life of the country. And the claim of creating a classless society has not become practical. It can thus be concluded that lofty claims about equality of people in Russia have been made theoretically. But the fact is that the awkward problem of inequality in the lot of mankind has not been solved in Russia any more than it has been solved in the rest of the world. Communism portrayed itself to devise an ideal economic system and advocated compulsory acquisition of all surplus wealth. Communism has failed in its pretensions of promoting a classless society which would be free from the evils subsisting in capitalist countries. Communism, on one hand, has been curbing individual freedom and initiative and has reduced human beings to mere nuts and bolts. On the other hand, taking away the wealth of people has grown itself into a sort of capitalist state and has posed an ominous threat to the economy of the free .world. Islam forbids amassing wealth .for wrong use. Islam discourages accumulating money to be used for attaining illegitimate ends. Islam has warned time and time again that life on this earth is temporary, and that the life to come in the hereafter is everlasting. Muslims are therefore enjoined to do good in this world and to reap its good fruit in the world to come. Thus Islam encourages people to spend money in the path of righteousness. But the misuse of wealth to follow worldly pursuits and low passions is strictly discouraged. The injunctions from the Holy Quran are : “And of them there are some who say ‘Our Lord’, grant us good in this world as well as good in the world to come, and save us from the torment of the fire.” (2:202) “The verse mentions that class of men whose efforts and aspirations are not confined to this world only. They seek the good things of the next. Hasana also means success. The Prayer is very comprehensive and the Holy Prophet very often made use of it — Muslim.” (F.N: 239; English Commentary) “And it is not your riches nor your children that will bring you near Us in rank, but those who, believe and do good works, will have a dojuble reward for what they did. And in lofty mansions will they”be secure.” (34:38) “Wealth, power and position are not the means of achieving nearness to God. On the contrary, they tend to keep men and women away from Him. It is right belief and good actions which are man’s real wealth and which can bring him salvation and God’s pleasure.” (F.N: 2400; English Commentary) 12 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS “Eat of that which Allah has provided for you.” (6: 143) “Apart from its primary meaning the verse also hints that eating of lawful things is a means of safeguarding one against the attack of Satan.” (F.N: 922; English Commentary) “Whoso desires the present life, We hasten for him therein of its provision….then We appoint Hell for him ” (17:19) “And whoso desires the Hereafter and strives for it — their striving shall be duly appreciated.” (17:20) “Whoso does right, it is for the benefit of his own soul.” (41:47) “Fair •—• seeming to men is made the love of desired things — women and children, and stored-up heaps of gold and silver, and horses of mark and cattle and crops. That is the provision of the present life; but it is Allah with whom is an excellent home.” (3:15) “Islam does not prohibit the use or seeking of the good things of this world; but it certainly condemns those who are wholly engrossed in them and make them the very object of their life.” (F.N: 379; English Commentary) “And even of gold. But all that is nothing but a temporary provision of the present life. And the comfort of the Hereafter with their Lord is for the righteous.” (43:36) “Were it not that by the obliteration of disparity of means, wealth and position, all men would have become of one type, and human society would have ceased to function. God would have provided disbelievers with houses made of silver, having doors and stairways made of gold, because these things possess no value or worth in His sight.” (F.N: 2678; English Commentary) “Say, Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has produced for His servants and the good things of His providing?” (7:33) “The good and pure things provided by God are really meant for believers though they are also shared by disbelievers in this life; but in the life to come they will be enjoyed by believers to the exclusion of disbelievers.” (F.N. 968; English Commentary) ISLAM AND RUSSIA 13 “Say, My Lord has only forbidden indecencies, open or secret and sin and wrongful transgression and that you associate with Allah that for which He has sent down no authority, and that you say of Allah what you know not”. (7:34) “Who amasses wealth and counts it over and over.” (104:3) “The verse constitutes a sad commentary on man’s passion for worldly riches. Worship of Mammon is the bane of the materialistic civilization of the day.”(F.N: 3432; English Commentary) “He that thinks his wealth will make him immortal.” (104:4) “The ill-fated miser goes on earning wealth by all sorts of means, good or bad, and amassing and hoarding it taking pride in it and refraining from spending it on good causes, thinking that this will immortalize him, will rescue his name from oblivion and will render his prosperity abiding. But he labours under serious misconception.” (F.N: 3433; English Commentary) “And you love wealth with exceeding love.” (89:21) “The verse drives home to hoarders of wealth the evils of hoarding. Inordinate love of money creates in man an excessive desire to keep on adding to his wealth, without spending it for the furtherance of good causes. It makes him regardless of the means he employs to acquire it, which leads to his moral ruin. Islam takes as much care of the moral health of society as it takes of that of the individual; and society’s health requires that material goods be widely distributed and wealth kept in easy circulation.” (F.N:3339; English Commentary) “O ye who believe! surely, many of the priests and monks devour the wealth of men by false means and turn men away from the way of Allah. And those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah – give to them the tidings of a painful punishment.” (9:34) “O ye who believe! let not your wealth and your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah….” (63:10) “And spend out of that which We have given you.” (63:11) “Verily, the most honourable among you, in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most righteous among you. Surely, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” (49:14) 14 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS “Aye! it is the remembrance of Allah that hearts can find comfort.” (13:29) That is to say it is not wealth, children or worldly pursuits that bring contentment to a person. Rather it is the remembrance of Allah that brings comfort and consolation to an individual. BOLSHEVIK SYSTEM Communism sets up an economic system which, at a cursory glance, makes a misleading appeal to many people in many countries. The Bolsheviks advocate that the services of all the members of society should be fully utilized to the best of everybody’s capacity. That the needs of ah1 should be provided for by the State which should hold the surplus proceeds of all this labour as a trustee of the people. This philosophy rests upon the idea that there should be eveness in wages, among all men. For, as long as a man worked to the best of his capacity he was entitled to payment on the same scale as any other person who also rendered his services to the best of his ability. In that way no one was entitled to possess wealth in excess of what was held by others. Thus all wealth should be confiscated to the State. Therefore under the Bolsheviks people are dispossessed of their wealth and property by force and violence. Generally speaking the object of an ideal economic and social system is to bring about conditions of peace and harmony among the people. It should be based on justice and promote the spirit of progress in a nation. But the Bolshevik system brings about an upheaval by confiscating the wealth of people. In one stroke, based on one sided opinion, it deprives the proprietary classes of all their wealth. In this way, instead of peace and harmony, it creates a bitter resentment between different sections of the people. It is evident that depriving a-wealthy person of his house, property money and other forms of wealth is bound to bring about an unbearable shock to the person. It would plunge him into misery and resentment. Thus the bitter enemies of the Bolsheviks are the aristocrats. The Russian wealthy people, at the time of revolution, were deprived of all their wealth, property and privileges. And many people were driven out of their mother land in a destitute and penniless condition. The late Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II says that he had seen some of the old wealthy Russians reduced to poverty. Generation after generation of those people had believed that they were entitled to the ownership of the estates. So having been ejected forcibly from their property, they were full of resentment and bitterness about the Bolshevik government. ISLAM AND RUSSIA 15 The Bolsheviks exalt manual labour at the expense of intellectual effort. The reason why intellect is not regarded as a valuable asset by the Bolsheviks is that they are unable to subject it to compulsory equal distribution and to deal with it as tangible property. Thus Bolshevism ignores the fact that intellectual capacity is as much an asset as property and wealth. And to exalt manual labour at the expense of intellectual effort simply means that at sometime intellectual initiatives would begin to decline. Actually Russian administration is treating human beings like nuts and bolts. Human beings have little to offer in terms of individual potentials; rather they are required to work wherever their services are required. Nature endows different persons with different kinds and degrees of tastes and intellectual capacity. But the Bolsheviks have failed in bringing about an equal distribution of this asset by checking an individual’s intellectual potentials and initiatives depending upon myriad capabilities. The serious defect caused by the Bolsheviks forbidding individual effort may not be realised fully at this time, but as time passes, its disadvantages are bound to be felt. As personal initiatives are taken away, people are likely to become lethargic and inactive. Personal motives secure comfort for oneself and for one’s dependents. But the incentive being removed, the Russian administration would award the same reward for everyone irrespective of education and training. Intellectual efforts are likely to suffer and are bound to decline. The Bolsheviks having created a barrier in intellectual development have failed to recognize that nature has endowed different nations with different intellectual qualities. It is narrated that in the Mughal palace in New Delhi, India, there was a marble bath which could be heated with the help of a single lamp. However, at the time of British rule, the mechanism was torn apart in order to discover the secret of the heating arrangement. The British, however, were unable to detect anything. Also the original mechanism could not be restored. How a single lamp heated the marble bath remains a mystery to this day. The point here is that for the intellectual progress of a nation, there should be provision for the study of intellectual activities of other nations. For that reason there should be unrestricted travel of doctors, lawyers, educators, and people of other professions to share information with their counter-parts in other countries. Such frequent visitations are restricted in the Soviet Union. The intellectual advancement of a nation has an impact on the economic conditions of the people. The Russian administration simply treats its people like nuts and bolts and to use their services wherever deemed necessary. The greatest danger which Communism holds to our civilization lies in its unrelenting attitude towards religion. The idea of God is meaningless in Communism and so are moral and spiritual values which spring from it. Communism professes to destroy the cherished heritage of the religious world and to build its own atheistic edifice on it. By opposing religion, the Communists have turned the religious part of the wo’rld against them. 16 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS The Communists believe in this material world only. The Holy Quran exhorts the people to go and roam about the world and to see how even the mightiest civilizations have perished in the past. Communism will be no exception. On one hand they believe in the rule of the masses; and on the other hand they are afraid to hand over political power to the masses. Taking away the wealth of the people, the Russian administration has created another sort of aristocrats to rule over the wage-earning proletariat. The Russian administration is seeking to promote itself by force and violence rather than persuasion. If the Bolsheviks had sought to bring about an equitable distribution of wealth by means of persuasion, the results might have been beneficial. The Communists, sought to gather the wealth by force depriving the wealthy sections of their wealth and property. Thus they forced the old aristocrats to go into exile. ISLAMIC SYSTEM Islam does not prohibit -capitalism but offers conclusive channels to remedy the evils of capitalism. Nevertheless, Islam forbids the amassing of wealth, accumulation of wealth and misuse of wealth. Otherwise, wealth is not something to be discarded in Islam and its acquisition by proper and legitimate means is not prohibited. Islam has prescribed rules and regulations about amassed and accumulated wealth in a single hand and how it should be diverted for the benefit of mankind. Wealth, in Islam, remains in constant circulation. Voluntary as well as obligatory contributions make money available for the needs of the people and propagation of Islam. Whatever remains with an individual is distributed at death among the heirs of the deceased. Some of the provisions of the economic system in Islam are: VOLUNTARY CONTRIBUTIONS Voluntary contributions are synonymous with charity. It consists of spending out of one’s income. It is Allah who provides sustenance to mankind. And Allah desires that people should spend in His way to gain righteousness. “You cannot attain to righteousness unless you spend out of that which you love; and whatever you spend Allah surely knows it well.”(Holy Quran,3:93) “In order to attain true faith which is the essence of all righteousness and is the highest form of good, one must be prepared to sacrifice everything that one holds dear. The highest stage of righteousness can be attained only by spending in the way • of God that one loves best. High morals cannot be attained without imbibing a true spirit of sacrifice.” (F.N: 438; English Commentary). ISLAM AND RUSSIA 17 Again and again Allah says spend out of that which has been bestowed upon you. (Holy Quran, 2:3) That is to say, those who believe sincerely and are anxious to attain nearness to God should go on spending whatever has been given to them by Allah. This means that whatever has been given by Allah, the intellectual and physical capacities, wealth and property, should be utilized for the service of mankind. In this way, Islam secures all kinds of capabilities, capacities and wealth not by force or violence, but through voluntary persuasion. This method secures all the benefits resulting from a general application of all talents and property to the service of mankind. The contributions being perfectly voluntary, it leaves no sense of bitterness or resentment behind. Sometimes the voluntary contributions are to be made so secretly that even the left hand should not know what was given in charity by the right hand. But to persuade others to do good, too, the charitable contributions should also be made openly sometimes: “Surely, only those who follow the Book of Allah and observe prayer and spend out of what we have provided for them, secretly and openly, hope for a bargain which will never fail.” (35:30) The voluntary contributions are to be given to the people who are in need of money to look after themselves. Nevertheless, needy people who do not ask for monetary help, should not be forgotten. “And in their wealth was a share for those who asked for help and for those who could not.” (51:20) “In the wealth of a rich Muslim, according to Islam, those who can express their needs, as also those who cannot, have a share, as of right. Thus a Muslim’s wealth is a trust to the benefit of which the poor are also entitled. So when he satisfied the need of a poor brother, he, in fact, does him no favour but only discharges the obligation he owes to him and returns to him what was his due.” (F.N: 2830; English Commentary). “And spend in the way of Allah and do not expose yourself to destruction with your hands, and do good to others, surely Allah loves the doers of good.” (2:195) That is to say, a person must give voluntary contributions towards the relief of the poor. If not then it would be a sort of destruction for a wealthy person. The verse also means that people who are wealthy will suffer no real loss by contributing towards the relief of the poor. In the verse referred to above, Allah enjoins that those who have surplus means should employ themselves in the service of humanity and in turn they would save themselves from destruction. “And do good; surely Allah loves those who do good.” (2:196) 18 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS That is to say, it exalts Muslims to go a step further by reducing their own requirements and spending the money thus saved in the service of mankind. The main point here is that it should be done voluntarily and cheerfully. The object of spending for the cause of Allah is to win Allah’s mercy and pleasure. (3:16) Besides orphans, the needy, and wayfarers, the near of kin also are to be the recipients of the monetary contributions, The verse in the Holy Quran, (59:7) uses the words “Zil Qurba” which is generally translated as “those near of kin.” But the late Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II says that by Zil Qurba is meant those people who are exclusively engaged in devotion and worship day and night. That is people who are devoted to the service of religion should not be despised as worthless people. Rather, what the society can do is to maintain them on a standard commensurate with their needs so that they would devote themselves to their holy duties without any distracting cares. (Reference: The Economic Structure of Islamic Society, Rabwah, Pakistan, P. 63) OBLIGATORY CONTRIBUTIONS The obligatory contribution is known as Zakat which literally means purity (Holy Quran, 19:14); or act of purification. The obligatory contribution is due not on earning or income but on savings. All accumulated wealth and capital are subject to payment of Zakat under the Muslim law. Muslims regard the accumulation and amassing of wealth as an unclean act because it is contrary to the teachings of Islam. The amassing of wealth moves a person towards the love of worldly goods and inclines the heart towards a sort of impurity. Thus paying Zakat under the prescribed rate would wash off the tinge of uncleanliness and make the wealthy person a righteous and useful member of the society. Even though Zakat is obligatory yet it carries with it a person’s own belief that amassing of wealth is an unclean act. And to keep the money in circulation for the benefit of the needy people the payment of a prescribed portion would bring purity to the life of the wealthy person Zakat for some people could be looked upon as a sort of tax. But this tax has a moral value attached to it. As such Zakat, stands unique both as an obligatory charity and a tax. No doubt charity is obligatory but the obligation has a tinge of morality. In the early days of Islam, Zakat was not only obligatory charity but a State institution as well. In the absence of the Muslim State, Zakat became a national institution. An individual was not at liberty to calculate and spend his or her Zakat as he or she.liked. The Zakat could not just be given to a deserving person according to the choice or liking of a wealthy person. It was required that Zakat contributions be made to a fund which, of course, was used for the benefit of the needy people of the community. Officials were appointed to collect the Zakat contributions and the salary of the collectors was also paid from the same fund. ISLAM AND RUSSIA 19 The Holy Prophet of Islam did not interfere with private enterprise, ownership, industry or property. Also, one was not deprived of the fruit of one’s labour. An open field was left open for competion, hard work and utilization of intelligence. As such, the Holy Prophet of Islam laid down rules in order to bring about a just distribution of wealth. The capitalists were induced and persuaded to give away a portion of their wealth, on their own, for the benefit of the needy members of the community. Thus capitalism was not despised but the Holy Prophet aimed at destroying the evils of capitalism. The interested needy members of the community were provided a small fund out of the Zakat fund to start their own business. They were thus enabled to self-supporting members of the community and to increase their own wealth by deligence and hard work. Wealth as such was made accessible to wider and wider circles. Zakat therefore played a vital role to bring about a proper distribution of wealth. Under the institution of Zakat, it is the duty of a Muslim state to collect an amount of 2.5% on average upon all wealth and capital which has been in possession or under the control of a person. The proceeds of this obligatory contribution must be devoted exclusively towards the relief of poverty and raising the standard of living of the poor. In case of jewellery which the women use themselves or lend to poor women free of charge, there is no Zakat payable. But some authorities in Fiqha feel that Zakat should be paid on jewellery which is not lent to the poor. But it is essential to pay Zakat on jewellery which does not remain in use. If a person holds coins, Zakat is payable if the minimum number remains 40, and that figure never falls below. It should be clear that Zakat is payable every year as long as the wealth in one’s possession does not fall below the minimum requirement. Zakat is collected only on the capital and accumulation and not on wages, salary or income. The Holy Quran says about those who pay Zakat: “but whatever you give in Zakat,- seeking the favour of Allah – it is those who will increase their wealth manifold” (30:40) LAW OF INHERITANCE Another check to spread the evils of capitalism is the law of inheritance in Islam. Rules and regulations have been laid down by which the wealth of one man is distributed to his heirs after his death. The Holy Prophet of Islam made the female also co-sharer with the male and ordered the division of the person’s property among all the heirs on a democratic basis. In this way, one big Muslim capitalist is replaced by small capitalists at the time of his death. The Muslim law of inheritance has explictly been mentioned in the Holy Quran. (4:7-9) Under this law, details have been laid down regarding the property of the deceased. Accordingly, the distribution would be made among the daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters and so on. 20 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS The heirs are divided into two categories. The first group consists of children, parents, husband or wife. The second group consists of brothers, sisters and other relatives. All the persons in the first group are immediate sharers in the property of the deceased according to the prescribed rules and regulations. Under the law, the members of the second group would inherit only if all the members or some of the first group had already passed away. Both these groups are capable of further extensions to grand children or still further descendants or higher ascendants, grand parents etc. The law of inheritance in Islam is therefore another check to stop the evils of capitalism. Islam compulsarily distributes property of the deceased to a large number of heirs. The Holy Quran has laid down specific and clear-cut rules as to how the property of the deceased is to be divided. Everyone, parents, widows, sons and daughters, all succeed to their shares in the property left by the deceased. It should be noted that nobody is at liberty to modify in any manner the share to which each heir is entitled under this system. The Holy Quran says that any attempt to interfere with this system is sinful. Islam teaches that property and wealth should be widely distributed for the progress of the community as’a whole. So under the Muslim system, the accumulated property of the deceased is distributed among widows, children and parents. In this way, in a generation and later on, the inherited wealth and property would have been so divided and sub-divided that the original accumulation would be very much reduced. PAYMENT OF DEBTS In order to wipe off the evils of capitalism, Islam has regulated the relationships between the lender and the debtor. The Holy Quran instructs that a loan transaction should be written down. (2:283) Thus the Holy Prophet forbids any shady transaction. Besides contractual agreement, it becomes an ethical duty of a Muslim to pay his debt. Delaying the payment of a debt by a well-to-do person is injustice (Bukhari). And delaying the payment of a debt by one who has the means to pay legalizes his punishment (Bukhari). Among the best of you are those who are good in payment of debts (Bukhari). And whoever contracts a debt intending to waste it, Allah will bring .him to ruin. (Bukhari) Regarding the debtor who is in straitened circumstances, the Holy Quran says: “And if the debtor be in straitened circumstances, then grant him respite till a time of ease. And that you remit it as charity shall be better for you, if only you knew.” (2:281) “Islam urges the giving of loans but they should be beneficent loans, without interest. If the debtor finds himself in straitened circumstances when the time for repayment of a loan arrives, he should be given respite till he finds himself in easier circumstances.” (F.N: 353; English Commentary). ISLAM AND RUSSIA _ . 21 Thus if the debtor is in straitened circumstances, there should be postponement until he is in ease. And if the lender remits that amount as alms, it is better for the lender to know (Bukhari). This principle was worked out most liberally by the Prophet as the Head of the Muslim State. The Holy Prophet said “I am nearer to the believers than themselves so whoever of the believers dies and leaves a debt, its payment is on me. And whoever leaves property, it is for his heirs. (Bukhari) As such, a debt contracted for a right cause was thus to be paid by the Muslim State if the debtor was unable to pay it. There v are explicit1 instructions regarding the transactions in the Holy Quran as: “O ye who believe! when you borrow one from another for a fixed, period, then write -it down. And let a scribe write it in your presence faithfully; and no scribe should refuse to write, because Allah has taught him, sp let him write and let him who incurs the liability dictate; and he should fear Allah, his Lord, and not diminish anything there from. But if the person incurring the liability be of low understanding or be weak or be unable himself • to dictate, then let someone who can guard his interest dictate (F.N: 354) with justice and call two witnesses from among your men; and if two men may not be available, then a man and two women, of such as you approve as witnesses, so that if either of the two women should forget, then one may remind the other. And the witnesses should not refuse when they are called. And be not averse to writing it down whether -it be small or large, along with its appointed time of payment. This is more equitable in the sight of Allah and makes testimony surer and is more likely to save you from doubt; so write it down except that it be ready transaction which you make among yourselves on the spot in which case it shall be no sin for you that you write it not. (F.N: 354A) And have witnesses when you sell one to another (F.N: 354B) and let no harm be done to the scribe or witness. And if you do that, then certainly it shall be disobedience on your part. And fear Allah. And Allah teaches you and Allah knows all things quite well.” (2:283) Foot Note 354: . “The borrower, and not the lender, is to dictate because; (1) it is the borrower who incurs the liability; and justice demands that the words defining the liability should be selected by him. (2) the document is to be deposited with the lender and not the borrower. So the borrower has been asked to dictate so that the fact of his having dictated may serve as a proof of the correctness of the amount and the conditions about the payment, and he may have no cause or ground to deny it.” Foot Note 354A: The implication is that it would be better to have a writing even in such a case like a cash memo or a voucher. 22 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Foot Note 354B: This refers to big transactions. (Ref: English Commentary) HOARDING NOT PERMITTED Islam has stopped in another way the evils of capitalism by forbidding the hoarding of money. It means that Islam directs that money should remain in constant circulation. The money, as such, should either be spent or invested so that it constantly fulfils its primary object as a means of exchage to promote commercial and industrial activity. If, for example, people were at liberty to accumulate money and pr.ecious metals which are equivalent of currency, a considerable wealth would be withdrawn from circulation. This would make the community at large poorer. If, on the other hand, money constantly stays in circulation, it helps to promote beneficial activities of all kinds. This would encourage positive activities to relieve poverty and distress by providing employment and other stimulating efforts. For example, if a person having money, decides not to keep the money to himself but use it for constructing some building etc., it will return the money to himself and use it for constructing some building etc., which will bring the money into circulation. The construction business, for example, will provide many jobs for many people and put money in their pocket for their efforts. There could be other projects which instead of hoarding, the money in circulation would become production both for the rich and poor people of the community. THE HOLY QURAN WARNS AGAINST HOARDING “And those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah give to them the tidings of a painful punishment.” (9:24) The Holy Prophet of Islam has condemned hoarding. Some Ahadees (traditions) in this connection are cited here: 1. Whoever holds back grain to profit by its shortage is a sinner. 2. If a person holds back grain for forty days in the hope of making a profit from scarcity, he forsakes Allah and Allah forsakes him. In order to place obstacles in the way of the excessive accumulation of wealth in a few hands, Islam demands that supplies should not be withheld from the market. It is not permissible that supplies should be held over in expectation of higher prices. For, any interference in the natural flow of supply and demand process is harmful to society. Some people seem to understand that state control over the market is a modern economic development. But it is not so. Islam in early days recognized that the need of – ISLAM AND RUSSIA 23 such control when it forbade ihtikaar, that is to hold back a commodity from consumers in order to force up the price. The Muslim state would compel such dealers or producers to bring out their stock in the open market. The word ihtikaar literally applies to holding back grain. But by wider inference it would mean all kinds of supplies indispensable for the daily needs of society. There are also injunctions regarding forcing down prices. Islam does not permit that prices should be forced down by inproper and artificial means. For, this too, would enable the unscrupulous dealers to make undue profits and to strangle other dealers. Once, during his Khitab, Hazrat Umar came across an outsider in Medina selling dried grapes at lower rates than the local producers and dealers who could neither match with nor compete against it. Hazrat Umar then asked that man either to remove his supplies from the market or sell at the price level prevailing in Medina. When asked on what ground he had issued those orders, Hazrat Umar replied that otherwise he would have caused an irrepairable loss to the local dealers. INTEREST PROHIBITED To remedy the evils of capitalism Islam prohibits any sort of interest in any transaction under any circumstances. Islam has assigned a broad definition to interest. It is defined interest in terms which cover also certain transactions and economic acts which the popular general view does not take to fall in this category. The proceeds of any economic venture which by its nature or circumstances makes profit abslutely certain, eliminating all risk, are called interest. Islam therefore strictly prohibits lending and borrowing money on interest. The institution of interest results in the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few. Those who receive interest go on multiplying their wealth practically without limit to the detriment of the rest of the community. If the money is borrowed on interest, all the savings are absorbed by interest on paying the loan because the original amount still remains to be paid even after paying a considerable amount against the loan. The additional payment goes under the category of interest. Interest, as such, is a curse for the poor. For the sake of world peace, interest should be abolished. In that way wealth will not be permitted to be monopolized by already wealthy people of the world. Islam has given hope that the day would come when the institution of interest would be abolished throughout the world: “Allah will blot out interest and will cause charity to increase.” (2:277) “O ye who believe! fear Allah and give up what remains of interest, if you are totally believers.” (2:279) “O ye who believe! devour not interest involving diverse additions, and fear Allah that you may prosper.” (3:131) 24 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS “Whatever you layout at interest that it may increase the wealth of people, it does not increase in the sight of Allah.” (30:40) All interest, excessive or moderate, is prohibited in Islam. An economic system based on interest will eventually disappear.(F.N: 277;52; English Commentary) Those who devour interest are admonished in the Holy Quran. (2:276) Explanation relative to prohibition of interest appears in the English Commentary as: “Riba literally meaning an excess or addition, signifies an addition over and above the principal sum.” (Lane) “It covers both usury and interest. According to Hadees every loan advanced to draw profits comes under this definition.” “In fact, any sum stipulated to be received or given over and above what the owner advances or receives as a loan is “interest”, whether the dealing is with an individual or bank. Interest is not confined to money. It extends to any commodity which is given as a loan with the condition that it will be returned with an agreed access.” (F.N: 350; English Commentary)’ “Riba causes a touch of insanity in the money lender. Riba is prohibited in Islam because it tends to draw wealth into the hands of a small circle and thereby adversely affects its equitable distribution. It promotes idleness in the money-lenders and kills in him all incentive to help others and chokes all springs of sympathetic behaviour. The money lender takes advantage of and makes profit from, the need and distress of others. Islam has therefore prohibited all kinds of interest.” (F.N. 351; English Commentary) KHUMUS Islam checks the evils of communism in another way called Khumus. Literally, this word means 16th. But in Muslim terminology it means that I/ 5th of total proceeds received from mines of all kinds should be paid to the Muslim State. This f/5th should be paid before dividends and profits are distributed to the share holders. Of course, when the share holders collect this money they must include this amount to pay Zakat for that year. AHMADIYYA CONTRIBUTIONS Ahmadiyya Muslims have to make additional contributions as instituted by the Founder of the Movement, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah, and his Khulafa, the successors. These contributions are both voluntary and compulsory in nature. ISLAM AND RUSSIA 25 An Ahmadi can seek permission from the Khalifat-ul-Masih for remission, reduction and deferment in certain cases. However, some programs are such that he or she is required to fulfil his or her obligation. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah announced under Divine command that Gpd had ordained for the people who desire to win real paradise to-day, that they must volunteer from 1/1 Oth to 1/3rd of their properties and belongings. The Promised Messiah further said that the properties obtained by this means would be devoted toward the strengthening of Islam through propagation and the teaching of the Holy Quran, spread of literature and missions of Islam, securing the welfare of the orphans and needy who do not possess adequate means of subsistance. (Al-Wasiyat) The Promised Messiah reiterated: it will be permissible for the Anjuman (known as Sadar Anjuman Ahmadiyya) to incfease these funds through commercial investments. This scheme is apparently voluntary, but really a test of one’s faith. If some one is anxious to win the pleasure of Allah, he or she should make it incumbant to participate in it like obligatory contribution. Those who could not participate in the Wasiyat scheme, should, any way, make contributions in the Chanda Aam, Tehriki-Jadid; Waqf-Jadid; Buyut-ul-Hamd, Mosques etc. and other funds. In this way an Ahmadi is obliged to make contributions in addition to the already prescribed contributions in Islam. The arrangement also concurs with the the Holy Quran which teaches that among the Muslims there should always exist a body of men entirely devoted to the task of calling people to the right and dissuading them from wrong (3:103) That is to say, even though Islam does not uphold priesthood, it upholds a religious order devoted exclusively to call people to righteousness. SUMMARY The righteous, to win the pleasure of Allah, spend out of what has been given to them by Allah, is a recurring theme in the Holy Quran. All Muslims fervently pray to have all the goods in this life as well as in the life hereafter. Islam does not abolish capitalism but condemns its evils in strong words. Islam does not forbid the acquisition of wealth but prohibits the amassing of wealth. Wealth is not something to be discarded rather its acquisition is a necessary condition of life on this earth. Islam does not deprive a person the fruit of his or her labour and it does not matter whether a person has more or less wealth. Islam seeks a just distribution of wealth. And the capitalists or wealthy people are asked to give away or share a part of their wealth for the benefit of deserving members of the society. Wealth could be earned, received as a gift or inherited, but it should be spent in the many ways that Islam has prescribed for righteousness. Both men and women can earn money because it is the means of support. It could be possessed, but simply possession did not raise the dignity of man/ woman in the sight of Allah. The amassing and accumulation of wealth 26 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS in itself leads to moral debasement. Therefore money should be spent in charity, zakat, and other schemes, funds initiated by the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam. It is prohibited to lend or borrow money on interest. There are severe injunctions against hoarding and withholding of supplies from the market. Whereas individual enterprise is permissible, forcing prices down is forbidden. Whatever is left of property and wealth of an individual, at death, it is divided according to the law of inheritance. The economic system in Islam thus promotes a community where the needs of everybody are taken care of democratically. The economic system in Islam recommends that money and wealth should be constantly in circulation and utilized in the service of the community. Also that all accumulation, capital and profit, should be made to contribute towards the relief of poverty and raising the standard of living. If the injunctions laid down in Islam are followed and carried into effect then even the most miserly person will be compelled to invest his savings. In this way he would contribute towards general prosperity in addition to taking care of prescribed financial help. HOLY LIGHT O Allah, diffuse light into my heart and ears; Diffuse light on my eyes and on my tongue; Diffuse light on my right and on my left; Diffuse light above me and under me; Engulf me in Thy light. (The Holy Prophet) SIMPLE LIVING Beware of leading a life of luxury for verily the servants of God never live luxurious lives. (The Holy Prophet)