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  • 10/30/2006


  The need for remedial action in certain situations is also emphasized in Verse 5 of Chapter 4 of the Qur'an, which reads:

  "And do not give away your property, which Allah has made for you a (means of) support to the weak of understanding, and maintain them out of (the profits of) it, and clothe them and speak to them words of honest advice." (4:5)

Again the Qur'an declares:

  "And there are those of them who made a covenant with Allah: If He gives us out of His grace, we will certainly give alms and we'll certainly be of the good."  (9:75)

   The above verse shows that Islam emphasizes the act of `Giving' as the essence of a just socioeconomic system and is reflective of Allah's intention. Hence, any method devised as a means of checking individual greed and laying out a framework wherein all members of the society get a minimum of sustenance is in accord with the injunctions of the Qur'an and the Sunnah. Although it is true that Islam assigns the highest importance to man's altruistic behavior where the act of giving is guided solely by the desire to gain Allah's pleasure.

   But at the same time man's innate selfishness and freed are also recognized, though not justified. Thus, the need for taking remedial measures to correct the imbalance which man's selfish and greedy behavior gives birth to.

   From the above discussion it is manifest that in Islam the full exercise by the owner of his rights in his property has been appropriately subordinated to his social responsibility. Furthermore, once the Islamic state enters upon the task of restoring the "Rights" (Haqq) of the "deprived" and "oppressed" with a view to realizing the ethical principles enunciated in the Qur'an the distance between the rich and the poor will be reduced. The argument that this distance can be corrected through the strict enforcement of the system of "Zakat" (Alms), usher and proper adherence to the system of inheritance prescribed by Islam is true only to a point. In a society like Pakistan which has been raised on feudalistic capitalistic principle for centuries to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor and restore the social balance, it would be essential for the State to intervene to discharge its responsibilities and amongst its responsibilities it has to ensure that the society's demand for such basic requirements as: Health, Education, Livelihood and Housing are satisfied.

For enforcing the system of Al-Adl wal-Ihsan and to ensure a social equilibrium in the society the ideal social behavior is not egoistic self-glorification but a commitment to ameliorating the lot of the least privileged in the society. Accordingly, in the situation as it presents itself today in Pakistan even large Scale State intervention to restrain individual greed so that social welfare is maximized appears to be necessary in order to bring about Adl (social equilibrium in the society). The Qur'an is explicit on what the individual and the society should be doing: It says:

  "Surely Allah enjoins the doing of justice and the doing of good (to others), and the giving to kindred, and He forbids indecency and evil and rebellion; He admonishes you that you may be mindful."  (16:90)

   By the same token, Islam rejects an economic order which is not based on these Divine principles because the Islamic economic system clearly aims at re-establishing a social balance, with a clear `bias' in favor of the poor and the economically weak. Thus the Qur'an says:

  "And in their property was a portion due to him who begs and to him who is denied (good)." (51:19)

And again Allah declares:

  "And those in whose wealth there is a fixed portion, for him who begs and for him who is denied (good)." (70:24-25)

   The above principle is indeed a revolutionary one. What the poor must get from the wealth of the rich is not charity but their right (Haqq), of which someone, including a particular social system, may have deprived them. This principle is stated even more pointedly in the following verse:

  "And We desired to bestow a favor upon those who were deemed weak in the land, and to make them the Imams and to make them the heirs,

And to grant them power in the land, and to make Pharaoh (Firon) and Haman and their hosts see from them what they feared."  (28:5-6)

   The implementation of this Divine Commandment on the economic plane would require a heavy redistribution of income and wealth to redress the gross social and moral dis-equilibrium created by the present economic system. The rich must part with excess wealth because they are not its absolute owners but only trustees and its disposal are subject to their Divine Law. The Qur'an says:

   "And what reason have you that you should not spend not in Allah's?

And Allah's is the inheritance of the heavens and the earth; not alike among you are those who spent before the victory and fought (and those who did not): they are more exalted in rank than those who spent and fought afterwards; and Allah has promised the good to all; and Allah is Aware of what you do."  (57:10)

   Almighty Allah will punish those who do not fulfill the obligations of a trustee.

He says:

  "And leave Me and the rejecters, the possessors of ease and plenty, and respite them a little." (73:11)

   Social justice follows from Al-Adl since there can be no justice without a delicate balance obtaining among the many social, economic forces that shape the basic structure of the Society. One of the most important elements of this structure is the ownership pattern of assets.   It is for this reason that man has been warned against concentration of wealth:

The Qur'an says:

  "Whatever Allah has restored to His Apostle from the people of the towns, it is for Allah and for the Apostle, and for the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, So that it may not be a thing taken by turns among the rich of you, and whatever the Apostle gives you, accept it, And from whatever he forbids you, keep back, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is severe in retributions (evil)."  (59:7)

   Thus Al-Adl requires that social justice must obtain in every walk of life so that the Divine principle of equilibrium is reflected on the plane of social existence. Man has been commanded again and again to realize and maintain the quality of justice under all circumstances. The second part of Allah's command, i.e., Al-Ihsan requires that economic policies in an Islamic economy have a distinct tilt towards the poor. Not only that, the process of pushing up the poor along the scale of social hierarchy must continue until the "deprived" in the society receive that "Due Share".

   This is the Islamic viewpoint. It demands that while every effort should be made to encourage the altruistic instinct in man, the State should intervene where private initiative fails. And in view of man's instinctive greed’s, to which the Qur'an testifies, the role of the State may have to be quite large to effectuate a substantial transfer of privately held property to "the needy and the deprived". All such steps will be in accord with the Divine Principles - Al-Adal wal Ihsan."

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