Part 8: Economic Outlook, This Life and the Next
(i) ECONOMIC OUTLOOK:- Religion in general is supposed to be averse, if not hostile, to material progress, and such is really the spirit of some well-known religions of the world so that their followers have to make a clear choice between piety and prosperity. Islam on the other hand, makes this worldly life the very opportunity to attain religious culture, and to make spiritual progress. So much so, that marriage, which is the real tie with true world, has been strictly enjoined by the Prophet, upon all Muslims, to the extent of threatening noncompliance with expulsion from grace and favour. The attitude of Islam towards the world is not shy and rejective, but bold and acceptant. As it were, It does not forbid one to enter water, it does not permit one to drown, but it teaches how to find the balance and swim.
So Islam calls upon man to make the fullest and best use of the objects of Nature, and to make his life worth living well. It only checks selfish waste and excess, which always forebodes ruin. More over Islam aims at many amenities of higher life, which for lack of knowledge or courage, many neglect to acquire. Its vista of hope and effort is longer than what many can imagine. 20 : 31. “Say: Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah, which He has brought forth for His servants, and the good provisions?..”32:7.
The prohibition laws of Islam regarding pork, wine and intoxicants are well-known, and have been, for considerations of health and morals, adopted more or less everywhere. They have also found a place in the statues of some reforming governments.
Islam is openly opposed to the regime of Capitalism in the sense of securing predetermined unearned incomes and increments. So it forbids usury and disfavors interest. It however fully permits business partnership and approves profits.-
Lending and borrowing is an indispensable function of human society. Islam urges the well-to-do to help the needy with the debt of honour and allows the borrower to offer something to the lender, in addition to the original loan, in gratitude, provided there has been no binding understanding to the said effect, at the initiation of the loan. Islam makes it a matter of sympathy and gratitude, and thereby secures social peace and goodwill. Many prominent thinkers, even admitting its immediate advantages, find the interest system ultimately harmful to social peace and stability. As the inequalities of distribution of wealth are in-ordinate, we are today faced with the puzzle of poverty in plenty, generating a universal spirit of uneasiness and resentment, manifesting itself into so many ‘isms’ like Socialism, Communism and Bolshevism.
Individualism and Communism stand face to face, opposed to each other. The merits of one are faults of the other. Islam provides for both in the laws of property, So as to get the best out of them. There is neither a joint family system nor primogeniture custom, but it steers a middle course, so as to let everyone live an individualistic life, and enjoy the fruits of his labor, and then subjects his property to communistic principles so as to distribute it widely in the whole family by laws of inheritance. It looks upon property like the sea, its waves rising high for the time, and then sinking down and spreading over neighboring surface.
That modern civilization is fast approaching a perplexing crisis, is evident to all thinkers. Qur’aan has also put up a red light on the line, and the description of development from start to finish is simply miraculous. The following passage is really a summary of the story of western civilization from the middle ages down to the present, with unmistakable portents for the future. Let those reflect who will, and let those beware who, know. States Qur’aan:-
“And certainly we sent messengers to nations before you; then we seized them with distress and affliction, in order that they might humble themselves.”
“Yet, why did they not, when our punishment came to them, humble themselves? But their hearts hardened and Satan made what they did fair-seeming to them.”
“But when they neglected that, with which they had been admonished, we opened for them the gates of all things until, when they rejoiced in what they were given, we seized them suddenly, and lo! They were in utter despair.”
“So the roots of the people, who were unjust and aggressive, were cut off. Praise be to Allah. Lord of the worlds.” Vide 42,25 :6.
(j)THIS LIFE AND THE NEXT:- Islam is very positive about life after death, and gives any amount of details about the features of the next life. In brief, it would be much more magnified in pain and pleasure and in Divine association. Islam does not in the least underrate or discount the present life, but when it is compared with the next in magnitude, it does sink into insignificance by contrast. Still it is the present life which prepares us for the next; so it has an importance of its own, which cannot be too much emphasized. Vide 72.18 to 21 : 17, 15 ,16 : 11, 103 to 108: 18. Etc. How is life in appearance and in consequence,20 :57.
RECAPITULATION:- The teachings of Islam have been wonderfully condensed in the very first Surah of the Qur’aan, called ‘Fatiha’ or the opening:-
Now, how to follow the right path, and how to attain the Divine Favor: “And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad), these are with those, upon whom Allah has bestowed favors, from among the Prophets and the Truthful and the Martyrs and the Good. And they are very good companions (indeed). The Grace is from Allah, and Sufficient is Allah as the Knower.” 6 :4.
No God but Allah, Muhammad is Messenger of Allah