RABUBIY'AH ORDER-ITS AIM AND SCOPE
Rabubiyyat Order of Society
The main aim of the socio-political group, which
embodies the Rabubiy’ah Order, is to provide the individual with full
scope for self-development. Its basic principles are that the individual is the
focus of value and that the group exists to enable the individual to develop and
express himself to the full extent of his capacity. It lays primary stress on
personal worth. A society based on these principles will be composed of free
individuals, each enriching his life by working for the enrichment of all life,
and each moving onwards by helping others to do the same. This society should be
judged by the solutions it offers for the social, political and economic
problems that confront all human groups. We will first consider the economic
system it advocates.
Capitalism and the Rabubiy’ah Order
Capitalism is the oldest of economic systems. In
course of time it was invested with an air of sanctity. People believed that it
was the only system which was suited to "human nature. The could not imagine
that society could prosper and flourish under any other type of economic
organisation. The industrial and commercial revolutions gave it a powerful
impetus and it reached its peak in the nineteenth century. When Capitalism was
carried to the extreme, its defects became obvious and could no longer be
ignored. No doubt, Capitalism has certain merits and, in the earlier stages of
social evolution, it helped man to create civilisation and achieve a higher
standard of life. It calls forth some of the best qualities in man, such as
initiative, ingenuity, imagination and a capacity for hard work. But its
weakness, which washes away all its good points, is that it overemphasises one
factor of production, namely capital—nay, it gives all credit to it-—and fails
to do justice to the other equally—rather more—important factor, namely labour.
The result is that the bulk of the wealth produced goes to the man who
contributes capital and the labourer has to be content with a mere pittance.
Capital tends to accumulate in the bands of the few while poverty is the lot of
the labourers who constitute the bulk of the population. This unequal
distribution of the national wealth, a necessary consequence of Capitalism, is
tolerated for a time, but, sooner or later, it generates class struggle and
paves the way to the dissolution of society. Capitalism is based on two
assumptions. The first assumption is that man has an inviolable right to the
property that he has acquired. The second is that society can prosper only when
it does not interfere with the economic activity of the individual. The
Capitalist pins his faith on the doctrine of laissez-faire and
holds private property to be sacred. He argues that what he has earned through
his own ability, skill and effort, must be exclusively his own. Nobody can claim
a share in it. He may, if he likes, give a part or the whole of it to another
but no one can force him to do so. He will be doing no wrong if he keeps to
himself. This attitude is exemplified in Korah whose story is narrated in
the Quran. When he was asked to give a part of his immense wealth to the
needy and the poor, he replied exactly like the Capitalist of today. "Why should
I? This is the result of my own capability" (28 : 78). The Quran tells us that
man commits a grave mistake if he believes that lie owes his wealth exclusively
to his own ability and effort :
Now, when harm falls on man, he cries to Us, and
afterwards, when We have granted him a boon from Us, he says : "Only by means of
my own ability I obtained it." Nay, it is a mischief (to think so) but most of
them know not (39: 49).
The main fallacy inherent in the Capitalists'
argument is made evident when we look at the conditions on which the production
of wealth depends. Four factors, stated below, contribute to the production of
1. Man's physical
and mental capacities.
2. The education
and training he has received.
opportunities available to him.
4. His industry.
It is obvious that man can take credit for only
the fourth factor, i.e., the work he puts in. His natural endowments are a gift
of God. He did not acquire them through his own efforts. He is indebted to his
community for the education and training he has received. Society too provides
him with opportunities for producing wealth. It follows that man can justly
claim only that portion of the wealth he has produced which is the outcome of
the labour he had put in. The work he has performed entitles him to a share in
the wealth produced and not to the whole of it. The Quran puts it clearly:
Man shall have only that for which he
strives (53 : 39).
If this principle is accepted and acted upon in
good faith, the conflict between workers and employers will disappear and a
serious menace to internal peace will be removed. The Capitalist will willingly
spend the major portion of his profits for the welfare of the community and the
workers will be able to live in comfort and security. This principle is
challenged on the ground that there are innate differences among men and it is
unfair to treat them as equal in respect of ability. Those who possess greater
ability can justly claim a greater share in the national wealth. The Quranic
view is that the personal worth of man does not depend on his talent to do a
thing but on what he actually does. All men are equal in the sight of God,
whatever may be the differences among them. Moreover, the argument of the
Capitalist had weight so long as it was believed that intellectual work was more
valuable than manual work. We now believe in the spectrum of values. Any type of
work is as valuable as any other, provided man puts his heart into it. Manual
work can have as much value as intellectual work. Besides this, the differences
among men bestow on each his unique individuality. However different men may be
in respect of intelligence, they can be equal in respect of personal worth, if
each works conscientiously to the limit of his capacity. So it is in the
interest of society that some men should possess more ability in a particular
sphere than others. According to the Quran, the difference in ability amongst
various individuals is for the purpose of division of labour (43 : 32), and
should not constitute a ground for creating inequality in society and meting out
different treatment to different sets of men. The knowledge that men are unequal
should not be allowed to induce us to relax our efforts to raise the general
standard of living in the society. The Rabubiy’ah Order is
committed to provide the means for the development of each and every individual.
It treats as sacred the right of every man to have full scope for his
Division of labour is meant to ensure maximum
production of wealth. It does not imply that the man who does manual work is
inferior to the man who organises the industry. No doubt, the work of one person
be more than that of another. The Quran takes the position that a person who
earns more should not keep it all to himself, but should give the surplus to
those who, through lack of ability or opportunity cannot earn enough to satisfy
their needs. In the ideal society emphasis would be on mutual help and not an
individualism. The following verse puts it clearly :
And Allah has blessed some of you above others in
respect of capacity to earn livelihood, yet those who are blessed (with an
abundance) restore not their provision to those subordinate to them so that they
may share equally with them. It is then the blessing of Allah which they deny ?
(16 : 71).
The blessing of Allah" comprises those advantages
that the individual enjoys which have not been gained through his own effort,
namely his innate capacities education and other opportunities. In gratitude for
those gifts, he should use his wealth to held those who are less fortunate than
himself. He should regard his wealth as the gift of God and his gratitude to God
should be expressed in acts of beneficence. We should all live as member of a
single family, and we are really that, being so to say, "God’s children." The
father does not discriminate between his children. He loves them all alike. God,
as the Quran says, is Rabbul-alamin (1:1). He takes care of every living
being in the world," developed during the last decade, was foreshadowed by the
Quran a long time ago.
A necessary consequence of this view is that the
means of production should not be owned by any one person or group but should be
held in common by all. The Quran throws valuable light on this point as will be
shown in the next section.
Land is the most important of the means of
production. The desire to possess it has proved to be a fertile source of strife
between individuals as well as between states. Most of the wars have been waged
for the acquisition of land. Endless litigation has been the result of disputes
regarding the ownership of land. The Quran categorically states that the earth
belongs to God and serves the purpose of providing subsistence to all living
creatures. Private ownership of land is thus ruled out:
And the earth (land) He has created for the
benefit of all living beings (55 : 10)
It is the source of livelihood for men as well as
other creatures :
And We have provided therein (in the land)
sustenance for you, and for those whom you do not provide (15: 20).
The point is stressed in another verse .
And after that He spread the earth and brought
forth from its water and its pasture. And mountains He firmly set. (All this He
did) as a provision for you and your cattle (79 : 30-33).
It is thus clear that land, like water and air,
heat and light, is God's gift to all men. For a men to claim proprietary right
to them is, therefore, tantamount to claiming equality with God. The Quran
declares in no uncertain terms:
Say thou: Do ye indeed believe not in Him Who
created the earth in two long ages and ascribe ye unto Him rivals? He (and none
else) is the Nourisher of the universe. And He placed therein stable mountains
above it and blessed it, and measured therein its foods in four periods (seasons
of the year) alike for those who stand in need of it (41 : 9-10).
Just as the amount of work put in by man
determines his rightful share in the wealth produced, so his share in the
produce of the land shall be proportionate to his labour on it. If it had not
been for diverse favourable factors, his labour would have been in vain. The
Quran points out this in the following verses:
And have you seen that which you cultivate ? Do
you make the seed to grow or do We make it to grow ? If We willed We could
surely make it dry, then you cease not to exclaim: Lo! We are laden with debt,
nay but we are deprived of harvest. And have you observed that water which you
drink ? Is it you who shed it from the rain-cloud, or are We the shedder? If We
willed We could make it bitter. Why then are you not grateful ? And have you
observed the fire which you strike out? Was it you who made the tree thereof to
grow, or were We the grower ? We (have mentioned all this just to) remind you
(of the real facts). Remember 1 We have made all this means of provision for the
hungry (56: 63-73).
We are, therefore, driven to the conclusion that
in: participating in the Divine programme of the Rabubiy’ah Order, we are
participating in a joint business venture in which the capital investment is
made by God and we contribute only labour. We can claim only that part of the
land's produce which we have earned through our labour and must hand over the
rest to God, that is, devote for the benefit of society. The poet Iqbal has
expressed this idea in lines of exquisite beauty, translated as below :
Who nourishes the seed in the soil which no ray of light penetrates ?
Who raises clouds from the waves of the ocean ?
Who (drove hither favourable wind from the West ?
Whose is the soil, whose the light of the Sun ?
Who has filled the ear of corn with pearly grain ?
Who has taught the seasons to change with regularity ?
Landowner ! The land is neither thine nor mine
Thy forefathers did not own it, nor dost thou nor I.
The Quran declares that the produce of the earth
is the "means of sustenance for mankind" (50 : 11). The slightest
change in the natural order could deprive man of the means of sustenance:
Who is he that will provide for you if He should
withhold His provision ? (67 : 21).
The same idea is elaborated in the following
Let man consider his food.
How We pour water in showers
Then split the earth in clefts
And cause the grain to grow therein
And grapes and green fodder
And olive-trees and palm-trees
And garden-closes of thick foliage
And fruit and grasses.
Provision for you and your cattle (80 : 24-32).
Ownership of land is not sanctioned by the Quran,
nor is that of any other means of production. The animals eat as much as they
need and leave the remainder for others. Man alone is plagued with the desire to
hoard and takes pride in his store, thus keeping for himself what he does not
really need :
And how many a living creature that does not
carry its sustenance (29 : 60).
The desire to hoard starts the process which
culminates in the Capitalistic system. Capitalism, by enabling the rich to
exploit the poor, has filled the world with misery, hatred and mutual
suspicions. It has turned the world into a veritable hell. The Quran has
denounced Capitalists as the enemies of mankind :
They who hoard up gold and silver and spend it not
for the cause set forth by Allah, unto them give tidings (O’ Muhammad!) of a
painful doom, on the day when it will all be heated in the fire of Jahannam,
and their foreheads and their flanks and their backs will be branded therewith
(and it will be said unto them) : Here is that which you hoarded for yourselves.
now taste of what you used to hoard (9 :34-35).
Capitalism appeals to the self-seeking motives of
man and tempts those who have amassed wealth to give free rein to their
anti-social tendencies. Let them not forget the doom which, in the words of the
Quran, is sure to overtake those who profit by a system so detrimental to the
real interests of mankind:
And let not those who hoard up that which Allah
has bestowed upon them of His bounty, think that it is better for them. Nay, it
is worse for them. That which they hoard will be their collar on the occasion of
the manifestation of the results of their deeds; and Allah's is the heritage of
the heavens and the earth, and He is well aware of what you do (3 : 179).
Capitalism is a fertile source of misery for
mankind and is thus an inhuman system. It will certainly be abandoned when men
become more enlightened and have a clearer perception of their real interests :
Lo ! ye are those who are called to spend for the
cause set forth by Allah. And as for him who hoardeth and thus depriveth others
of the provision for life, really depriveth his own self thereof. And Allah is
the rich and ye are the poor. And if ye turn away, He will bring in your stead a
people other than you ; and they shall not be like you (47 : 38).
This is the verdict of history too. The Quran
exhorts us to pay attention to the fate of nations which devoted themselves to
amassing wealth and turned their back on high ideals. They were supplanted by
other nations :
And how many a people that dealt unjustly, have We
shattered; and raised after them another folk (21 : 11).
Man is under an obligation to work to his utmost
to earn his livelihood, then to keep for himself what he needs and hand over the
remainder to his society. The Quran is explicit this point:
And they will ask thee : "What it is they should
give away." Say thou : "The surplus" (2 : 219)
However the Capitalist system cannot be abolished
by the stroke of a pen. It is firmly established and appears to be essential to
modern society. It will be some time before it is uprooted and replaced by the
Order of Rabubiy’ah. We must face this fact without giving way to
despair. We should bear in mind that man can Progress only slowly and gradually.
So long as he is moving steadily in the right direction, he need not get
impatient. It is not easy to attain a high objective. He should work hard and
wait patiently but confidently for ultimate success. The Quran advises us to
proceed cautiously in this matter and not to be hasty and rash. It has proposed
diverse measures to guard against the accumulation of wealth in the hands of the
few. Usury, i.e., money earned by capital, is declared to be unlawful. The law
of inheritance is designed to ensure the equitable distribution of a deceased
person's wealth among all his relatives. Man is enjoined to help his parents,
relatives and all others in need, generously and to make all possible
concessions to those who owe him money. By prohibiting hoarding, it ensures that
money is kept in circulation. In short, the Quran has recommended the steps by
which ultimately the Rabubiy’ah Order might be inaugurated. All these
measures., however, are valid only during the period of transition. Under the
Rabubiy’ah Order, every man will willingly make over to his society whatever
he does not need for satisfying his basic wants. The Rasool, being the
head of this Order, was the first to show by practical example how this higher
goal should be achieved. He never hoarded a Single penny throughout his life,
nor owned any property. By following his example we can hope to make progress
towards the goal of perfection. What is needed is the realisation Order alone
can bring peace, prosperity and happiness to mankind, and can open the way to
progress and development of man. When this realisation has dawned, it will not
be a difficult task to transform modern society into the Rabubiy’ah
Order. Already there are signs that the process has started:
Verily, the promised revolution is sure to come ;
there is no doubt about it ; yet most of mankind believe not (40 : 59).
The Divine creative activity which makes for
progress, is certainly at work in the world of man as it is in nature :
And He it is Whose Laws operate in the heavens
(outer universe) and in the earth (human society) and he is the wise and the
knowing (43: 84).
To sum up, the Rabubiy’ah Order ascribes
supreme value to the human self and aims at creating conditions in which the
self can freely develop and gradually attain perfection. This distinguishes the
Order from other systems and ideologies. We should not allow ourselves to be
misled by superficial resemblance between the Communist state and the Quranic
society. The Communist state is no doubt free from the vices of Capitalism, but
it functions in the interest of the group or rather the party and is not
interested in the individual man. The masses are mere raw material which the
party leadership can mould as it likes. The Quran, on the other hand, seeks to
protect, preserve and enhance man's self. This intense preoccupation with
personal worth distinguishes Islam from Communism and Totalitarianism.
As already stated in the
Introduction, the economic system of Islam has been touched upon only casually
in the present work. It has been discussed in detail in another book which is
likely to come out before long.