Islam, The Misunderstood Religion

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  • Islam, The Misunderstood Religion



    "As we have already submitted, Islam stands for all that is good, healthy and desirable in life. It is the religion for all times, gene­rations and societies but as the Islamic world during the last four centuries has been in a state of constant depression, the portion of the Islamic law dealing with economic problems remained static. Why shouldn't we then adopt Islam as a creed to edify our souls and purify thoughts and embrace communism as the economic system to solve our economic problems as it would in no wise affect our social set-up or any aspect thereof. We shall thus be able not only to safeguard our morals, social traditions and customs but also have at the same time one of the most modern economic systems of the present times to-resolve our economic problems"

    The reasoning such as this given above is a part of the diabolical game the communists are out to play now since a long time. To begin with, they adopted an aggressive attitude towards Islam in the East and cast various doubts about it. But when they found that this had rather increased Muslims' attachment to Islam, they changed their strategy and resorted to fraud and deception. Thus they reasoned that: "Communism does not at all interfere with Islam, as it is basically just another name for social justice and stands for the responsibility of the state towards its citizens to provide them with the basic needs of life. Do you mean to say that Islam is opposed to social justice by alleging that it is opposed to communism? Surely Islam cannot oppose such a system based on social justice".

    This diabolical reasoning is similar to that resorted to by the imperialists before this. They too had started with attacking Islam openly but when they found that it had only put the Muslims on their guard and they were watchful, they resorted to another course.

    They said: "The West is interested only in the spread of civilization in the East; how can Islam be against civilization when it is itself the father of civilization?" They assured the Muslims that they could adopt this western civilization without giving up their fastings, prayers, and mystic practices, although they were sure that if the Muslims once succumbed to their civilization they would no longer be able to retain their Islamic character with the result that within a few generations this civilization would overpower them once for all. They proved right. Consequently, there arose a generation among the Muslims after some time who was completely ignorant about Islam, who rather felt a repulsion from it without any knowledge or reason whatsoever.

    It is this very game of fraud and deception that the communists are playing today. They say that the Muslims can at once remain Muslims, can pray, fast and perform esoteric rituals and adopt communism as an economic system, for it does not at all meddle with their religion. Why should they then hesitate in embracing it? But while thus arguing they know very well that Muslims will no longer remain Muslims if they once but succumbed to its temptation. In such a case, they are sure to remold them in a few years' time after their own philosophy of life and put an end to Islam and all it stands for because the age we are living in is one of rapid movement and dynamism which means that great changes can very easily be brought about in a comparatively very short period of time. But in spite of all these facts there are very many Muslims who willingly allow themselves to be hoodwinked by such a spurious reasoning as it provides them with an excuse at least to avoid hard struggle in carrying out their unpleasant duties as Muslims promising them at the same time freedom from the cumbrous task of finding their own way, use their own reason and exert themselves in constructive activities. They would rather just like to sit down and dream idle dreams and let themselves be guided by others.

    We would at this point like to stress the fact that in principle Islam does not oppose any system such as is basically not antagonistic to its principles and serves the Muslim community in solving its problems arising out of the changed conditions of life. The fact, however, is that communism does not at all see eye to eye with Islamic ideology although it might in some respects superficially resemble Islam. The Muslim community which already possesses the best system cannot pass by Islam and instead adopt communism, capitalism or materialistic socialism though they might in certain respects appear to be similar to it, for God has expressly com­manded : "And they Who do not judge in accordance with that which is revealed by God, they are indeed the unbelievers" (v : 47)

    Can we in reality embrace communism and yet live on as Muslims? The answer is a big No, for, when we apply communism (erroneously or dishonestly described as being a purely economic system), we find that it is opposed to Islam in theory as well as in practice. Their collision is inevitable for the simple reason that it cannot be helped or avoided.

    That theoretically both stand opposed to each other in so many respects may well be judged from the following points:

    Firstly, communism rests on a purely materialistic basis: it does not recognize anything save that perceived by sense organs: what is not perceivable by these sensory organs is unreal, nonsense and has no existence whatsoever or if it does exist it is so insignificant that one need not at all bother about it.  Engels said: "Matter is the only real thing in the world". And the materialists argue: "Human reason is just a manifestation of matter which reflects the external material environment surrounding it". They go on to say that what is called soul does not at all have an independent existence of its own but is rather a product of matter. Thus we see that communism is a purely materialistic ideology which ridicules all forms of spiritualism dubbing them all as unscientific. Islamic ideology, on the other hand, declines to concede such a narrowing down of human spheres of activities or degrade man to such low levels of existence. It looks upon man rather as a being that aspires to soar high in the realms of spirit and thought although he walks on earth and possesses a physical body. Nor are his needs limited to food, shelter and sexual gratification as Karl Marx claimed. A question might at this stage be raised in the minds of some readers: How can this materialistic philosophy affect us when we shall have nothing to do with it: we shall adopt only the economic program of communism and retain all our basic creeds, our God, our Apostle, and our spiritual system. These cannot be affected by the economic program we might adopt as it is something quite different from the things described above and has an independent existence of its own. Let none be under this illusion, for as the communists hold, there exists a strong affinity between the economic system and the basic creed, ideology and outlook upon life of a people; they cannot be viewed in isolation: they are closely interrelated, for they are based on the same economic system which is raised on a purely materialist philosophy of life as has been clarified by the communist pioneers Engels and Marx in their writings.

    The communists, for instance, also believe in dialectical materialism. They hold that it is the conflict of the opposites (the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' or workers and capitalists) that is the only real though insidious factor behind all economic and human progress that mankind has achieved so far starting from the first communist age and moving on to slavery, then feudalism, capitalism and then final communist age. It is with this very dialectical materialism that they justify their standpoint and prove the final emergence of communism as the victor out of the present ideological warfare. They claim that there is a close scientific relationship between communism and this theory of dialectical materialism, in which there is no place whatsoever for any concept of God, His apostles or their message, for in their arrogance they think that all these things are but merely an outcome of the interplay of economic forces. They have no meaning or significance apart from the economic circum­stances that engendered them. As such they lose all their importance in human life and are simply worthless in interpreting or defining life or determining its true objectives. The one and the only factor of importance is the means of production which, if changed, affects the whole human existence and revolutionizes it. The fallacy and weakness of communists' view of human history is amply proved by the fact that it fails to offer any adequate explanation of the great revolution brought about by Islam in Arabia, for it cannot point out any change in the means of economic production in the Arabian peninsula or even in the whole of the contemporary Islamic world that might be referred to as having caused the emergence of the Holy Prophet in that part of the world bringing with him a completely new system of life.

    This is quite sufficient to show that Islam and communism stand diametrically opposed to each other. How can the two be said to be at one then? The Muslims who believe in the Beneficence of God as well as His immense Grace embracing all His creatures and who believe that it is God Who sends to them His apostles to guide them aright and who believe that Islam is not subject to the economic exigencies but ascends far above them, how can such Muslims adopt with impunity the communism which holds that all the different stages of human progress are determined by the interplay of the opposing forces alone, thus leaving no place for God's will or any other factor or initiative save that lent to it by economic existence, the pressure of need.

    Secondly, man as viewed by communism is just a passive being whose will has no importance whatever in the face of the material and economic forces. Karl Marx said: "The mode of production of the material means of existence conditions the whole process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not tile consciousness of men that determines their existence, but, on the contrary, it is their social existence that determines their consciousness”.

    In Islam, on the other hand; we find that man is viewed as an active being with a free will of his own that is subject to the higher will of God alone, Says the Holy Qur'an: “And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth" (xlv: 13).

    Thus Islam makes it clear that it is man who enjoys supreme power and position on this earth with all the material and economic forces being there to do his bidding. Islam itself is a case in point in this respect. Its progress was not limited or directed by any process of dialectical materialism. The early Muslims never even for a single moment felt that the economic existence of man alone played a decisive role in shaping his destiny or that it was something beyond his conscious control as Marx said. They, on the contrary, did consciously shape their economy in accordance with the guidance of God and His Apostle basing all their social relationships on the teachings of Islam, They freed slaves without any consideration of economic gains or initiative inducing them to it; and they did in fact never witness the establishment of feudalism in their lands although it had been the most prevalent system for centuries in Europe and in the world at large,

    The adoption of communist economy must inevitably lead to the adoption of the communist philosophy, the philosophy which makes man a mere plaything of the economic forces that take their way quite independent of men's will for they can neither change their course nor can they affect their working in any way as it is simply impossible and, therefore, unthinkable.

    Thirdly, as we have already pointed out in the chapter on "Private Ownership," it is next to impossible to divorce an economic system from the social philosophy behind it. Therefore if we accept communism as an economic program we must also inevitably embrace along with that the social philosophy it offers and which states that society is the only real thing, the individual having no importance whatever save as member of a community, This is a position quite contrary to that taken up by Islam, for it attaches great importance to the individual and relies more upon him than on society for the realization of its ends. Islam civilizes man from within so that he would willingly discharge all his responsibilities as a member of a community. Thus it elevates man to the position of a conscious member of society with a will of his own, choosing his own job as well as the place he would like to work in freely. He enjoys freedom to comply with the orders of the ruler or refuse to obey him if the ruler should happen to transgress the bounds set by obedience to Gad and Islam. Thus Islam makes every individual a guardian of the community's morals besides holding him respon­sible for the eradication of all forms of evils. But such a thing can­not for obvious psychological and practical reasons happen in a society wherein the individual is reduced to the status of an insignifi­cant midget or a worthless manikin whose destiny is solely shaped and controlled by the government as it alone controls all economic means of production,

    Last, we must also remember that the communist philosophy is based on the assumption that it is the economic factor alone that is supreme so far as the determining or molding of the diverse social relationships within a social group are concerned. Islam does not deny or under-rate the importance of the economic factor in human life nor does it ignore the importance of a sound economic basis for the social life of a community so as to make the moral and social virtues flourish, But it does not at all contribute towards the notion that life is but-economics. It also does not believe that if economic problems are solved all the other problems of the society will also be solved as a result thereof. To make this point clear let us, however, consider some particular cases from life. Supposing there are two young men of a similar economic status, the one being inclined to voluptuousness and engrossed in his animal passions and completely enslaved by these, while the other enjoys a reasonable portion of material prosperity and spends most of his extra energy in broadening his mental or spiritual horizon by acquiring some knowledge or skill. Can these two young men be treated as equals and their cases considered as identical? Do the two represent an equal degree of virtue, good­ness and success in their respective modes of living?

    We may as well take the case of a man with a strong personality to whom the people listen with deference and are ready to act upon his advice readily and still another good-for-nothing fellow, who has no personality but is just a laughing-stock among the circle of his acquaintances. Now the question is, can the solution of his economic problems help the latter in any wise? Can he be deemed to lead a life as glorious as that of the man in the former case?

    Taking still another case we might ask if a woman endowed with grace and beauty can in any way be matched with a woman devoid of all grace and beauty. Can the removal of economic hurdles help the ugly woman in resolving her difficulties?

    It is because of this that Islamic rationale gives basic importance not to economic values but to the non-economic ones, the moral values in particular, for it believes that it is the non-economic values that form the basis of human life for the proper organization of which at least as much exertion and enthusiasm are called for as those needed in the case of purely economical ones. It, therefore, stresses a perpetual relationship between God and man, for it is this very spiritual bond between man and his God which is an excellent means for the full flourish of moral values in practical life as it lifts men from the plane or their humdrum existence where they are no better than mere slaves to their material needs and subject to internecine rivalries, hatred and rancor, to a higher, far higher plane where they are free from all these base earthly passions and where they move in a world permeated with virtue, goodness and love.

    From a still another standpoint Islam holds the spiritual force in human life as of primary importance, for it is a very precious pos­session of man on this earth besides exercising a powerful influence on his destiny as a man. If it is paid proper attention to and organized efficiently it might prove not less powerful as an agent shaping human society than any other including even the economic one. It might rather prove far more effective and powerful than all the other agents of social change. The Muslims might find enough evidence in their own history to convince them of the truth of the above state­ment. Thus we find that the first caliph Abu Bakr stood firm in the face of the threat of apostasy in the beginning of his rule although all the Muslims including men like Omar bin Al-Khattab did not support his stand to wage a war against the defecting tribes. Still he remained firm as a rock and did not flinch. Whence did he derive his inspiration? Was it a material power or the sense of economic well-being or was it some human power that sustained him in that ordeal? Surely, it was none of these that inspired him or backed him up at that momentous period of his life. Had he put his faith in anyone of these he would have never dared fight against such odds at so precarious a moment in the history of Islam. It was the spiritual power alone that gave Abu Bakr the will, determination and courage to stand against the rebels who were finally subdued and turned once again good Muslims as before, leaving off their hostility towards Islam or Muslims once for all. This is a very significant chapter of human history showing how the conscious spiritual energy is transformed into material and economic power such as has no parallel in history. Similar is the case with Omar bin Abdul Aziz who with the help of his spiritual force alone swept away the politico-social injustice created by the early Ommeyeds. He rec­tified the injustice and successfully reformed the society resuscitating the underlying social principles of Islam. It was then that the great historical and economical miracle was witnessed: there was no longer any poor or needy man to be met with in the entire Muslim society.

    Islam, therefore, gives foremost importance to spiritual power, for it does not want to deprive man of the great and miraculous bene­fits it can bring to him although it does not at the same time sit idle nor does it refuse material means to realize its end. Islam does believe in miracles but favors not the idle waiting for the spiritual mir­acles to happen. Its constant guiding principle rather is: “God restrains with Authority that which is not restrained by the Qur'an".

    On the other hand, it is next to impossible for men to exert themselves towards the realization of their economic ends in the way communism suggests and then be able to pay any attention to the moral values or betterment of their own spiritual life, because the exaggerated importance given to the economic aspect in communism favors but a one-sided development only. It may be likened to an outgrowth of human heart or liver the invariable result being that such an outgrown organ of human body hampers the proper development or functioning of other parts.

    We know that there are persons who feel aversion from such a philosophical comparison of Islam and communism as we have attempted above, for they believe that such theoretical discussions carry no weight and are rather superfluous and signify nothing. To them only the practical problems have importance which as such, according to them, should be given all possible precedence over all abstract considerations. They think that the things will be all right and we need not bother about any abstract questions while adopting a certain system of life except its practicability. Thus they are at a toss to understand that Islam and communism can ever come into conflict with, each other so far as practical life is concerned. They rule out all possibility of such a conflict between the two.

    We do not share their contempt of the theoretical or philosophical aspect of the problem, for we believe that the two can never be viewed in isolation from each other. However we shall point out some of the practical differences between Islam and communism for their consideration. Some of the differences may be summed up as follows:­

    (1) Islam holds that the real duty of a woman is the propagation of the human race. It, therefore, does not encourage her to leave her queendom and work in factories and fields, except, of course, in cases of genuine need, that is to say, in case she has no male bread earner, be he her father, brother, husband or a near one. But com­munism makes it obligatory for woman to go out and work in fac­tories or fields for as many hours as the men do. Even if we overlook for the time being the underlying communist philosophy which refuses to recognize any difference between the functions as well as the psychological make-up of the sexes, the communist economy by its very nature rests on the basis of effecting increase in material means of production to the farthest possible limit. Such an increase is possible only if all the members of the community should go forth and exert themselves in factories, laboratories and fields. The woman too will have to bear an equal burden along with other members of the community and will be off her work during the period of her confinement only. The children[1] shall as a result thereof be brought up wholesale by the state in a process similar to that of mass production.

    Therefore, if we embrace the communist economy an inevitable result of it will be that woman will have to leave her home to work outside which means in other words that one of the fundamental institutions of Islam-family-the bedrock on which the whole superstructure of Islamic morality and economics rests and which shows that woman's true function is within her home while man is to do the outside work, is also dealt a fatal blow.[2] If it is said that to go out and work in factories will not be necessary for woman then surely it will be a position alien to that upheld by communism, for the communists have already made their stand too clear on the point. Now so far as effecting an increase in production is concerned, we admit that it is undoubtedly genuine and of vital importance to human existence. But it does not in any way call for the adoption of communist economy, for the communists themselves borrowed the means of increasing their production from the European capitalism.[3] The establishment of an Islamic state does in no wise forbid the use of the most modern means of agricultural and industrial production for material benefit.

    (2) The communist economy rests on a full-fledged dictatorship of the proletariat, which means that the state alone decides as to the functions performed by different citizens without any regard whatsoever to their respective aptitudes or likings. The state alone controls all thought, acts, associations as well as the ends to be realized by them. At this point we must also differentiate between the dictatorship of a single ruler and the dictatorship of the state (proletariat). For, in the case of a ruler it is just possible that he be of a congenial, modest character with the welfare of his country very dear to his heart and may even at times condescend to consult the representatives of the people-real or false-before deciding a matter or enacting a law. But all these possibilities are simply out of question in the case of a dictatorship of the proletariat or state, con­cerned as it primarily will be with the economics alone and the realiza­tion of such ends, as suit it, with an iron hand. That is what is signified by the very name-dictatorship of the proletariat.

    To the drawbacks of communism enumerated above we may add yet another one: it has no sound basis because of which it is often seen mucking around with theory as well as practice. Thus for instance, to begin with, it advocated an outright abolition of all private ownership and claimed to bring on a par the wages of all the different workers, but was forced to abandon its stand due to the pressure of the circumstances, as it soon found it better to allow a limited amount of private ownership and a difference in the wages of workers in proportion to their enthusiasm and pains. So com­munism shifted its position thus turning its back on two of the most fundamental elements in the philosophy of Karl Marx and coming as much nearer to the standpoint of Islam. How can we Muslims justify ourselves in forsaking the real and only true system of life such as humanity is all the time driven back to, whenever it toys with any other system?


    [1] As to the problem of upbringing children, we have already discussed it in the chapter: "Islam and Woman,"


    [2] This, however, does not negate co-operation within the family as such, just as special functions performed by the members of a community do in no wise negate co-operation among them i.e. farmers, artisans, engineers and doctors etc. etc.

    [3] Russia was in the early stage of Communism extremely backward industrially. So it borrowed and developed all means of material production from Europe.


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