ISLAM AND REACTIONARISM
It is often alleged by some misguided people that some aspects of the Islamic way of life are no longer acceptable to people nor in line with the requirements of modern life. They add that some Islamic traditions were originally laid down for past generations and, therefore, have exhausted their ends and have become reactionary restrictions which obstruct and delay progress.
They would frequently ask such questions:
"Do you still insist on prohibiting usury which is an indispensable economic necessity of modern times?"
"Do you still insist on collecting Az-Zakat and distributing it in the same town where it is collected? Az-Zakat is a primitive procedure which is incompatible with the modern system of government, Besides, Az-Zakat humiliates the poorer inhabitants of a town or village by making them feel that they are recipients of charity from the richer citizens".
"Do you still insist on prohibiting liquor-drinking, gambling, free association of the sexes, dancing and having mistresses and lovers-all of which are indispensable social necessities which must be adopted as part of the general progress and development ?"
It is true that Islam prohibits usury but it is not true that usury is an economic necessity. In modern times there have been two economic systems which do not permit usury. Both Islam and communism, however different they may be in other respects, prohibit usury. Communism managed to find the necessary power for enforcing its doctrines, but Islam has not yet mustered its forces. But the present circumstances indicate that Islam is on the path to power and revival.
When the rule of Islam is established the economic system will be based on foundations other than usury which will not be and economic necessity. Similarly, communist Russia laid down its economics on a basis which excludes usury.
There is no doubt that usury is not an indispensable economic necessity in modern times. It may be necessary for the capitalist world because capitalists cannot exist without it. Nevertheless, leading Western economists do not approve of usury and warn that it will inevitably lead to the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few people. The masses will be gradually deprived of wealth and consequently they will be enslaved by the richer people. Western capitalism could supply us with many examples which prove these facts. It is to be remembered that Islam prohibited usury and monopoly, the two pillars of capitalism about one thousand years before the existence of capitalism. Islam was revealed by God Almighty Who can review all generations at one time, and Who knows what evils, economic catastrophes and feuds will be brought about by usury.
Usury may be a humiliating necessity where economy is dependent on foreign aid. But when our Islamic economy is independent and well established, our foreign relations will be based on free mutual reciprocity but not on subjection. In such a case our economy will be guided by Islamic principles which prohibit usury. The rest of the world will then look to us as a developing and progressive force.
As for Az-Zakat, it was previously pointed out that it is not a charity donated to the poor but an ordinance prescribed by God as well as a right entrusted to the state.
In this chapter we shall deal with the accusation brought against Islam on account of the local character of Az-Zakat i.e. its distribution in the village where it is collected.
It is to be regretted that many intellectuals will greatly acclaim and welcome any western imported system and treat it as the pinnacle of civilization but when the same system is advocated by Islam it is regarded as a symbol of backwardness and reactionarism.
It may be useful to remind such "intellectuals” that the administrative system in U.S.A. is based on absolute decentralization. The village or town is an independent economic, political and social unit within the general framework of the state as well as the United States. Now, the municipal council of each independent unit imposes certain taxes which are collected from the people of the unit and expended on the educational. medical, transport, social services of the same town or village. If the Revenues are more than the expenditure, the balance will be sent to the authorities of the city or to the state. On the other hand, if revenues are less than expenditure the balance will be paid by the state. There is no doubt that this is an excellent administrative system which organizes the efforts and does not burden the central government with all the services. On the other hand, central authorities cannot understand the requirements of smaller units in the same way as the local authorities do.
Our intellectuals express their great admiration for such a system. They forget that this very system had been established by Islam thirteen hundred years ago. Taxes were collected by the local authorities of each village and were spent on the fulfillment of local needs. The balance between revenues and expenditure will be sent to or borrowed from the central Public Treasury.
As for the distribution of Az-Zakat, it was previously explained that nothing in Islam provides that it should be distributed to the recipients in cash or in kind only. It may be distributed to the poor in the form of educational, medical services or by direct support of those who cannot work owing to old age, weakness or infancy.
If we apply the rules of Islam to our present society we shall have to do no more than to establish smaller units which look after their own local affairs within the framework of the regional centers: the state, the Islamic world and all the world.
As for gambling, liquor and free association of the sexes-these are prohibited by Islam regardless of the silly attacks of the so called "progressive" pioneers. It might be significant to remember that even in France which is wholly addicted to liquor, a lady member of the National Assembly has recently tabled a motion for the prohibition of liquor.
Addiction to liquor is a symptom of social or individual malady. Liquor and other narcotics are needed only by delinquent societies where the differences among classes are so great that some people live in licentious luxury which deadens their senses while others live in utter deprivation which drives them to seek and escape from reality, and live in a world of their own invention. Narcotics and liquor may also spread in societies dominated by oppression, tyranny or in societies where freedom of thought is subjected to many restrictions, or where people are obsessed by the struggle for earning a living, or where people suffer from the hateful and monstrous noise of modern machinery. But this does not imply that such social maladies justify addiction to liquor. Addiction to liquor is a symptom of the malady. It is only logical that the social malady should be treated before prohibiting liquor. That is exactly what Islam did. It wiped out all the maladies and causes which drove people to liquor-addiction; then and only then it prohibited liquor-drinking. Instead of criticizing Islam, the modern western civilization should rather learn how spiritual maladies are treated by economic, social, political, intellectual and physical reorientation.
As for gambling, we need not dwell at great length upon pointing out that only trivial-minded people would approve of it.
Now let us discuss the question of the association of the sexes-which bas become the centre of great arguments.
Many superficial-minded people accuse Islam of reactionarism on account of the restrictions it imposed on the association of the sexes. They express great admiration of the French civilization which permits a pair of lovers to hold each other in public places and for get all that is around when they are enraptured in a wonderful kiss. No one would trouble them, even the policeman would stand by to protect them from passers-by. Woe to those who resent such a scene because they themselves will be despised!
Some others express great admiration for the American way of life. There, they say, the people are quite frank with themselves. They admit that sex is a biological necessity. Therefore they recognized this and fostered such necessity. Every lad has a girl friend and every lass has a boy friend. They accompany one another most of the time and go out for picnics where they rid themselves of the persistent sexual burden and respond to the call of sex. They return from such picnics so relaxed that they can devote themselves to their studies and work in a way which will bring about an ever-increasing measure of prosperity and production. In this manner, the whole nation will be going ahead.
But those trivial and superficial-minded people who are so enthralled by the Western moral corruption do forget that France could not withstand the first German attack. It was brought to its knees not only for lack of military training and equipment but also because it was a nation without any desire for national pride, a nation which used to wallow in corruption and was exhausted by sensual pleasures. The French people were afraid that the tall buildings of Paris and its houses of pleasure might be destroyed by bombs. Is this what the so called intellectuals want us to do?
As for America, it is sufficient to quote American statistics which shows that 38 % of secondary school girls are pregnant. The percentage of pregnancy among university undergraduates is less than that because they are more experienced in using contraceptives.
There is no doubt that getting rid of the burden of sex is a worthy goal, Islam pays great attention to this question because it knows very well that the preoccupation with sex will decrease production and confine people to a world of sex from which they cannot depart, But a worthy goal should be realized through worthy means, It cannot be said that polluting society or permitting teenagers to rush out on one another as animals are worthy means.
If some misguided people wrongly believe that the great American production is an outcome of sexual corruption, let them know that it is a purely materialistic production which may result in man’s replacement by robots. As for intellectual and spiritual values, it should not be forgotten that America enslaves negroes and subjects them to the worst treatment ever witnessed by humanity, America supports the cause of colonialism in all parts of the world. It is impossible to separate the spiritual decline represented by submission to animal passions and the spiritual decline manifested in colonialism and slavery-both are related to a kind of decline to which truly civilized nations would not descend.
There is no doubt that the majority of people in these days derive great Pleasure from associating with beautiful and elegant women. This is quite true because tasting a number of dishes is more desirable than having to repeat the same dish! But is pleasure, the only goal in life? And has anyone denied that the wild passions have always been highly desirable? The pleasures of the flesh and the unruly passions are not the discoveries of the western world of the twentieth century. The Greeks, the Romans and the Persians had known such pleasures and were down to their ears in the pleasures of the flesh. But it was the addiction of the said nations to the sensual pleasures that distracted them from their serious pursuits and invariably brought about the end of their rule and supremacy.
Although the West has considerable materialistic potentialities (science, mass production and the mad rush to work), yet its addiction to sensual passions is leading to its partial downfall. But if we do not possess the necessary power because the circumstances of the last two centuries were not in our favor, what benefits do we hope to gain by giving in to our passions in the name of civilization and progress or for fear of being accused of reactionarism? If we submit to our unruly passions our circumstances will never improve and we shall always be deteriorating and declining. All those “free thinkers” who advocate the abandonment of traditions are but colonialist stooges. Colonialism understands and encourages such writers and thinkers and knows how much they serve its evil objectives by corrupting the morals and ethics of people and diverting the interests of the youth to the pursuit of pleasures and passions.
We often hear many misguided people say: look at women in the Western societies and behold how they have been elevated from mere females to full-fledged women. They have become human creatures playing a role in social life. There is no doubt that women, after taking regular work and associating with the other sex, have had new experiences which could not have been available if they had confined their activities to looking after their homes and children. But let us ask this question: Did such experiences add anything to the capacities of women as such? Or did these add some potentialities while curtailing others?
We ask again: Did such experiences add anything to human existence as a whole? Or did these merely add something while curtailing other aspects?
The Western woman has become a good friend to man. She accepts his flirtation and responds to his sexual desires, and she even shares some of his problems but she is no longer a good wife or mother. This is supported by the fact that the rate of divorce in U.S.A. has reached a monstrous degree of 40 %. In Europe, the rate of divorce is a little lower but keeping mistresses and lovers is a common practice among married people. If the Western woman was a good wife and could settle in a family to which she would devote all her care, the rate of divorce in U.S.A. would not be so high nor would the escape from home be a common practice in Europe. It should also be pointed out that working women do not have the experiences necessary for good mothers. They would not have the time nor the psychological aptitude to meet their obligations as mothers.
On the other hand, apart from pleasure and delight humanity as a whole has almost gained nothing from the free association of the sexes. There is no doubt that neither the few women who have become deputies, ministers or heads of departments, nor the thousands or millions of them who work in factories, stores, public houses or brothels, could solve the problems of the world. Is it possible that a woman cannot play an effective part in the social life except by making speeches in parliament or signing directives in departments? No one can say that a woman does not playa prominent part in society when she brings up her children in the proper way and presents the world with good citizens. A woman may be intoxicated by ovation in parliament or admiration in salons and streets but all these are nothing when compared to the danger of supplying the world with motherless generations who have not experienced the love which neutralizes the evil desires in their souls. Such love is only given by mothers who are completely devoted to such a sacred duty.
It is true that we should not be too hard on women by depriving them of the pleasures of life, or of asserting their personal existence.
But life does not permit us-both men and women-to have our own ways or to assert our existence in the manner we like.
What would happen if we are selfish enough to enjoy ourselves without any limits? We shall be succeeded by miserable generations whose misery would be the outcome of our selfishness and delinquency. It is not in the interest of women as a sex that future generations may be miserable simply because the women of a particular generation have had excessive pleasure.
Islam cannot be blamed for acting in the interest of all the generations without favoring anyone generation to others because it regards humanity as an endless chain of connected generations. But Islam might be blamed were it to prohibit all kinds of pleasures or fight against natural propensities or repress them.