Early in the morning I like to read a little Qur’an in Arabic and wade through perhaps an eighth inch of a foot-high pile of “must reading.” This morning I came across a long two-part article by Mamoon al Rasheed, entitled “Islam, Nonviolence, and Social Transformation,” published on February 4th, 2006, in The American Muslim. The title looked interesting, so it joined my foot-high pile six months ago and somehow floated to the top (incidentally I have several foot-high piles of unread essential readings in storage in Florida from forty years of such piling).
This 29-page magnum opus was indeed “must reading” because it is the saddest writing I have ever encountered. It is intellectually sophisticated and absolutely brilliant in deconstructing (totally perverting) the entire message of the Qur’an. The Qur’anic message is to empower every person and community both economically and politically as well as spiritually. Rasheed mounts a brilliant case for a Muslim strategy of non-violence to enslave and then destroy humanity. He first develops the case to enslave humanity, which inevitably then would result in our destruction.
This monstrously beguiling piece of legerdemain provides the perfect contra temp or bait noir or negative focus for my current book project on justice in Jafari thought (“Shi’a Islam”). Shi’a thought focuses on tawhid as the paradigm of existence and on justice as the empowerment of every person and community. In contrast, this magnum opus by Mamoon al Rasheed uses tawhid as the framework de facto without war to disempower every human being and every nation on earth. Rasheed should be given a Congressional Medal of Honor by the high command of Neo-Conservatism as the perfect dupe for global conquest.
This article perfectly represents an extreme case of why I have found the entire body of modern so-called Islamic economics in every way bankrupt and therefore part of the problem rather than of the solution in bringing peace with dignity to the world. Given the almost universal vacuity of modern Muslim scholars, it is perhaps inevitable that pious and compassionate young Muslims would turn into fanatical terrorists, because for them the failure of the modern Muslim intelligentsia to address real problems and real solutions leaves no other solution.
This morning, I have to put some finishing touches on the hospice’s web-page to send Monday to the web-page designer, so I cannot explain what I mean in greater detail (this would require a book). But you can get the idea from the following quotes from Part II on what Rasheed calls “social justice.” He uses this term because he has not the vaguest concept of economic justice, without which any advocacy of social justice is a utopian fraud.
“Capitalists and landlords should transfer their accumulated wealth into a trust for the common use of society.” “Islam does not recognize a consumption-oriented affluent society. It advocates ... the avoidance of the dehumanization associated with competitive commercialization and heavy industrialization. Today even sociologists agree that technology’s prevalence ... is a direct threat to iman [one’s faith].” “Wealth is not desired for the maximization of standards of living. Wealth is for collective purposes and not for individual utility.”
“In an Islamically transformed society there would be two classes of people: workers and entrepreneurs. While insisting upon a powerful built-in mechanism for income redistribution, Islam is even more powerful on account of its alignment with the Pleasure of Allah…. It is essentially a society with equal income distribution.”
“Social justice, or al ‘adl, requires the poor to be moved up and the rich to be moved down the scale of the social hierarchy. It is with this view that the great Khalifah Umar, seeing the gap between the rich and the poor widening, said, ‘Had I done first what I did later, I would have taken away the wealth from the rich and distributed it among the poor’.”
Al Rasheed then quotes Maududi, who together with Ali Shari’ati, is one of the two leading non-Arab Islamists in the world, rivaling Syed Qutb: “One should spend all that one earns on one’s lawful and reasonable needs, and if any surplus accrues, hand it over to others so that they may satisfy their needs. Islam ... will always respect those who earn and spend, much more than those who keep their wealth hoarded and who go on investing surplus income in earning more.”
Al Rasheed concludes his essay, before giving his Islamist solutions, with the following sentence: “To solve or alleviate within a reasonable time the basic problems of poverty, deprivation, and inequity, it is necessary that the better off members of society have their existing standard of living lowered, kept static over time, or kept from growing as fast as it would otherwise grow, until a favorable balance has been reached.”
The above quotes portray the essence of the socialist mentality, which calls for the government monopoly of coercion to take from the rich and give to the poor. The Communists and Islamists then take the next step to Leninism by demanding that the poor grab power from those who hold it by whatever means possible. In other words, the only means to empower some people is to disempower others. This zero-sum game is the cause of wars and would destroy the world if permitted to continue as it has been in recent decades.
The basic fallacy in such socialist thinking is the failure to recognize that an Islamic system, indeed any moral system of societal justice, should empower everyone equally. This is possible only if everyone becomes an individual owner of the means of production, that is, only if everyone becomes an entrepreneur. The basic Islamic jurisprudential principle of haqq al mal calls for private ownership in the means of production, and its underlying premise is that such ownership must be universal. Either a human right is universal or it is not at all.
Al-Rasheed’s assumption is that everyone except an elite must continue forever to be wage slaves at the mercy of the capital owners. De facto this means that the capitalists are supposed to be merciful by giving sufficient handouts to the poor so that their desperation will not cause revolution.
The remarkable thing about this monumental catastrophe of modern Islamist thinking is that the solution to economic justice is so plain to see, yet they do not see it. The solution is to remove the barriers to broadened credit through the Central Bank’s discount mechanism and the commercial banking system, as well or through the old standby of ESOPS (employee stock ownership trusts) and such more powerful instruments as community investment corporations and “industrial homesteading.” This entire field of economic thought, designed to empower the powerless without theft from existing owners, has been spelled out in excruciating detail but apparently is entirely unknown by Muslim economists and moral theologians, who continue to dress up the bankrupt socialist ideology of the twentieth century in the false garb of divinity.
It is depressingly sad to read through Al Rasheed’s prescription for peace through justice, because it is so obvious that his failure to offer any realistic solution to the intolerable injustices in the world provides the perfect breeding ground for global terrorism of a magnitude hardly imagined.
Peace through love, courage, and realistic commitment to justice,