By Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam
30 May 2016
From a layperson’s perspective of Economics!
Case a): It is often shown in the media the leaders of Muslim countries performing religious rites when in office to bolster their standing in the nation. Not uncommon is the allegation that the publicity stunt was political and at the expense of the nation’s treasury.
Case b): Many individuals, in various countries who of their own, take in abandoned new-born children, some even disabled, to foster and nurture. The case of an elderly couple in Japan who have installed fully wired comfortable safe box named ‘Baby Cot’ at their house and the ‘Palnaa’ - Cradle- of Eidhi Foundation of Pakistan are examples of practical selfless acts, purely for Goodness sake.
The case a) is ‘Selfish Effort’ for personal gains and the case b) is ‘Selfless Endeavour’ to bringing long term change for the betterment of humanity.
The nature’s law as articulated by Isaac Newton that every Action has equal and opposite Reaction. In the above two examples, each one was practically-undertaken action but with vastly different outcomes. In social terms the first one would be considered as ‘wasted’ and the later as ‘lasting’ efforts.
It makes one wonder as to why the Quran repeats, over eighty times, the phrase A’millus Saalihaatih- the righteous acts or beneficial acts?
As every action-A’amal, whether for evil or good, has a reaction, the specific qualification of ‘righteous/beneficial’ is necessary to differentiate between the two; since the Book’s main aim is to guide humanity on the path of righteousness. This guidance was asked for by mankind in 1-6 of the Book.
In the context of beneficial acts, the one addressed in the very beginning, verse 2-3, of the Book, is the spending out of ones excess sustenance provided by nature, for the benefit of humanity as a whole- Yunfiqoon. This is repeated over seventy times therein.
A short chapter 107-Ma’oon of the Book is addressed here out of many, specifically as an example of the social Codes- ad Deen ul Islam (ref. 5-4) for its economics strategy.
The Chapter highlights the people who negate this aspect of the Code for change in the economic condition of humanity. The chapter is variously termed by translators as ‘Neighbourly Deeds’, ‘Act of kindness’, ’Assistance’, ‘Small kindness’, ‘The Spring of Sustenance’, and even ‘Religion’.
In Rodwell’s ‘The Quran’, this chapter is named ‘Religion’. Although the word Madhab- for religion is an Arabic word, it is not used in Quran. The specific term for its system of Codes is ad-Deen. It is based on goodly/beneficial actions A’millus Salihaat (ref. 16-97).
This is a précis that exposes those who are negligent of this particular Code. And so, in the process it defines Islam as being a ‘Do’ based ideology (2-3). It establishes the ideals of mankind’s (including women-kind’s!) dignity 17-70, and it’s the basis of prosperity.
The Chapter begins with:
107-1, Have you marked the one who attaches lies to ad-Deen?
In asking the question it marks out who belies ad-Deen and thus negates Islam. So who is that?
107-2, the one who shows animosity towards the orphans- Yateem,
Orphan is a child bereft of parental love, care, nurturing and protection; by the fact that one or both parents have passed away or while alive, had abandoned the child, thus depriving it of its rights to all the necessities of healthy development.
The Book embraces all those in humanity who lack the necessities of life that ensure the balanced development of mankind! And adds:
107-3, and urges not others the feeding of the needy. (Refer also 89-17 to 20).
Similarly, the ‘feeding’ is not just the giving of food to poor (during the month of Ramadhan only) but providing provisions of continuous nourishment for the development of a healthily humanity. Additionally to discourage others from doing the righteous acts is negating the Code, since that creates inequality in mankind.
107-4, So! Woe to the Musalleen, …the praying ones,
For it can be argued that the Musalleen, those who pray do a lot of “good work”. Religious school is often cited as an example. However, the act of providing boarding, lodging and religious knowledge with the ulterior and parochial motives (such as of recruiting youth to their version of Religion) is not an example of ‘Doing good’ for humanity.
The implication is obvious. Parents, relatives, friends, neighbours, teachers and everybody around the child contributes to it healthy development. The nation and the State.
‘Equitable Distribution of sustenance’ is extensively discussed from the very beginning of the Book. It is ordained upon those individuals who loudly and willingly (on being elected) take the oath (on scriptures) to shoulder all the responsibilities of leadership of the State. When they renege, the nation, the State fails. Then humanity suffers!
Religious Spirituality is individual’s worship of a Deity; such as worship/praying on prayer rug/Musalla, and Musalleen are therefore those who pray on it.
So why is the Book condemning Musalleen? Because:
107-5, they are negligent of their (duty) of Salat,
In Verse 2-3 at the very start, along with the command to implement the Quranic Codes, is the command for ‘establishment’ of Salat. This establishment – Aqimus Salat is not the prayer, as the Musalleen insisted to be the rituals performed on the prayer rug. These rituals are condemned as shown in 107-4 above.
Hence, Salat is practical ‘Do’ system, established to benefit humanity and not as spirituality expressed on Musalla by Musalleen to show off piety. The next verses make it clear:
107-6, who perform these to be seen by others. (Refer also to 2-264, 4-142)
They “advertise” their piety by pretending that they are performing their duty of Salat; like performing Hajj at taxpayer expenses and publicizing it to win votes. And finally;
107-7, who shy away from doing righteous deeds,
Communally a wasted Effort! How so? One way is by locking out their excess wealth which is beyond their needs 2-219. As one translator puts this wealth as the Spring of Sustenance for the needy; and therefore good for humanity as whole.
This would seem like drawing a long bow for those who take Quran as a religious scripture, a book of church dogma, liturgy and easy spirituality of the church.
‘They say “we found our ancestors follow this custom”’.
Blindly following ancestors is an excuse for the ignorant 7-173. Verse 9-34 is scathing in condemnation of this class. Quran calls them Mutrifeen, the freeloaders and parasites. This is the class which perpetuates the custom for its own aggrandisement and to gain status.
Quran always repeats its instructions in different ways (refer to verses 76-6 to 9, 89-17 to 20). A lengthy Verse 2-177 is briefly quoted here as an example.
It begins by condemnation of religious rituals. For, that which focuses the Creator’s Lordship of the universe on just one holy place on earth:
2-177, It is not righteous that you turn your faces towards East(s) or West(s), (summer and winter solstice); but what is righteous: But what is righteous is to spend out of your sustenance for love of Him ……and establish Salat and…And then a long list of ‘Do’s follow. Refer 9-60 also.
It concludes that those who fulfill all the requirements “are the people of truth and are God conscious”. In 2-5 it says: they are the ones on the path of Lord’s guidance (asked earlier in1-6) and they will prosper.
Prosperity of mankind depends on the practical actions to eliminate poverty by equitable distribution of wealth- Yunfiqoon; layperson’s system of ‘egalitarian economics’, with a heavy dose of morality that comes from one’s “self” and looking at the “big picture” like the people of Baby Cot and Palnaa. But it is an anathema to the wealthy; they say ‘…let God feed them’ 36-47
What emerges from the above is that Quranic Code is not a nebulous, ritualistic and spiritual dogma either for churches or politics, all operated by ‘the elevated class’ of people it calls Taghut; but it is a universal system of command for “Do’s” and “Don’ts” by all for the good of all. That is, the result-orientated spirituality of Islam.
The reward comes from the capacity to perform those deeds that lifts the performers’ ‘self’ to a higher level:
55-60, is the reward for Good other than Good?
Therefore leaders do not covet Nobel Prize, for doing what should be done as a duty in the first place, because:
13-17… as for that which is good for humanity remains on earth… That is goodness for goodness sake, as the noble prize!
It begs the question then: If those who belie the code ad-Deen, are they not the companions of the Devil whom Almighty has cursed and who, as of their share, plunder and destroy the humanity and its soul in many ways?
4-118… he (the Devil) said, ‘certainly I will take my appointed share of Your servants’.
The Devil’s companions portray themselves as ‘the elevated class’, for their appointed share of Human soul; with hoarded wealth, military might, bruised foreheads and with flags adorned with holy text, pretending it is from the Book (2-79).
Mankind has the Book of Codes but fails to recognise the carpet baggers: the Devil-incarnates (2-98). Once these are recognised and driven out of ad-Deen, there is enough left to go round for the human nation (10-19) to prosper as one and in peace.
A regular contributor to New Age Islam, Rashid Samnakay is a (Retd.) Engineer