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Part IV The System : Social System of Islam

Reference : Dr Javed Jamil

A Systematic Study of the Holy Qur’an-19

Part IV The System : Social System of Islam

 

Part
IV The
System -
Social
System of
Islam


Social System of Islam

 

In sharp contrast to the modern social system, which is driven chiefly by economic considerations, Islamic social system is governed by its primary objective of “peace” at all levels. In Islam, peace has three essential constituents: health (physical, mental, social & spiritual) of the individual; family peace and social order. All social principles are directly or indirectly related to the same three constituents. To achieve these objectives, the social system of Islam has made some extraordinary arrangements.

 

 

Three tiers of social life: Individual, family and society

 

The first important feature of Islamic social system is aharmonious equilibrium between individual, family and society.These three may be regarded as three tiers of social life. Islam safeguards all the three without giving anyone of them an exaggerated emphasis. An individual is an individual, which cannot be compromised for family and society. But at the same time, one is a member of a family and a member of a society. Society cannot trample upon one’s rights and duties as a member of family which are as important as one’s rights and duties as a member of society.

 

At the individual level, Islam gives personal rights, right to birth, right to education and training, right to choose spouse, right to earn in whatever way one chooses, right to spend, right to own property, right to inherit and bequeath, right to justice, right to express allegiance (or vote), right to religious functions and so on. As a member of a familyone has right to sex with the spouse, right to divorce in accordance with the established procedure, right to decide in the matter of having or not having children, right to kind treatment by the spouse and children, right to inherit and bequeath to and from the members of the family, right to get two years’ breast feeding from mother, rights as wives of dower and maintenance and right to loyalty of the spouse. As a member of society, one has right to security, right to contribute to administration by expressing one’s allegiance, right to equal opportunities, right to justice when wronged by others, right to associate with people or groups of one’s choice, right to benefit from common resources and right to be a part of any social institution.

 

 

Three-dimensional socio-legal system

 

Another fundamentally important feature of Islamic social system that distinguishes it from most of the modern systems that lay emphasis only on rights and, to some extent, on duties, is that it lays equal emphasis on rights, duties and prohibitions. Islamic socio-legal system is three dimensional in   contradistinction with most of the contemporary systems that are two-dimensional with one dimension (duties) considerably weaker than the other (rights). The modern approach is influenced by economic fundamentalism that seeks to commercialise both the strengths and the weaknesses of human beings. In order to commercialise weaknesses, it is necessary that “prohibitions” should be totally prohibited and greater emphasis should be given to rights, not duties. In the Islamic social system, on the other hand, the above mentioned rights as individual, member of family and member of society are harmonised with duties and prohibitions. In the building of Islamic society, duties form the foundation, rights the roof and prohibition the walls; a building cannot be a building without any of the three, and all the three must be adequately planned and built.

 

 

Equality

 

Equality is inherent in Islamic social system. The Qur’an speaks of the equality of the whole mankind by stating that all men and women had the same father and mother, Adam and Eve. The holy book shuns supremacy of man on any basis other than the superiority of deeds. Islam knows no races and castes; in religious matters, social obligations and also in the eyes of law all are equal. Contrary to the propaganda unleashed by the vested interests, Islam in fact paved the way for the eradication of slavery from the world and the emancipation of women from the clutches of male chauvinism.

 

 

Eradication of slavery from society

 

Let us first study how the advent of Muhammad (PBUH) led to the virtual eradication of slavery from society.

 

When Muhammad announced his status as the Prophet of God, slavery flourished almost throughout the world in its most abominable form. Slaves were treated much worse than animals; they were purchased and sold like cattle. Islam started eradication of slavery in a systematic manner. Several steps were taken: First came the lessons of kindness towards slaves. They should be given to eat what the masters eat and to wear what the masters wear. This was followed by the Qur’anic directive to consider slaves for marriage; for believing slaves are better than non-believing slaves ( 4: 25 ). The Qur’an further directed that slave-girls cannot be forced into prostitution (verse 24:33). This was a clear warning that slave-girls can be taken as wife but cannot be forced into flesh trade. Another step that was taken by the Prophet was the directive that any slave-woman who became pregnant would become a free woman. This implies that a mother can never be a slave; and also that the children of slaves would not be slaves.  The prophet did clearly express his displeasure at the practice of some companions to practise azl (coitus interruptus) with slave-women so that, in case they became pregnant, they would not have to be given the status of free wives. The most important step that the Qur’an took that paved way for the eradication of slavery was thatfreeing slaves was declared an extraordinarily virtuous act (2: 177) for which man will be given special incentives in the Hereafter.  This was further complemented by the declaration of freeing a slave as compensation or punishment of some crimes and   mistakes (4:92; 5: 89; 58: 3). The Qur’an was kind to slaves in matters of punishment, too, declaring that the punishment for immorality by slaves will be half than that for the free women ( 4: 25 ).

 

Some people ask why the practice of slavery was not forbidden altogether. The answer is not difficult to find. This in fact goes to prove that the Qur’an is, in truth, the word of God; for it does not suffer from the shortcomings of human nature and intellect which often tend to take decisions that look good in short term, but prove disastrous in the end. If slavery was declared prohibited, it would mean that purchasing and selling of slaves would not remain permissible.This would not give Muslims an opportunity to buy slaves from other communities who would then neither be freed from their captivity; nor would they get an opportunity to understand Islam. What happened in the aftermath of the revolutionary steps taken by Islam was that a large number of slaves were purchased by Muslims; they were given exemplary treatment; they were presented the message of God; influenced by Islamic teachings and the kind treatment by Muslims they converted to Islam; and were sooner than later freed. And there came a time in the history of Islam when the descendants of slaves, popularly known as Mamluk Dynasty, ruled over Egypt.

 

If slavery returned again to some parts of the Muslim world, it was due to their own failure in following Islam, and in many ways they returned to p[re-Islamic ways.

 

In the name of God, the Kind, the Merciful

 

Social System in the Qur'an

 

Peace the System

 

* …(I have chosen for you) PEACE (in submission to God, which is ehat Islam means) as your System... (5: 3/A)

 

Nor take life - which God has made sacred except for just cause. ( 17: 33 /A)

 

Freedom

 

To you be your Way, and to me mine. (109: 6/A)

 

Say: Who  hath  forbidden  the  beautiful  (gifts) of 
God,which He hath produced for His servants,   and    
the things, clean and pure, (which He hath provided)
for sustenance? ( 7: 32 /A)

 

Lawful unto you (in marriage) are (not only) chaste
women who are believers, but chaste women among
the People of the Book, revealed before your  time,-
when   ye  give  them  their  due  dowers,  and desire
chastity, not lewdness..(5: 5/A)

 

(See other rights, duties and prohibitions in the “Fundamental Rights”, “Fundamental Duties” and “Fundamental Prohibitions”.)

 

Family

 

And  among  His  Signs  is this, that He created for you mates  from  among  yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts)..(30: 21/A)

 

And  God  has  made for you mates (and companions)  of  your  own nature, and made for you, out of them,  sons  and  daughters  and  grandchildren,  and provided for you sustenance of the best: will they then believe  in  vain  things,  and  be ungrateful for God’s favours? (16: 72/A)
Healthy Reproductive Life

 

Also  (prohibited  are)  women  already   married, except  those  whom  your right hands possess: Thus hath God ordained (prohibitions) against you:  Except for these, all others are lawful, provided ye seek (them in marriage) with gifts from  your   property,- desiring chastity,  not  lust,  seeing  that ye derive benefit from them, give them their dowers (at least) as prescribed; but if, after a dower is  prescribed, agree mutually (to vary it), there is no blame on you...( 4: 24 /A)

 

If  ye  fear  a  breach between them twain, appoint (two) arbiters, one from his family, and the other from hers;  if  they  wish  for  peace,  God  will cause their reconciliation...( 4: 35 /A)

 

If those who find not the wherewithal for marriage keep themselves chaste, until God gives them means out of His grace. (24: 33/A)

 

Nor come nigh to adultery: for it is a shameful (deed) and  an  evil,  opening  the  road  (to  other  evils).   ( 17: 32 /A)

    

If two men among you are guilty of lewdness, punish them both. ( 4: 16 /A)

 

 

Social Security

 

No mischief

 

When it is said to them: “Make not mischief on the earth,” they say: “Why, we only want to make peace!” Of a surety, they are the ones who make mischief, but they realise (it) not. (2: 11-12/A)

 

Equality

 

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a  male  and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. (49: 13/A)

 

(See also verses under “Fundamental Rights”)

 

 

Rights of Weaker Sections

 

Orphans

 

They ask thee concerning orphans. Say: “The best thing to do is what is for their good; if ye mix their affairs with yours, they are your brethren...(2: 220/A)

 

To orphans restore their property (when they reach their age)...(4: 2/A)
If the guardian is well-off, let him claim no remuneration, but if he is poor, let him have for himself what is just and reasonable. (4: 6/A)

 

To those weak of understanding make not over your property, which God hath made a means of support for you, but feed and clothe them therewith, and speak to them words of kindness and justice. (4: 5/A)

 

Help the needy

 

..and do good- to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (ye meet), and what your right hands possess... (4: 36/A)

 

Slaves emancipated

 

And if any of your slaves ask for a deed in writing (to enable them to earn their freedom for a certain sum), give them such a deed if ye know any good in them: yea, give them something yourselves out of the means which God has given to you. But force not your maids to prostitution when they desire chastity, in order that ye may make a gain in the goods of this life. But if anyone compels them, yet, after such compulsion, is God, Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful (to them)...          (24: 33/A)

 

Marriage with slaves promoted

 

If any of you have not the means wherewith to wed free believing women, they may wed believing girls from among those whom your right hands possess: And God hath full knowledge about your faith. Ye are one from another: Wed them with the leave of their owners, and give them their dowers, according to what is reasonable: They should be chaste, not lustful, nor taking paramours: when they are taken in wedlock, if they fall into shame, their punishment is half that for free women. This (permission) is for those among you who fear sin; but it is better for you that ye practise self-restraint. And God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. ( 4: 25 /A)

 

Do not marry unbelieving women (idolaters), until they believe: A slave woman who believes is better than an unbelieving woman, even though she allures you. Nor marry (your girls) to unbelievers until they believe: A man slave who believes is better than an unbeliever, even though he allures you. Unbelievers do (but) beckon you to the Fire. But God beckons by His Grace to the Garden (of bliss) and forgiveness, and makes His Signs clear to mankind: That they may celebrate His praise. (2: 221/A)

 

Freeing of slaves promoted

 

Never should a believer kill a believer; but (If it so happens) by mistake, (compensation is due): If one (so) kills a believer, it is ordained that he should free a believing slave, and pay compensation to the deceased’s family, unless they remit it freely. If the deceased belonged to a people at war with you, and he was a believer, the freeing of a believing slave (is enough). If he belonged to a people with whom ye have treaty of mutual alliance, compensation should be paid to his family, and a believing slave be freed. For those who find this beyond their means, (is prescribed) a fast for two months running: by way of repentance to God; for God hath all knowledge and all wisdom. (4: 92/A)

 

God will not call you to account for what is futile in your oaths, but He will call you to account for your deliberate oaths: for expiation, feed ten indigent persons, on a scale of the average for the food of your families; or clothe them; or give a slave his freedom. If that is beyond your means, fast for three days. That is the expiation for the oaths ye have sworn. But keep to your oaths. Thus doth God make clear to you His signs, that ye may be grateful. (5: 89/A

 

Needy

 

But those who divorce their wives by Zihar, then wish to go back on the words they uttered,- (It is   ordained that such a one) should free a slave before they touch each other... (58: 3/A)

 

It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards east or West; but it is righteousness-to believe in God and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfil the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing. (2: 177/A)

 

And what will explain to thee the path that is steep?-
(It is:) freeing the bondsman;
Or the giving of food in a day of privation
To the orphan with claims of relationship,
Or to the indigent (down) in the dust. (90: 12-16/A)

 

And know that out of all the booty that ye may    acquire (in war), a fifth share is assigned to God,- and to the Messenger, and to near relatives, orphans, the needy, and the wayfarer,-………( 8: 42 /A)

 

(Note: The term ‘needy’ has a vast scope: it includes sick, crippled handicapped, refugee, victim of natural calamities, and others.)

 


 

 

CONTENTS

  

PART I: FAITH

 

 

 

PART II: PHILOSOPHY

 

 

PART III: CONSTITUTION

 

 

PART IV: THE SYSTEM

 

 

PART V: THE HISTORY OF CONFRONTATION

 

?

Last Word: The Final Document of Peace

 


 

 

 

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