Islam and Social Order
BY : ِDR.NOORULLAH KAWSAR (PH.D.)
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ
الْحَمْدُ للهِ الَّذِي لَهُ ما فِي السَّماواتِ وَما فِي الأَرْضِ وَلَهُ الْحَمْدُ فِي الآخِرَةِ وَهُوَ الْحَكِيمُ الْخَبِيرُ (1) يَعْلَمُ ما يَلِجُ فِي الأَرْضِ وَما يَخْرُجُ مِنْها وَما يَنْزِلُ مِنَ السَّماءِ وَما يَعْرُجُ فِيها وَهُوَ الرَّحِيمُ الْغَفُورُ (2) اما بعد: فقد قال ربنا تبارک وتعالی:
“( يا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْناكُمْ مِنْ ذَكَرٍ وَأُنْثى وَجَعَلْناكُمْ شُعُوباً وَقَبائِلَ لِتَعارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللهِ أَتْقاكُمْ إِنَّ اللهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ )”
Dear Excellency host, respected sisters, brothers, and esteemed audience present in hall Assalam aullokom wa rahmatullah wa brakato
I am honored with the opportunity endowed to me to speak re Islamic Social Order, and would like to outset my speech with the verse of the Holy Quran:
49: 13. O mankind! We created4933 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 honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most ` of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).
O you men! surely We have created you of a male and a female, and made you tribes and families that you may know each other; surely the most honorable of you with Allah is the one among you most careful (of his duty); surely Allah is Knowing, Aware.
- 4933. This is addressed to all mankind and not only to the Muslim brotherhood, though it is understood that in a perfected world the two would be synonymous. As it is, mankind is descended from one pair of parents. Their tribes, races, and nations are convenient labels by which we may know certain differing characteristics. Before Allah they are all one, and he gets most honour who is most righteous.
Islam provides complete guidance for all aspects of human life. Islamic law is not confined to civil and criminal matters, but also deals with administrative, socioeconomic, national, and international affairs.
Islam in Social Order
Social Coordination in a Society from Islamic Prospective
The main goal of the religion is to help man achieve the highest level of moral and spiritual status so that he may become an exalted figure in the sight of all around him and gain respect and honour among his fellow beings. Allah Almighty wants to see men tied up in a cemented bond of brotherhood. Though He has placed man in different diversities of race, colour, language and culture yet when He addresses them, He does not draw a difference between the people with different cultural, social and economic diversities and backgrounds. But He addresses them saying: “Ya ayyu hannas” (O people). So these cultural diversities have their own role in the social schemes and inspire man to better his understanding and outlook about society and his surroundings.
Though Allah Almighty has divided mankind into tribes and nations for greater facility of intercourse, yet neither a tribe nor any member of any tribe enjoys any privilege over the other. The true and genuine source that makes someone worthy in the sight of Allah is the way he leads his life. The Holy Prophet (SAW), in his farewell address, stated, “You all are brothers of one another. None of you enjoys any privilege or superiority over the other.” He further commented neither any Arab does enjoy any privilege over a non-Arab nor any white does enjoy any superiority over a black.” The great benefactor of mankind, Prophet Mohammad (SAW), rooted out all sort of possible existing differences among mankind that may lead to any catastrophic end.
Islam urges its followers on enhancing and establishing brotherhood among them. It states that there are great benefits in universal brotherhood as Allah Almighty has said emphatically that we have created you from one couple and the Holy Prophet Mohammad (SAW) said that all the Muslims are like the limbs of a body. When one part is in trouble; the whole body feels its stress and strains. We can increase that level of relationship bringing our wills, interests, pursuits, desires, likes and dislikes in perfect coordination of the demands Allah Almighty expects from His creatures.
The basic articles of an Islamic Constitution
The foremost feature of Islamic administration is twofold: All people are God’s creatures and therefore no one enjoys any superiority coming from birth (race, family, and color, etc); and the government’s power is neither absolute nor designed to enslave them. Rather, its main objective is to establish and promote the virtues approved of by God and to prevent and suppress vice. This is why all rulers should display righteousness and respect for God in their character, words, and actions. Government employees, judges, and military officers should imbibe this spirit and infuse it into society.
The rule of law is indispensable to an Islamic social order. The Prophet (PBUH) was sent with the Book (the Qur’an, the Islamic community’s constitution) and the Balance (the Divine standard by which rulers must implement the Qur’an in order to rule the community according to absolute justice). No Muslim is above the law or can transgress its limits. The law is to be enforced without discrimination, and courts are to be free of outside pressure. History shows that most caliphs set the best examples by adhering to these principles. Even though they enjoyed greater power than past kings and present presidents and prime ministers, they adhered strictly to the law. Friendship and nepotism did not annul prescribed rules and regulations, and personal displeasure did not cause them to violate the legal code.
As justice and the rule of law are an Islamic constitution’s foremost articles, people are to obey the government so that anarchy and social disorder can be avoided.
But disobedience is allowed, for the Prophet is reported to have said: “There is no obedience in sin.” This does not mean that people can revolt against the government, but that individual Muslims are responsible for their own felicity and salvation,
إِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّى يُغَيِّرُواْ مَا بِأَنْفُسِهِمْ) (
For: God does not change the state of a people unless they change themselves (13:11). People make their own history and are responsible for their own individual and social conditions. Given this, advice and preaching should always come before revolt.
Another important article is the advisory system of government. Learned and pious people who possess sound judgment and expert knowledge, as well as enjoy the people’s confidence, must be located and clarify their opinions based on the dictates of their conscience. This advisory system is so important that
وَأَمْرُهُمْ شُورَى بَيْنَهُمْ))
Allah (SW) praises the first, exemplary Muslim community as a community whose affair is by counsel between them (42:38).
This becomes even more explicit when we realize that this first community was led by the Prophet (PBUH), who never spoke out of caprice or on his own authority,
(وَمَا يَنطِقُ عَنِ الْهَوَى (3) إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْيٌ يُوحَى)
but only spoke what was revealed to him by God (53:2-3)
(وَشَاوِرْهُمْ فِي الأَمْرِ فَإِذَا عَزَمْتَ فَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللّهِ إِنَّ اللّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَوَكِّلِينَ)
And that God considers consultation so important that He orders His Messenger (PBUH) to practice it with his Companions (3:159).
Consultation settles many affairs among Muslims. Judges who cannot decide cases use it to reach a verdict based on the Qur’an and the Sunna, thus making it similar to ijtihad and qiyas (analogy). Furthermore, any punishment of a secondary nature that is not explicitly mentioned in the Qur’an and the Sunna can be pronounced after consulting authoritative Muslim jurists.
Right of vote
Another basic principle is that the government should be formed with the people’s free consent—not through the use of force—only after they have been consulted. The people should entrust power to the best candidate after consulting among themselves, for this was how each true successor to the Prophet (PBUH) came to power. When rulers deviate from the Right Path, the people or their scholarly representatives should use consultation to bring about their abdication or reform.
Right of freedom
The constitution also provides for the freedom of opinion. Promoting virtue and preventing vice is more than just a right for Muslims—it is their essential duty. Freedom of conscience and speech is the pivot that ensures the correct functioning of Islamic society and administration. The people are free to criticize even the most prominent Muslims when they go astray and to speak their minds on all matters.
The final article of an Islamic constitution to be discussed here is the public treasury, which is God’s property and a trust. Everything should be received through lawful sources and spent only for lawful purposes. Rulers have no more control of the public treasury than trustees have over the property of minor orphans in their custody:
(وَمَن كَانَ غَنِيًّا فَلْيَسْتَعْفِفْ وَمَن كَانَ فَقِيرًا فَلْيَأْكُلْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ)
If he is rich, let him abstain altogether; if poor let him consume it reasonably (4:6).
Rulers must account for the public treasury’s income and expenditure, and Muslims have the right to demand a full account of these.
In Islam, the state is not a deity to be worshiped but a special organization that is subject to the dictates of law. Muslims are not associated in Islamic society because of their need for one another (that would be selfish) but rather, they are obliged to look after one another and to be responsible for the welfare of all.
In accordance with the Divine law, the concept of social justice lays down certain conditions to treat man as an individual with liberty and equality as his birth right. It provides him with equal opportunities for developing his personality so that he is better fitted to fill the situation to which he is entitled, to give each individual his due and to regulate his relations with society in terms of value and welfare.
Duties to Society
This concept of social justice is achieved by giving the individual a better understanding of his duties in society and the reward thereof as provided under the Islamic dispensation. Education, being the measure and touchstone in this context, was made obligatory by the Prophet (PBUH) on every Muslim. More specifically he said and knew that knowledge enabled one to distinguish right from wrong. By virtue of it, God exalts nations, makes them guides in good pursuits, and gives them leadership.
The progress of society depends upon the interaction between the individual and society with the result that a balance is maintained in human affairs. Man as such should always keep in mind that God created the whole universe with a particular purpose and man has been asked to strive for its fulfillment. In the words of the Holy Qur’an:
وَالسَّمَاء رَفَعَهَا وَوَضَعَ الْمِيزَانَ (7) أَلَّا تَطْغَوْا فِي الْمِيزَانِ) (
And the Firmament has He raised high, and He has set up the Balance (of Justice). [Al-Qur’an, 55:7]
The terms ‘measure’ and ‘balance’ refer to justice, the heavenly virtue which should be established among all men who constitute a society.
Man has to act justly with his fellow beings and with the world around him. Here is again the Qur’anic verse:
(لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا رُسُلَنَا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَنزَلْنَا مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْمِيزَانَ لِيَقُومَ النَّاسُ بِالْقِسْطِ)
We sent aforetime Our Messengers with Clear Signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance (of Right and Wrong), that men may stand forth in justice. [Al-Qur’an. 57:25]
Which in the context of human affairs unfolds itself in the shape of social justice which weighs with exactitude all material and moral issues.
Equality and Freedom
Broadly speaking, human rights centre on equality and freedom. Caliph Umar reprimanded the governor of Egypt whose son had struck a Copt in these words that admirably illustrate this concept: “On what account have you enslaved men who were born free by their mothers?”. Again his instructions to establish equality among people demonstrate the best egalitarian features: the highly-placed man cannot take advantage of his position, and the weak person is not made to despair of his condition.
Human beings are all Slaves of God. In Islam, no superiority, no distinction and no pre-eminence can be lawfully claimed by one over the other except by virtue of piety. All people are equal in their social status and this is fully manifested in the congregational prayers where there is no room for rank and special privilege. All are equal in the sight of God whether he is a caliph or a slave. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “that individuals were all equal like the teeth of a comb”.
As earlier referenced above in the Holy Qur’an:
‘O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and female and made you, into nations and tribes that ye may know each other. Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. [Al-Qur’an, 49:13].
Rights are usually followed by duties but in Islam there are more duties and less rights and this is meant to restrict unlimited freedom lest it should be injurious to the interests of society.
Balance in Society
Justice to all is Islam’s essence and this enables man to lead a good and happy life while at the same time strengthening the bonds of human brotherhood as well as the social fabric.
The social framework prevalent today in most Muslim countries is not Islamic. There are many places where conditions are monstrous and oppressive for the poor. There is rampant corruption, poverty and want around us. There are few who have acquired substantial wealth and thus enjoy the numerous amenities and luxuries of life whereas the majority does not even receive two square meals a day. Social order in an Islamic state lays stress on simple and austere efforts that are free from ostentation. The Holy Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h. was just — he strove to bridge the gap between the rich and poor, the high and the low. He advocated a society in which there would not be any exploitation of one sector over another. What Islam aims at is a balanced life which represents the equilibrium of social forces.
Islam is far more than a system of theology. It stands for a distinctive civilization and a socio-political economic order based on practical considerations. It is through the operation of Islamic principles that the fullest development of man’s potentialities can be achieved. The optimum level of civilization which embodies the maximum for well-being can never be possible without spiritual and moral development. Islamic principles descending from Divinity are indeed perfect and absolute. The Islamic approach is therefore just, natural, human e and also perfectly balanced and rational.
Allah created mankind and He gave us a social order that has been embodied in the religion of Islam. Islam guides all mankind towards success both in this world and the hereafter and this has been the goal from the very first Prophet (Adam A.S.) to the last Prophet (Muhammad p.b.u.h.) of mankind. The perspective of Islam, apart from seeking success in the next world, is also strongly concerned with success in this world. Islam deals not only with the ways and means of devotion and worship towards Allah, but also with practices which lead man towards communion with Him. Furthermore, Islam helps man to solve worldly problems in terms of his relations in social and political life.
Although Islam includes major and vast discussion in regards, due to shortage of time I have high lighted on main imperative points and thank you for your kind consideration
۱۳۸۹/ ۱۱/ ۱۰