The Ideal Revolution by the Ideal Prophet
by Maulana Sadr-ud-Din
Table of Contents:
At the time of the advent of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) the whole world was in a state of widespread moral disorder. Religions were at war with one another. Monarchs stricken with land-lust planned to grab the neighbouring countries. They also tyrannised over their own subjects. The then prevailing conditions are succinctly described in the Quranic verse:
ظَہَرَ الۡفَسَادُ فِی الۡبَرِّ وَ الۡبَحۡرِ
“Corruption has appeared on land and sea” (The Holy Quran, 30:42).
There was chaos everywhere. The Jews and the Christians made confusion worse confounded by claiming to monopolise truth. The Holy Quran refers to this religious intransigence by saying:
وَ قَالُوۡا لَنۡ یَّدۡخُلَ الۡجَنَّۃَ اِلَّا مَنۡ کَانَ ہُوۡدًا اَوۡ نَصٰرٰی ؕ
“And they say, ‘None shall ever enter Heaven unless he be Jew or Christian’” (The Holy Quran, 2:111).
They further claimed, as the Holy Quran points out:
نَحۡنُ اَبۡنٰٓؤُا اللّٰہِ وَ اَحِبَّآؤُہٗ ؕ
“We are sons of Allah and His loved ones” (The Holy Quran, 5:18).
Here in India, the Hindus flaunted similar claims of the sole possession of divine truths and looked down upon others as the scum of the earth.
It can be well imagined that the masses then, as now, must be the victims of indescribable atrocities. Religion (which should bring salvation), in its decadent state had become a millstone round their necks. The Holy Prophet [Muhammad] (peace and blessings of God be upon him) redeemed the suffering humanity by an ideal revolution which forged bonds of fraternity between the rich and the poor. It was a deathblow to the imperialism of those days. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was immune against the contagious influences of the gorgeous monarchies. He commanded such devotion as was unknown to the contemporary kings. But even this absolute sovereignty did not adversely affect his affectionate attitude to the poor, nor did it instil in him a desire or an ambition for monarchical rule, as was the fashion in those days.
Ideological Break with Past:
Contrary to the fashion of his time, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) laid the foundations of genuine democracy. God commanded the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to conduct the affairs of the state in consultation with the people in these words:
وَ شَاوِرۡہُمۡ فِی الۡاَمۡرِ ۚ
“And consult them in the administrative affairs” [The Holy Quran, 3:159]
By this revolution, a way was opened for the poor to have a say in the governance of their affairs. It eliminated all chances of exploitation of the poor by the Capitalists. It also left little or no room for the splitting up of society into ‘Haves’ and ‘Have-nots’.
On the top of all, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not claim for himself any exemption from the Divine laws. It was and still is the rule that the king is considered above all laws. In countries where there is Personality Cult, the person in power is not subject to the law of the land. He cannot be summoned by the courts. His actions cannot be discussed in the legislature. This reduces the sovereignty of law to nullity and breeds all sorts of corruption. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had a deep insight into human nature. He did not claim to be above the Divine law, and thus sealed off all avenues for mischief. He said:
اِنِّیۡۤ اَخَافُ اِنۡ عَصَیۡتُ رَبِّیۡ عَذَابَ یَوۡمٍ عَظِیۡمٍ
“I fear, if I disobey my Lord, the punishment of an awful day” (The Holy Quran, 10:15).
No Privileged Class:
This was a genuine revolution as it proclaimed that all are equal in the eyes of law. In a monarchical system it is said:
“The king can do no wrong.”
It means that law is subservient to the will and whim of the ruler. It scatters all moral basis of law and provides incentive for aggression and exploitation. Capitalism thrives under monarchy. But it dies a natural death under a system inaugurated by the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), because it upholds the supremacy of law. It leaves no room for favouritism or nepotism. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not award lands to his relatives, although they were the first to fight the enemies. His uncle Hazrat Hamzah (Allah be pleased with him) met a martyr’s death. His cousin Hazrat Jafar (Allah be pleased with him) died fighting. Thus, the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, himself and his dearest and nearest bore the heaviest responsibilities in propagating Islam. But they never aspired for any rewards for their heroic deeds. Thus, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not create a Privileged Class. As a matter of fact, by his own precept and example as well as of his dearest and nearest, he made the emergence of such a class impossible. Thus, he bridged the yawning gulf between the rich and the poor.
Public Treasury and the Poor:
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) allowed the poor to claim a share in the Public Treasury. His one proclamation was:
من مات و ترک مالا فلوا رثہ
“If anyone died and left some property, it was for his heirs.”
His other proclamation which supplemented the first one was:
من مات و ترک دیناً او ضیاعاً فالی و علی
“If anyone dies and leaves unpaid debts and small children, they should come to me (the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). I would pay the deceased’s debt and would upbring his children.”
Duty of the Rich:
God has allowed the poor to share in the wealth of the affluent persons. The Holy Quran says:
وَ مِمَّا رَزَقۡنٰہُمۡ یُنۡفِقُوۡنَ
“They spend out of what We have provided for them” (The Holy Quran, 2:3).
There is an ideal social philosophy enshrined in the verse. God grants riches and commands the rich to spend a sizeable portion of it on the welfare of the poor out of what He has given them. Thus, it is evident that all wealth held by the rich people really belongs to God. It is incumbent on them to spend their money to ameliorate the lot of the destitute and the indigent. With a view to creating an incentive for spending on the poor, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him) laid down a humanitarian formula by saying:
المخلوق عیال اللہ فان احبھم الیٰ اللہ انفعھم لعیالہ
“The whole humanity is the family of God. God loves him best who is helpful to His family.”
He supplemented this sacred formula by saying:
ان العباد کلھم اخوۃ و آدم من تراب
“All men are brethren and are descendants of Adam who was born of clay.”
There is an empty formula bruited about, under the secular regimes which also say that men are brethren among themselves. But this equality is devoid of economic significance.
No Racial Distinction:
In his Farewell Sermon, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him) proclaimed:
لا فضل لعربی علی عجمی ولا لعجمی علی عربی ولا لاسود علی احمر ولا لاحمر علی اسود
“No Arab is superior to the non-Arab nor is the non-Arab superior to the Arab nor is the Black Negro superior to the White Man nor is the White Man superior to the Black Negro.”
The irrefutable plea for the equality of human beings was supported by another formula:
ان اباء کم واحد و ربکم واحد
“Indeed you are the progeny of one father [i.e., Adam] and the creatures of One God.”
Thus, the principle of equality was based on biological reasoning. The human dignity was ensured by the Divine declaration:
وَ لَقَدۡ کَرَّمۡنَا بَنِیۡۤ اٰدَمَ
“We have honoured the children of Adam” (The Holy Quran, 17:70).
It contains a severe denunciation of the exploitation of a human being under any guise or guile. As the question of superiority cannot be ignored, the apprehensions on this score have been set at rest by another Divine proclamation:
اِنَّ اَکۡرَمَکُمۡ عِنۡدَ اللّٰہِ اَتۡقٰکُمۡ ؕ
“Most honourable among you, in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most righteous among you” (The Holy Quran, 49:13).
A man who cherishes an ever-present fear of God will scrupulously refrain from enslaving other human beings, even though he may have the means of doing so. Thus, a God-fearing industrialist or a tycoon will be full of the milk of human kindness.
No Class War:
Thus, Islam scores a distinct triumph over Communism and Socialism, because it eliminates exploitation by establishing real pulsating fraternity and by making the affluent Section answerable to God for their treatment towards the poor. Thus, these philosophies kindle the fire of class-war. Socialism and Communism declare that the rich are necessarily and unavoidably the enemies of the poor. If under Capitalism, it was the Possessing Class which victimised the Dispossessed Class, under the Socialistic Regime, it is the Dispossessed Class which wreaks vengeance on their erstwhile masters and bosses by dispossessing them.
Islam saddles the rich with the responsibility of fulfilling the needs of the needy. It also enjoins the poor to abuse their minds of all jealousy. As a matter of fact, when the rich behave benevolently and do so as a duty, the question of jealousy does not arise. Once Sa‘d bin Muaz came to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) addressed the gathering and said:
قوموا الیٰ سیدکم
“Stand up to receive your leader.”
Thus, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) bound the hearts of the rich and the poor with “hoops of steel” and left no room for ill-will. He impressed upon the wealthy people the indispensability of the poor by saying:
الا تنصرون و ترزقون بضعفاء کم
“It is the poor who help you and the abundance of your wealth is due to their services.”
God enjoins the rich to be generous to the poor, not for any mundane ends, but “to seek the pleasure of God” [ابۡتِغَآءَ مَرۡضَاتِ اللّٰہِ (The Holy Quran 2:207)].
It is further emphasised thus:
وَ یُطۡعِمُوۡنَ الطَّعَامَ عَلٰی حُبِّہٖ مِسۡکِیۡنًا وَّ یَتِیۡمًا وَّ اَسِیۡرًا ﴿۸﴾ اِنَّمَا نُطۡعِمُکُمۡ لِوَجۡہِ اللّٰہِ لَا نُرِیۡدُ مِنۡکُمۡ جَزَآءً وَّ لَا شُکُوۡرًا ﴿۹﴾
“And they feed, for the love of Him, the poor, the orphan, and the prisoner, saying, We feed you for Allah’s pleasure only. We desire no reward nor thanks from you” (The Holy Quran, 76:8–9).
Lest the rich should lord it over the poor after doing some acts of benevolence, God warns them against this attitude by saying:
لَا تُبۡطِلُوۡا صَدَقٰتِکُمۡ بِالۡمَنِّ وَ الۡاَذٰی ۙ
“Render not vain your alms by taunt and injury” (The Holy Quran, 2:264).
In the light of this directive, a rich man does not put a poor man under a debt gratitude by rendering him financial aid. He just does his duty. He cannot demand and command his wholesale subservience. He ruins his own charity, if he parades it in such a way as to hurt the poor man’s sentiments, or to inflict on him a corrosive sense of inferiority.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was so keen on maintaining an atmosphere of fraternity that he invariably used the words sahib (companion) and akhee (brother). God used sahib and akhee in the Holy Quran:
مَا ضَلَّ صَاحِبُکُمۡ وَ مَا غَوٰی ۚ﴿۲﴾
“Your Companion has neither erred nor has he gone astray” (The Holy Quran, 53:2).
اِذۡ یَقُوۡلُ لِصَاحِبِہٖ لَا تَحۡزَنۡ
“When he said to his companion grieve not” (The Holy Quran, 9:40).
The Second word also occurs in the Quranic verse:
اِنَّمَا الۡمُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ اِخۡوَۃٌ
“Surely all believers are brothers” (The Holy Quran, 49:10).
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) addressed a slave, Hazrat Zaid (God be pleased with him) thus:
انت اخونا و مولانا
“You are our brother and friend.”
When Hazrat Umar went to Mecca to perform Umrah, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him) addressed him thus:
یا اخانا لا تنسانا من دعائک
“My brother! When you are in Kabah and are engaged in prayer, do not forget to pray for me also.”
This request for “remembering him in prayer” by the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) enraptured the heart and mind of Hazrat Umar (Allah be pleased with him). He said:
و فقال کلمۃ لا یسرنی ان لی بھا الدنیا
“This expression from the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has filled me with such pleasure as I could never get, even if the whole world had been given to me.”
Can there be more inspiring expression than this? Can the followers of other religions expect such expressions of fraternal equality from their spiritual preceptors? Even in the Muslim Society today, the religious leaders do not allow their followers to feel free in their presence. It is because they are more concerned with their personal prestige than with the prestige of the teachings of Islam, which have eclipsed other rival religious and secular doctrines by constant emphasis on the principle of equality and fraternity. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon) set an attractive and elevating example by his own conduct.
Priestcraft — A Danger:
The Holy Quran has warned the believers against the economic ravages of the theologians and high priests. The Holy Quran says:
یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡۤا اِنَّ کَثِیۡرًا مِّنَ الۡاَحۡبَارِ وَ الرُّہۡبَانِ لَیَاۡکُلُوۡنَ اَمۡوَالَ النَّاسِ بِالۡبَاطِلِ وَ یَصُدُّوۡنَ عَنۡ سَبِیۡلِ اللّٰہِ ؕ
“O ye who believe! Surely many of the priests and monks devour the wealth of men by false means and turn men away from the way of Allah” (The Holy Quran, 9:34).
It is now an open secret that some ulama [clerics] also have a hand in bolstering Capitalism by devious interpretations of the Quranic injunctions. The above-quoted verse draws pointed attention to their exploitation of society. The Muslims are forewarned against the aggrandisement of the theologians in complicity with the Possessing Class. To make the warning effective, the money-grabbing tricks are denounced as obstacles in the way of God, because equitable utilisation of national wealth for the national welfare is regarded as synonymous with the way of Allah. These accomplices of the Capitalists are severely warned against the consequences of their dealings with them. The Holy Quran says:
یَکۡنِزُوۡنَ الذَّہَبَ وَ الۡفِضَّۃَ وَ لَا یُنۡفِقُوۡنَہَا فِیۡ سَبِیۡلِ اللّٰہِ ۙ فَبَشِّرۡہُمۡ بِعَذَابٍ اَلِیۡمٍ
“And those who hoard up gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah — give to them the tidings of a painful punishment” (The Holy Quran, 9:34).
It would thus be seen that accumulation of wealth into a few hands is repugnant to the spirit of Islam.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also laid bare the cause of capitalistic tendency in the Muslim society, Addressing the Muslims, the Holy Quran says:
فَاسۡتَمۡتَعُوۡا بِخَلَاقِہِمۡ فَاسۡتَمۡتَعۡتُمۡ بِخَلَاقِکُمۡ کَمَا اسۡتَمۡتَعَ الَّذِیۡنَ مِنۡ قَبۡلِکُمۡ
“They enjoyed their lot for a short time, so have you enjoyed your lot as those before you enjoyed their lot” (The Holy Quran, 9:69).
A time was to come when the so-called Muslim divines would adopt the repulsive technique of the Jewish high priests. They would fabricate fiats to justify their aggrandisement. Islam delineated the causes of moral decay culminating in a mad pursuit of worldly riches. The aim of all this is to discipline our avocations and hold in leash our lust for riches.
The Holy Quran has directed the opulent sections to take interest in the welfare of the poor. It says:
وَ فِیۡۤ اَمۡوَالِہِمۡ حَقٌّ لِّلسَّآئِلِ وَ الۡمَحۡرُوۡمِ ﴿۱۹﴾
“And in their wealth was a share for one who asked for help and for one who could not” (The Holy Quran, 51:19).
Islam has established certain funds for the welfare of the destitute. They are:
At the end of the month of Ramazan [Ramadan], the fasting Muslims celebrate Eid. It is compulsory to pay fitrana [charity given to the needy] the Eid prayers. If a regular machinery is set up for the collection of the Fitrana money, it can run into crores (millions) which can be utilised for the uplift of the poor people. This fund can grow from year to year.
It is for the Islamic State to collect Zakat [mandatory charity; poor-rate] which also will bring ample money to ameliorate the conditions of the downtrodden people.
The rich people should will a part of their legacy for the benefit of the poor people. In this connection, the examples of the Companions of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) are really worthy of emulation.
Every Muslim is exhorted to be charitable. This is referred to in the Holy Quran:
وَ الۡمُتَصَدِّقِیۡنَ وَ الۡمُتَصَدِّقٰتِ
“And men who give alms and women who give alms” (The Holy Quran, 33:35).
If the Quranic injunctions are properly implemented, they can bring into being a prosperous and progressive society and plan out poverty and starvation.
The Holy Prophet’s own Example:
As the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has been held up by God as the Sublime Exemplar (اسوۃ حسنہ), he took pride in a voluntary poverty by saying:
He lived at the level of a common Muslim. He ate simple food and wore a simple dress. When he breathed his last, Hazrat Aishah (Allah be please with her) said:
ما ترک رسول اللہ عند وفاتہ درھماً ولا دیناراً لا شاۃ ولا بعیرا ولا أمۃ ولا عبدا
“He, the Prophet of God, at the time of death left neither any dirham, nor dinar, nor goat, nor camel, nor maid-servant nor man-servant.”
His mortal remains were buried in an ordinary grave. This is a rare instance of a sovereign and the beloved of God who exemplified in his person human equality both in life and in death.
The Holy Quran does not reduce all to the dead level of meaningless equality. It says:
وَ لِکُلٍّ دَرَجٰتٌ مِّمَّا عَمِلُوۡا ۚ
“And for all are degrees of rank according to what they did” (The Holy Quran, 46:19).
Everyone is graded in the Islamic social setup according to the beneficial nature of his actions. Thus, there is a wholesome gradation which is not detrimental to the genuine wellbeing. As a matter of fact, it is conducive to social welfare.
George Bernard Shaw on Islam and its Founder:
It was the Ideal Revolution by the Ideal Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, which evoked jubilant acknowledgement from George Bernard Shaw who observed:
“If any religion has the chance of ruling over England and Europe within the next hundred years, it can only be Islam. I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess the assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make its appeal to every age. I believe that if a man like Muhammad were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it much-needed peace and happiness. I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be accepted by the Europe of today.”