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Socialism and Islam

As we said, the Islamic system of the distribution of wealth is different from Socialism and Capitalism both. The distinction between the Islamic economy and the Socialist economy is quite clear. Since Socialism does not admit the idea of private property, wealth under the Socialist system is distributed only in the form of wages. On the contrary, according to the Islamic principles of the distribution of wealth, which we have outlined above, all the things that exist in the universe are in principle the property of Allah Himself. Then, the larger part of these things is that which He has given equally to all men as a common trust. It includes fire, water, earth, air, light, wild grass, hunting, fishing, mines, un-owned and uncultivated lands etc., which are not the property of any individual, but a common trust. Every human being is the beneficiary of this trust, and is equally entitled to its use.

On the other hand, there are certain things where the right to private property must be recognized if only for the simple reason that without such a recognition it would not be possible to establish the practicable and natural system of economy to which we have alluded while discussing the first object of the distribution of wealth. If the Socialist system is adopted and all capital and all land are totally surrendered to the state, the ultimate result can only be this: we would be liquidating a large number of smaller Capitalists, and putting the huge resources of national wealth at the disposal of a single big Capitalist - the state, which can deal with this reservoir of wealth quite arbitrarily, thus, leads to the worst form of the concentration of wealth. Moreover, it produces another great evil. Since Socialism deprives human labor of its natural right to individual choice and control, compulsion and force becomes indispensable in order to make use of this labor, which has a detrimental effect on its efficiency as well as on its mental health. All this goes to show that the Socialist system injures two out of the three objects of the Islamic theory of the distribution of wealth namely, the establishment of a natural system of economy, and securing for everyone what rightfully belongs to him.

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These being the manifold evils inherent in the unnatural system of the Socialist economy, Islam has not chosen to put an end to private property altogether, but has rather recognized the right to private property in those things of the physical universe which are not held as a common trust. Islam has, thus, given a separate status to Capital and to Land, and has at the same time made use of the natural law of "supply and demand" too in a healthy form. Hence Islam does not distribute wealth merely in the form of wages, as does Socialism, but in the form of profit and rent as well. But, along with it, Islam has also put an interdiction on the category of' 'Interest'', and prescribed a long list of the people who have a secondary right to wealth. It has thus eradicated the great evil of the concentration of wealth, which is an essential characteristic inherent in Capitalism, an evil, which Socialism claims to remedy. This is the fundamental distinction of the Islamic view of the distribution of wealth, which sets it apart from Socialism.

Source: Dr. Muhammad Imran Ashraf Usmani, Meezan Bank’s Guide to Islamic Banking.