One of the Islamic world’s most serious problems is its general underdevelopment. Therefore, one of the Islamic Union’s priorities must be to develop the Islamic world by supporting the poorer countries and resolving their economic problems. This can be done by fighting poverty—encouraging new investments, creating jobs—achieving law and order throughout society, removing economic injustice and guaranteeing social justice, and strengthening international as well as regional cooperation and dialogue.
Problems and tensions within the Islamic world caused by financial inequality must be reduced. A union and cooperation between Muslim nations in the economic, political, and, most importantly, the cultural arenas will enable the underdeveloped nations to advance rapidly. Moreover, those that have the necessary infrastructure in place will be enabled to maximize their productivity. Such a union will benefit economic growth and scientific and technological development.
Economic growth will increase investment in science and technology, and technological advancements will fuel further economic growth. Economic development will raise educational standards, and society will develop in many ways. Under the umbrella of the Islamic Union, individuals will be able to travel freely without the obstacles of visas or borders, and a system of free trade and enterprise will drive the Islamic world’s rapid growth and development.
This development will naturally result in the Islamic world’s modernization and reaching the standards found in the developed world. While Islam’s economic principles diverge from the hedonism that dominates the majority of the West, free trade is just as essential to Islamic societies as it is to Western societies. Islam recognizes everybody’s right to private ownership and free enterprise, but Islamic morality places certain responsibilities on individuals in order to achieve social justice. The poor have a share in the wealth of the rich, but not in the form of enforced taxation. Rather, the rich give this share to the poor willingly because of their beliefs. Islam’s version of social justice is not achieved by central planning and enforcement, as socialism proclaimed but failed to deliver, but by the society’s dominant moral values. Islamic morality also prevents the rich from indulging in conspicuous consumption and extravagance.
Islamic morality instructs people to avoid waste and extravagance. This is a key element in establishing social justice in Islamic societies. Social justice in Islam can be established by the society’s prevalent moral values. Consequently, living by the Qur’an’s values and Islamic unity will cause the Islamic world to become more prosperous.
The materialistic social model encourages consumption, selfishness, and the ruthless oppression of others by individuals who have lost their respect and love for their fellow citizens. Over the past two centuries, this social model has come to dominate the majority of the Western world and has eroded its moral values. As a consequence, many Western countries are forced to fight widespread drug abuse, prostitution, corruption, gambling, alcohol abuse, and organized crime. Furthermore, weakening religious beliefs has created an identity crisis: Materialist philosophies, which assert that the purpose of life is to acquire material wealth and live a life of pleasure, cannot satisfy people’s spirituality and so end up creating a void of aimlessness. Under the banner of freedom, its adherents abandon themselves to their own selfish desires.
…so that it [booty] does not become something which merely revolves between the rich among you…
Islamic morality, on the other hand, frees people from all kinds of worries and anxieties that trouble their minds. Believers only heed God and seek to win only His good pleasure. Fully aware of their responsibilities to our Lord, they live by their conscience at all times and, as such, are content and well-balanced individuals. They offer their environment goodness and beauty. This morality frees people from the pressures of envy, excessive desire, fear of the future and death, and other attitudes and fears that are incompatible with religious morality. Freed of these negative characteristics, they experience the freedom and peace derived from submitting to God.
Therefore, the development and advancement encouraged by the Islamic Union will not be identical to the development envisaged by the West. During its period of development, the West experienced great social injustice. For instance, the driving force of development in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England was ruthless exploitation. The working classes endured terrible working and living conditions. Children as young as 7 or 8 were made to work in filthy coal mines for 16 hours a day; many of them died before they were 20 years old. In the 1840s, the average life expectancy of coal miners fell to an average of 17 years. On the other hand, the rich lived in excessive luxury and extravagance. All industrialized Western countries went through these horrific experiences, and they built themselves upon the exploitation and oppression of millions of poor people.
The developmental model of a society dominated by Islamic morality will comprise social justice. The West suffered great injustice during its own development because its leaders adhered to materialism’s misconceptions of human nature.
Islamic morality, however, requires people to be entrepreneurs and pioneers in all fields, as well as compassionate, selfless, and just to others. Throughout the rise of Islamic civilization, Muslims were world leaders in economics and very successful traders. However, the resulting wealth did not remain in the hands of the few, but spread throughout society. Such social aid institutions as charitable organizations, social complexes, soup kitchens, caravanserai (large inns), public baths, and libraries show that wealth and culture did not remain in the hands of a few Muslims, but were accessible to all.
The envisaged Islamic Union must adopt this developmental model.
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