Month: November 2012

Secular or Non-Secular: Political Leadership in the Muslim World

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Scholars and commentators are more likely now than ever to use the controversial term ‘Islamist’ in place of “non-secular,” in their characterization of democratically elected political leadership in the Muslim world i.e. Egypt, Turkey, Islamic Republic of Iran.

The following news reports are typical of how the term ‘Islamist”, and to a smaller degree “ultraconservative Islamist” and “moderate Islamist” are positioned in western media when describing Egypt’s first freely elected President Mohammed Morsi and Egypt’s freely elected Parliament, dissolved in June by a court dominated by former President Hosni Mubarak appointed judges:

  • Egypt’s constituent assembly Thursday purportedly rushed through approval of a new constitution at the center of a political crisis pitting the nation’s Islamist president against his opposition, which has threaten new protest”.  The Guardian, November 29, 2012
  • The leaders of Egypt’s constitutional assembly prepared a rushed vote on a permanent charter that independent analyst called hasty and ill-defined as the chamber raced to finish ahead of a looming court ruling and escalating political crisis.  The assembly’s chairman began with a vote to replace 11 members who boycotted the session in protest over the Islamist-dominated chamber’s push to shut debate and wrap it.  New York Times, November 29, 2012
  • Egypt’s latest draft of a new constitution was already weakened because of constitutional resignation  by non-Islamist.  Rushing the document to completion could cement that. Christian Science Monitor, by Kristen Chick, Correspondent / November 29, 2012
  • Members of Egypt’s constitution committee meet as the Shura Council for the final vote on Egypt’s new constitution in Cairo November 29, 2012.  An assembly drafting Egypt’s new constitution voted on Thursday to keep the ‘principles of Islamic law as the main source of legislation,’ unchanged from the previous constitution in force under former President Hosni Mubarak.  The issue was the subject of a long dispute between hardline Salafi Islamist and liberals in the assembly which will vote on each of 234 articles in the draft constitution before it is sent to President Mohamed Mursi for approval.  Mohammed Abd El Ghany / Reuters November 29, 2012

The National Salvation Front, a new opposition coalition led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei and former Arab League Chief Amr Moussa, are characterized as liberal, leftist, centrist, secular, nationalist, but never Islamist.

Every known political party in Egypt with an economic, social or political orientation that is conservative, right wing, or adhere to ‘the principles of Islamic law’ as the main source of legislation, with the exception of the National Democratic Party of former President Hosni Mubarak, are described as ‘Islamist’.

Observers has given various definitions for Islamism such as: political Islam, enforcement of Islamic law (Sharia), pan-Islamic (political unity); and the elimination of non-Muslim, particularly Western military, economic, political, social or cultural influence in the Muslim world.

Other observers suggest Islamism’s tenets are less strict, and can be defined as a form of identity politics or “support for Muslim identity, authenticity, broader regionalism, revivalism, and revitalization of the community”.

Following the so-called “Arab Spring” at lest one source has described Islamism as “increasingly” interdependent” with democracy in much of the Arab Muslim world such that neither can now survive without the other”.

The concept Islamism is controversial, not just because it posits a political role for Islam, but also because political leaders in the Muslim world portrayed as ‘Islamist’ believe their views merely reflect Islam, while the contrary idea that Islam is, or can be, apolitical is an error.

Scholars and observers who do not believe Islam is a political ideology include Fred Halliday, John Esposito and Muslim intellectuals like Javed Ahmad Ghamidi.

Muslims have asked the question, “If Islam is a way of life, how can we say that those who want to live by its principles in legal, social, political and economic spheres of life are not Muslims, but Islamist and believe in Islamism, not just Islam?”

Similarly, a writer for the International Crisis Group maintains that “the conception of ‘political Islam” is a creation of Americans to explain the Iranian Islamic Revolution.

In reality , apolitical Islam was a historical fluke of the short-lived heyday of secular Arab nationalism between 1945 and 1970,” and it is quietist/non-political, non-Islamism, that requires explanation.

According to historian Barnard Lewis, Islamism, (or as he terms it “activist” Islam), along with “quietism”, form two “particular…. political traditions’ in Islam. The arguments in favor of both are based, as are most early Islamic arguments, on the Holy Book and on the actions and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).  The quietist tradition obviously rest on the Prophet as sovereign, as judge and statesman.  But before the Prophet became head of state, he was a rebel.  Before he travelled from Mecca to Medina, where he became sovereign, he was an opponent of the existing order.  He led an opposition against the pagan oligarchy of Mecca and at a certain point went into exile and formed what in modern language might be called a ‘government in exile” with which he was finally able to return in triumph to his birthplace and establish the Islamic State in Mecca.

The  Prophet as a rebel has provided a sort of paradigm of revolution– opposition and rejection, withdrawal and departure, exile and return.  Time and time again movements of opposition in Islamic history tried to repeat this pattern, a few of them successfully.”  Bernard Lewis – Islamic Revolution


The danger on both sides of the isle, regardless of whether it is between, the secular (non-religious) or non-secular (religious), conservative or liberal, capitalist or socialist, is the power and dominance of the ideologue.

An ideologue is an adherent of an ideology, especially one who is uncompromising and dogmatic, “Nazi ideologue”.  The most common variant of ideologue are conservative and liberal.  Smug and self-satisfied in their certitudes,  ideologue’s opinions are merely a loose collection of intellectual conceits, and is genuinely astonished, bewildered and indignant that his views are not universally embraced as the truth.  He regards the opposing points of view as a form of cognitive dissonance whose only cure is relentless propagandizing and browbeating.  The conservative iteration of ideologue parades himself as a logical, clear thinker, while the liberal version trumpets his higher level of mental, spiritual and social awareness.

The social orientation of Egypt’s 71 known political parties has been variously described as:  ‘Big Tent’ liberal, Conservative, Nasserism, Centrist, Conservative ‘Big Tent’, Moderate, Moderate Islamism Centrism, Anti Globalization, Social Liberal, Social Democracy, Communism, Socialism, Democratic Socialism, Islamic Socialism.

The economic orientation of Egypt’s 71 known political parties has been variously described as:  Center-left, Right Wing, left-Wing, Centrist, Right-Wing (nominally) Left-Wing, Far Right, Far Left, Center Right, Far left.

The political orientation of Egypt’s 71 known political parties has been variously described as:  Secular, Liberal Democracy, Social Democracy, Islamism, Jihadism, Non-secular, Islamist Moderate Salafi, Liberal Democracy, Liberalism Nationalism, Liberal Secular Mainstream, Authoritarian, Nationalist, Militarist, Non-secular Democratic, Secular Democratic, Free Market Capitalist, Non-Secular Islamist (Salafi Islam) (Wahhabism), Non-Secular (Islamist) Moderate Islamic Democracy, Secular Democratic.

Mohamed Morsi’s Political Party: Freedom and Justice Party (Arabic name, Hizb Al-Horriya Wal-Adala), Social orientation: conservative.

The Freedom and Justice Party’s Economic orientation: right.

The Freedom and Justice Party’s Political Orientation: Non-secular (so-called Islamist), Moderate Islamic Democracy.

Legal status: registered.  Founded: February, 21,2011.  Overthrown by military coup June 30, 2013, led by Egyptian General Sisi

The Freedom and Justice Party’s Role in Egyptian Revolution: Youth members joined in early stages and other members refused, but later supported.

The Freedom and Justice Party is supported by: The Muslim Brotherhood.

Mohamed ElBaradei’s Political Party:  the Constitution Party (Arabic name, Hizb el Dostour), Social orientation: ‘Big Tent Liberal.’

The Constitution Party’s Economic Orientation: Centre left.

The Constitution Party’s Political Orientation: secular, liberal democracy, social democracy.

The Constitution Party’s Legal Status: registered September 16, 2012.

The Constitution Party was Founded: April, 28, 2012.

The Constitution Party’s Role in Egyptian Revolution: supported.

The Constitution Party was Founded by: Mohamed ElBaradei.

Amr Moussa’s Political Party: the Conference Party’s (no Arabic name given), Social Orientation: Liberal.

The Conference Party’s Economic Orientation: Centre-left.

The Conference Party’s Political Orientation: Secular, liberal democracy.

The Conference Party is Supported by: Amr Moussa and Ayman Nour.

Former President, Hosni Mubarak’s Political Party: the National Democratic Party, (Arabic name, Al-Hizb al Watany ad Dimugraty), Social Orientation: Conservatism, Big Tent.

The National Democratic Party’s Economic Orientation: Right-wing (nominally left-wing).

The National Democratic Party’s Political Orientation: Authoritarian, Nationalist, Militarist.

The National Democratic Party’s Legal Status: Dissolved by the court on April 16, 2011.

The National Democratic Party was Founded: 1978.

The National Democratic Party’s Role in Egyptian Revolution: Opposed.

The National Democratic Party was Supported by: Egyptian Military, Hosni Mubarak, Western Countries, Arab Countries.

The origin of the term Islamism:

The term Islamism was coined in eighteenth century France as a way of referring to Islam.  The earliest known use of the term identified by Oxford English Dictionary is 1747.

By the turn of the twentieth century it had begun to be displaced  by the shorter and purely Arabic term Islam and by 1938, when Orientalist scholars completed The Encyclopedia of Islam, seems to have virtually disappeared from the English language.

The term Islamism is considered to have first begun to acquire its contemporary connotations in French academia between the late 1970s and 1980s.

From French, it began to migrate to the English language in the mid-1980s, and in recent years has largely displaced the term Islamic Fundamentalism in academic and media circles.

The use of the term Islamism was at first a “marker for scholars more likely to sympathize” with new Islamic movements; however, as the term gained popularity it became more specifically associated with groups such as the Taliban or the Algerian Armed Islamic Group, as well as with highly publicized acts of violence.

Islamic leaders who have spoken out against the use of the term, insisting they are merely “Muslims”, include the Ayatollah Mohammad Fadlallah, spiritual mentor of Hizbullah, and Abbasi Madani, leader of the Algerian Islamic Salvation Front.

A 2003 article in Middle Eastern Quarterly states: In summation the term Islamism enjoyed its first run, lasting from Voltaire to the First World War, as a synonym for Islam.  Enlightened scholars and writers generally preferred it to Mohammedanism.  Eventually both terms yielded to Islam, the Arabic name of the faith, and a word free of the pejorative or comparative associations.  There was no need for any other term, until the rise of an ideological and political interpretation of Islam challenged scholars and commentators to come up with an alternative, to distinguish Islam as modern ideology from Islam as faith.


The president of Iran is the head of government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.  The president is the highest popularly elected official in Iran, although the office is subordinate to the Supreme leader of Iran, who functions as the country’s head of state.

Chapter IX of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran sets forth the qualification for presidential candidates and procedures for elections, as well as the Presidents powers and responsibilities as “functions of the executive”.

These include signing treaties and other agreements with foreign countries and international organizations; administering national planning, budget, and state employment affairs; and appointing ministers, governors, and ambassadors subject to the approval of Parliament.

Unlike the executive in other countries, the President of Iran do not have full control over Iran’s foreign policy, the armed forces, or nuclear policy, as these are ultimately under the control of the Supreme Leader.

The President of Iran is elected for a four-year term by the direct vote of the people and may not serve more than two consecutive terms.

The office of the President of Iran is notable as it is the only President of a state that is not the Head of State. The current President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, recently replaced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who served since the 2005 Iranian presidential election.  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected after a disputed 2009 Iranian presidential election.

After the Iranian Revolution of 1979 a referendum on creating an Islamic Republic was held in Iran on 30 and 31 March 1979.  It was approved by 99.3% of voters (20,146,855).   The new government needed to craft a new constitution.  The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, ordered an election for the Assembly of Experts, the body tasked with writing the constitution.  The assembly presented the constitution on October 24, 1979 and the Supreme Leader and Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan approved it.

The 1979 Constitution designated the Supreme Leader as the head of state and the president and the Prime Minister as heads of government. The post of Prime Minister was abolished in 1989.

Iranian Presidential Oath of Office

“I, as President, upon the Holy Qur’an and in the presence of the Iranian nation, do hereby swear in the name of Almighty God to safeguard the ‘official Faith’, the system of the Islamic Republic and the Constitution of the country, to use all my talents and abilities in the discharge of responsibilities undertaken by me; to devote myself to the service of the people, glory of the country, promotion of religion and morality, support of right and propagation of justice; to refrain from being autocratic; to protect the freedom and dignity of individuals and the rights of the Nation recognized by the Constitution; to spare no efforts in safeguarding the frontiers and the political, economic and cultural freedoms of the country; to guard the power entrusted to me by the Nation as a sacred trust like an honest and faithful trustee, by seeking help from God and following the example of the Prophet of Islam and the sacred Imams, peace be upon them, and to entrust it to the one elected by the Nation after me.”


The Justice and Development Party (Turkish: Adelet ve Kalkinma Partis), abbreviated JDP in English and AK PARTI or AKP in Turkish, is a centre-right conservative political party in Turkey.

The party is the largest in Turkey, with 327 members of Parliament.

Its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is Prime Minister, while fellow former party member and PM Abdullah Gul is President.

In Turkish, AK also mean white. Founded in 2001 by members of a number of existing parties.

The Justice and Development Party won a landslide victory in the 2002 election, winning over two-thirds of parliamentary seats.

Abdullah Gul became Prime Minister, but a constitutional amendment in 2003 allowed Erdogan to take his place.

In early general elections in 2007, the AKP increased its share of the vote to 47%; its number of seats fell to 341, but Erdogan  was returned as Prime Minister, while Gul was elected President.

In the general elections held on June 12, 2011, the AKP further increased its share of the popular vote to 49.8% and secured 327 parliamentary seats to form a third consecutive government.

The AKP portrays itself as a pro-Western party in the Turkish political spectrum that advocate a conservative social agenda and a liberal  market economy that includes Turkish membership in the European Union.

In 2005, the party was granted observer membership in the European People’s Party.

The AK Party was established by a wide range of politicians of various political parties and a number of new politicians.

The core of the party was formed from the reformist faction (Turkish: Yenilikciler) of the so-called ‘Islamist’ Virtue Party, including people such as Abdullah Gul and Bulent Annc.

A second founding group consisted of members of the social conservative Motherland Party who had been close to Turgut Ozal, such as Cemil Cicek and Abdulkadir Aksu.

Some members of the Turkish Democratic Party, such as Huseyin Celik and Koksal Toptan, joined the AKP.  Some members, such as Kursad Tuzmen, had nationalist backgrounds while representatives of the nascent ‘Muslim Left’ current were largely excluded.

In addition a large number of people joined a political party for the first time, such as Ali Babacan, Selma Aliye Kavaf, Egeman Bagis and Mevlut Cavusoglu.  All of these people joined Recep Tayyip Erdogan to found the new party.

According to former minister Huseyin Celik, “the AK Party is a conservative demoncratic party but the AK Party’s conservatism is limited to moral and social issues,  “The Economist characterizes the party as “mildly Islamist” while Reuters refers to the AKP as “Islamist rooted” and “Islamic-leaning.”

The party objects to the  frequent descriptions of it in the Western media as ‘Islamist.’

In March of 2010 Celik complained that in the Western press, when the AK party administration… is being named, unfortunately most of the time “Islamic”, “mildly Islamist”, “Islamic orientated”, “Islamic leaning,” “Islamic based” or “with an Islamic agenda,” and similar language is being used.  These characterizations do not reflect the truth and they sadden us.”

State Religion

A state religion (also called an official religion or faith, established church or state church) is a religious body or creed officially indorsed by the state.

A state with an official religion or faith, while not secular, is not necessarily a theocracy.

State religions are official or government-sanctioned establishments of a religion, but neither does the state need to be under the control of the church (as in a theocracy), nor is the state-sanctioned church necessarily under the control of the state.

There is a difference between a “state church” and the broader term of “state religion”.

A “state church” is a state religion created by a state for use exclusively by that state, examples of which include the Church of England (which previously was a Catholic church until it was separated by Henry the VIII in 1534).

An example of a “state religion” that’s not also a “state church”, is Roman Catholicism in Costa Rica which was accepted as the state religion in the 1949 constitution, despite the lack of a national church.

In the case of the former, the state has absolute control over the church, but in the case of the latter the church is ruled by an exterior body (in the case of Catholicism, the Vatican has control over the church).  In either case, the official state religion has some influence over the ruling of the state.

As of 2012, there are only five state churches left:

  • Denmark,
  • Greece,
  • Iceland,
  • Tuvalu
  • United Kingdom

Most countries which once featured state churches have separated church and state, thus downgrading their state churches to “national churches”.  The most recent country to separate church and state was Norway in 2012.

Jurisdictions which recognize Catholicism as their state religion:

  • Alsace-Moselle
  • Costa-Rica
  • Liechtenstein
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Vatican City (Theocracy)

Jurisdiction which recognize one of the Eastern Orthodox churches as their state religion:

  • Greece: Church of Greece

Secular State

A secular state is a concept of secularism, whereby a state or country purports to be officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion.

A secular state claims to treat all its citizens equally regardless of religion, and claims to avoid preferential treatment for a citizen from a particular religion/non-religion over other religions/non-religion.

Secular states do not have a state religion or equivalent, although the absence of a state religion does not guarantee that a state is secular.

A minority of secular, communist or dictatorial nations have historically enforced the extreme of the concept, state atheism, on their populations by way of religious censorship and persecution.

Secular states either upon establishment of the state (e.g. United States of America or India) or upon secularization of the state (e.g. France or Nepal).

Movements for laici’te (a concept denoting the absence of religious involvement in government affairs as well as the absence of government involvement in religious affairs) in France and for the separation of church and state in the United States define modern concepts of secularism.

Historically, the process of secularizing states typically involves granting religious freedom, disestablishing state religions, stopping public funds to be used for a religion, freeing the legal system from religious control, freeing up the education system, tolerating citizens who change religion or abstain from religion, and allowing political leadership to come to power regardless of religious belief.

Not all legally secular states are completely secular in practice.  In France for example, many Christian holy days are official holidays for the public administration, and teachers in Catholic schools are salaried by the state.

In some European states were secularism confronts monoculturalist philanthropy some of the main Christian sects and sects of other religions depend on the state for some of the financial resources for their religious charities.

It is common in Corporate law and Charity law to prohibit them from using those funds to organize religious worship in a separate place of worship or for conversion; the religious body itself must provide the religious content, educated clergy and lay-persons to exercise its own functions and may choose to afford part of their time to the separate charities.

To that effect some of those charities establish secular organizations that manage some of or all of the donations from the main religion(s).  Religious and atheist organizations can apply for equivalent funding from the government and receive subsidies either based on assessed social results where there is indirect religious state funding, sometimes that assessment is simply the number of beneficiaries of those organizations. This resembles Charitable choice in the United States.

Overt direct state funding of religions on the whole is doubtfully in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights though it would not yet appear to have been decided at the supranational level in ECtHR (European Court of Human Rights).

Case law stemming from the rights in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which mandates  non-discrimination in affording its co-listed basic social rights; specifically, funding certain services would not accord non-discriminatory state action.

Many states that nowadays are secular in practice may have legal vestiges of an earlier established religion. Secularism also has various guises which may coincide with some degree of official religiosity.

Thus in the Commonwealth Realms, the head of state is required to take the 1688-enacted Coronation Oath.  Swearing to defend the Anglican faith.

The United Kingdom also maintains positions in its advisory chamber for 26 senior clergymen of the established Church of England known as the Lords Spiritual, Spiritual Peers or Bishops in the House of Lords.


Islam is a verbal noun originating from the trilateral root (s-l-m) which forms a large class of words mostly relating to concepts of wholeness, safeness and peace.  In a religious context it means “voluntary submission to God”.

Muslim, the word for an adherent of Islam, is the active particle of the same verb of which Islam is the infinitive.

Believers demonstrate submission to God by serving God and following His commands, and rejecting polytheism (the worship or belief in multiple deities).

The word Islam sometimes has distinct connotations in its various occurrences in the Qur’an.  In some verses (ayat), there is stress on the quality of Islam as an internal conviction:

“Whomsoever Allah desires to guide.  He expands his breast to Islam”. 

Other verses connect Islam and Din.

Din is an Arabic word commonly associated with Islam, but it is also used in Arab Christian worship.

The term is sometimes translated as “religion”, but as used in the Qur’an, it refer both to the path along which righteous Muslims travel in order to comply with divine law, or Sharia, and to the divine judgment or recompense to which all humanity must inevitably face without intercessors before God.

Thus, although secular Muslims would say that their practical interpretation of Din conforms to “religion” in the restricted sense of something that can be carried out in separation from other areas of life, both mainstream and reformist Muslim writers take the words to mean an all-encompassing way of life carried out under the auspices of Allah’s divine purpose as expressed in the Qur’an and Hadith (authentic and verifiable sayings or an act or tacit approval or disapproval ascribed to the Prophet Muhammad-pbuh).

As one notably progressive Muslim writer puts it, far from being a discrete aspect of life carried out in the Mosque.  “Islam is Din,’ a complete way of life”.    

“Today, I have perfected your religion (Din) for you.”  “I have completed My blessing upon you”.  “I have approved Islam for your religion”. 

Still others describe Islam as an action of returning to God- more than just a verbal affirmation of faith.

In the Hadith of Gabriel (Jibril), Islam is presented as one part of a triad that include iman (faith), ihsan (excellence), where Islam is defined theologically as Tawhid (the doctrine of the Oneness of God) historically by asserting that Muhammad is the Messenger of God, and doctrinally by mandating five basic and fundamental pillars of faith.

The five pillars of faith:

  1. A Muslim must acknowledge that “there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the seal of His Prophets.”
  2. A Muslim must pray five times daily facing Mecca: at dawn, at noon, in the mid-afternoon, at dusk, and after dark.
  3. Each Muslim must pay Zakat (the poor tax).
  4. A Muslim must fast for the entire month of Ramadan, refraining from eating, drinking, smoking, and sexual intercourse from dawn until sunset.
  5. Every adult Muslim who is physically and financially able to do so must make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in his or her lifetime.

The greatest test for the ‘democratically elected political leadership,’ in the Muslim world, is its ability to find common ground with the universal principles of ‘equality,’ for all of its citizens i.e., treating all of its citizens equally regardless of religion, nationality, gender, race, creed or color.  Tolerating citizens who change religion or abstain from religion.  Allowing political leadership to come to power regardless of religious belief.

Practice fairness in the use of public funds for the education, housing, employment, health and welfare of all its citizens, without preferential treatment for religion.

“Let there be no compulsion in religion.  Truth has been made clear from falsehood.  Whoever rejects false worship and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that never break.  And Allah hears and know all things.”  Qur’an 2:256

“If  it had been your Lord’s will, all of the people on Earth would have believed.  Would you then compel the people so to have them believe?” Qur’an 10:99

“So if they dispute with you (Muhammad), say: “I have submitted my whole self  to Allah, and so have those who follow me.”  And say to the People of the Scriptures and the unlearned: “Do you also submit yourselves?”  If they do, then they are on right guidance.  But if they turn away, your duty is only to convey the Message.  And in Allah’s sight are all of His servants.” Qur’an 3:20   



Ashura: “10th Day”

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The root for the word ashura has the meaning of tenth in the Semitic languages; hence the name of the remembrance, literally translated, means “the tenth day”.  According to the orientalist A.J. Wensinck, the name is derived from the Hebrew ‘asor, with the Aramaic determinative ending.  The day is indeed the tenth day of the month, although some Islamic scholars offer up different etymologies.

In his book Ghuniyatut Talibin. Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani writes that Islamic scholars have a difference of opinion as to why this day is known as Ashura, with some scholars suggesting that this day is the tenth most important day that Allah has blessed Muslims with.

Significance of Ashura for Sunni Muslims

Not related to the commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn ibn Ali, some Sunni Muslims fast on this day of Ashura based on narrations attributed to the Prophet Muhammad (salla alaiyhi wa salaam).  The fasting is to commemorate the day when Moses (salla alaiyhi wa salaam) and his followers were saved from Pharoah by Allah by creating a path in the Red Sea.  According to Muslim tradition, the Jews used to fast on the tenth day.  So, Muhammad recommended to be different from the Jews and recommended fasting two days instead of one.  9th and 10th or the 10th and 11th day of Muharram, in Makkah When fasting the month of Ramadan became obligatory, the fast of Ashura was made non-compulsory.  This has been narrated by Aishah, Sahih Muslim, Hadith-2499.  In hijrah event when Prophet Muhammad led his followers to Medina, he found the Jews of that area likewise observing fast on the day of Ashura.  At this, Prophet Muhammad affirmed the Islamic claim to the fast, and from then the Muslims have fasted on combinations of two or three consecutive days including the 10th of Muharram (e.g. 9th and 10th or 10th and 11th)

A companion of Prophet Muhammad, Ibn Abbas reports Muhammad went to Medina and found the Jews fasting on the 10th of Muharram.  Muhammad inquired of them, “What is the significance of this day on which you fast?”  They replied,  “This is a good day, the day on which God rescued the children of Israel from their enemy, so Moses fasted this day.”  Muhammad said, “We have more claim over Moses than you.”  Muhammad then fasted on that day and ordered Muslims too.

The narrations of Prophet Muhammad (salla alaiyhi wa salaam) mentioning the Children of Israel being saved from Pharaoh are indeed confirmed by authentic hadith in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim.

Sunnis regard fasting during Ashura as recommended, though not obligatory, having been superseded by the Ramadan fast, Sahih Muslim, Hadith-2499.

Prophet Muhammad’s tribe, the Quraish, fasted on the 10th of Muharram.  Though optional Muhammad (pbuh) retained this pre-Islamic practice too.

Narrated ‘Aisha:  ‘Ashura‘ (i.e. the tenth day of Muharram) was a day on which the tribe of Quraish used to fast in the pre-Islamic period of ignorance.  The Prophet also used to fast on this day.  So when he migrated to Medina, he fasted on it and ordered Muslims) to fast on it.  When the fasting of Ramadan was enjoined, it became optional for the people to fast or not on the day of Ashura.

Significance of Ashura for Shi’a Muslims

This day is well-known because of the mourning for the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (salla alaiyhi wa salaam) and the third Shia Imam, along with members of his family and close friends at the Battle of Karbala in the year 61 AH (680 AD).

Yazid I was in power then and wanted the Bay’ah (allegence) of Husayn ibn Ali.  Muslims believe Yazid was openly going against the teachings of Islam in public and changing the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad.

Husayn in his path toward Kufa encountered the army of Ubayd-Allah ibn Ziyad, the governor of Kufa.  On October 10, 680 (Muharram 10, 61 AH), he and his small group of companions and family members  (in total who were around 72 men and a few ladies and children) fought with a large army of perhaps more than 100,000 men under the command of Umar ibn Saad, son of the founder of Kufa.  Husayn and all of his men were killed while being thirsty.  The nearby river (Forat) was also blocked by Ubayd-Allah ibn Ziyad’s men and Husayn and his companions were not allowed to get any water from it.  Before being killed, Husayn said “if the religion of Muhammad was not going to live except with me dead, let the swords tear me to pieces.”  Some of the bodies of the dead including that of Husayn, were then mutilated.

This day is of particular significance to Twelver Shi’a Muslims and Alawites, who consider Husayn (the grandson of Prophet Muhammad) Ahl al-Bayt the third Imam and rightful successor of Prophet Muhammad.

Shi’as make pilgrimage on Ashura, as they do forty days later on Arba’een, to the Mashhad al-Husayn, the shrine in Karbala, Iraq that is traditionally held to be Husayn’s tomb.  On this day Shi’as are in rememberance, and morning attire is worn.  They refrain from music, since Arabic culture generally considers music impolite during death rituals.  It is a time for sorrow and respect of a person’s passing, and it is also a time for self-reflection, when one commits oneself to the mourning of Husayn completely.  Weddings and parties are also never planned on this date by Shi’as.  Shi’as also express morning by crying and listening to poems about the tragedy and sermons on how  Husayn and his family was martyred.   This is intended to connect them with Husayn’s suffering and martyrdom, and sacrifices he made to keep Islam alive.  Husayn’s martyrdom is widely interpreted by Shi’as as a symbol of the struggle against injustice, tryranny, and oppression.  Shi’as believe the battle of Karbala was between the forces of good and evil with Husayn representing good while Yazid represented evil.  Shi’as also believe the battle of Karbala was fought to keep the Muslim religion untainted of any corruptions and they believed the path that Yazid was directing Islam was definitely for his own personel greed, (citations needed).

Shi’a Imams strongly insist that the day of Ashura should not be taken as a day of joy and festivity.  According to a hadith which is reported from Ali claiming it was on that day that Allah forgave Adam, Noah’s Ark rested on dry land, the Israelites were saved from Pharaoh’s army, ect. (clarification needed).  The day of Ashura, according to the Eighth Shi’a Imam, Ali al-Rida, must be observed as a day of inactivity, sorrow and total disregard of worldly cares.

“Zaynab bint Ali quoted as she passed the prostrate body of her brother Husayn:

“O Muhammad! O Muhammad!  May the angels of heaven bless you. 

Here is Husayn in the open, stained with blood and with limbs torn off

O Muhammad! Your daughters are prisoners, your progeny are killed,

and the east wind blows dust over them.  “By Allah! She made every enemy

and friend weep.”  

The Islamic System of Economics

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Iqtisaduna  (Our Economics)

An objective study consisting of the examination and criticism of the economic doctrines of Marxism and Capitalism and Islam as concerns the fundamentals and details of their ideas.

Muhammad Baqir as-Sadiq as-Sadr

Volume One – Part One, English Translation, First Edition 1982/1402, Second Edition 1994/1414, Translated from the Arabic, Published by the World Organization for Islamic Services, P.O. Box No. 11165-1545, Tehran, Iran.


The great Islamic scholar, regenerating jurist and thinker of genious, al-‘Allama as-Sayyid Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr (1353/1935 – 1400/1980) may Allah encompass him with His Mercy, because of the works which he bequeathed to the Muslims, both ordinary and the educated among them, and because of his life, which was filled with effort and striving, and was cut short at the hands of criminals, he is too famous and well -known for us to give his biography in this brief preface which we are giving to the English translation of his celebrated book, Iqtisaduna, the Islamic System of Economics.

The preface to the English translation of The Revealer, The Messenger, The Message we have introduced the works of as-Sayyid as-Sadr to our respected reader.  And now that we are publishing the English translation of Iqtisaduna we find ourselves compelled to turn the attention of our reader to the preface of the Iqtisaduna itself, where as-Sayyid as-Sadr has mentioned six points which he deemed necessary for the readers to observe, and that also carefully.  We do not wish to say anything more than what the author has mentioned himself, except that these six points, which he  introduced while writing the book and emphasized to his readers to keep in their minds while reading the book and studying its discussions, the same six points were in our mind also when we decided to publish its English translation.  And we emphasize, alongwith the author, the careful observation of these points.

The English translation of Iqtisaduna was prepared by the Peermahomed Ebrahim Trust of Pakistan at our instigation.  After completing the translation it was submitted to us, but at that time we did not have the means to be sure and satisfied about its authenticity.  So it remained with us until we found the person who could check and make up the defects in the translation.  Then again just by the way we were confronted with some defects, and fortunately we found a person who was familiar with both the Arabic and English languages with qualifications in economical studies.  He compared the translation with Arabic version and corrected, according to his own views, as much as he could.

At this point we reached the utmost stage of our abilities and facilities for correction of the translation, and so we deemed it right to publish it, by the help of Allah; and thus it cannot be said that our efforts were reckless and it would have been better to delay the publication.  After all these efforts we shall gladly accept any criticism or observation, and welcome any suggestion to improve our work.  We hope to correct the defects and mistakes with which we may be confronted in the future.

We ask Allah, the Glorified, to bless the English translation of this book and to generalize its benefit as He did for the original Arabic version.  And may He accept our work sincerely for His Holy Self.  He is the best Master and the best Helper.

World Organization For Islamic Services (Board of Writing, Translation and Publication).  27/11/1401 – 29/9/1981 Tehran, Iran.


In The Name of  Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate

It pleases me to present the second edition of the book Iqtisaduna (Our Economics).  I believe more and more firmly and have become more and more convinced that the Ummah (the Muslim Community) has begun to understand its true mess-age which is Islam and, despite all kinds of colonial deception, realizes that Islam is the only way to salvation and that the Islamic system is the natural framework within which it should determine its life and expend its efforts and on the basis of which it should build its existence.

I would have liked to have had the opportunity to expand on some points which it made.  However, since I do not have enough space now to talk about the points discussed in the book, I will not leave this matter without saying a word on the subject of the book itself and the relationship of this important subject with the life and problems of the Ummah and its gradually increasing significance not only on the Islamic level but also on the human level.

On the Islamic level the ummah lives its complete Jihad (struggle in the way of Allah) against its backwardness and its downfall.  It is attempting to move, both politically and socially, towards a better existance, a firmer structure and a more prosperous and flourishing economy.  After a string of both failed and successful attempts, the Ummah will find that there is only one path along which to proceed and that path is Islam and will find that there is no other framework within which to find solutions to the problems of economic backwardness except the framework of the Islamic economic system.

Humanity on the human level is the enduring of the most severe kinds of worry and the fluctuation between the two world trends, mined with atom bombs, rockets and the tools of destruction.  Humanity will find no salvation for itself except at the only door of heaven which remains open and that is Islam.  In this introduction let us take the Islamic level for discussion.

On the Islamic Level

When the Islamic world began to get to know the European man and yield to his intellectual guidance and his leadership of the civilization procession, instead of believing in its real message and the guidelines on this message for the life of mankind, it began to comprehend its role in life within the framework of familiar division’ of the countries of the world undertaken by the Europeans.  They devided up the world into countries which were economically poor or backward, on the basis of their economic level and productivity potential.  The countries of the Islamic world were all in the latter catagory which, according to European logic, had to acknowledge the leadership of the advanced countries and give them free scope to infuse their spirit in them and map out for them the road to advancement.

In this way, the Islamic world, as a group of economically poor countries, began its life with Western civilization and came to view its problem as the problem of economically lagging behind the advanced countries whose economic progress had given them the leadership of the world.  Those advanced countries tought the Islamic world that the only way to overcome this problem and to catch up with the advanced countries was for it to adopt the life-style of the European man as a leading practice and to mark out the steps of this practice in order to build up a perfect and complete economy capable of raising the backward Islamic countries to the level of the modern European nations.

Subordination in the Islamic world to the practice of the European man, as the leader of modern civilization, has expressed itself in three successively occuring forms and these forms still exist today in different parts of the Islamic world.

The first is political subordination which found visual expression in the economically advanced European nations exercising direct rule over the backward nations.

The second is economic subordination which went hand in hand with the rise of politically independent governments in the backward countries.  This subordination found expression in the European economy being given full scope to play on the scene of these countries in different ways: to exploit their chief resources, to fill their vacuum with foreign capitalism and to monopolize a number of economic conveniences on the pretext of training the natives of the various countries to shoulder the burden of the economic development of their countries.

The third is subordination in method which was practiced by the people of the Islamic world in numerous experiments.  Through these experiments, they tried to gain political independence and get rid of the domination of the European economy.  They began to think of reliance on their on power to develop their economy and overcome their backwardness.  However, they were only able to understand the nature of the problem shown by their backwardness within the framework of the European understanding of it.

Therefore, they were forced to choose the same method the Europeans had adopted in building up their modern economy.  Great differences in points of view arose with regard to those experiments, while the method was being drawn up and applied.  However, these differences were sometimes merely concerned with the choice of the general form the method should take from among the numerous forms the method had taken when the modern European man had  applied it.  The choice of method practiced by the European man was, in fact, a point of agreement because it was the tax of the intellectual belief of Western civilization.  It was the determining of one of its forms which led to disagreement.

The recent experiments in economic development in the Islamic world have usually been faced with two forms used in the economic development of the modern civilization.  The two forms are the free economy based on capitalism and the planned economy based on socialism.

Both of these forms have been used a great deal to build up the modern European economy.  The question which arose with regard to the study of the maximum level of application in the Islamic world was, “which is the most appropriate of the two forms and the one most capable of bringing success to the struggle of the Ummah against its economic backwardness and building up of an advnced economy of the level of the age?”

The oldest tendency in the Islamic world was to choose the first form in the development and building up of the internal economy of the various countries, i.e. the free economy based of capitalism.  This was because the capitalist axis of the European economy was the quickest of the two axis to penetrate the Islamic world and to polarize its countries as the centres of authority.

Through the political struggles of the ummah with colonialism and its attempts to free itself from the influence of the capitalist axis, some ruling experiments resulted in the discovery that the European antithesis to the capitalist axis was the socialist axis.  Thus, there grew up a tendency to choose the second form for development, i.e. the planned economy based on socialism.  This was as a result of the reconciliation between the belief in the European man as the leader of the backward countries and the reality of the struggle with the political existence of capitalism.

The subordination of the backwards countries to the economically advanced countries still imposes upon them the belief in European practice as a leading principle.  Moreover, the capitalist wing of this practice still clashes with the feelings for battle against the living colonial reality.  Thus, the planned socialist economy was adopted as the other form of leading practice.

Each of the two trends has its own proofs with which it justifies its own point of view.  The first trend usually uses the great advancement which the capitalist European states have attained and the levels in production and industrialization they have reached as a result of the adoption of the free economy as the method for development.  In addition to this, it is possible for the backward countries, if they adopt the same course and undergo the same experience, to take a short cut and reach the desired level of economic development more quickly.  This is because they will be able to benefit from the European man’s experiences in capitalism and employ all the working skills which the Europeans have taken hundreds of years to aquire.

The second trend explains its choice of the planned economy based on socialism, instead of the free enonomy, by the fact that, although the free economy was able to produce for the leading European states in the capitalist world great gains, constant progress in technology and production and steadily increasing growth in their wealth, it is not capable of playing a similar role for the backward countries today.  This is because the backward countries are today facing a great economic challenge represented by the great degree of progress the states of the west have attained and are confronted with unlimited rival possibilities on the economic level.  Whereas the advanced states were not really faced with this great challenge, nor confronted with these rival possibilities, when they embarked on economic development; they launched their attack against conditions of economic backwardness and adopted the free economy as a course and procedure.  Thus, it is necessary for the backward countries today to mobilize all forces and capabilites, both quickly and systematically, for the job of economic development by means of the planned economy based on socialism.

In its interpretation of the failure in application it has suffered, each of the two trends uses as an excuse the artificial conditions which the colonialist create in the region in order to hinder development procedures there.  On account of this niether allows itself, when it senses failure, to think of any alternative method to the two forms which modern European practice has adopted in the west and east.  This is despite of the existence of a ready-made alternative which is still very much alive, both theoretically and ideologically, in the life of the Ummah, even if it is not being given the opportunity to be applied.  And that is the Islamic method and economic system in Islam.

Here, I do not want to make comparison between the Islamic economy and the capitalist and socialist economies from the economic and religious points of view because I am leaving this for the book itself.  In fact, the book, Iqtisaduna makes a comparative in this respect.  However, I would like to make a comparison between the European economy, both its capitalist and socialist wings, and the Islamic economy with regard to the capacity of each to participate in the battle against economic backwardness and the degree of ability of each of these methods to be the framework for the job of economic development.

When we leave the sphere of comparison between these economic methods, with regard to their intellectual and religious contents, for a comparison between them in respect of their practical ability to offer a framework for economic development, we must not merely base our comparison on the theorectical advantages of each.  Rather, we must observe closely the circumstances of the Ummah with regard to this subject, along with its spiritual and historical structure.  This is because the Ummah is were these methods will be applied.  Thus, it is necessary for the assumed field of application , its particularities and its conditions to be carefully studied so that whatever is valuable in each method by way of effectiveness in application, can be observed.  Just as the effectiveness of the capitalistic free economy or the socialistic planned economy in the practice of the European man does not neceessarily mean that this effectiveness is due to the economic method alone, such that it increases when the same method is adopted.  Rather, the effectiveness is due to the method, as a part of  each inextricably interwined and part of the course of History.  Thus, if the method is detached from its framework and its history, it will neither have such effectivness nor yield such fruits.

Through a comparative study of the numerous economic schools and the possibilities of their practical success in the Islamic world, a basic fact should be presented with which the estimation of the situation is to a great extent connected.  That is, that the need of economic development for an economic method is nothing but a need for a framework of social organization for states to adopt, so that it is possible for economic deveopment to be planned within this framework or the other merely by the state adopting it and adhering to it.

It is not possible for economic devlopment and the battle against backwardness to play its due part except by acquiring a framework within which the Ummah can be incorporated and by establishing a principle which is in harmony with it.

The movement of the entire Ummah is a basic condition for the success of any development and any universal battle against backwardness.  This is because the movement of the Ummah is an expression of its growth, the growth of its will and the release of its inner talents and wherever the Ummah fails to grow, the job of development cannot be carried out.  Thus the increase in foreign wealth and internal growth must proceed along the same course.

The very experience of the modern European man is a clear historical expression of this fact.  The only reasons that the methods used in the European  economy as frameworks for the job of development recorded in modern European history their dazzling success on the material level was the interaction of the nations with these methods, their movement in all fields of life in accordance with the direction and the demands of these methods and their great mental readiness over the years for this assimilation and interaction.

Thus, when we want to choose a method or a general framework for economic development inside the Islamic world, we must take this reality as a base and in the light of it search for a cultural system capable of raising the Ummah and mobilizing its forces and its faculties for the battle against backwardness.  Then, we must enter into this account the feelings, attitudes, history and different complexities of the Ummah.

Many of the economist make a mistake when they study the economy of the backward countries and apply to them the European method of development without taking into account the degree to which it is possible for the peoples of those countries to combine with these methods and the extent to which these methods are capable of being closely united with the Ummah.  There is for example the special psychological feeling of the Ummah in the Islamic world toward colonialism.  This feeling is marked by doubt, suspicion and fear as a result of a long bitter history of exploitation and struggle.  Moreover, this feeling has created in the Ummah a kind of recoiling from the European man’s organizational gifts and a certain amount of apprehension in face of and a strong feeling against the organizations derived from the social practices in the countries of the colonialist.  Even though these organizations may be good and free from colonialism from the political point of view, this feeling makes them incapable of creating an outlet for the forces of the Ummah and leading it in the battle of construction.  Therefore, by virtue of its psychological circumstances which the age of colonialism created and its recoiling from what ever is connected with it, the Ummah must base its modern revival on a social organization and cultural particularities which are not related in origin to the countries of the colonialist.

It is this clear reality which has made a number of political gatherings in the Islamic world think of adopting nationalism as a philosophy, a cultural basis and a basis for a social structure in their endeavor to present slogans completely separate from the colonialist way of thinking.  However, nationalism is merely a historical and linguistic bond; it is not in itself a philosophy with an ideology, nor a doctrine with fundamentals.  Rather, it is by nature neutral in face of  the absence of philosophies and social, ideological and religious doctrines.  Therefore, it is in need of adopting a specific point of view with regard to existence and life and a particular philosophy on the basis of which the characteristics of its culture, revival and social structure can be fashioned.

It seems that many of the nationalist movements have also had that feeling and have realized that nationalism as raw material is in need of adopting a social philosophy and a specific social system.  Thus, it has tried to reconcile that with the originality of the slogan which it enhances and its disassociation from the European man.  Therefore, nationalism has proclaimed Arab socialism because it has realized that nationalism alone is not sufficient.  It was in need of a system and proclaimed socialism within an Arab framework, in order to get rid of the strong reaction of the Ummah to any slogan or philosophy connected with the colonial world.  Therefore, nationalism, by ascribing socialism to Arabism, tried to conceal the foreign reality represented in socialism from the historical and intellectual points of view.  It is a futile cover , though, which cannot succeed in fooling the Ummah.  This is because this shaky framework is nothing but an apparent and vague framework of the foreign content, represented by social-ism.  Or else any role this framework plays in the socialist field of organization and any development of the “Arab” factor in this matter do not mean that “Arabic” as a language and “Arab” as history, blood and race further a specific philosophy for the social structure.  Rather, everything that falls into the field of application is due to the “Arab” factor.   In the field of application this factor came to mean the exclusion of that in socialism which was incompatible with the prevailing traditions in Arab society which possible circumstances had not yet come to change, such as spiritual tendencies, including belief in God.  Thus, the Arab framework does not give socialism a new spirit which differ from its existing intellectual and ideological situation in the colonial countries.  Rather, by this is meant the expression of specific exceptions which may be temporary but the exception does not alter the essence of the matter, nor the true content of the slogan.  More over, the propagandist of Arab socialism cannot possibly make basic distinction between Arab, Persian or Turkish socialism, nor can they explain how socialism differs by merely given this or that nationalistic framework.  This is because, in reality, the content and essence do not differ.  Rather, these frameworks give expression to exceptions which may differ from one nation to another in accordance with the specific prevailing customs among nations.

Despite the fact that the propagandist of Arab socialism have failed to present a new genuine content for socialism by giving it an Arab framework, they by this stance of theirs, have confirmed that fact which we have mentioned:  that the Ummah, by virtue of its sensitivity  due to the period of colonization, can only build a modern renaissance on a firm basis which, in the mind of the Ummah, is not connected with the countries of the colonialist.

Here a big difference emerges between methods used in the European economy which are connected, in the mind of the Ummah with the colonialist — no matter what frameworks these methods are given — and the Islamic method which is, in the mind of the Ummah,  linked with its own history and glory, is an expression of its nobility of descent and does not bear any stamp of the countries of the colonialist.

The feeling of the Ummah that Islam is the expression of its very self, the sign of its historical personality and the key to its former glory is a great factor of its success in the battle against backwardness and along the road towards development, if the method is adopted from Islam and the starting point is taken from the Islamic system.

Apart from the complex feeling of the Ummah in the Islamic world in face of colonialism and all methods connected with countries of the colonialist, there is another complication which also greatly hinders the success of the modern methods of the European if they are applied in the Islamic world.  This complication is the incompatibility between these methods and the religious belief of the Muslims.  I do not want to talk about this incompatibility here, so that I can make a comparison between the religious standpoint and the standpoint adopted by those methods.  Nor do I want to give preference over the former to the latter — that is, I do not want to discuss this incompatibility from the ideological or religious points of view.  However, I will try to present this incompatibility between the methods of the Europeans and the religious belief of the Muslims as a force within the Islamic world regardless of its value.  However we have believed it (this force) to be suffering from disunity and disintegration as a result of what colonialism did to its detriment in the Islamic world, it still has great influence in directing attitudes, and raising feelings and determining opinions.  It has already been explained that the process of economic development is not merely a process which the state applies and adopts and for which it legislate; it is a process in which the whole Ummah participate and have a share in one way or another.

If the Ummah is aware of any incompatibility between the supposed framework for development and belief which it still feels strongly and some of whose opinions on life it still retains, then it (the Ummah) will, according to the extent it combines with that belief, shrink from the process of development and from being incorporated into its supposed framework.

Contrary to that,. the Islamic system is not faced with this complication and is not afflicted with that type of incompatibility.  Rather, if it is applied, the Islamic system will find in the spiritual doctrine great support and a contributive factor in the success of development planned within its framework.  This is because the Islamic system is based on the principles of the Islamic shari’ah (revealed law).  Muslims generally believe in the sacredness and inviolability of these principles and that they should be implemented in accordance with their Islamic faith and their belief that Islam is a religion which was revealed to the seal of the prophets (Muhammad – salla alaiyhi wa salaam).

There is no doubt that the most important factors in the success of the methods which are adopted for the regulation of social life are people’s respect for these methods and these methods have the right to be implemented and applied.

Assuming that a practice of economic development based on the methods used in the European economy were able to do away with religious doctrine and its passive force in face of those methods, this would not be sufficient to destroy all that has been built on the basis of this belief over a period of four centuries or more and has played a great part in the shaping of man’s spiritual and intellectual framework in the Islamic world.  Just as doing away with the religious belief does not mean that a European base has been procured for those methods which succeeded at the hands of the Europeans because they had found a suitable base capable of combining with them.

In fact, there is an Islamic moral practice which is to a certain degree prevalent in the Islamic world and there is the moral practice of the European which accompanied the modern western civilization and which move for it its general spirit and facilitated its success on the economic level.

The two moral practices are fundamentally very different in tendency, outlook and their appraisal of things: in the same measure as the moral practices of the modern European man lends itself to the methods of the European economy, the moral practice of the people of the Islamic world will be in conflict with it.  The moral practice of the Islamic world is deep-rooted and cannot possibly be eradicated merely by diluting the religious.  Just as the — the plan of battle against backwardness — must take into account the resistance of nature to the extent of its revolt against the methods of production in the country for which the plan is intended.  The plan must also take into account the resistance of the human race and the extent to which the latter can harmonize with this or that plan.

The European always look at the earth, not at heave, even Christianity which the Europeans have believed in for hundreds of years has not been able to triumph over the worldly inclination of the European man.  Instead of lifting his gaze up to heaven, the Europeans managed to make the god of Christianity descend from heaven to earth and incarnate him as an earthly being.

The scientific efforts to trace the origin of mankind in the animal species and to explain his humanity on the basis of subjective conditioning to the earth and the environment in which man lives, or the scientific efforts to explain the whole human structure on the basis of the productive forces which represent the earth and the potentialities on it are merely an attempt to make God descend to earth, even though those efforts may differ in method and scientific or mythical character.

This looking at the earth has made the European man create value for material things, wealth and possession which are in keeping with that attitude.  These values which has taken root in the European man over the years have been able to express themselves in ideologies based on pleasure and gain which swept away moral philosophical thought in Europe.  These ideologies, as a product of European thought which registered great success on the intellectual level in Europe, have their spiritual importance and are an indication of the general mood of the European spirit.

These special values for material things, wealth and possession have played a great role in using the energy bottled up inside every individual of the Ummah and in establishing  aims for the process of development which are compatible with those values.  In this way, there was in all parts of the Ummah a continuous active movement simultaneous with the rise of the modern European economy; a movement which would never feel weary of nor sated with material things, their benefits and the possession of those benefits.

Likewise, the European man’s severance of the true link with God, the Most High, and his looking at earth instead of heaven has removed from his mind any real thought of a more sublime value or of restrictions imposed on him from outside his own domain.  Moreover, that has inclined him both spiritually and mentally towards belief in his right to freedom and has submerged him in a flood of feeling for independence and individuality.  This was then to be translated into the language of philosophy or expressed on the philosophical level by a greater philosophy in the modern history of Europe, and this was existentialism, since existentialism crowned with the philosophical form those feelings which pervaded the modern European man.  Thus, he found in existentialism his hopes and his feelings.

Freedom has played a major role in the European economy.  It has been possible for the process of development to benefit from the deep-rooted feeling for freedom, independence and individuality pervading the Europeans in the success of the free economy, as device which is compatible with the deep rooted inclination and ideas of the European peoples.  Even when the European economy presented a socialist method, it also tried to base itself on the feeling of individuality and selfishness, but this time it was class individuality instead of the individuality of a person.

The absence of any feeling for moral responsibility was a basic precondition in many of the activities which were part of the process of development.  And all of us know that it was the deep feeling of freedom which prepared the ground for the fulfillment of this precondition.  Freedom itself was instrumental in the European man’s understanding of the struggle because it made each person burst forth, only restrained by the existence of the other person standing in front of him.  For each individual, by his very existence, would deny the other person his freedom.

In this way, the notion of the struggle of the struggle developed in mind of the European man.  This concept has been expressed on the philosophical level just like the rest of the fundamental concepts which produced the vein of the modern Western civilization. This concept — the concept of the struggle — was expressed in the scientific and philosophical ideas about the struggle for existence as a natural law among the living, about the inevitability of the class struggle in the society or about dialectics and the explanation of existence on the basis of the thesis and its antithesis and the compound arising from the struggle between opposites.

In fact, all these tendencies, whether scientific or philosophical, are above all an expression of a general spiritual reality and a strong awareness of the struggle among the people of the modern civilization.

The struggle greatly influenced the direction of the modern European economy and all the development procedures which accompanied it, whether it was a struggle between individuals which was expressed in the frantic and unlimited rivalry, under the auspices of the free economy, between the various institutions and the capitalist plans of various individuals which were increasing and promoting universal wealth through their struggle and fight for survival, or whether it was a struggle between classes which was expressed in revolutionary gatherings which took control of production in the country and set in motion all forces for the benefit of economic development.

This is the moral practice of the European economy and on this ground the economy has been able to begin its movement, effect its growth and register its enormous gains.

This moral practice differs from the moral practice of the Ummah in the Islamic world as a result of its long religious history.  The Eastern man who was brought up on the divine messages which were present in his country and who went through an extensive religious upbringing at the hands of Islam, by native, look at the heavens before looking at the earth and embraces the world of the ghayb (unseen, invisible) before embracing material things and which is perceptible through the senses.

His profound infatuation with the world of the “unseen” over and above the visual world was expressed on the intellectual level in the life of the Muslims.  Consideration of the Islamic world was directed towards the intellectual domains of human knowledge, not the domains which are connected with the tangible reality.

His profound feeling for the invisible world has curbed the force of the Muslim man’s attachment to material things and their ability to stimulate him.

When the man in the Islamic world rids himself of the spiritual incentives to interact with material things and his attachment to their profitable use, he adopts a negative stance in face of them a stance which takes the form of either abstinence , containment or laxness

This feeling for the “unseen” has trained the Muslim to feel the presence of an invisible supervision which in the conscience of the pious Muslim, is an expression of a clear responsibility in the presence of God, the Most High.  In the mind of another Muslim, it is an expression of a restricted guided mind.  In any case, this feeling for the invisible keeps the Muslim man away from the feeling for individual and moral freedom in the way which the European man feels it.

As a result of the Muslim’s feeling of an inner restriction with a moral basis for the good of the community in which he lives, he feels a strong bond with the group to which he belongs.  The Muslim also perceives harmony between him and his community instead of the concept of the struggle which dominated modern European thought.  The international framework of the message of Islam which places the responsibility of its existence on a world-wide basis and its spreading with time and place on the bearers of this message has consolidated the Muslim’s concept of the community.

The gradual interaction of the man in the Islamic world with an international message for the human community implants in him the feeling for internationality and the link with the community.   If we regard this moral practice of the Muslim man as a reality in the existence of the Ummah, then it might be possible to benefit from it in supplying a method for the economy inside the Islamic world.  The method could then be placed in a framework accompanying this moral practice, in order to produce a driving force.  Just as the moral practice of the methods used in the modern European economy was a major factor in the success of those methods when there was harmony between the two.

The Muslim’s contemplation of heaven before the earth may lead to a negative stance with regard to the earth and benefits on it.  This stance may find visual expression in abstinence, contentment and laziness, if the earth is separated from heaven.  However, if the earth is given the framework of heaven and work with native is accorded the quality of “duty” and the meaning of “worship”, then the Muslim’s contemplation of the “unseen” will transform into a driving force for the greatest possible participation in the raising of the economic level.  Instead of the coldness towards the earth which the negative Muslim feels today or the spiritual uneasiness which the active Muslim frequently feels who moves in accordance with the methods of the free or socialist economies, there will be complete harmony between the disposition of the man in the Islamic world and his future positive role in the process of development, even if he is not a very committed Muslim.

The Muslim man’s concept of this inner restriction and invisible supervision prevents him from experiencing the notion of freedom in the way the European man understands it.  This concept may to a great extent help in averting the difficulties arising from the free economy and the problems confronting economic development under its protection, by means of a general plan which, in the mind of the Muslim man, draws its legitimacy from his concept of the inner restriction and invisible supervision, that is, this plan must be based on the justification of a moral practice.

In addition to what has already been mentioned, it is possible for the community and the link with it to participate in mobilizing the forces of the Islamic Ummah for the battle against backwardness, if the battle is given a slogan which is in accordance with that feeling, like the slogan of jihad (strive in the way of Allah)  to protect the Ummah.

The Holy Qur’an has ordered jihad:  “And prepare against them what force you can”… (Quran 8:60).  Thus, the Qur’an has ordered the preparation of all forces, including all economic forces represented by the level of production, as a part of the battle and jihad of the Ummah to preserve its existence and sovereignty.

Here emerges the importance of the Islamic economics as the economic method capable of benefiting from the moral practice of the Muslim man (which we have already seen) and the transformation of this moral practice into a driving force in the process of development and the success of a healthy plan for economic life.

When we adopt the Islamic system, we will be able to benefit from this moral practice and mobilize it in the battle of against backwardness, contrary to if we adopt economic methods which are connected, both spiritually and historically, with the ground of another moral practice.

Some European thinkers have also begun to realize this fact and become fully aware that their methods are not in accordance with the nature of the Islamic world.  As an example, I will cite Jacques Oustravi (?).  He has plainly recorded his observation in his book, Economic Growth, despite of the fact that he has failed to bring out the tactical and logical sequence of the existence of the European moral practice and the rise of the Islamic moral practice and the organization of its circles and has omitted some of the diversions of the two moral practices.  Thus, he has embroiled himself in a number of mistakes.  it is possible to rely completely on the explosive of these mistakes by the venerable Professor Muhammad al-Mubarak in his introduction to the book by Dr. Nabil Subhi at-Tawil who translated the book into Arabic.  However, I would like to enlarge on this subject at the nearest opportunity.  For the moment, though, I will content myself with saying that the Muslim man’s inclination to heaven does not in its basic sense mean the submission of man to fate, his dependence on circumstances and opportunities and his feeling of incapacity to create and invent, as Jacques Oustravi (?) tried to suggest.  Rather, this inclination of, the Muslim man is, in fact, an expression of the beginning of the Khilafah (caliphate) of man on earth.  This by nature, he inclines to the realization of his position on earth as God’s khalifah (caliph).  I do not know a concept more rich than the concept of caliphate to God, as conformation of man’s capability and his powers which make him the caliph of the Absolute Master (Allah) in the universe.  Likewise, I do not know a meaning further from the true meaning of caliphate to God than submission to fate and circumstances.  This is because caliphate infers responsibility towards that over which one is appointed caliph and not responsibility without freedom, feeling of choice and authority to pass arbitrary judgment on conditions.  Otherwise, what sort of caliphate is this, if man is restricted or directed?

Therefore, we have said that given the earth the framework of heaven creates an outlet for the forces of the Muslim man and stimulate his capabilities.  Whereas separating earth from the heaven makes caliphate meaningless and freezes the Muslim man’s contemplation of the earth in a negative external form.  For negativism does not sprang from the very nature of the Muslim’s contemplation of heaven, but from the suspension of the great driving forces in this contemplation, as earth is given to man within a framework which is not in harmony with contemplation.

In addition to all that has gone before, we may observe that the adoption of Islam as a basis for general organization allows us to establish all of our life, both spiritually and socially, on one basis.   This is because Islam covers both the spiritual and social sides of life while many of the other social systems are limited to the social economic relations of the life of man and others like him.  Thus, if we take our general programs for life from human sources instead of the Islamic system, we will not be able to do without another organization for the spiritual side of life.  Moreover, Islam is the only suitable source for the organization of the spiritual life.  Thus, it is necessary to have one basis for both the spiritual and social sides of life,  particularly since the two sides are not isolated from one another.  Rather, they largely interact with one another, and this interaction makes there being one basis for the two more sound and more harmonious, considering the definite intertwining of spiritual and social activities in the life of man.

Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr

an-Najaf — Iraq