Sayyid Quthb: Social Justice in Islam

Book Review :


By : Sayyid Qutb

Khairul Umam (2006)

The book which has title “ Social Justice In Islam” is has 327 pages. The original title of this book is “ Al-‘adalah al-ijtima’iyah fil ‘I-Islam”. But had been translated from the Arabic language to English language by John B.hardie, and the first published of this book is in 1953 by American Council of Learned Societies. This book consist of nine chapters, and all of the chapter have relation with Islamic social existence.

Sayyid qutb, who wrote this book is one of great Islamic scholars. Even he began to be a writer which wrote poetry book, he wrote many books about social science and also Islamic Knowledge. He also active at opposition party in Egypt and famed as critical person to Egypt government.

Social justice in islam is therefore to be evaluated as a document of the first postwar decades in which Islamic movements and personalities were striving to demonstrate the imperative relevance of Islam concrete socioeconomic problems. To know the detail about this book, lets try to discuss each chapter in this book.

I. Religion and Society in Christianity and in Islam

Generally this chapter talk about comparison between Christianity region and society and Islam. The author try to identified the history from each other to find the nature of social life at two of the largest religion in the world.

Firstly, he write about Christianity. Christianity grew up in the shadow of thr Roman Empire, in a period when Judaism was suffering an eclipse. Christ (upon whom be peace) came only to preach spiritual purity, mercy, kindness, tolerance, chastity, and abstinence. The Christian faith pushed to the uttermost limit its of spiritual purity, material asceticism, and unworldly forbearance. Christians firstly disseminate their religion pass through the church only. And the crutch became a power comparable to the power kings and rulers. Then came the age of renaissance, and the church was quick to perceive the treat to its power which must result from the enfranchisement of mind and sense after the Dark ages.

On the other hand, The author write some condition of Islamic history and the nature and circumstances of Islam have nothing in common with any of this things. Islam grew up in an independent country owing allegiance to no empire and to no king, in a form of society never again achieved. Islam as it manifested itself in history and as it was understood by its firs exponent, Muhammad, as well as by his sincere companions and all those close to its original source. Then, Islam does not prescribe worship as the only basis of its beliefs, but rather it reckons all the activities of life as comprehending worship in themselves. Moreover, in Islam there is no priesthood, and no intermediary between the creature and the creator. In Islam also more implemented the tolerance.

II. The Nature of Social Justice In Islam

Islam as a religion, has one universal and integrated theory which covers the universe and life and humanity, in Islam sums up all its beliefs, its laws and statutes, and its modes of worship and of work. In Islam all creation is a unity comprising different parts; It has a common origin, a common providence and purpose, because it was deliberately produced by a single, absolute, and comprehensive Will. The Islamic Creed thus affirms that Allah, the sustaining lord of man, has created all these forces in order to aid, assist, and befriend him.

The author also argue that Islam is the religion which asserts the unity of all powers in the universe, as well as its assertion of the divinity, the unity of all the successive manifestations of the one true religion proceeding from Allah, and also the unity of the prophets in their testimony to this one faith since the dawn of time. Furthermore in the Islamic view, life consists of mercy, love, help, and mutual responsibility among Muslim in particular, and among human beings in general. Also in the Islamic view values are so very composite that justice must include all of them; therefore Islam does not demand a compulsory economic equality in the narrow literal sense of the term.

Islam, then, does not demand a literal equality of wealth, because the distribution of wealth depends on men’s endowments, which are not uniform. In Islam money is nit given value; Islam refuses to admit that life can be reckoned in terms of a mouthful of bread, the appetites of the body, or a handful of money.

III. The Foundations of Social Justice In Islam

The following are the foundations on which Islam establishes justice :

1. Freedom of Conscience

Islam began by freeing the human conscience from servitude to anyone except Allah and from submission to any save Him. Also, Islam has an intense interest in this beliefs, which the Qur’an emphasizes on numerous occasions.

When the conscience is freed from the instinct of servitude to and worship of any servant of Allah, and when it is filled with the knowledge that it can of itself gain complete access to Allah then it cannot be disturbed by any feeling of fear of life, or fear livelihood, or fear for its situation. But sometimes human spirit is freed from servitude to false objects of sanctity and from subservience to a fear for its life or its livelihood or its situation only to fall a prey to social values.

Lastly, the human soul is freed from its bondage to holy things, is freed from its fear death and injury, of death and humiliation, save for what Allah ordains.

2. Human Equality

Sayyid qutb here explain that Islam deals with every aspect of human life, spiritual and social alike, in order to firmly establish the concept of equality. There was fact need for discuss equality verbally and formally for has already established it in fact and in spirit, through the complete freedom of the conscience from all artificial values, from all outward appearances, and from material necessities. It has an intense passion for equality; it demands that it be universal and complete, not limited to one race or one nation, to one house or one city.

3. Mutual Responsibility in Society

In short, that’s Islam legislates for mutual responsibility in society in all shapes and form; these forms take their rise from the basic principle that there is an all-embracing identity of purpose between the individual and society, and that life in its fullness is interrelated.

IV. The Methods of Social Justice in Islam

As we know Islam is a great deal of reliance on the human conscience once it is educated; it sets it guardian of the legal processes to see that they are implemented and maintained, and for the observance of the major part of the laws to which conscience alone is accountable.

Moreover, Islam makes the zakat an obligatory claim on the property of the wealthy in favor of the poor. The zakat is a human institution of long standing, advocated by the commands of the prophets before Islam. And the zakat is a due imposed by the force of the law, an amount of money at a specified proportion.

Then, the recipient of charitable expenditure must vary according to varying needs and circumstances; relatives have the prior claim on a man’s beneficiations, but there are others also joined with them and who are mentioned side by side with relatives in the verses of the Qur’an which argue to charity. Islam also establishes certain behavioral norms for almsgiving, thus raising it above the stage where it is merely a mark of the superiority and preeminence of the rich over the poor.

Islam is aware of the instinct to love oneself and to love money. It convinced that avarice is always present in the soul, never absent prom it. Islam follows this method, with one example of which we have now dealt in detail. Islam is concerned to persuade the conscience in the case of every duty which it prescribes.

V. Political Theory In Islam

The author argue indeed the Islamic political system is based on two fundamental conceptions, booth which originate in its general ideas of universe, of life, and of man. One is the idea of the equality of mankind as species, in nature, and in origin; the other belief that Islam represents the eternal system for the world throughout the future of the human race

Political Theory in Islam rests on the basis of justice on the part of rules, obedience on the part of the ruled, and consultation between ruler and ruled.

VI. Economic Theory in Islam

A treatment of economic theory is the most essential part of any discussion of social justice. Islam enters the field of economic theory under the influence of its universal philosophy and guided by its general ideology. Its interest are the welfare of the individual and the ensuring of the individual and the ensuring of the welfare of society. In order to implement this ideal, Islam makes use of two fundamental methods : Legislation and exhortation.

In this chapter also, the author wrote detailed explanation about :
The right of individual ownership
The right of the disposal of property
The means of individual acquisition
Ways of increasing possessions
Ways of spending
The Zakat
and other statutory taxes.

VII. The Historical Reality of Justice in Islam

Actually, in this chapter the author only wrote some example of the history of reality in justice in Islam.

So, maybe too difficult for me to write one by one story which are wrote in this chapter. But insyaallah in our discussion I will tall one or two stories directly. (Sorry)

VIII. The Present State and The Prospects of Islam

According to our last discussion, when we have reviewed one book from Abul A’al Maududi. That’s book explain about Revivalist Movement in Islam. In this chapter also, Sayyid Qutb wrote about a renew of Islamic life.

First explanation from the author is about Historical state in islam during prophet Muhammad, caliphates period until Ustmani period when Mongol empire had destroyed central of Islamic civilization.

After that, the author argue that when renaissance came on, had been effected purely by law or statute, or by the establishment of social system on the basis of the Islamic philosophy. Then, Qutb wrote about his own time, when there is two political blocks which are Western and eastern. This condition automatically had influenced system of Islamic state an of course Muslim life also.

The last explanation in this chapter, talk about some method which are should be implemented in Islamic state. These are :1. Legislating The Zakat, 2. Legislating The Mutual Responsibility of Society, 3. Legislating General Taxation, 4. Legislating The Nationalization of Public Resources, 5. Legislating Matters Related to The Public Interest and The Blocking of Means. 6. Legislating Governing Legacies, 7. Legislating Matters Relating to Mutual Help and Usury. 8. Legislating Prohibiting Gambling, 9. Laws Prohibiting Prostitution, 10. Legislation Prohibiting Alcohol.

IX. The Parting of The Ways

This chapter according to the authors own time.

The author said that Islam need not be deceived by apparently hard and bitter struggle between the Eastern and western camps. Then he wrote, actually the real struggle is between Islam on the one hand and the combined camps of East and West on the other. Islam is the true power that opposes the strength of the materialistic philosophy professed by Europe, America, and Russia alike.

In the last paragraph he wrote"Conditions today are favorable because of the birth of two great new Islamic blocs in Indonesia and Pakistan, and because of the awakening of the Arab world, both in East and West. The ultimate issue is with ALLAH; our duty is to trust in Him, an to have faith".