As a Muslim who (by natural inclination) believes that Islam (e.g., the Qur’an, the Sunnah of Muhammad pbuh, the decisions that the rightly guided caliphs made based on those tenants, etc.) provides full care/welfare/concern/support for society (the members of society—especially the poor), I’m not surprised when I learn of examples of that care and welfare/support shown, in history.

For example; I wrote a research paper a few semesters ago (in college) which mentioned how it was Muslim physicians who established the first psychiatric ward/hospital/asylum, in the world. (If I remember correctly, its establishment was instigated by Ibn Sina (“Avicenna,” as he is known, in English—the Father of Modern Medicine…).

{here is the essay…it actually got published in issue 2 of Doll Hospital Journal–an incredible literary magazine centered on mental wellness…check it out!:)) ;

essay:

IMG_0546
page one of essay
IMG_0547
page two of essay
IMG_0549
page three of essay (final page).

 

I never knew that, before I had conducted my research, for the paper. (That it was  Muslims who created the first psychiatric hospital, in the world.*) When I learned this historical fact, though, I wasn’t taken aback, or shocked, or anything. Because I know that Islam is a religion of helping and bettering humanity. It follows naturally that its adherants act/acted upon this characteristic.

~

The following Wikipedia article touches on the relationship between the Islamic state and its people, in terms of money, mandatory government services, and etc. (*The article is titled “Islamic socialism,” but it is really just “Islam.” (Period. As in; it is the actual and original teachings of Islam which outline all of the points mentioned, below. It is just designated as “Islamic socialism” because hardly any Muslim government today actually enacts these principles (which is the fault of those governments, which they will have to be responsible for on Judgment Day.) So, as a result, it seems like the people who support these (core Islamic) principles are creating something new—that they have formed a submovement, within Islam, or something to that effect. But; that is not the case, at all. It’s just that those Muslims look funny, compared to what the Muslim governments do. But, as always; Islam is not what Muslims do. It is what Muslims should do—what Allah s.w.t. ordained, and what His Messenger demonstrated (by his actions).

Here is the article:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_socialism

Some points that I especially like, from the article:

“The concepts of welfare and pension were introduced in early Islamic law as forms of Zakat (charity), one of the Five Pillars of Islam, under the Rashidun Caliphate in the 7th century. This practice continued well into the Abbasid era of the Caliphate. The taxes (including Zakat and Jizya) collected in the treasury of an Islamic government were used to provide income for the needy, including the poor, elderly, orphans, widows, and the disabled. According to the Islamic jurist Al-Ghazali (Algazel, 1058–1111), the government was also expected to stockpile food supplies in every region in case a disaster or famine occurred.

The Caliphate can thus be considered the world’s first major welfare state.”

I really like that last sentence. (I get very frustrated at the belief (out there) that Muslims haven’t contributed anything to the well-being/advancement of the world. Because; Muslims were one of the most important peoples in the well-being/advancement of the world.

For example: During the European Dark Ages (in which books were burnt because they went against the Church’s teachings/challenged the Church…scientists and academics themselves were executed, and etc.), the Golden Age of Islam (in contrast) gave the world Algebra, algorithms, advancements in the scientific method, and many many other incredible accomplishments.

All of these scholars were Muslims, living in the Islamic Golden Age:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Golden_Age

~

Anyways. Back to the topic:

Some more points I like from the Islamic socialism article:

“During the Rashidun Caliphate, various welfare programs were introduced by Caliph Umar. In his time, equality was extended to all citizens, even to the caliph himself, as Umar believed that “no one, no matter how important, should live in a way that would distinguish him from the rest of the people.” Umar himself lived “a simple life and detached himself from any of the worldly luxuries,” like how he often wore “worn-out shoes and was usually clad in patched-up garments,” or how he would sleep “on the bare floor of the mosque.” Limitations on wealth were also set for governors and officials, who would often be “dismissed if they showed any outward signs of pride or wealth which might distinguish them from the people.” This was an early attempt at erasing “class distinctions which might inevitably lead to conflict.” Umar also made sure that the public treasury was not wasted on “unnecessary luxuries” as he believed that “the money would be better spent if it went towards the welfare of the people rather than towards lifeless bricks.”[

“Umar’s innovative welfare reforms during the Rashidun Caliphate included the introduction of social security. This included unemployment insurance, which did not appear in the Western world until the 19th century. In the Rashidun Caliphate, whenever citizens were injured or lost their ability to work, it became the state’s responsibility to make sure that their minimum needs were met, with the unemployed and their families receiving an allowance from the public treasury.[24] Retirement pensions were provided to elderly people,[23] who had retired and could “count on receiving a stipend from the public treasury.” Babies who were abandoned were also taken care of, with one hundred dirhams spent annually on each orphan’s development. Umar also introduced the concept of public trusteeship and public ownership when he implemented the Waqf, or charitable trust, system, which transferred “wealth from the individual or the few to a social collective ownership,” in order to provide “services to the community at large.” For example, Umar brought land from the Banu Harithah and converted it into a charitable trust, which meant that “profit and produce from the land went towards benefiting the poor, slaves, and travelers.”[

“Guaranteed minimum income

Guaranteed minimum income is a system[29] of social welfare provision that guarantees that all citizens or families have an income sufficient to live on, provided they meet certain conditions. Eligibility is typically determined by citizenship, a means test, and either availability for the labour market or a willingness to perform community services. The primary goal of a guaranteed minimum income is to combat poverty. If citizenship is the only requirement, the system turns into a universal basic income. The first Muslim Caliph Abu Bakr introduced a guaranteed minimum standard of income, granting each man, woman, and child ten dirhams annually; this was later increased to twenty dirhams.[30] Some, but not all Islamic socialists advocate the renewal and expansion of this policy.”

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“One of the Five Pillars of Islam, zakāt is the practice of imposition (not charity) giving based on accumulated wealth (approximately 2.5% of all financial assets owned over the course of one lunar year). It is obligatory for all financially able Muslim adults and is considered to be an act of piety through which one expresses concern for the well-being of fellow Muslims, as well as preserving social harmony between the wealthy and the poor.[8] Zakat promotes a more equitable redistribution of wealth and fosters a sense of solidarity amongst members of the Ummah.[9]

Zakat is meant to discourage the hoarding of capital and stimulate investment. Because the individual must pay zakat on the net wealth, wealthy Muslims are compelled to invest in profitable ventures, or otherwise see their wealth slowly erode. Furthermore, means of production such as equipment, factories, and tools are exempt from zakat, which further provides the incentive to invest wealth in productive businesses.[10] Personal assets such as clothing, household furniture, and one residence are not considered zakatable assets.

According to the Quran, there are eight categories of people (asnaf) who qualify to receive zakat funds:[11][12]

  1. Those living in absolute poverty (Al-Fuqarā’).
  2. Those restrained because they cannot meet their basic needs (Al-Masākīn).
  3. The zakat collectors themselves (Al-Āmilīna ‘Alaihā).
  4. Non-Muslims who are sympathetic to Islam or wish to convert to Islam (Al-Mu’allafatu Qulūbuhum).
  5. People whom one is attempting to free from slavery or bondage. Also includes paying ransom or blood money (Diyya). (Fir-Riqāb)
  6. Those who have incurred overwhelming debts while attempting to satisfy their basic needs (Al-Ghārimīn).
  7. Those fighting for a religious cause or a cause of God (Fī Sabīlillāh)[13] or for Jihad in the way of Allah[14] and for Islamic warriors who fight against the unbelievers but are not part of salaried soldiers.[15][16]
  8. Children of the street / Travellers (Ibnus-Sabīl).

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Confession: I really, really love Islam. I believe it really is based on compassion, care, aid and support (especially for the poor, differently abled people, the sick, and other disadvantaged groups of people), and being there for other people.

Alhamdulillah (praise be to Almighty Allah) that I’m a Muslim. (and May Allah s.w.t. guide others to this beautiful path. Ameen.)

~

Thank you for reading!

-Ethar Hamid

 

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