Freedom According to Islam and Capitalism

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When we start comparing freedom according to Islam with freedom according to the democratic capitalist system, basic differences appear to us between the freedom which has been lived by the capitalist society and advocated by capitalism, and the freedom whose banner Islam has borne and adopted by the society which Islam has created, providing its own experience on history’s stage. When we say “freedom”, we mean thereby its general meaning; that is, rejection of others’ domination, for this concept is the one we can find in both civilizations, even when its frame and intellectual base vary in both.

We have come to know, from the above contents that freedom is the central

point in the capitalist thinking, and the concept of “insurance” (assurance) is

the basic revolving point in the socialist and communist sytstems.

For this purpose we will be studying, comparatively, the position of Islam and

capitalism from freedom, comparing thereafter between the “insurance” according

to Islam and according to the Marxist creed.

When we say “freedom”, we mean thereby its general meaning; that is, rejection

of others’ domination, for this concept is the one we can find in both

civilizations, even when its frame and intellectual base vary in both.

When we start comparing freedom according to Islam with freedom according to the

democratic capitalist system, basic differences appear to us between the freedom

which has been lived by the capitalist society and advocated by capitalism, and

the freedom whose banner Islam has borne and adopted by the society which Islam

has created, providing its own experience on history’s stage. Each of these

norms of freedom bears the stamp of civilization to which it belongs and with

whose concepts of the cosmos and life it agrees, expressing the intellectual and

psychological state that civilization created in history.

Freedom, in the capitalist civilization, has started as a bitterly overwhelming

doubt, and this doubt changed, in its revolutionary expansion, to a doctrinal

belief in freedom. Contrary to this is freedom in the Islamic civilization, for

here it is but an expression of a firm central conviction (i.e., belief in God)

from which freedom derives its revolution. According to the firmness of this

conviction and the depth of its implication in man’s life do the revolutionary

powers in that freedom multiply.

Capitalist freedom has a positive connotation. It considers man to possess his

own self, faring with it as he pleases, without submitting in that to any

external authority. For this purpose, all social institutions, which affect

man’s life, derive their legal right to control every individual from the

individuals themselves! Freedom, according to Islam, maintains the revolutionary

aspect of freedom, to liberate man from the control of idols; all idols from

whose yoke humanity has been suffering across history. But it erects this great

task of liberation upon the basis of a submission purely for Allah, and for

Allah alone.

Therefore, man’s submission to God in Islam (instead of possessing his own self,

according to capitalism) is the tool whereby man breaks all other norms of

submission or slavery, for this sort of submission, in its sublime meaning,

makes him feel that he, together with all other sorts of power with which he

coexists, stands on the same grounds before one Lord. Therefore, no power on

earth has the right to fare with his destiny as it pleases or controls his

existence and life …

Freedom, according to the precepts of the capitalist civilization, is a natural

right for man, and he may give his right up whenever he wills. But it is not so

according to Islam! Freedom according to Islam is essentially tied to submission

to Allah!

Islam does not permit man to yield, be enslaved or give his freedom up:

Do not be a slave of others, since Allah created you free. [Nahjul Balaghah –

Ali ibn Abi Talib]

Man, according to Islam, is to be accounted for the use of his freedom, and

freedom is not a state of irresponsibility.

This is the difference between both norms of freedom in their general features.

—

Selected Chapter from Contemporary Man and the Social Problem by Shaheed

Muhammad Baqir Al-Sadr

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