Equality in Islam
If we observe the phenomena of nature and God’s blessings unto mankind we find that He has not observed equality in the distribution of His bounties and favours but in His infinite wisdom has accorded precedence to some individuals over others.
Beauty of form, pleasantness of voice, excellence of physique and mental talents have not been granted to men in equal degree. The same is the case with the material means of life.
EARLY GROOMING... students memorise the Holy Quran at a madarassa in Hyderabad, india. —AFP
Islam desires that no legal, functional or traditional handicaps should exist in society to prevent an individual from struggling or a living according to his capacity and talent not should any social distinctions subsist with the object of safeguarding the privileges of a particular class, race and dynasty or group of people.
He who has inherited an aeroplane should struggle equipped with it; while he who has only a pair of legs should stand on his feet and try to move ahead.
The laws of society should neither be such as would establish a permanent monopoly of the aeroplane owner over his aircraft and make it impossible for the bare-footed to acquire one nor such that the race for everyone of them should compulsorily should begin from one point and under the same conditions and they should all perforce be tied to each other right till the end of the race.
Contrary to this, the economic laws should be such as to make it possible for the bare-footed, who started his race under adverse condition, to secure and possess an aeroplane if he can do so by dint of his struggle and ability, and for him who inherited the aeroplane to be left behind in the race and be without it if that is due to his own inability or incapacity or inefficiency. Effort should be paid and inactivity penalised.
Islam does not wish that this economic race takes place in an atmosphere of cold impartiality, moral neutrality and social apathy. It deems it desirable that the participants in the economic race should be considerate and sympathetic to one another.
On the one hand, Islam, through its moral injunctions, aims at creating a feeling of mutual love and affection among the people, under which they help their weak and weary brethren and, at the same time, creates a permanent institution in the society to guarantee help and assistance to those who are lacking in the necessary means of subsistence.
As regards the position of individual vis-à-vis the community, Islam aims at striking such a balance between them as would promote the individual liberty of a person and at the same time ensure that such freedom is not detrimental to the interest of the community as a whole, but is positively conducive to its growth and tranquility.
Islam does not approve of a political or economic organisation, which aims at merging the identity of the individual into that of the community and depriving him of the freedom essential for a proper development of his personality and talent.
Just as political and social freedom is essential for the individual, economic freedom is likewise indispensable for civilised moral existence. Our social life should have enough margin for an individual to be free to earn his living to maintain the freedom of his conscience, and to be able to develop his moral and intellectual faculties according to his own inclinations and aptitudes.
Islam does not favour unbridled economic and social freedom to individuals and a blank cheque to secure their individual interest and achieve their objectives even at the cost of the welfare of the community as a whole or by exploiting and misappropriating the wealth of others.
Islam has adopted a middle course according to which the individual is first called upon, in the interest of the community, to accept certain restrictions, and is then left free to regulate his own affairs. He has freedom of enterprise and competition within a framework, which guarantees the good of both the individual and the society.
- From Islamic Way of Life by Sayyed Abul Ala Maududi