Socialism, Human Nature and Islam     by Shah N. Khan

Socialism and communism as economic systems are against the human nature and that is why they collapsed in Soviet Union and Europe. China has now adopted a realistic attitude towards the capitalistic countries in its trade and social contacts. 

Under socialism the means of production and distribution of goods are owned collectively and political power is exercised by the whole community through peaceful, democratic, and parliamentary means. The Marxist-Leninist version of Communist doctrine advocated the overthrow of capitalism by the revolution of the proletariat or the poor classes of industrial and agricultural workers. It created apprehensions between the Capitalistic world and the cold war started and resulted in the collapse of Soviet Union in the nineties. 

Under communism the state plans and controls the economy and a single, often authoritarian political party holds the power, with the professed intention of making progress toward an equitable social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people. But in actual practice it has not been possible to the satisfaction of the masses. 

Some sociologists divide equality into that of condition and that of rights. They consider equality of condition is incompatible with civilization and human nature, and is found only to exist in those communities that are but slightly removed from the savage state.


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 Stripped of ethical norms and proper legal framework, capitalism would pave the way for exploitation of the poor by the rich and socialism or communism as exploitation of the rich by the poor. In a way the joint stock companies are socialism of the shareholders. 

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Equality of right to justice is recognized though out the civilized world. Good governance depends on the principle that an equal degree of attention is due to the needs of all human beings including their right to safety for their property and life. Equal voting right is essential part of adult franchise under democratic norms. 

Quran says that who takes risks and strive hard in the way of Allah are granted higher grade than those who don’t. 

Stripped of ethical norms and proper legal framework, capitalism would pave the way for exploitation of the poor by the rich and socialism or communism as exploitation of the rich by the poor. 

In a way the joint stock companies are socialism of the shareholders. It is easier at the corporate level to develop understanding between the management and the shareholders but at national level it is almost impracticable, because of the politicking that goes on between the political classes. Politicians have often demonstrated that they are adept at creating problems and shifting the blame on others. The politicians of all kinds whether in capitalist countries or a socialist regime generally take decisions in their self-interest and often harm the interests the nation and mankind because of lust for power or wealth or both. Remember the famous Rousseau. Quote: “Those who would treat politics and morality apart will never understand the one or the other.”  And another one by - Mr. Louis Mc Henry Howe (Franklin Roosevelt's expert adviser): “You can't adopt politics as a profession and remain honest”.   

A state of insecurity and dissatisfaction that continues to exist under every kind of economic system is because most of us as individuals surrender to the call of our elementary instincts, avoiding pain and seeking satisfaction, comfort and security only for our own selves. But the fact remains that much of the progress in commerce and industry has been the product of the individual entrepreneur who had an idea; pursued it; fashioned it; tenaciously clung to it against all odds; and then produced it, sold it, and profited from it under capitalism. Usually the people do not work with the same zeal and enthusiasm for some one else or the government as they for their own business. 

Individuals or small autonomous units can take timely decisions and assume such risks that would be considered unwise by group thinking at different levels of hierarchy of authority and power. It is easier to convince the people at board level but not so at the level of government or parliament and losses incur due to bad procedures, delays or procrastination or idiosyncrasies of the bureaucrats. In many big nationalized units corruption seeps in not only at different levels of the management hierarchy but also among workers who adopt unfair practices to force overtime, bonuses and perquisites   and often trade union leaders join in the loot and plunder. Political affiliations of trade unions often cause problems for the management.        

The Socialist doctrine advocates nationalization of natural resources, basic industries, banking and financial institutions, and public utilities. It has made some inroads in many countries including Britain. The experience of nationalization of banks, shipping, schools etc. in countries like Pakistan has showed that the efficiency of the institutions suffers and there were huge losses in public sector ventures like power generation and transport largely because of corruption and mismanagement. And these countries became more dependent on the aid of International Aid Agencies like the World Bank, who advised them to sell the private sector corporations like commercial banks, steel mills, telephone and power generation companies and other industries to private sector. The process of selling out the nationalized commercial institutions to private sector by competitive bidding is has started  in countries like Pakistan and trading of their shares has started at stock exchange. 

 Quran does not lay down any political or economic system but prescribes broad moral principles for developing or adopting that. In Islam there is no such concept as the Divine Rights of the Kings or socialist republic or theocracy. Monarchy is neither prohibited nor prescribed. Great emphasis is laid on good governance in consultation with people of good character and knowledge of the morality and Islam. 

Some orthodox clerics of Islam misconstrue the verses of Quran relating to sovereignty of Allah and the emphasis on charity, justice and taking care of poor and needy. Thus the phrase of Islamic socialism was coined in the last century. Quran admonishes the rich that it is not enough merely to set apart a sum of money for charity- they are also responsible for seeking out those who are really needy and thus genuinely entitled to charity, and for distributing it among them. The government can serve these objectives by collection of Zakat (usually one fourth of Christian tithe) and other taxes and establishing social security institutions. 

Moral weakness is inherent in human nature. Social scientists have proven that by various experiments and observations. But over 1400 years ago, Holy Quran told us that moral weakness is inherent in human nature and because of moral weakness of mankind, his inclination toward greed, avarice, tardiness and other weaknesses, God sent prophets to teach both individuals and nations correct moral and spiritual standards and values.

The people who make modest living enough to take care of the family are forbidden to accept charity even without begging.  A tradition of the Holy Prophet condemns begging as a humiliation, but it is so rampant in Islamic countries. The poor and the needy have been persuaded to shun charity, to earn their livelihood through their labor as far as possible, and to look upon hard labor as noble.

That guru of economics Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. says: “ You can learn so much about human nature, the workings of society, and the functioning of markets by looking at the aftermath of a natural disaster. It is a fascinating laboratory for observing how society."

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–59), French social philosopher pointed out the selfishness inherent in human nature. ”Consider any individual at any period of his life, and you will always find him preoccupied with fresh plans to increase his comfort. Do not talk to him about the interests and rights of the human race; that little private business of his for the moment absorbs all his thoughts, and he hopes that public disturbances can be put off to some other time.”

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