The Qur'an also contains a system of socialism which has never yet been the object of research. It is a socialism which is not based on the competition of capital or class war, as the socialism of western civilization today. Rather it is based on moral principles guaranteeing fraternity between the classes and fostering mutual security and cooperation for the good and felicity of their members instead of crime and transgression. It is relatively easy to appreciate this Qur'anic socialism based upon brotherhood and institutionized in zakat and charity. It does not allow one class to dominate another or one group to impose its will upon another. The civilization depicted in the Qur'an knows no such dominion or imposition. It rests entirely upon genuine fraternity deriving from unswerving iman in God, a conviction which makes the recognition of God tantamount to giving to the poor and the deprived that which they need by way of nourishment, clothing, shelter, medicine, education, and upbringing, without even making them feel that they have been the object of charity. Under this system, misery will vanish and men may hope God will complete His bounty and grant them the happiness they desire.
No Abolition of Private Property
Islamic socialism does not demand the annulment of private property, as is the case with western socialism. The facts are that even in Bolshevik Russia, as well as in any socialist country, the doing away with private property has not been fruitful. On the other hand, it goes without saying that all public utilities should become common property for the people. The definition of public utilities should be left for the state to conclude. As may be expected, men may disagree on such definition, as was the case in the first century of Islam. Some of the Prophet's companions demanded that all the creations of God should be included in the definition of public utilities. They regarded the land and all that it contained on a par with water and air, and thus not subject to becoming the property of anyone. They regarded every man as entitled to its fruits in proportion to his effort and capacity. Other companions saw the question differently. They deemed the land capable of becoming the property of individuals and, like the immovable properties, capable of being exchanged.
The Final Groundwork of Islamic Socialism
At any rate, one basic socialist principle that was agreed upon by all the Prophet's companions is passing today as a matter of course in the socialist countries of Europe: that every man is duty bound to put to full use all his capacities for the sake of the community; and that is the duty of the community to guarantee to every individual all his basic needs. Every Muslim was entitled to draw from the public treasury all that was required to satisfy his survival needs and those of his family as long as he did not find work to do, or as long as the work he did was not sufficient to satisfy these wants. As long as morality is governed by the principles of the Qur'an, no one may tell a lie and claim that he is out of work when in reality he is just lazy and unwilling to exert himself. Nor will anyone claim falsely that his income is insufficient. In the first century of Islam, the caliphs and leaders of the Muslim community took it upon themselves to inspect the conditions of their subjects in order to insure themselves that no basic need remained unsatisfied.