The Ideal Society – Allah-Created Resources, Human Effort and the Quranic Way of Life

There are verses in Surah Al-Waaqi‘ah that present a contrast between human effort and Allah-provided resources in a clear, direct, succinct, and interesting way. Sustenance is the joint product of Allah-created resources and human effort. When these two combine then we have an output that sustains human life. Allah gives natural resources and humans provide the effort. The Quran states, (أَفَرَأَيْتُم مَّا تَحْرُثُونَ 56:63 )– “Have you ever considered the seed which you cast upon the soil? – You throw the seed in the ground. Nevertheless, after that, do you grow the seed or We do:(أَأَنتُمْ تَزْرَعُونَهُ أَمْ نَحْنُ الزَّارِعُونَ 56:64 ) – “Is it you who caused it to grow - or are We the cause of its growth?”

Allah is asking us here: from the seed you throw to the ground, do you produce the shoot or do We (i.e., Our law does)? Allah gives us a simple and clear example, which no one can deny. What part of the contribution is yours? You tilled the ground, prepared the soil, applied fertilizer and sowed the seed. Up until this point, this is your effort. Now tell us, after this, who produces the shoot from the seed? Who turns it into a plant? Do you do it or do We? Remember, this happens according to Our law. If it were not for Our law then it would not be possible for anything to grow from the seed. It is also possible that the seed grows into a plant and then burns and is destroyed (56:65-66). In this case, instead of producing 700 grains from every seed, even your original seeds will be destroyed. Tell us, if Our law does not aid your efforts then what is possible based on your efforts alone (56:68)? Then, the Quran further questions: The water upon which your life depends, do you produce it from the rain or does Our law produce it (56:69)? Think about it!

Our drinking water depends on rainfall – drinking water fit for human consumption is derived from the oceans’ waters. This global system of waterworks, Allah has created for humans: from fountains, from wells and canals that humans dig, these are all fine, but the water itself, who created it? Humans put effort into creating different water systems but they did not produce the water itself? Allah produced it. Farming depends upon water. There will be no farming if there is no water.

Allah asks humans: Do you ever ponder on Our comprehensive system of waterworks –  from the oceans’ water – which humans cannot drink even one sip – how the Sun’s rays lift pure vaporized water leaving behind all the chemicals and salts in the oceans. This water is then carried in the form of clouds that travel great distances. If all that water in the clouds were to drop again into the oceans in the form of rain and it does not reach where it is needed, then what will happen? Have you pondered on all these things? Our winds – yes, humans did not produce the winds either! – come and take these clouds from here to there where pure and fresh water is needed. Moreover, We store extra water in the form of snow which melts for your use in summer. When the snow melts the ground and rivers are replenished with fresh water. Now, be honest and tell us: To whom do all these systems of waterworks with perfect delivery mechanisms belong?

Consider the firewood which humans burn and derive so many benefits (56:71). Is the fire created by humans? Yes, humans take advantage of this fire in different ways but who put the ability of fire inside the wood? Have you pondered on that fact – where the secret flames came from inside the green branches of trees (56:72)? Putting the fire deep inside the veins of dry branches—is it of human creation or of Our law’s? This, you must not forget and always keep in front of you (56:73). This was a joint enterprise between humans and Allah. Humans provided the effort and Allah provided the resources. Only then the output was produced. Therefore, according to honest and ethical business practice we must divide the result of this common business. You take your share according to your expended effort, however, the basic investment was Ours. All this We have described to you to explain what is at stake here. Give Us Our due share. Then only you will be considered an honest and fair businessperson. You ask Me: Sir, Thou are not in front of us; nor Thou eat or drink; so to whom do we give Thine share? Give to the needy: مَتَاعًا لِّلْمُقْوِينَ (Mataa-‘al-lilmuqween) (56:74). Give it to the hungry. It will reach Us.

مَتَاعً (Mataa‘a) are the things that a traveler takes with him on a trip, but only as much as is necessary for survival – no more than that and never for hoarding. This is what the Quran said 1400 years ago: (وَإِن كُلُّ ذَٰلِكَ لَمَّا مَتَاعُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا  (43:35. Everything in/on earth that supports life is called مَتَاعُ “Mata‘a” by the Quran. This represents a great reality. The root of مَتَاعُ “Mata‘a” means: “things of utility, things that support the basic needs of life; things that are only for utility and not for hoarding.” It most certainly does not mean “property”. The Quran always uses it as “utility value”. How much one can eat and how much one can use things to support one’s life – these are limited. Human needs are limited but human greed is unlimited. Since capitalism is based on greed, it leads to a vicious mentality of unending greed of multiplying and counting wealth. This greed for hoarding more and more for its own sake drives humans mad and does not let them rest in peace. The Quran says that this continues until they reach their graves:( 102:1-2 أَلْهَاكُمُ التَّكَاثُرُ ; حَتَّىٰ زُرْتُمُ الْمَقَابِرَ  ) – You are obsessed by greed for more and more until you go down to your graves. What makes you oblivious to the real goal of humankind? The obsession, avarice and rivalry to amass wealth.

Capitalism creates classes based on wealth. If this remains then how can humanity ever become one brotherhood? People living under capitalism in just one country cannot become one brotherhood, let alone becoming universal brotherhood of humankind under capitalism. Think about it – those living in palatial homes in gated communities and those living in debilitated worn-out huts in shanty towns can they ever become one brotherhood? The truth is (according to Iqbal):

Capitalist vultures metamorphose themselves in every age

Though humanity has grown old, the devils are still young!Gunnar Myrdal, a Swedish Nobel Laureate economist, in his book “Beyond the Welfare State” called for a universal welfare system that breaks down all national barriers. He suggests that the only way to establish such a system would be to establish a world government in which there are no national boundaries or class distinctions between people; where human beings are free to live anywhere they want; and are free to move anywhere at their pleasure to meet the basic needs of life. From the political point of view, this means establishment of a single sovereign one-world government.  From humanity’s point of view, this means establishment of the highest form of human equity and dignity. As long as the condition of the world is such that half of the world is rich and the rest of the half poor, universal human brotherhood cannot be attained.

According to the shining hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) – “In any town, if a single person sleeps hungry then Allah pulls His hands of protection from that town.”

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