Ills of Capitalism

Category: Americas, Life & Society Views: 5795

Amidst the ever spreading economic crisis, some of the issues people are raising show their skepticism and ambiguities. Many of these questions imply that most Americans want Obama to be their financial messiah to help them out of the deep hole that has been dug during the last eight years of the Bush administration. Many of them ask: Will Obama be able to solve these financial and economic challenges? Will he strike with his invisible magic wand a path of economic recovery that would bring America and the world out of the recession or depression or whatever the economists call it? Will he restore the banking industry? Will he help people find jobs? Will he secure the interests of the people without losing the support of the wealthiest of the world? Will he revive the stock market? Will he help the housing industry?

Obama himself has acknowledged the difficulties he would face in overcoming the crisis the country currently faces. In his victory speech in Chicago on November 4, he talked about the difficult time ahead and invited people to inculcate the spirit of sacrifice to help people come out of the ongoing trials and tribulations.

Obama was referring to a morality to fix the ills of an economic system that does not believe in any ethics other than the one it creates to sustain it. We live in a world driven by values generated by an uncontrolled capitalism. The more capital we accumulate, the more influential and powerful we become. Those who invest their capital in economic ventures are the ones who are deemed successful. Under this system, everyone is for himself and herself with no place for the marginalized and disadvantaged.

Capitalism in its purest form promotes the nurturing of only the human body. It emphasizes that the intellect is the only ingredient for the growth and nourishment of humans. The intellect demands that each must live for one self. It promotes accumulation of wealth first for oneself than for one's children and then for one's legacy. The race to accumulate greater wealth results in the marginalization of masses as only a few succeed to climb to the top.

The intellect does not offer any rebuttal of capitalism as it is the intellect that is its founder. Consequently, rich gets richer and poor get poorer causing sufferings to millions who are reduced to a kind of slavery where they are sustained to produce more and more capital for a few. Capitalism promotes the age old principle of might is right and instigates the most powerful to grab wealth at any cost. It creates fear in the masses and it makes them vulnerable in times of crisis.

Capitalism creates an unwritten class system where most people in the poor or middle class will find it difficult to move out off. Capitalists always find their allies among those who control political power and those who control the religious pulpit. Both these sectors often come to the rescue of capitalism by invoking the name of law and order and God to urge the rich to maintain the status quo. The religious hierarchy even goes a step further claiming that those live in poverty and as have-nots are favored by God as they are the ones who would get the best reward in the heaven. Simultaneously, the religious hierarchy provides a cover for the rich by urging them to give a few dollars and cans of food to help the poor so that they can reserve their privileged spot in paradise.

The capitalist world that we live in today specially in the United States is brutal and inhumane in its greed to acquire more wealth. The ills that it has generated cannot be fixed by embellishing it or decorating it with artificial colors. On the crutches of social bail outs, this system may walk a few more steps and linger its existence, but ultimately, it will create new crisis.

The root cause of the current financial crisis does not lie in the draconian domestic and foreign policies of the Bush Administration. It lies in the nature of unbridled capitalism that builds itself purely only on human experience and intellect promoting ideas of survival of the fittest and might is right. No amount of fixing up can help us out of the deep ditch created by greedy capitalism because the reformers would not be able to find its depth and would never come out of it. .

Most of Capitalism today is built on the philosophy of those who in the words of God as described in the Quran "continuously accumulate wealth" (100:8; 14:2). They believe that "the wealth will give him eternal happiness (104:3).

Capitalism encourages people to go after immediate gratification, (75:20; 74:28). It ignores the long term consequences and seeks short term selfish worldly desires, (75:21; 87:16). Capitalistic greed creates animosity among people in the name of competition. . The response to crisis is not to fix the unfixable but to change our paradigm of thinking about the world, universe and human resources abundantly present therein. Intellect alone will not help us solve our problems. We have to rely on the divine guidance to find solution to our problems. The intellect coupled with divine guidance is capable of developing this perspective.

The Quran, the final source of God's guidance to humanity is believed by more than one fifth of the humanity, declares that each human being deserves a dignified existence and demands from those who believe in the supremacy of the divine guidance to work for the establishment of a society where the interests of all are secured and where people are willing to sacrifice their interests for others, (51:9). The Quran declares that God is the creator of ALL the resources essential for human survival. Water, air, food are all offered to human beings without any divine tax.

The Quran says that the foundation of economic activity is labor and not capital, (20:15). It says that wealth is not to be accumulated for one's self but to be shared with others. It should be used for nurturing those who are not in a position to live a dignified life.

The Quran suggests that whatever is given to others, it is the only thing that helps human beings grow and recommends that using one's resources for others helps one to attain a higher level of piety, (3:91). The Quran suggests that such an attitude can be attained in society by those who are inspired by the divine guidance because they would use their intellect to negotiate with the changing situations in a comprehensive and compassionate manner.

The Quran does not ask people to renounce or denounce the world. Rather it asks them to explore the universe and put it to work on the basis of guidance by God to serve humanity. It says that change will come when people will change their perspective about themselves and their cosmos on the basis of the revelations that various prophets delivered to them throughout human history and culminating in the Quran.

The Quran warns people of facing the consequences of all their actions, good or bad and recommends them to use the resources they earned through their labor for the welfare and well being of all. It was under Islamic economics the concept of Waqf (endowment, trust) was developed that demonstrates the application of the Quranic guidance. the Quran does not restrict the resources of God for a nation or a tribe. It encourages free trade and free exchange of resources. Above all it takes a very strong stand against those who want to monopolize resources and hoard them for their personal benefit.

The Quran suggests that human beings unlike the cosmos which is committed to rules and laws created by the divine can never think objectively for the entire humanity without the help of divine guidance in every aspect of life.

When people who believe that their responsibility is to preserve nurture, sustain each and every individual that lives on our planet and assume responsibility in regulating the resources created by the divine, we can build a better future for humanity.

The Quran encourages a holistic approach to economics. It does not say that by simply creating interest free banking institutions, the financial crisis can be overcome as suggested by many Muslim thinkers and scholars. During the depression in Japan, interest was dropped to zero and that did not help solve the crisis.

The Quran talks to humanity at a deeper level suggesting that without making labor the criterion for reward and caring for each and everyone regardless of ones' religious or ideological background, whatever financial system we adopt, we will continuously face crisisses.

All people should look within them selves to reflect the problems of today. As Muslims we need to realize that this perspective on the nurturing and nourishment of all human beings has been neglected by many Muslim elites, scholars, thinkers and governments who have adopted absolute uncontrolled capitalism in their own affairs. Many who offer solutions to capitalism do not go beyond interest-free banking.

The current crisis is the crisis of intellect and its directions. It will not be solved only by economists or bankers or venture capitalists alone. Its solution would come from a critical rethinking of our existing paradigms and shifting our perspective from maximization of personal wealth to the maximization of human dignity in all its aspects. Capitalism cannot offer this perspective. Only an objective sources such as God who is the nourisher and sustainer of all can offer such guidance. It is to that source one must return to find solutions to the existing crisis.

Dr. Aslam Abdullah is editor in chief of the weekly Muslim Observe and director of the Islamic Society of Nevada.

  Category: Americas, Life & Society
Views: 5795
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Older Comments:
Salaamu alaikum br Kris,

It's a pleasure to read your comments.
Have you noticed that it's not just capitalism that has been brought down to earth but also unilateralism. Gone are the days when the arrogant leaders in the White House snub other countries leaders & treat them as if they don't count... Arrogant George W Bush & Dick Cheney have been humbled too when they called in a meeting of the G 20 to come up with solutions to the world's financial crisis that these two contributed to if not created in the first place!

Kris, see my last comments on previous article.
Here is my email address btw: [email protected]

Assalamualaikum again to my Good Brother, Brother Zinedine.

It's true brother. Capitalism finally has shown it's ugliest head. In this era of global financial crisis, gone were the false sense of pride and supreriority of the capitalists over other humans. Yet, you couln't be more right Brother.

Here they were, the moguls of big industries and big businesses, flying their jets to Washington, appearing before Congressional committees, begging for tax payers money, including the taxes from the money of the people that they exploited. What a scene at Congress !

Salaamu alaikum,

Good point Kris,

Back then the idea sounded too socialist to them. Now what, what would they call the bailouts other than heavy gov involment & SOCIALISM?
They have the guts to show up with their personal jumbo jets & beg for tax payers money.
Worse: Some of these taxpayers make minimum wage.
How sad when a poor employee that makes minimum wage has to bailout a loser CEO!!!
Isn't it obvious now to some dumb people that excessive capitalism is simply disgusting!

Very well put.

Capitalism is a system of economics based on free enterprise and has nothing to do with religion. "It says that wealth is not to be accumulated for one's self but to be shared with others. It should be used for nurturing those who are not in a position to live a dignified life"; is an example of this the oil rich counties; such as, Saudi Arabia or Kuwait?

But we all know now that their is No such thing as Capitalism but a Capitalism Combo. Herein US.

US economy is a corrupt monopoly doing their business on a hiped artifical fiat currency via so called corporates.

Thats No Capitalism thats corruption. It starts at the top with a private bank called federal reserve, which just print money for US Govt. with an interest.


Capitalism is immoral, it show cased how those who has wealth, power, assets can exploit other human beings. Capitalism brings with it an unbridled greed and an insatiable lust for dominance over other people's lives.

Like I said earlier and I am saying it again ( I lost count of how many times I said it ) the global financial crisis is a master piece of capitalism own failings, a spectacular failure, one which none in those exploiters would readily admit, even though they knew that it was their rotten ways that landed themselves in this turmoil.

And free enterprise ? Oh please. Start growing up George Bush. Your bailout plans are evidence of hypocracy in action. IMF and World Banks are another worst pair of hypocrites.

If a decade ago, they oppose government interventions in dealing with market problems, now they join the chorus of Goerge Bush and other EU leaders in advocating government interventions albeit, in using public funds, yes, the tax payers money to save the ailing capitalist businesses, and to satisfy the lobbyist groups, viz a viz the captains of sunken industries.

We are all citizens of a global civilization and creating a future dominated by mediums such as and .
As a Muslim I often have more in common thant Jews, Christians, Hindu and others that think about Humanity first than I probably do with most of the so called Muslims of Dubai.

The Ills of Capitalism, believe me, are plenty and are well known. But what bothers me is that why do muslims flock to the Capitalist world of Europe, Canada and US (and even Saudi Arabia and other PetroSheikdoms). And what is doubly surprising is that the author of this article, Dr Abdullah, lives in Nevada, where gambling and, prostitution are licensed by the state and legal, casinos are open 24 hours a day with no regard to any religious holiday, and liquour flows like water, and where worst forms are Capitalism are not only practised but also considered respectable, on which Billions of $ of fortune are made (or even lost) . And that place is no place for any kind of repentance.

Would Dr Abdullah consider moving to a more respectable (and probably less lucrative) place somewhere else in US? One must practise one's sermons.


Non Muslims don't know it that man cannot hold on to wealth. Everything that he owns, is given to him on trust from God. Every that you own, you have to pay a kind of tax on it called tithe which is meant for distribution to the poor and the needy. Paying tithe is cleansing wealth, according to Islam. When wealth is not cleansed, then there will be trouble like what is happening in United States today. Usury is evil. It is neither advocated by Christian nor Muslims.Both religions condemned it. It is a system developed by the Jews. It is high time the world changed the system and replace with something else- the Islamic banking system for example.4559