The Quran says:
أَلْقِيَا فِي جَهَنَّمَ كُلَّ كَفَّارٍ عَنِيدٍ ﴿﴾ مَّنَّاعٍ لِّلْخَيْرِ مُعْتَدٍ مُّرِيبٍ
(50:24-25) – [Whereupon God will command:] “Cast, cast into hell every [such] stubborn enemy of the truth, [every] withholder of good [and] sinful aggressor [and] fomenter of distrust [between man and man – everyone] [Asad]
Who are the leading offenders against the Quran; and who are the ones who will be sent to Hell first to become its prime fuel? Their offense was that they withheld wealth by not keeping it open and available for humankind’s benefit and development. They erected barriers in the way of improving the human condition. Thus they rebelled against the Divine Order. They were under the impression that Allah (i.e., His Law of Requital) will not bring them to face justice. The Quran enunciates that the biggest offense one can do to humanity is to deprive it of Allah-given sustenance:
(107:7) – and, withal, deny all assistance [to their fellow-men]! [Asad]
They took total control of the sources of nourishment. These however should remain open and available, like ever-flowing springs, for all needy people. They thus deprived the needy of the sources of nourishment. This is what the Quran says. But why would they – who control wealth and deprive the rest of humanity – listen to this message? Consequently, who could be better deserving of hell than these people?
This may sound strange because according to common belief the Quran should talk about religion and spiritualism not about the issue of economics. But the issue of economics is a basic one without which life cannot move forward. The Quran does not ignore the realities of life. The Quran is not a conceptual religious book that talks only about heaven. It has given great importance to the issue of economics. It says that those who hoard Allah’s sustenance and deprive others of it commit a heinous crime against humanity. If the sustenance is equitably distributed; if everyone receives sustenance based on one’s need then there is no question of hoarding.
Quranic concept of Islamic system
Earth is the source of all sustenance. Since Allah created the earth, He is its true owner of the earth and everything in it. So, no human can claim ownership of any part of the earth as that would be Shirk (partnership with Him). Earth provides sustenance to all living beings as God-given right.
So, no one has the right to deprive anyone of this right of access to sustenance. Those who do are therefore the greatest offenders in the eyes of Allah. The sign of the Islamic system is clear from the Prophet’s (PBUH) hadith that Allah’s protection disappears from a town in which a single person sleeps hungry. And ‘Umar (R) went further and said that even if a dog were to die of hunger on the banks of Tigris then he will be accountable for this in the Hereafter. The Islamic system is not just enforcing laws. Islamic system’s essence and fundamental attribute is respect for human beings by virtue of being human:
وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِي آدَمَ
(17:70) – NOW, INDEED, We have conferred dignity on the children of Adam. [Asad]
So, in the Islamic system, all humans will have equal dignity. There wouldn’t be even a trace of indignity in an Islamic system, let alone anyone suffering from it. And the second attribute of an Islamic system is that Allah is the sole ruler. He does NOT allow any human being to rule over other human beings. So, how does He rule? Well, He rules through His commands contained in His Book, the Quran. Humans are agents through whom Allah enforces His commands on earth. A human is only an agent for enforcing divine commands, not a ruler. The Quran says that every human being deserves sustenance with dignity. The essence of Deen is that no one should be helpless, or even feel helpless. If for some reason a person’s needs are unfulfilled, then he or she should be helped at once.
Those who pray, and are oblivious of the fact that Allah-given sustenance must remain flowing to all unhampered, and they keep on accumulating wealth, have been condemned by the Quran:
الَّذِي جَمَعَ مَالًا وَعَدَّدَهُ
(104:2) – Woe unto him who amasses wealth and counts it a safeguard. [Asad]
(70:18) – And amass [wealth] and thereupon withhold [it from their fellow-men]. [Asad]
Before the advent of banks, money (in coins) was kept in bags whose mouth was tightly closed so that coins do not slip out. The Quran uses the word “Nafaq” for a bag whose both ends remain open. This gives a perfect picture of the Quranic economic system where wealth keeps flowing without let or hindrance just like the blood keeps flowing throughout the body without let or hindrance.
Therefore, accumulating wealth is the worst offense in the eyes of the Quran because it is the root cause of most of the evils of society. That is why those who engage in this evil will be the first ones to enter hell. We are not talking about the non-Quranic system in which we are living where if one does not keep wealth then one will perish when one’s need arises. We are talking about the Quranic system; we are talking about the Islamic system; we are talking about those who have accepted the Quran; we are talking about those who say that they believe in the Quran; we are talking about those in whose society no one will sleep hungry. When society takes responsibility for meeting the needs of everyone and their family, then why would one accumulate wealth; then why would one be worried about anything?
نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُهُمْ وَإِيَّاكُمْ
(17:31) – It is We who shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you. [Asad]
This is what the Islamic government announces. Then why would one go through the headache to accumulate wealth? There will be absolutely no need for that since the Islamic government will bear the responsibility to take care of all the basic needs – food, housing, medical care, education, and providing jobs to everyone. And everyone’s responsibility in this system is to work hard to the best of one’s ability. Those who are incapacitated to work will be under the care and responsibility of the state which will take care of their needs. This is the Islamic system. This is the Islamic state in which no one sleeps hungry according to the Prophet's (PBUH) hadith. If that is not the case, then Allah’s protection is lifted from that state; then it no longer remains an Islamic state. That is the reason the Quran declares that the worst criminals in the eyes of Allah are those who obstruct the Allah-given free-flowing sustenance from reaching other human beings: مَّنَّاعٍ لِّلْخَيْرِ (50:25).
Our so-called Islamic Sharia was created at the behest of kings
Our Sharia was designed during the reign of kings; who named themselves Khalifa to fool the people; when predatory capitalism was in full force. So, it is no surprise that this kind of Sharia allows amassing unlimited wealth. Just give yearly two and a half percent of the wealth to charity – then all your wealth becomes pure and kosher. The Quran says that those who amass wealth are committing a transgression against Allah. But here is our Sharia saying the opposite: keep amassing as much wealth as you want as long as you give a tiny fraction to charity. Just as this Sharia made Salah a short-cut robotic performance, it also made Zakat a short-cut routine mechanical ritual. Have the cake and eat it too! This cannot be the Islamic system that guarantees that everyone’s basic needs will be met. But these people remain in doubt about it. They erect barriers in the way of improving the human condition. Thus they rebel against the Divine Order. They are under the impression that Allah’s Law of Requital will not bring them to face justice:
الَّذِي جَعَلَ مَعَ اللَّـهِ إِلَـٰهًا آخَرَ فَأَلْقِيَاهُ فِي الْعَذَابِ الشَّدِيدِ
(50:26) – who has set up another deity beside God: cast him, then, cast him into suffering severely! [Asad]
The Quran is saying here that they claim to believe in the Quran and Allah but, in reality, they have taken another God of earth and have consigned Allah to the heavens.
Allah is the creator and hence owner of the Earth; so accepting human owners besides Him is giving them godly status. In fact, the Quran says that when humans start following their desires then they turn their desire into God.
أَفَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَـٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ
(45:23) – HAST THOU ever considered [the kind of man] who makes his own desires his deity. [Asad]
Whatever or whomever we follow, that becomes our god or Ilaha which means an authority that is obeyed. Allah does not give this authority to any human to make others obey him. This will be an affront to humanity. All humans are equal in the eyes of Allah. According to the Quran, only Allah has the right to rule and no one else. And Allah rules through his Book, the Quran.
Who owns the Earth?
Earth is the source of all sustenance. It is the source of all the raw materials from which goods are produced.
The Quran proclaims that Allah is the owner of Earth:
إِنَّ الْأَرْضَ لِلَّـهِ (7:128) – Verily, all the earth belongs to God [Asad]
لِّلَّـهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ
(2:284) – Unto God belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth. [Asad]
إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَرِثُ الْأَرْضَ
(19:40) – Behold, We alone shall remain after the earth [Asad]
Our religious Sharia was made during kingship under predatory capitalism. So, it allows unlimited ownership of wealth and land to humans with religious sanctions in contradiction to the Quran’s clear order against it:
الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمُ الْأَرْضَ فِرَاشًا وَالسَّمَاءَ بِنَاءً وَأَنزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَأَخْرَجَ بِهِ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ رِزْقًا لَّكُمْ ۖ فَلَا تَجْعَلُوا لِلَّـهِ أَندَادًا وَأَنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
(2:22) – who has made the earth a resting-place for you and the sky a canopy, and has sent down water from the sky and thereby brought forth fruits for your sustenance: do not, then, claim that there is any power that could rival God, when you know [that He is One]. [Asad]
Humankind will find protection from life’s pitfalls only within the Divine Universal System of Sustenance according to which Allah made the earth a resting place for all human beings and scattered various planets in space, which remain dynamically stable in their orbits through mutual force of gravitation. Allah also caused rain to come down from the sky so that means of nourishment could be provided for all of humanity. It is evident that all means of sustenance have been given free. So, therefore, Allah alone is the Owner and Master of these means and human beings are permitted only their use. Therefore, human beings should take care of it as a trust and should not make human beings masters of these means. If they did that, then it would be tantamount to Shirk, i.e., setting up rivals to Allah.
This verse clearly defines who the “أَندَادًا” of Allah, i.e., competitors of Allah are. Well, they are the ones who declare ownership of land. Ask them: how did you become owners? They will reply: we are owners because we bought it from someone else. Ask them: how did they become owners? Well, they bought from someone else… and so on and so forth until we reach the end of the chain of this ownership. So, the very first one of this chain grabbed the piece of land and didn’t pay. So, he stole it. And the law is that any stolen property no matter how many times it changes hands remains a stolen property. So, everyone becomes a competitor of Allah “أَندَادًا” – by virtue of theft – and a Mushrik. As Allama Iqbal puts this beautifully (metaphorically in his own image):
O Custodian of Kaaba! Do not let Iqbal enter its premises
He continually crafts one god after another god every moment
His deep yearnings keep creating brand new gods all the time
When he comes out of one knot then he creates another one