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The fourteenth century Hijra found the Muslim Ummah on the fringe of collapse.
Politically and militarily impotent, economically dependent, intellectually sterile, the
Ummah had been disfigured beyond recognition. Scattered and locked up, as it were, in
Nation States, it is literally the captive of imperialism. Its human and material resources
had been plundered, its development arrested and its members condemned to poverty,
pain, disease and hunger. Understanding imperialism and its methods is essential for an
appreciation of our contemporary Muslim setting. One of the most devilish and most
effective methods of imperialism is to effect the growth of general frame of mind,
through educational system, which would despise the bases of Islamic life.

This frame of mind nurtured by that educational system is what essentially paved the way
for the ascendancy of western thoughts, ideas and institution in the Ummah. Thus the
Ummah eventually came to be characterized not by Islam with its system of law, politics,
and economy but rather by western secular institutions of law, politics, economy,
education and even delinquency-music, crime, drug peddling etc. The central role the
imperial educational system played in creating such a tragic situation is, in fact, the core
of the malaise of the Ummah. It is the breeding ground of the disease. The schools and
the educational system are the laboratories where Muslim youths are mislead and cut,
where their consciousness is molded into a caricature of the West.

These Educational Institutions (including those labeled Islamic) could not but produce, in
the apt words of one scholar, deluded hybrids whose frame of reference is always a
foreign ideology. Thus the Ummah came to have the misfortune of being led or misled,
as indeed it were, by inept and timid products who possess neither vision nor courage
nor moral consciousness. The Quran reminds us of this category of people. The ruling
elite, as they are sometimes called, once produced, further compound the problem of the

Failure to feed ourselves despite the vast human and agricultural resources we have been
blessed with, the continued importation of food and other essential items and the resultant
effects that follow, are yet the other symptoms of the serious nature of imperialist
methods. The increasing amount of foreign debt always leaves us worse off than we were
five years ago. Senegal used half of its GNP to service its foreign debt.
Foreign debt and technology has totally ruined Sudan's Agriculture and economy and
brought the whole nation on the brink of starvation. 'Armed robber who endangers our
property and life, the destitute who roams the street during the day looking for
sustenance, the 'good evening' girl (mostly non-Muslim though) who roams the street at
night looking for customers who are forced out of their homes by the Laissez-faire
economic system the Ummah operates, to quote one scholar, represent yet another verdict
on our contemporary setting. One could go on.

The current resurgence has already begun to shake the shaky foundation of our
contemporary setting. It represents not only a rebellion against imposed western models
— political, economic and cultural — but more fundamentally it represents the Muslim
people's search for a New Order which ensures justice to human beings in all aspects of
life and seeks the ideological fulfillment of the Ummah. This quest for their destiny has
made them more conscious of their ideological and historical identity and has brought
them back to their original source — Islam. Our recent efforts are obviously
manifestations of this increasing quest which, the growing awareness has nurtured. The
Ummah will, Inshallah, succeed in this march and regain the lost glory as Allah is with
the steadfast.

The standard Human society, like the human body, is organic. Just like the various
physiological systems of the human body work jointly to keep the body fit and living so
do all systems of life — political, social, economic, legal, etc, — work to keep the society
living and functioning. In Islam the life of a society is symbolized by Adl. Adl to be sure
goes beyond the term justice to encompass equity, fairness, balance and harmony. Human
society as well as the universe which accommodates it has been built on Adl and are
sustained by it. Adl in other words, in to the human society what the soul is to the human
body. Adl infact appears to be the target of man's mission on earth. For, soon after the
Hijra to Madina came the command:

“To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight) because they are
wronged: and verily, Allah is most powerful; for their aid (xxii: 39)”.


This guarantee given to the victory of the oppressed Muslim is however conditional.
Allah says:

“Those who, if we establish them in the land, establish regular prayer and give regular
charity, enjoin the right and forbid wrong; with Allah rests the end (and decision) of (all)
affairs (xxii: 41)”.

Salat (prayer) and zakat (charity) symbolize worship and social justice; 'enjoin the right
and forbid wrong' symbolize the Shariah which sets the limits and Adl in practical terms,
it is this community balanced on Adl which the Most High gave the trust and
responsibility of overseeing the whole of mankind.
In His words:
“Thus have we made of you an Ummah justly balanced, that ye might be witness over
yourselves (ii: l43)”.

In carrying out this mission, the standard again is Adl.

“ Be Just (Adl): that is next to piety (Taqwa) (v: 9)”.


Thus Adl is both the goal as well as the standard of human society. Every system —
social, legal, political and economic must conform to it or be purged out of the Ummah.
While assembling the building blocks of the Islamic economic system for our
contemporary Muslim Ummah it is important for us to weight every step and every block
on the practical scale of Adl.

Less than 200 years ago the same care and concern was exhibited by the leadership of the
Sokoto Caliphate. Taxation in the Sokoto Caliphate, for example was seen by the
leadership as a means of redistribution of wealth from those who already have to those
who do not have, as a means of enhancing the well-being of the people, not an excuse to
dispossess or impoverish them.


Today, the same concern for the protection of the poor and the down trodden and the
maintenance of justice, balance and harmony is echoed in Iran. Since the revolution many
foundations, projects, and institutions had sprang up having all geared towards restoring
that balance, justice, and Harmony which imperialism under its agents (the Shah and his
team) had painfully jeopardized. The leadership symbolizes the aspiration of the people
and are striving hard to meet this aspiration.

Thus the product of this rewarding endeavor to produce an Islamic economic system for
our contemporary Muslim Ummah must be weighted on Islam's own scale adl, and must
on the practical level improve the quality of life of people especially the poor and the
weak in the society. Unless it meets this standard, the idea, no matter how attractive, will
have to remain out of the house of the Islamic system.


The challenge of developing an Islamic economic system is great and the job is far from
being easy. The complexities are still unfolding. More issues are being raised. Indeed
much more remains to be done, to establish a just social order in which the material and
the spiritual aspects are welded together. If the objective is to implement the Islamic
economic system in our contemporary Muslim setting then issues relating to its
implementation are equally important, and might as well begin to gain equal attention.
Failure to pay attention to the issues that relate to implementation may lead to a situation
where we produce a clean copy of a blue-print of the Islamic Order which can only find a
place on the shelves of libraries rather than the Muslim society for which it was meant.
These issues could be many but they seem to be very important and crucial to the
practical application of the Islamic economic order. There is the issue of the social
Consciousness of the Muslims that has for long been eroded by alien materialistic culture,
and the little that remains has become blunt by the decay and degeneration of the quality
of the Ummah over centuries.

In other words the operations of the Islamic economic system, infact any Islamic system
requires a certain level of moral and social consciousness. In the period of the Khulafa
Rashidin this social consciousness was fresh from the messages of the Prophet (s.a.w)
and was nurtured and sustained by the presence of the sahabas (companions of the
Prophet). In the Sokoto Caliphate however, this had to be developed and sharpened
through a gradual but steady process of tajdeed (rebuilding). Hence the system we are
trying to work may not after all function properly until this consciousness is developed
and sharpened, and state can reasonably rely on the words of its citizens. Thus whoever
saw the need for, and cares to work out an Islamic economic system must also care to
develop for it a place to operate.

Needless perhaps to state that leadership is very crucial in the development of any human
society, especially a Muslim society to which the upholding and establishment of fairness
equity, justice (adl), is central. This is even more so in a situation where we wish to move
the Ummah out of the present corrupt western materialistic setting to that conducive for
the application of the just socio-economic order of Islam. In other words, for the fruits of
our present efforts to gain application we need to secure the selfless, courageous and
muttaqi leadership who alone could implement it.

We must seek to produce people who will see Umar, Bello and other Islamic leaders as
their model and not Churchill Kenedy, Marx or Lenin. This will necessarily mean that the
educational institutions in the Ummah must cease to produce misfits who cannot see
beyond bread and butter (Marxism or capitalism). Only then can the Ummah produce its
own leaden who will lead it to the achievement of its mission on earth -the establishment
of Justice (Adl).

Political will is yet another issue which is central to the establishment of Islamic
economic system. We must cultivate the political will to free ourselves from the
domination of the imperialist values. Then only can the Ummah be free to lead Islamic

Finally, the simple fact, and perhaps obvious one, is that the endeavor to work out the
details of the Islamic economic system has to take cognizance of and be fitted into a pro-
gramme of tahdid (action) to make this endeavor meaningful and the fruits of the labor
enjoyed by the Ummah.