Global Justice Movement and Islam
Global Justice and Islam
are moving quickly and the USA is now in effect occupying
Iraq vowing to introduce freedom and democracy and to end
oppression and poverty. Yet it may not be only Iraq that
is occupied. It is not too far-fetched to say that other
Middle East countries, too, could become occupied by the
USA and be promised freedom, democracy etc.
of which might not be too bad a thing if
the present institutions and practices of the USA were designed
lessen rich-poor division
introduce economic democracy including some form of secure
focus financial activity on the real, productive economy
allow everyone to own productive capital
enable societies to control their own resources and their
end, or at least mitigate, the practice of riba (the imposition
end a financial system bent on putting the whole globe into
the institutions and practices of the USA are not designed
to do any of these things. Indeed, can anybody put hand
on heart and swear to the likelihood of the USA promoting
an end to rich-poor division, providing a secure income,
or eliminating the practice of fiat money being used to
make more money? Does anyone, beyond a small caucus of myopic
power wielders and issuers of rhetoric, really think that
the USA genuinely wants to spread capital ownership, enable
societies to control their own resources and destiny, end
riba, and stop the financial system massively increasing
plain fact is that the USA does not have a strategic vision,
with the necessary associated practical detail, which can
be of widespread appeal. And that
is why millions of people throughout the world have
reservations about the USA’s occupation of Iraq. That
is why there is worry, mistrust and resentment.
on the other hand, millions of people, particularly the
inhabitants, also have reservations about the present condition
of the Middle East Islamic countries. Those people abhor
the rich-poor divisions, the oppressions and general lack
of political, let alone economic, democracy. They are only
too aware of the misery, unemployment and general dissatisfaction
which, finding no political outlet, is turning to violence.
Above all, they are aware that their societies are not independent
but are controlled by others.
particular, those people feel humiliated. How, they ask,
have these things come to pass? Why does the ummah
(the comity of Islamic societies) so patently languish?
Why cannot the ummah - with splendid achievement
in the past, a massive intellectual and cultural heritage
in the present, and bundles of obvious talent and resource
with which to build the future - break from its lethargy
and give an open, bold, exhilarating, and very necessary,
lead to the world today?
answer is - it can. The ummah can correct the unhappy
present and build a magnificent future if it understands
the deceptions which demean it, lower its energies, exploit
it, humiliate it, control it and in all possible ways prevent
it from developing its full potential.
deceptions relate to economics, morality and money, and
their interrelation to each other. Thus the ummah
is told that modern neoclassical economics is a world-encompassing
science of objective process and universal value. The truth,
however, is the opposite - modern neoclassical economics
does not truly encompass the world, nor is it a science,
nor does it possess universal value.
the ummah is told that the present economic framework
and understanding suffice to analyze and uphold the whole
social fabric including morality and culture. The truth,
however, is the opposite - economics, as presently conceived,
bodes to undermine the social fabric and destroy morality
ummah, thirdly, is told that the “free market”
is free, fair and efficient and all its outcomes are just.
The truth, however, is the opposite. The ‘free market’
of finance capitalism is un-free
if only because most people are in practice excluded from
ownership of what creates a large part of the wealth - productive
capital. It is un-fair
because of huge rich-poor differences and an abysmal treatment
of carers, including women. And it is inefficient
with the basic evidence being that, despite the world having
huge, undoubted technological, natural and human resource
and capacity, poverty remains. As for the "free market"
claim that all its outcomes are just, well, anybody who
believes that, will believe anything...
of these matters then help us not to be surprised at the
un-free market claim that there can be an economics without
ethics. We may well be horrified, but we are not surprised.
We are certain, however, to be angered by the hypocrisy.
Every economics or politics
has values (which may, or may not, be good ones) at its
core. If the un-free market asserts differently, then it
is blind to the values inherent in its own dogma and blind
to the values which result from the implementation of its
own policies and which cause the worry, mistrust and resentment.
is there an answer to all this? Is there another way forward?
Can the ummah come to give an all-important lead?
it can. And the key thinking is already developing. Such
is its trenchant nature, and such are the implications that
the thinking may fairly be called a new paradigm. Bringing
many strands together it constitutes a fundamentally new
approach to understanding reality, morality and economics
and their interrelation to each other. For example, look
at the work of Professor Masudul Alam Choudhury whose books
Money In Islam and The Islamic World-System
explain that economics without ethics can only be destructive.
Crucially, he observes that the monetary system needed to
express Islam must inevitably be different from that existing
in the West. That is a key matter - much needing to be said
- because, in a few, simple words, it defies the arrogant
Western belief that there is one, and only one, economic
system of any efficacy in the world. Furthermore, it throws
into doubt the brazen "free market" claim that
it implements an overriding social and economic justice.
Most of all, it points out the nonsense of Francis Fukyama
who, in The End of History (1992) dared to assert
that ‘free market’ finance capitalism had triumphed
and nothing much better is possible or desirable.
way forward for Islam is to recognise that the present world
banking system creates money by pressing computer buttons.
To that money, it then adds a demand for interest. So
when money is lent, it is not
other people’s money which is being lent (as is commonly
believed), rather it is a new creation. At present in the
West, most new money (in the United Kingdom it is an astonishing
95% or more) is fiat electronic money created by the commercial
banking system and issued as interest-bearing loans. Such
money has an essentially fraudulent origin, tends to be
inflationary, and can double or treble the cost of capital
investment. Furthermore, while the payment of interest often
includes payment for administrative expense, interest generally
is not necessary and, in any case, is contrary
to the beliefs of Islam.
this then comes together in the form of a core understanding
which can, and will, profoundly change for the better the
future of the world - that the Islamic monetary
system should create its own money supply and not, as largely
at present, have to rely on credit creation by the commercial
banking system. Put slightly differently, Islamic
societies must control the money supply in their societies
because, if they do not, they will be controlled by others.
Thus we begin to get some comprehension of why the ummah
is languishing, with feelings of inadequacy and lack of
core understanding, moreover, goes further than mere independence
to a recognition that the ummah can come to have governance,
control, empowerment and entitlement in a way which is,
at present, totally inconceivable. Indeed, Choudhury gives
the word ‘ummah’ a new, creative meaning
seeing it not merely as a description of the comity of Islamic
societies but rather of a new comity of proud, self-reliant
societies giving a lead to a world sorely in need
of such a lead. The new ummah rejects the present
increasingly demeaning world order with its autocratic classes
and estranged elites in the Muslim world and the malignant
power of usury everywhere, and replaces them with something
honourable and uplifting.
of which is impossible to the Western mind governed as it
is by a stupendous hubris. At the centre of the hubris is
the thinking that says nothing, nothing at all, can be changed
without making somebody, somewhere, worse off. The really
mind-bending aspect of this is that it assumes that things
at present are perfect, or as nearly perfect as is possible.
It might be thought that Voltaire (in Candide, 1759)
had destroyed that nonsense forever but, no, it flourishes
today at the centre of un-free market finance capitalism.
Please do not think this is a mere philosophical quibble.
The issue is essentially about whether or not there is any
will to try to end human physical and psychological pain.
Despite its rhetoric to the contrary, neoclassical economics
has little, even no, will to make a proper effort to alleviate
pain and misery because it makes the extraordinary assumption
that improvements in one spot for some individual or group
are inevitable detriments elsewhere for another individual
or group. Yet every sane person knows that improvement is
possible - the world undoubtedly has enough productive capacity
to eliminate poverty. Moreover, the Qur’an
confirms this because it states that resources are truly
abundant in the universe for the sustainance of all if they
are produced and consumed with God-consciousness and ecological
Islamic economic thought - at present largely subservient
to Western economic thought - must break new ground if it
is to restore dignity to the Islamic world. It will not
be able to do that, however, unless it becomes premised
on the epistemology of Tawhid and has a determination
to think things out for itself. Put slightly differently,
it must first recognise that there is a conflict with Western
thought and then take further encouragement from the fact
that within Western thought there are now divisions
and therefore conventional economics is no longer the supreme
creature that it likes to think it is. So anybody playing
a part in, and consciously developing, the new paradigmatic
thinking should know that they are not doing it completely
if that is not encouragement enough, Islamic thinkers can
look towards Malaysia which, in matters economic, financial
and monetary, is quietly taking incremental and responsible
initiatives and, above all, thinking for itself. A good
example is the events of the 1998 financial crisis which
opened with a shocking conspiracy to destroy a newly developing
and responsibly administered nation. Fortunately, Prime
Minister Mahathir (with but one key and very courageous
adviser) defied the millions of words of advice proffered
by the bankers, economists and politicians (all of which
advice was to give in to the demands of the IMF and sell
out Malaysia to foreigners) by doing the opposite. It was
a very brave thing to do but, within two years, the IMF
was grudgingly forced to admit that Malaysia had got things
Malaysia is a market society and it reminds us that markets
certainly have the potential to alleviate human want. Present
market societies, however, do not necessarily ask themselves
if their markets work justly and fairly for the benefit
of all in society instead of only a few. They do not ask
if everyone has private property and a basic material
security. They prefer to ignore what is wrong and so do
not have to ask themselves what is right.
Global Justice Movement however, does the asking and is
willing to recognise several possible ways forward IF they
are imbued with the strongest possible desire for social
and economic justice.
further information on GJM and Islam you are invited to
look around this website and, in particular, to read the
paper entitled Binary Economics - Linking Money to Productive
Efficiency and Justice (to be found under Articles).
The author was asked to write on binary economics and Islam
for the October, 2003 Conference in Muscat, Oman but the
paper, in practice, covers the main issues.
note that Peace is one of the five Justices but peace cannot
without the other four Justices - Monetary, Economic, Social