Islamic Social System
At first glance, the disjunction between the clear commitments to social justice within Islam and how Muslim nation-states function in reality suggests that there is a certain gap between politics and religion. However, in the particular case of Islam, this gap between what can be termed the sacred world and the profane world should not seen to be irreconcilable, to the extent that, as Kalantari (1827) writes, Islam builds a “comprehensive system”, which contains within the religious tenets of the faith clear principles related to social justice, such as the necessity to donate to charity, economic principles, such as the abolition of interest and familial structures, such as Islamic laws about marriage. Islam’s religious scope extends to fundamental questions of social organization.
However, there is also a certain misconception regarding the realization of Islamic principles in modern governance. For example, Urinboyev argues that in the case of Uzbekistan, the mahalla concept, which derives from an interpretation of Islam, has succeeded in providing many of the social services and institutional roles that secular government have failed to provide. Furthermore, in the case of the Islamic Republic of Iran, this nation-state has maintained a strong Islamic-oriented policy, pursuing its policy goals and maintaining clear ethical commitments, such as to the Palestinian people, despite pressures from the secular West. In addition, the success of Hezbollah in Lebanon as a key social movement that provides many services to the Muslim population, demonstrates that Islamic principles can be carried out to a certain degree within the contemporary secular world of International Relations, which is defined by the key political actor of the nation-state.
On the other hand, many of the failures to realize the potential of Islamic social justice in institutional and political forms can be attributed to two key points: 1) whereas a nation-state may call itself Islamic, or have Islam, as its main faith and decisive guideline for how social life should be organized, this commitment to the sacred may be in name only, namely, the religion may be interpreted in a certain way, and 2) the Islamic world exists in relation to a hegemonic secular West, which is above all dominated by capitalist ideology that is incompatible with Islam. In the first case, countries such as the Emirates and Saudi Arabia have used oil to build wealth and claim to be Islamic, but many scholars would doubt the Islamic character of these political entities. (See for example the criticisms levied by Sheikh Imran Hosein) In the second case, the capitalist world possesses power in the globalization process. This means that survival of nation-states and avoiding isolation requires playing the game according to the capitalist rule. This means, for example, using economic devices such as interest, which is a norm in capitalism, but is forbidden in Islam. This creates compromises of Islamic principles, for example, in the form of so-called Islamic Banking, which appears to be more of an attempt to conform Islam to capitalist rules than living Islam in an authentic manner. In other words, political survival on the international level largely depends upon integration with the hegemonic system of Western capital. Furthermore, it depends upon remaining an ally of the West. Cases such as Libya and Syria demonstrate that the West will endeavor to destroy any state that does not play by the West’s rules. In this atmosphere of violent international relations, even if an authentic Islamic state emerged, it most likely would be destroyed by the capitalist West, precisely because the tenets of Islam are not compatible with the greed of capitalist ideology.
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