Sajjad Khan (sajjadkhan) Mon 17 Jan 05 09:31
>Sajjad, in the hard copy of _New Civilization_ that I have, I found >the editorial, written by Abdullah Robin and yourself, to be >interesting and thought-provoking. Would you mind posting the text >of it here, for the benefit of our readers? Happy to (see below) Editorial A conflict between Islam and the west is threatening to engulf the world in a cycle of violence; the walls between peoples are being raised and fortified, yet the world is shrinking with the growing pace of communication, transport and trade. While the old barriers of distance and ignorance were once enough to keep people apart and prevent comfortable national certainties from being challenged, the new barriers of ideological stubbornness enable us not to see the humanity of perceived enemies we think we know so much about. What is presented in this first edition of New Civilisation magazine is a unique attempt to break down these unreasonable barriers that are the tragic irony of modernity post 9/11. The magazine you are reading stands completely alone in this respect. Nevertheless, what is noticeable about all the articles in this first edition is that the contributors are all writing from the same perspective; they do not sit on the fence in the name of moderation and dialogue between Islam and the west. Rather, they have a view; the product of extensive thought, upon which they present criticisms of current assumptions. They are Muslims, who have, hitherto, been engaged in renewing Islamic political thought within their own Muslim communities. This, however, is not a sufficient basis for building a post-globalised world in which two political visions interact. Something is lacking. The problem is not that the contributors to this first edition are opinionated: if they were not, what would there be to discuss? The problem is that the contributors are all from only one side of the fence, and a world in which people break down artificial barriers cannot take shape without hearing the opposing views. It is for this very reason that New Civilisation was established. New Civilisation, therefore, is offering a wide platform for those who have understood the increasing polarisation of the world we live in and want an opportunity to contribute and debate. Consider this an open invitation to present an opposing view in its best light. Consider the articles in this first edition as a challenge; a gauntlet if you will, but the floor is open to all. We believe the future need not be a choice between fanaticisms, of whichever orientation, on the one hand and flattering compromise in the name of peace and moderation on the other. There may be little in common between the views of radically different political schools, but who would deny the power of the human intellect to serve as an anchor point? We want to hear from all our readers and we want all our readers to hear the full spectrum of political views about how this world should best function. The inclusion of western secular thinking and Islamic thinking on the same platform is greatly anticipated for the next edition and will be a landmark achievement. Read, enjoy, disagree and then write; the door is open, not to a utopian dream in which we all think alike, but to a future in which political diversity can be examined and old dogmas put to the test. Exactly what the conclusion of this process will be remains to be determined; whatever it is, if intellectual honesty is the benchmark then nobody should have reason to fear. Abdullah Robin and Sajjad Khan
Farooq Khan (farooq) Mon 17 Jan 05 09:52
>Marx considered the option of massively redistributing wealth (rather than the means of production) on a regular basis, and concluded that the only way to make it permanent would be permanent violence. Was he wrong about this?< Excellent question. Yes I think he was wrong about this because his analysis of history and theory of the modes of production was incorrect. Without going too much in to the philosophical errors, the clearest proof that his thinking was flawed is the fact that the 'natural law' of evolution in society has not led to socialism in the advanced industrialised countries, aside from the fact that the Soviet Union has collapsed and China adopts free market policies. This thinking was shaped as you know by dialectic materiaism, hence any type of conflict is good irrespective of the human cost. This mindset is alien to Islam. Further we can see that the Velvet revolution and subsequent demise of communism was not achieved through violent revolution! >How would you do it?< I will try and do justice to your question briefly. The way in which we would distribute wealth in essence is by: 1) The basis for economic thinking would first have to change from the capitalist view of the economic problem to the Islamic view. The capitalists view the economic problem as supply and demand while Islam view the economic problem as the distribution of wealth. This also means that we would priortise in solving people's needs because Islamic economic thinking makes a distinction in human needs, between the basic and luxurious needs. The priority of Islamic economic thinking is to first ensure that the basic needs of all people have been satisfied. This is one Islamic evidence which stipulates the priorotisation: "The son of Adam has no better right than that he would have a house wherein he may live and a piece of cloth whereby he may cover his nakedness and a piece of bread and some water" (Hadith) 2) We would give people the right to own land to cultivate according to the following legal evidence. "Whoever cultivated a dead land it becomes his" (Hadith) However if the land was not worked on for more than three years then they would lose onwership of that land according to the following evidence: "The one who circles a land has no right in it after three years" (Narration by Umar the second caliph) Practically this means that economic activity is pushed and people can cultivate land without unnecessary red tape. Whilst also preventing people to own vast amounts of land which are not being used - who prevent productivity of that land and maintain their economic power over people through such injustice. 3) Utilities which society depends upon to survive such as oil, gas or water would be public property. Private ownership is prohibited in Islam according to the following evidence: "Three things are not prevented from the people; the water, pastures and the fire" (Hadith) 4) The government would legislate and enforce the distribution of wealth in society. That is to say excess wealth would have to be invested into the economy. This based upon the following evidence: "Lest it circulates solely among the wealthy amongst you" (TMQ Al-Hashr: 7) The Islamic economic system would be applied in its totality so all the solutions regarding public and private ownership, trade, would be applied. The implementation of the economic system would create an environment in which people circulate their wealth through the purchase of commodities and services - to investing in new business. Taxation would also be completely different under the Islamic system, which is also a huge topic.
Dennis Wilen (the-voidmstr) Mon 17 Jan 05 10:09
>> This based upon the following evidence: "Lest it circulates solely among the wealthy amongst you" (TMQ Al-Hashr: 7) << Evidence? Evidence of what? A statement from al-Kitab is not evidence of anything.
Gerry Feeney (gerry) Mon 17 Jan 05 11:44
> The capitalists view the economic problem as supply and > demand while Islam view the economic problem as the > distribution of wealth. I think that's a false dichotomy. Supply & demand is not a problem, but rather an expression of what are deemed to be natural and quantifyable market forces that are always at work under ALL economic systems. It is the central concept in what is known as Price Theory (formerly as "Microeconomics"). The distribution of wealth (like distribution of income) is a topic within the realm of Politcal Economics. It is not something separate from capitalism (e.g., inheritance tax).
Gerry Feeney (gerry) Mon 17 Jan 05 11:53
Thank you for posting the editorial, Sajjad.
It's a new sun to me (nukem777) Mon 17 Jan 05 13:48
Thanks for the pointersin <49>Farooq. I'll get busy.
Sajjad Khan (sajjadkhan) Mon 17 Jan 05 14:41
>It seems like this conversation has drifted into rather theoretical >issues. What short-term, practical goals do you have for your >magazine? Is it largely concerned with Moslems in Britain or with >international issues? It's mostly concerned with articulating Islamic political thinking to a wide international audience. As I mentioned before, post 9-11 most Islamic political books were written by western 'experts' not Muslims who believed in core Islamic political ideas. In terms of short term practical goals. 1 Heighten awareness internationally about Islamic political thinking 2 Increase Non Muslim participation in terms of articles 3 Sell more copies............
Sajjad Khan (sajjadkhan) Mon 17 Jan 05 15:09
>This tension would also be true in any system. For Muslims, the >tension would exist between Sunni and Shi'a Muslims along with >Druze, Alawites not to mention members of other religions or even >atheists. Yes it would, but here the challenge is political (like the challenge of dealing with different nationalities) whereas the tensions I was discussing within the different ideals within democracy (majority rights vs minority rights, laws vs freedom, rule of law vs national security) are intellectual and so much more difficult to solve as they go to heart of the coherency of the political vision. >Many Muslims trumpet the relatively lenient treatment of Christians >and Jews during the hight of the Caliphate, but at the same time >there was terrible persecution of another group of monotheists, the >Zoroastrians in Persia as well as subjugation of women because of >tribalism and lack of moral development. This shows how hard it has >been in recorded history to have a truly ideal society. Yes in practice politicians from time to time will not match up to the ideals (your example above, Slavery in the USA until the civil war, Watergate etc). However individual practices should not nullify the ideal, unless it can be proved by continual practice that the ideal is utopian. In this case the Islamic idea is to treat all Non Muslims fairly and that as Jews and Christians were largely treated well, there in reality is no barrier to applying this approach to others. So the debate should not be about societal practice (humans will always fall short) but about the coherency of the fundamental values and political vision that shape society. So for example is Guantanomo Bay an example of people falling short of the ideals, or is it an example of the conflict that exists within western values and ideals. I think the latter! Was attacking Zoroastrians an example of falling short of the ideals or confusion within Islamic values and ideals. I think the former!
Sajjad Khan (sajjadkhan) Mon 17 Jan 05 15:26
>I can see the effectiveness of your magazine within and without >Islamic communites in England, Europe, and Africa and possibly here, >but when I look at Indonesia or the Middle East, or the republics >of Russia they seem pretty closed to your ideas. Am I off-base in >that estimation and what are you hoping for in establishing changes >within those regions? Yes our magazine and closed Muslim societies are about as compatible as Dick Cheney is with the ideas of wind power. Most of these societies are threatened by Islamic political ideas and so most of them crack down on this kind of thing. I am hoping with our magazine that we begin to influence thinkers and intellectuals in those regions to consider alternatives to the chronic instability created by the current status quo. At the moment the educated people in the Muslim countries face choices ranging from support of authoritarian leaders, supporting the goals of US foreign policy or signing up to violence to achieve political goals. I am hoping the magazine provides them with an alternative and peaceful method of Islamic political change resulting in a Caliphate which will help stabilise the region.
It's a new sun to me (nukem777) Mon 17 Jan 05 16:08
Thanks for that (<59>) Sajjad, that is helpful.
Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Mon 17 Jan 05 16:10
So, the goal of having theoretical conversations about government is to increase support for political changes in Muslim countries? This hasn't been clear so far.
Farooq Khan (farooq) Mon 17 Jan 05 18:06
>Supply & demand is not a problem< I think its well known that capitalist economists view the economic problem in the context of supply and demand. Hence the onus is on production of commodoties and services to meet the demand. Your other point I would agree with that is to say the price mechanism is the method to distribute wealth. Some references I found: "The economic problem refers to the scarcity of commodities. There is only a limited amount of resources available to produce the unlimited amount of goods and services we desire." http://www.bized.ac.uk/stafsup/options/notes/econ201.htm "The economic problem emerges because our desire for goods and services to consume is greater than our ability to produce those goods and services. The demand for goods and services arises from human wants." http://faculty.etsu.edu/hipples/ProbSys.htm
Farooq Khan (farooq) Mon 17 Jan 05 18:38
>800-1200 CE emphatically did *not* interpret the problems of the distribution of wealth in the manner the radical preachers do today. The orthodox interpretation of that time was positively Calvinist in its approval of blessings bestowed in this world!< Why do you say that? What's your evidence? You will find that Muslims not only excelled in economic thinking but were also pioneers: A book called Kitab ul-Kharaj was written by Qadi Abu Yusuf which outlines an economic policy for the Caliph Harun al-Rashid who ruled during 766 - 809. Also one will find othere refernces: "IBN KHALDUN, FATHER OF ECONOMICS In his Prolegomena (The Muqaddimah), 'Abd al-Rahman Ibn Muhammad Ibn Khaldun al-Hadrami of Tunis (A.D. 1332-1406), commonly known as Ibn Khaldun, laid down the foundations of different fields of knowledge, in particular the science of civilization (al-'umran). His significant contributions to economics, however, should place him in the history of economic thought as a major forerunner, if not the "father," of economics, a title which has been given to Adam Smith, whose great works were published some three hundred and seventy years after Ibn Khaldun's death. Not only did Ibn Khaldun plant the germinating seeds of classical economics, whether in production, supply, or cost, but he also pioneered in consumption, demand, and utility, the cornerstones of modern economic theory." http://www.islamic-world.net/economics/father_of_economics.htm "Contemporary analytical economists normally date their origins from the late eighteenth century. We argue herein that a pseudo-scientificity (which omits normative information), combined with an overriding ethnocentrism, tends to lead the disciplinary agents of economics to ignore much economic thought outside the American-British-Continental axis. The argument is developed beginning with Joseph A. Schumpeter's classic, The History of Economic Analysis, which set what appears to have remained a trend in history of economic thought and analysis texts, by ignoring Arab/Islamic scholars. At present, entire economies are organised, more or less, on Islamic principles. Islam is explicitly concerned with material life and provides numerous guidelines for the conduct of economic affairs for millions of people. While it is not the aim of this paper to examine the methodological or epistemological content of these principles, we argue that, at the very least, the history of economic thought should incorporate the work of Arab/Islamic thinkers." www.aucegypt.edu/faculty/thompson/herbtea/articles/jie3.html You will find a great amount of literature by Islamic thinkers and scholars who wrote great economic works during the history of the Caliphate. The following books further elaborate on Islamic economic history: "The possible indebtedness of political economy to fourth-century Greek thinkers has been widely debated; the contribution of Islam, on the other hand, is consistently forgotten. This volume addresses this neglect by examining in three parts the following questions: Is there a school of economic thought that can be considered specifically 'Arab', or have the Arabs succeeded in combining the Greek heritage with other, more oriental currents? Muslim economic thought has enriched the Hellenic contribution to economic thought in the areas of government of the kingdom by the caliph, of the city and the household organisation; the Arab concept of tadbîr should be examined in relation to each of these three levels. In rejecting profit, usury, egoism and monopoly, and in preaching moderation, altruism, the practice of fair prices, and unselfishness, Islam inaugurated an 'economic system' which has derived from that of the Greeks and which laid the basis for pre-capitalist thought." http://www.brill.nl/m_catalogue_sub6_id7297.htm%20 Economic Thought of Al-Ghazali Economic Thought of Al-Qayyim http://islamic-finance.net/scholar/islahipub.html Islahi, A. Azim (1996), History of Economic Thought in Islam, Aligarh, India: Department of Economics, Aligarh Muslim University.
Farooq Khan (farooq) Mon 17 Jan 05 18:38
>I do aver that the anti-capitalism of modern radical Islam certainly seems colored quite strongly by the previous generation's romance with communism< The proof of this would be in how we critique captailism and you will find that our critique is built upon different principles. You would also find a critique of communism.
Gerald Feene (gerry) Mon 17 Jan 05 19:42
<scribbled by gerry Mon 17 Jan 05 19:47>
Gerry Feeney (gerry) Mon 17 Jan 05 19:47
Farooq, it seems to me that you are using economic jargon in ways that are completely foreign to the discipline of economics. Both of the quotes you cited in <92> would be taken to task by virtually all economists, because they perpetuate popular misconceptions about the meaning of supply and demand. > "The economic problem refers to the scarcity of commodities... A basic economic problem is scarcity. NOT scarcity of commodities, but scarcity in GENERAL. Economics exists because scarcity exists. That scarcity exists is another way of saying that not EVERY person can ALWAYS have EVERY thing that he or she wants. And that has nothing to do with demand, in the economic sense of the word. > Your other point I would agree with that is to say the price mechanism is the method to distribute wealth. I'm sorry, but I think I failed to communicate my point. I do not believe that price mechanism has anything whatsoever to do with the distribution of wealth. The distribution of wealth would be the statistical measurements for how wealth is currently distributed, for example, in the nation of X, 10% of the population holds 80% of the wealth. Method is no part of that. It is simply a measurement. The REdistribution of wealth, on the other hand, would involve a method. Redistribution involves making political decisions about taking wealth from some people in order to give it to other people. An inheritance tax, for example, is one way that can be accomplished. > "There is only a limited amount of resources available to > produce... okay, that is supply > ...the unlimited amount of goods and services we desire." That is NOT demand. Desire is not demand. > "...The demand for goods and services arises from human wants." Yes, it arises from wants, but again, that is not demand in the economic sense. Buyer: I am very hungry, and I demand a hamburger. Seller: I can sell you a hamburger. The price is $3. (supply) Buyer: I have only $1. (demand) In such a case, the supply of hamburgers is $3 and the demand $1. The market forces are not at equilibrium, and no transaction takes place. Demand does not mean "I want A." Demand means "I want A AND I am willing and able to pay $X for it."
Dennis Wilen (the-voidmstr) Mon 17 Jan 05 20:43
"Science" and "evidence" are not being used in a familiar manner either.
Sajjad Khan (sajjadkhan) Mon 17 Jan 05 22:02
>The REdistribution of wealth, on the other hand, would involve a >method. Redistribution involves making political decisions about >taking wealth from some people in order to give it to other people. >An inheritance tax, for example, is one way that can be accomplished. I partly agree redistribution can be through the form of political decisions, but this is much wider than taxation. Under Islamic economics the hierarchy of obligations starts from the individual, then goes on to immediate family and only then is it the state's responsibility. By obliging immediate families to support individuals is a distinct difference between capitalist and socialist societies. It also has the benefit of keeping state welfare payments lower and therefore the amount of tax that needs to be collected is also lower Secondly I think it is accurate to state that capitalist states have primarily focused on increasing growth historically and ideologically, leaving it to the market to distribute the fruits of the growth generated. Hence the focus on GDP all the time. State intervention is controversial in redistribution and America is a good example of this.
Cthulhu Saves--in case he's hungry later (jmcarlin) Mon 17 Jan 05 22:43
<the-voidmstr> > Islamic science? > Whatever might that be? I take that phrase in the same sense that I take 'political science' and 'social science'. Our guests may differ. > Guantanomo > Bay an example of people falling short of the ideals, or is it an > example of the conflict that exists within western values and ideals. I > think the latter! There we differ. To me, Guantanomo is explicitly falling short of the ideals embodied in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the religious roots of the US. I want to explicitly applaud the sentiments in #59. Offering people a political and intellectual alternative between the mess that currently exists and violence is important.
Farooq Khan (farooq) Tue 18 Jan 05 04:30
>Evidence of what?< It is an evidence pertaining to the prohibition of hoarding wealth.
Farooq Khan (farooq) Tue 18 Jan 05 05:21
>I take that phrase in the same sense that I take 'political science' and 'social science'< Yes that would be correct. The Islamic sciences refers to the disciplines of tafsir, jurisprudence, hadith, Arabic language and so on.
midget gems (riffraff) Tue 18 Jan 05 05:26
"State intervention is controversial in redistribution and America is a good example of this." Neither of those statements are true: in most of the societies you're describing as "capitalist", state intervention in redistribution is the norm, and is non-controversial. State *control* of redistribution would perhaps be controversial, but right now there's a balance - most "capitalist" societies rely on a combination of the market and progressive taxation to govern redistribution. America, or more precisely the U.S., does the same, but less so than most (or all) other Western democracies. It's not a good example of anything, being unique in the west in it's somewhat closer hewing to capitalist ideals. It too, however, falls far short, it's government being heavily engaged in the redistribution of it's wealth. None of the above statements are, as far as I know, remotely controversial. it surprises me therefore that I'm reading points that appear as if they were.
Farooq Khan (farooq) Tue 18 Jan 05 05:38
>edistribution involves making political decisions about taking wealth from some people in order to give it to other people< Aside from the differences here, which need to be explored in greater detail. I think this aspect of the discussion highlights the need for a real debate about economics especially since solving world poverty is high on the international agenda this year. It would be good if someone wrote an article about whether capitalism can really eliminate poverty. Or whether the Islamic economic system can achieve such a lofty goal.
Gerry Feeney (gerry) Tue 18 Jan 05 07:06
> It would be good if someone wrote an article about whether capitalism can really eliminate poverty. Or whether the Islamic economic system can achieve such a lofty goal.< As to whether capitalism can eliminate poverty, I think the question is too vague to answer. I don't think an analysis of capitalism, in and of itself, can be meaningful without a context pertaining to the environment in which it is to be implemented. In other words, capitalism can be credited historically with having eliminated or reduced poverty in some cases. Yet it can also be credited with having CREATED or INCREASED poverty and inequality in other cases. As someone stated here earlier, capitalism is an ideal. In actual practice it seems more often to be a process than a state - a process in which corporate interests are in constant conflict with labor & consumer interests. Each side attempts to gain an advantage against the other by trying to influence government to strengthen its position. And according to many development economists, where corporations have been gaining the advantage, we see growing inequalities. Definitions could also affect a discussion like this, because capitalism tends to mean different things to different people. For instance, some people equate capitalism with free markets. Yet several of the successful newly industrialized countries, especially among the "Asian Tigers," were centrally-planned economies, not free-market economies. And several European nations have economies that are some mix of both capitalism and socialism. I can't comment about Islamic economics, being rather ignorant on that subject. But I look forward to what you can tell us on the subject. What nations are there that practice Islamic economics today? Where are the best examples of it?
Farooq Khan (farooq) Tue 18 Jan 05 08:23
>I don't think an analysis of capitalism, in and of itself, can be meaningful without a context pertaining to the environment in which it is to be implemented< What I'm referring to here is the British goal to end world poverty: Brown's plan to end world poverty Mr Brown believes international aid should be doubled The coming year offers a "once-in-a-generation" chance to eradicate global poverty, Chancellor Gordon Brown said. His goals for the UK's EU and G8 presidencies include doubling aid from donor countries and eliminating debt owed by the poorest nations. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4129483.stm January 03, 2005 Brown to visit Africa in anti-poverty campaign By Philip Webster, Political Editor GORDON BROWN will raise his international profile next week with a three-nation visit to Africa highlighting Britains efforts to relieve world poverty. The Chancellor will, in effect, be launching Britains 12- month presidency of the Group of Eight industrial nations on a trip to Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa, during which he will promote British policies for enhancing debt relief for the poorest countries and his scheme to double Third World aid through the International Finance Facility. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1424452,00.html
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