Islam and Capitalism

The problems of Islam society have always been rather acute. There are constant debates concerning the compatibleness of principles of Islam and modern world. Islamic society can be considered to be a unique one due to its spiritual and religious faith. There are several segments of the problem; first those relating to political liberalism, freedom of thought and democracy and second ”“ economic liberalism (Akyol, 2). Thus one of the major questions, which arises here ”“ is whether Islam can coexist with free market economy or capitalism. Certainly the answer of Islamists would be negative as they consider Islam to be an all-sufficient social and political system, in this case they oppose it to capitalism. There is a great number of publications and conferences, which support the idea of avoiding capitalism system for Islamic world.

The problems related to Islam and capitalism relations were also studied by a well-known French writer ”“ Maxime Rodinson. He was born to working-class family, but managed to enter Sorbonne and studied Semitic languages, ethnography and sociology there. Later on he became professor of middle-eastern ethnology and old south Arabian languages (Akyol, 5). One of the major issues discussed there was the slowness of the development in Islamic world.

His activities were however also closely related to politics, he was a member of the French Communist Party and at the same time he became a Marxist writer. His book ”“ Islam and Capitalism ”“ was published in 1966 initially in Paris. In his writing, he tried to move away from the popular prejudices, that Islam was an obstacle for evolution of Capitalism and that Islam was egalitarian. Instead Rodinson underlined the role of social elements and considered Islam to be a neutral factor. One of the important arguments he used, after he had studied the Islamic texts and history of economical development of Islamic countries, is the fact, that Islamic people always could earn money.

“There are religions whose sacred texts discourage economic activity in general,” said Rodinson. “[However] this is certainly not the case with the Koran, which looks with favor upon commercial activity, confining itself to condemning fraudulent practices and requiring abstention from trade during certain religious festivals.” (Rodinson, 52). Although some of the intellectuals state, that as Koran insists on social justice, this presumes a “classless society”. In reality, other researchers found in Koran statements, that there will be rich and poor people in society and that there should be rights for private property. Those researchers, who compare Zakat to modern-tax payers do not take into consideration that Zakat has to do with voluntary acts of charity, not obligatory. The notion of freedom, although playing an important role for both capitalism and Islam, is seen absolutely from different perspectives in these two systems. In capitalism freedom is related to person’s needs and their satisfaction, whereas in Islam this is spiritual freedom of mind, the freedom to choose the social system, which would be the best to live in.

Overall, although it is possible to find some intersection points between capitalism and Islam, like for example making business and earning money, these two can not coexist with each other, under the condition of preserving their major principles and basics. Islam is a unique structure of the closest overlapping and connection of religion, spiritual beliefs and economical principles; capitalism it its turn separates state and church as independent social structures.

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