Muslim Families Faced Anguish in their Eid Celebrations Due to the Flawed Economic Development Policy of Capitalist Governments

This year, up to a week after Eid ul Fitri, 719 people were reported to have died, 1184 seriously injured, and 4326 people slightly injured, due to 3279 transportation accidents during the Eid’s exodus flow of people in Indonesia travelling to visit their families for the celebration. Each year, in this, the largest Muslim country in the world, around 40 million residents of big cities in Indonesia make an annual homecoming (locally known as “mudik”) heading to their hometowns by various modes of transportation. This phenomenon is not much different from other Muslim countries, although the volumes of migration are different. In Bangladesh, for example, the third largest Muslim country after Indonesia and Pakistan, more than 12 million Bangladeshi Muslims leave the city of Dhaka for the villages every year at the time of Eid ul Fitri. At the same time, Bangladesh experiences a high rate of ferry accidents due to poor ship quality and the number of passengers travelling on them in excess of capacity.

Muslim families in various countries, especially in Indonesia, have a strong annual tradition of visiting and spending time with their families during the Eid celebration, which originates from the Islamic understanding, as expressed by Rasulllah صلى الله عليه وسلم;

زر غبا تزدد حبا

“Visit each other [for a short visit] sometimes and love will increase” (Tabarani, Al-Baihaqi)

Unfortunately, this good tradition costs hundreds of lives each year, caused by the capitalistic economic policies of governments in the Muslim countries. The phenomenon of huge traffic accidents is actually an indication of ‘a clear economic gap’ between rural and urban areas, as well as a ‘clear evidence’ of the incompetence of Muslim regimes in investing in the development of people-oriented infrastructure.

The Poor Development Vision of Capitalist States in Securing Welfare for Its People

In the context of this homecoming phenomenon, there are two strong indications that clearly show that the governments of Muslim countries do not have any strong vision to seriously secure the welfare of their people:

1. Development Gaps between Urban and Rural Areas

The Capitalistic development model is only growth-oriented, therefore more economic investment is geared to serve the urban areas that have a relatively rapid growth. Moreover, developing countries like Indonesia, that always swallow the doctrine of the capitalism economy, only concentrate economic development on the industrial sector that requires expensive investment in order to pursue growth. As a result, other sectors such as agriculture, are abandoned and eventually the development itself is concentrated in the cities, without considering the concept of area planning based on the distribution of welfare for the people in all areas of the country – urban and rural alike. A ridiculous paradox is present in the fact that despite this poor distribution of welfare affecting many parts of the state, the Indonesian authorities are still considered to have made a great achievement in the past decade simply due to being one of the top three countries with the best economic growth in the world. However, almost 90 percent of the villages are poor, and the economic gap between the rural and the urban areas has continued to widen, alongside increasing poverty levels in many parts of the country. Ironic!

2. The Lack of State Investment in the Development of Transportation Infrastructure

In the view of the capitalist in the provision of public services such as transportation, the state only serves as a facilitator, while the operator or executor is left to the market mechanisms, in other words, managed by the private sector. As a consequence, the price of public transportation tickets are expensive but the service is not good. In order to pursue profit, it is not uncommon that forms of public transportations that are not roadworthy and prone to accidents remain in operation, ignoring the safety of passengers. For the reason of limited funds, the infrastructure is left neglected, while thousands of kilometers of damaged roads, many full of dangerous pot-holes have been left without repair for many years. Hence this principle of economic development that relies on the private sector, is an invitation to the economic imperialism of Muslim lands, for it allows foreign corporations to control all strategic investments including natural resources in the name of ‘aiding investment and development’ in states. Hence the Muslims would be colonized in their own country.

The Impact of Capitalistic Development on Muslim Families

The homecoming tradition in Indonesia and Bangladesh in itself is actually a reflection of economic inequality and mass poverty caused by capitalism and its flawed development philosophy and policies which have inevitably impacted the institution of the Muslim family. Many Muslim families are forced economically to live in the urban areas, struggling to meet their needs while also being separated from their big families in other parts of the country. This phenomenon occurs systemically because life facilities and employment opportunities are concentrated in big cities, therefore most people have to travel far away from their families to meet the needs of daily life, often risking their lives just to meet their basic needs, or are even forced to migrate hundreds of kilometers away, leaving their family just to earn crumbs.

The migration from rural to urban areas, from one area to another, as well as migration across national borders of a country in the context of the growing “global cities” or new urban areas, or buffer areas to support the rapid industrial urbanization; are all characteristic of capitalistic development. All this would definitely cause a significant adverse impact on the structure of the Muslim families in the Muslim countries, which is a natural consequence of Capitalism which inherently puts liberal materialistic values over the harmony of family units in society.

Among the effects are: First, it separates family members from their family; and the most crucial is if the children are separated from their mother. It is reflected on the forms of urban families where the husband and wife work in the big city while the children live with grandparents or relatives in the village. The most frightening consequence is the destruction of future generations, because instead of attention being placed on the upbringing of their children, the focus of the mothers is on their jobs that often demands them to be separated from their children. Second, it weakens the institution of Muslim marriages and families as seen from the increasing numbers of divorce, the shifting role of the mother into breadwinner, the phenomenon of husband and wife living separately, the high rate of single parent families, and so on.

The Economic Development Principles of the Khilafah: Strengthens the Family Structure

Islam is diametrically different from the capitalist ideology. Islam as an ideology strongly rejects the values of materialism and hedonism that come from the point of view of Capitalism. The true Islamic society under the Khilafah system is built purely upon Islam that has a primary focus on the implementation of God’s laws, as according to the Words of Allah سبحانه وتعالى:

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ ٱلْجِنَّ وَٱلْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ

“I only created jinn and man to worship Me.”

(Adh-Dhaariyat, 51:56)

Islam builds its society upon the foundation of the Islamic Aqeedah. Its view of the purpose of life is to obey the Commandments of Allah and avoid His prohibitions, and its view of happiness is seeking the Pleasure of Allah سبحانه وتعالى. The Islamic value system creates a distinctive identity in the community, which defines the status of people upon their taqwa, and not their wealth or any other physical attributes.

Islam also stands in stark contrast to the capitalist system that curbs the role of the state and emphasizes the role of the market. Islam is precisely the opposite. The state has a major and vital role in Islam in taking care of the needs of the people. Its main task is to serve and take care of the needs of every citizen, protect the vulnerable, and prevent any injustice. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said,

فَالْإِمَامُ الَّذِي عَلَى النَّاسِ رَاعٍ وَهُوَ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ

“An Imam is a shepherd (ra’in) and he is responsible for those in his care.”

The Khilafah is a state which implements a sound economic system that rejects the flawed capitalist interest-based financial model, bans hoarding of wealth, and prohibits the privatization of natural resources as well as foreign party heavy investment in the development of infrastructure, agriculture, industry and technology. The foundation of its policies are directed to seeking an effective distribution of wealth in order to secure the basic needs of all citizens, and at the same time it is committed to ensuring the equitable and affordable economic development in all its territories, so that people do not need travel far just to meet their basic needs.

The blessed, just and prosperous economic development is on the shoulders of the Khalifah. However this development policy of the state is shaped upon the Islamic Shariah which determines the purpose of economic development in the Islamic Khilafah, which are:

1. Securing the shar’i rights of the people, i.e. protecting religion, life, honor, mind and property which are considered as adh-Dharuriyat al-Khamsu (five emergency matters) in human life. So if the development policy runs contrary to or undermines the religion, life, honor, mind and property of the people, then each violation is considered a crime that should be punished by the established Shariah Law, according to the type of violation.

2. Establishing Islamic societies. Related to this, if the development policy harms or destroys the Islamic thoughts and feelings of the society, including damaging or harming the Muslim family structure in the society, then the policy is contrary to Islamic Shariah and declared as flawed and unacceptable economic development.

3. Realizing the individual prosperity of the people. Indicators of prosperity in Islam is first ensuring fulfillment of the basic needs of individuals, so if there is one person alone who does not have their basic needs met, then the economic development policy would not be considered a success. Unlike under capitalism, it is not necessary to have millions of poor people before considering the economic development of a country a failure.

As a consequence, the Muslim family structure is maintained and the religion, life, honor, reason and property of the people is protected. Masha Allah!

The Khilafah state is Responsible for the Strategic Infrastructure Investment

Imagine the mentality of a great leader like Umar bin Al-Khattab who stated: “I am the Amir Al Muuminin, and I am afraid that if a donkey trips on the road in Iraq, Allah will ask me why I didn’t fix the road for the donkey”. Such a mindset underlies the Khilafah’s policy in carrying out its strategic infrastructure investment, which can be explained in the following 3 principle points (as written by Dr. Fahmi Amhar in the Homecoming Technology of the Khilafah):

1. Firstly, the principle that infrastructure development is the responsibility of the state and should not be handed over to private investors.

2. Secondly, the principle that good development planning in the regions will reduce transport needs. When Baghdad was built as the capital city, every part of the city was planned only for a certain population, and there were adequate mosques, schools, libraries, parks, a wheat industry, and a commercial area for the people, in addition to stopovers for the wayfarers, and even separate public baths for men and women. Most citizens within the Khilafah should not need to travel far to meet their daily needs as well as to study or work, because all the necessary facilities for life should be within a reasonable range of travel distance, and the standard of quality of all such facilities should be of good.

3. Thirdly, the state should build public infrastructure using the latest technological standards in for example navigation technology, telecommunications, physical road management, up to the transportation equipment itself. Here are some historical examples of how the Khilafah seriously invested in the cutting-edge technologies of the time:

• Navigation is absolutely necessary to ensure safe travel, and avoiding getting lost. For that purpose the Muslims learned astronomy and compass engineering in China, and developed the science of mapping. Hundreds of geographers explored all corners of the world and made a reportage of unique countries. As a result, the hajj journey and also travel for trade – both on land and sea – became more secure.

• Technology related to physical road management was also not left behind. Since 950, the roads were paved in Cordoba, regularly cleaned of dirt, and oil lamps lit in the night. Two hundred years later, i.e. in 1185, Paris became the first European city that mimicked Cordoba.

• Interestingly, until the 19th century the Khilafah Uthmani was still consistent in developing the transportation infrastructure. When railway technologies were founded in Germany, the Khalifah immediately made the decision to build a railway line, with the main purpose to facilitate the Hajj pilgrimage. Hajj is the season that involves the ritual of the largest movement of Muslims across the world, both to go on the pilgrimage to Mecca and the hajis journey back home to their hometowns. Therefore there is an exodus of people travelling during this season. In 1900, the Khalifah Sultan Abdul Hamid II announced the project “Hejaz Railway”. This rail line stretched from Istanbul, the capital of the caliphate to Makkah, passing through Damascus, Jerusalem and Medina. The result of this project is that travel from Istanbul to Makkah which was initially 40 days, was cut to 5 days. Mashallah!

Thus, the Khilafah will provide a comprehensive guarantee of a blessed, equitable, and prosperous economic development which will minimize inequality and destruction in the society and at the same time strengthen the Muslims’ family structure, also benefitting the people. The Khilafah will also provide the safe and adequate transportation infrastructure with advanced technology so that thousands of Muslims will Insha Allah no longer be victims of transportation accidents due to neglectful governance.

Fika Komara, M.Si

Member of the Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir