Plunder: The Source of Islamic Economy
Dear Mr. Sina,
One of my friends whom I know from a Polish discussion board (he’s a Roman Catholic) claims that Islam has absolutely no respect of work and prefers plunder as a source of wealth. He claims that trade is the only normal source of income not frowned upon by Islam. His conclusion therefore is that cultures based on Islam are simply incapable of creating a prosperous economy.
I decided to ask you after reading a tweet by an ISIS fan who posts about Syria and Iraq (nicknamed “Shami Witness”). The tweet said “A classical Ghazi state must expand continuously”. Is that a confirmation of Islam’s distaste for work?
I’d say both, i.e. your Roman Catholic friend and this Muslim supporter of ISIS are right. Muhammad had no regards for productive work. In regards to agricultural equipment, for example, he said, “There is no house in which these equipment enter except that Allah will cause humiliation to enter it.”[Bukhari: 3: 39: 514]
The reason Muhammad was so disdainful of agriculture is because he wanted his followers to be warriors. Agriculture requires commitment to the land. As a farmer you can’t abandon your cultivated land and go raiding that often took weeks if not months. He said, “When you enter into the inah transaction, hold the tails of oxen, are pleased with agriculture, and give up conducting jihad. Allah will make disgrace prevail over you, and will not withdraw it until you return to your original religion.” [Dawud: 23: 3455]
Although agriculture is more demanding, all industries require commitment to some extent. Khabbib, a companion of Muhammad narrated, “I in the pre-Islamic days used to work as an iron-smith.” [Muslim: 39: 6716] Obviously, after joining Muhammad he left his profession and earned his living through raids.
It is reported that one day Muhammad narrated the following story, “One of the inhabitants of Paradise will ask Allah to allow him to cultivate the land. Allah will ask him, ‘Are you not living in the pleasures you like,’ He will say, ‘Yes, but I like to cultivate the land.’” So Muhammad went on saying that the man will be permitted to sow the seeds and the plants will grow as big as mountains in a blink of an eye with fruits ready to pick and then Allah will say to him, ‘O son of Adam! Gather the yield; nothing satisfies you.'” [Bukhari. 3: 39: 538]
The moral of this story is that agriculture is for greedy people. A true Muslim must be content with what he earns from booty, which of course was a lot more profitable and safe. By raiding villages and towns, the jihadists could kill men caught off guard and unarmed and plunder their wealth.
Muhammad was completely disinterested in production and industry. Wealth, according to him, had to be earned through looting. One of his companions narrated, “Allah’s Apostle forbade us to do a thing which was a source of help to us. [He] sent for me and asked, ‘What are you doing with your farms?’ I replied, ‘We give our farms on rent, or rent it for some wasqs (sacks) of barley and dates.’ Allah’s Apostle said, ‘Do not do so, but cultivate (the land) yourselves or let it be cultivated by others gratis, or keep it uncultivated’ I said, ‘We haer and obey.’” [Bukhari, 3: 39: 532] Another hadith reports the same thing. “Whoever has land should cultivate it himself or give it to his (Muslim) brother gratis; otherwise he should keep it uncultivated.” [Bukari, 3: 39: 533]
It is said that Ibn Umar had some lands that he had rented out, and when he heard this hadith, he stopped renting them. [Bukhari, 3: 39: 536]
Despite abandoning agriculture and industry, Muslims were enriched, but entirely with booty and stealing the properties of others. Umar is reported saying, “But for the future Muslim generations, I would have distributed the land of the villages I conquer among the soldiers as the Prophet distributed the land of Khaibar.” [Bukhari, 3: 39: 527]
However, just like everything else Muhammad did and said, there was no consistency in him. When he raided and conquered Khaibar, he confiscated all the lands but allowed the survivors to cultivate them and share with him half of the proceeds. Umar’s son has narrated, “Allah’s Apostle intended to expel the Jews but they requested him to let them stay there on the condition that they would do the labor and get half of the fruits. Allah’s Apostle told them, “We will let you stay on thus condition, as long as we wish.” So, they (i.e. Jews) kept on living there until ‘Umar forced them to go towards Taima’ and Ariha’.” [Bukhari: 3: 39: 531]
The reason for this discrepancy may be in the fact that the conquered population of Khaybar were Jews. Technically speaking, they were not renting their confiscated land but laboring freely for Muslims.
Ibn Umar said, The Prophet concluded a contract with the people of Khaibar to utilize the land on the condition that half the products of fruits or vegetation would be their share. The Prophet used to give his wives one hundred wasqs each, eighty wasqs of dates and twenty wasqs of barley. (When ‘Umar became the Caliph) he gave the wives of the Prophet the option of either having the land and water as their shares, or carrying on the previous practice. Some of them chose the land and some chose the wasqs, and ‘Aisha chose the land. [Bukhari, 3: 39: 521]
None of the laws of Islam have any expiry date. The fact that Muslims’ provision must come from booty is ratified by contemporary Muslims.
The Islamic site Islamicawakening.com writes,
“Narrated Ibn Umar (ra) that the Prophet (saw) said, “My livelihood is under the shade of my spear, and he who disobeys my orders will be humiliated.”
(Sahih Bukhari, p.408, vol.1)
The virtue of the spear has been mentioned in this hadith and we have been informed that the livelihood and provision of the Prophet (saw) lies in the spear (jihaad). This is why the muhaditheen have stated that the best earning is that of war booty and it is clearly proven by this hadith that booty has been made permissible for this Ummah.
Only the spear has been mentioned out of all the war weaponry that, “livelihood has been placed under the spear” because generally, the flag is raised high on a spear, so the spear has been mentioned indicating towards the flag, and the livelihood means the booty. Allah has classified the wealth of the booty as clean wealth, as Allah says:
“And remember when you were few and reckoned weak in the land and were afraid that men might kidnap you. But He provided a safe place for you, strengthened you with His help, and provided you with good things so that you might be grateful.” (Anfal: 26)
The commentary of “good” (tayyab), in the above verse has been explained as booty.
Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah (ra) the Prophet (saw) said, “I have been given five things which were not given to anyone else before me:
1. Allah made me victorious by awe (by his frigtening my enemy), for a distance of one month’s journey.
2. The earth has been made for me (and my followers) a place for offering salah and a thing to purify (perform tayyamum), therefore anyone of my followers can offer salaah wherever he is at the time of salaah.
3. The booty has been made halal to me, yet it was not lawful to anyone else before me.
4. I have been given the right of intercession.
5. Every Prophet used to be sent to his nation only but I have sent to all mankind”. (Sahih Bukhari, p.51, English summarised edition; Muslim; Bayhaqi, p.4, vol.9)
This Muslim on Twitter who said, “A classical Ghazi state must expand continuously,” is correct. The Islamic economy is secured through plunder. So an Islamic state must keep expanding and looting. It is like a bicycle. You must keep pedaling or you fall.
Margaret Thatcher said, “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” The problem with Islamic economy is not much different. Once there is no one left to loot, Muslims will start cannibalizing each other by branding one another kafir, heretic and un-Islamic to justify raiding and looting them.
Since Muslims were driven out of Spain about 450 years ago, their source of income also dried out and they became impoverished ever since.
When Mark Twain visited the Ottoman Empire, he was struck by the absence of technological advancement and the pervasiveness of ignorance in general. He wrote, “The plows these people use are simply a sharpened stick, such as Abraham plowed with, and they still winnow their wheat as he did — they pile it on the house-top, and then toss it by shovel-fulls into the air until the wind has blown all the chaff away. They never invent anything, never learn anything.”
Twain was also not much impressed by the Muslim concept of morality. He said: “Mosques are plenty, churches are plenty, graveyards are plenty, but morals and whiskey are scarce. The Koran does not permit Mohammedans to drink. Their natural instincts do not permit them to be moral. They say the Sultan has eight hundred wives. This almost amounts to bigamy. It makes our cheeks burn with shame to see such a thing permitted here in Turkey.”
Muslims see they are poor, while everyone else is better off. And since they think Allah has made it lawful for them to loot and plunder, they have risen to claim what they regard as theirs, i.e. your wealth.
And of course the concept of ethics and morality is as alien to the Muslim psyche as is camel to North Pole. For a Muslim right and wrong are not determined by the standards of the Golden Rule, but by what Muhammad has allowed and forbidden. Muslims will not use their conscience to judge the Islamic morality. They have none. To have a conscience one must be able to think independently. Muslims pride themselves in hearing and obeying, not in thinking, reasoning and God forbid, questioning.