Evidently, therefore, the means adopted in the time of the Holy Prophet(sa) and the schemes put into force by the first four Khulafa’ (Caliphs) to give practical effect to the Islamic social and economic teachings, will not prove adequate today. It is necessary, therefore, that in this age Islamic teachings should be given a practical shape which, while safe-guarding against the defects which I have pointed out in the other movements, should succeed in placing sufficient resources in the hands of those responsible for putting the Islamic principles into force to enable them to bring about conditions of equal opportunity for all and to provide for the legitimate needs of the people. The Khulafa’ (Caliphs) interpreted and gave practical effect to the teachings of Islam in this respect according to the needs of their time. As I have indicated, there used to be a regular census in the time of Hazrat ‘Umar(ra) and a record was kept of every individual. The Islamic treasury was responsible for the legitimate needs of every person. Originally, this system applied only to those who were capable of bearing arms, but Hazrat ‘Umar(ra) recognised that the responsibility of the State extended to other people also. Eventually, provision was made for all deserving persons out of the treasury.
In short, the Khulafa’ (Caliphs) gave effect to the Islamic teachings according to the circumstances of their time. Today human life and society have become much more complex, so a new system is called for to give effect to that teaching. For the establishment of the new system it was inevitable that some one, raised by God, should inaugurate a New Order to put an end to the pains and miseries of mankind, an Order not of man, but of Heaven, one really equal to the needs of the poor and able to restore peace and contentment to all mankind. Every person, who believes that the Holy Prophet(sa) had prophesied the advent of a Messiah and Mahdi, must admit that it was the function of the Promised One to find a remedy for the disorder, unrest and misery from which the world is suffering today. That remedy should not suffer from the defects from which Bolshevism, Socialism and National Socialism suffer. It should make it possible to provide food, clothing, shelter, medical relief and means of education for everybody and yet safeguard mankind against intellectual deterioration, the discouragement of individual enterprise and effort, and tyranny and exploitation of one people by another. In other words, it should secure peace and goodwill between nations and classes, and also succeed in finding resources to fulfil the needs of all individuals.
It was, therefore, the duty of the Khatamul-Khulafa’1 to devise a scheme in accordance with Islamic teachings which should prove adequate to the needs of the time and put an end to the miseries from which the world is suffering. As I shall presently show, he did succeed under Divine Command in devising such a scheme.
I have already explained that the essentials of the Islamic social and economic system are: (1) that the needs of all human beings should be provided for; (2) that in trying to achieve the first object the incentive behind individual effort and enterprise should not be weakened; (3) that the system devised should be voluntary and should not involve forcible dispossession or confiscation; and (4) that the system should not be confined to one country or one nation, but should be universal. All the movements that are being boosted today are in one respect or other limited in their application. They pertain to sections of mankind. The Islamic system is not national or sectional but universal. The Islamic teaching pays due regard to all the four factors that I have just mentioned. Any movement, that is based upon these four principles, is bound to prove more beneficial than, and to be preferred to, every other movement.
I shall now proceed to explain how this object has been fulfilled and how these four principles have been built into the New Order, the foundations of which have been laid under Divine Command and in strict accordance with the Islamic teachings, by the person appointed by God for the guidance of mankind in this age as a Deputy of the Holy Prophet(sa). Bolshevism, Socialism and National Socialism have all come into being after the Great War of 1914—18. Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin have all risen to power after the last war. All these new movements, which claim to have devised new plans for the relief of mankind, arose out of the conditions of 1919—21. The appointed one of God, however, laid the foundations of the New Order in l905 in his Al-Wasiyyat.
The principle was laid down in the Quran in the verse 2:196. In this verse no definite rules were laid down in respect of voluntary contributions. Muslims had only been warned that in addition to Zakat they would have to pay other taxes and make other contributions, but the quantum of the taxes and the form which they were to take was not prescribed. If at one time the Islamic State was in need of one percent of the nation’s wealth, the Khalifah had only to announce that the State was in such need, and that Muslims should contribute so much. If at any other time the State required two percent, the Khalifah asked Muslims to contribute that amount. The Holy Prophet(sa) used to ask for voluntary contributions from time to time. The Khulafa’ gave effect to the Islamic teachings by reserving a large portion for the needs of the poor out of the tributes that were received for distribution among the armies. The soldiers were asked voluntarily to give up a portion of what was due to them to be devoted to the relief of the poor. The Promised Messiah(as) has interpreted the Islamic teachings according to the needs of the present age. If the Islamic State has to provide food, clothing, shelter, medical relief and means of education to everybody, it must have at its disposal very much larger resources than would have sufficed in the early days of Islam. The Promised Messiah(as) therefore, announced under Divine Command that God had ordained that those, who desired to win real Paradise today, must volunteer from 1/10th to 1/3rd of their properties and belongings. He went on to prescribe that the properties obtained by this means would be devoted towards strengthening the foundations of Islam by means of propagation of the teachings of the Quran, the spread of Islamic literature and the setting up of Islamic missions. (Al-Wasiyyat, Condition No. 2).
He also said, “Every matter that is connected with the strengthening and propagation of Islam, into the details of which it would be premature to enter just now, will be accomplished by means of the properties so obtained.” (ibid).
That is to say, this money would be spent in the achievement of everything which is essential for putting into force Islamic teachings and giving effect to them. He indicated that it was premature to describe these matters in detail, but that somebody else would go into their detailed exposition when the time comes.
This is the Order which was set up by the Promised Messiah(as). He has stated clearly that every matter which pertains to strengthening and spreading Islam would be provided for out of this money, but that it was premature to enter into details. This meant clearly that all the objects, which were to be fulfilled out of this money, could not be fully explained at the time. Time was soon to come, however, when the world was to cry out for a New Order. From every quarter voices were to be raised announcing New Orders. Russia would claim to give the world a New Order. England would put forward a New Order. Germany and Italy would announce a New Order. America would proclaim a New Order. At that time a successor of the Promised Messiah(as) would announce from Qadian: ‘The New Order has already been set out in Al-Wasiyyat.’ If the world desires to proceed along the path of peace and prosperity, the only way to it is to put into effect the New Order set out in Al-Wasiyyat.’
The Promised Messiah then says, “These funds will also be devoted towards securing the welfare of the orphans and the needy who do not possess adequate means of subsistence.” (ibid).
Further on he says, “It will be permissible for the Anjuman, (i.e. the Association administering these funds), to increase these funds through commercial investments” (Op. cit. Appendix, Condition 9). That is to say, it would be proper for the Anjuman, after recovering 1/10th or 1/8th or 1/5th or 1/3rd of people’s properties from them, to increase the funds at its disposal by means of investments. He goes on to say that the test of every believer is that he should participate in this scheme and should seek the special grace of God by this means. He announced that only hypocrites will keep out of this scheme. In other words, the scheme is voluntary, but is, at the same time, a test of your faith. If you are anxious to win the pleasure of God and to deserve real Paradise you must make this sacrifice. If, on the other hand, these things have no value in your eyes, you can retain your properties in this world; neither God nor the Movement founded under His Command has any use for them.
It will be observed that under the Bolshevik system people are dispossessed of their properties by force. As against this, the Promised Messiah(as) says that if a person chooses to leave the Movement at any time, property made over by him should be returned to him, for in God’s Eye such property is unacceptable and should be discarded (Op. cit., Appendix, Condition 12). How great a divergence do we have here between the two systems. The secular system takes possession of people’s properties by force and violence, but the system, which the Promised Messiah(as) advocates, is based upon voluntary sacrifice, so much so that if a man withdraws from the Movement any property already made over by him to the Movement shall be handed back to him; for, that which is unwillingly offered is not acceptable.
This shows that the object which Bolshevism has sought to achieve incompletely through a bloodthirsty revolution is sought to be achieved by the Promised Messiah(as) completely by the promotion of goodwill and affection between the different classes. Bolshevism advocates that the wealthy should be dispossessed so that their belongings may be applied to the benefit of the poor. The Promised Messiah(as) according to Islamic teachings says that, having regard to the necessities of the time, people should willingly hand over substantial portions of their properties. He has asked for a minimum of 1/10th from every body which shall be devoted to the uplift of orphans and the needy and towards the propagation of Islam and the strengthening of its social and economic structures. Every Ahmadi, who participates in this scheme for the sake of God, must volunteer from 1/10th to 1/3rd of his property for the service of Islam and humanity and execute a Will to this effect.
Even if the whole world were to join Ahmadiyyat, still the Promised Messiah’s(as) demand would be that those, who are true believers and desire to win the pleasure and approbation of God and to inherit His Paradise, should hand over from 1/10th to 1/3rd of their properties for the achievement of the ideals laid down by Islam. By this process a substantial portion of all private properties will be acquired for national purposes, and without any coercion or violence the Islamic centre will, in the course of a generation, obtain control over 1/10th to 1/3rd of all private properties, and this fund could be devoted to the service of mankind. Nor must it be forgotten that this system is not confined only to one generation. Each succeeding generation is required to make similar sacrifice. The system being based upon the desire of those, who wish to win the pleasure of God, would apply to succeeding generations as much as to the present one. The second, third, and fourth generations will similarly go on handing over substantial portions of their properties to the centre, and in the course of three or four generations, the greater part of private property will be placed at the disposal of the centre. Assuming that the Movement were to spread over the whole of the world and to comprise the whole of mankind, the inevitable consequence of this system will be that within a few generations people will have handed over the whole of their property voluntarily and with pleasure to be devoted towards social ends. As under this system individual initiative and enterprise will have been safeguarded, people will all the time go on acquiring fresh property for themselves and their children and out of this property again they will voluntarily surrender from 1/10th to 1/3rd for social objects, and this process will go on repeating itself and will at each stage augment the social resources. Let me illustrate this by a simple example. Assume that a man has only Rs.100 and he bequeaths 1/5th of it to the centre. When he dies Rs.20 will be contributed to the fund and Rs.80 will be given to his heir. If in turn his heir bequeaths 1/5th, Rs.16 more will go on his death to the fund and Rs.64 will go to his heir and in the course of 3 or 4 generations the greater part of this original amount will be transferred to the national fund. Far from necessitating the oppression and bloodshed which have accompanied the Bolshevik revolution, this system, if it were to be widely accepted, will bring about the desired revolution without any bloodshed or disorder. On the contrary, poverty will disappear, goodwill and affection will be promoted between the classes and, without damaging individual initiative and enterprise, the greater part of the property will be transferred to the national fund.
Again, this system will not be confined to any particular country or nation but being of a religious character will be universal. The socialists of England are naturally keen on a system, the benefits of which are confined to England. The Bolsheviks of Russia prefer a system which works to the advantage of Russia. But Ahmadiyyat is a religion and invites Russia, Germany, England, America, Holland, China and Japan equally to participate, in this New Order. The funds collected by this means will not be spent in any one country, but will be devoted to the relief of poverty and distress all over the world.
In short, all these secular movements support and strengthen nationalism, but the Promised Messiah(as) has devised a system which tends to promote universal brotherhood. At present in Russia, a Russian is forced to give up his surplus for the benefit of other Russians, but under this system an Indian voluntarily contributes for the benefit of the whole of mankind, and the same applies to an Egyptian or a Syrian. This is a marked distinction between the New Orders which these secular movements are seeking to promote and the New Order based on Islamic principles.
Under the Russian system people were deprived of their properties by force. Many of them left Russia and began to agitate against the new order of things in that country. They felt no glow of pleasure or satisfaction after they had given up their properties to help the poor. When a Russian was deprived of his property, he did not rejoice, but went home in great distress and told his people that a tyrannical government had dispossessed him of his property. But under this New Order a peasant who owns, say, 10 acres of land and provides in his Will that one or two or three acres out of it shall go to the national fund, does not grieve as if he has suffered a loss, but goes to his brother next day in great joy and asks to be congratulated for he has been able to persuade himself to make this provision by his Will in order to win the pleasure of God. In other words, making this provision for the poor causes him no distress or regret, but is something which affords him intense pleasure and he hopes that others connected with him wilt be able to do the same, so that in turn he may be able to congratulate them. When he informs his wife of what he has done, she does not curse the people who deprive her family of a portion of its property, but experiences a wave of emotion in which joy and envy are mixed. She looks at her husband with a kind of longing in her eyes and says, “God has enabled you to do this but I own no property of my own and cannot make such a Will. Will you not transfer some of your property to me so that I may also participate in this scheme?” She continues to use all her powers of persuasion till her husband agrees to let her have a portion of his property so that she too can make a Will in respect of it. In this way, out of a further portion of the property, 1/10th or 1/8th or 1/6th is bequeathed in favour of the common funds. When the son comes home and hears that his father and his mother have both made such a Will, he begins to feel melancholy and says to his father, “May God spare you for long years to us! I have no property of my own. How shall I contrive to make this easy bargain to win God’s pleasure? If you will let me have a portion of your property I too could do what you have done.” If the father is very fond of him, he lets him too have a portion of his property, thinking that in the end the property has to pass to the son. The son makes a Will in respect of it, and thus another portion of the property is set aside for the national fund. If the father is not to be easily persuaded, the son nevertheless makes a Will that he will pay a certain portion of his income during his lifetime to the national fund and that if he should die possessed of any property, the national fund would succeed to whatever portion he may specify. In other words, it means that when his father dies and he succeeds to the family property, the ‘Will’ will operate in respect of it along with any property that he may himself acquire, and in this way yet another portion of the original property passes to the national fund.
We observe daily that when the State imposes a tax, those who are made to pay the tax feel oppressed and those, who go free, experience relief. The rich are annoyed that they will now have to pay more to the State, and the poor are happy that a little more of the wealth of the rich will be employed for their benefit. In our system it is the other way about. When the system was first instituted, it applied only to properties and thus affected the propertied classes only, but those for whose benefit the system was instituted felt no elation at the thought that the property-owning members of the community were to be taxed for their sake. On the other hand, they felt distressed on the ground that they were not allowed to participate in this system, the reward of which was God’s pleasure and paradise. They approached the Promised Messiah(as) and requested him to devise some means by which they also should be allowed to participate in the system. Eventually, under divine direction he permitted them to contribute specified portions of their income for the same purpose. So that though in the beginning the system applied only to properties, at the request of those who owned no property it was extended to incomes, and thus a portion of current income, as well as property, began to flow into the common funds.
1 i.e. the Promised Messiah and Mahdi(as), the greatest of the Successors of the Holy Prophet(sa) to come in the Latter days.