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Islam the Misunderstood Religion: ISLAM AND FEUDALISM

Sep 6, 2013, 10:53 AM

Nothing of the sort is to be found in Islam, it had its own central government with its own law of the land in all parts of the country. All were made equal before law. None enjoyed any priority over others. The individual was called to account only when he committed a mistake or acted wrongly. Later on when, contrary to the teachings of Islam, the government degenerated into a hereditary monarchy it still retained some Islamic characteristics. Thus, for instance, the government continued exercising a supervisory authority over all the different peoples and individuals that lived within its sphere of influence. The law of the land was one and the same for all people living within its vast territories. The only exception appears to be differences of the jurists among themselves on certain legal points, which is on the face of the earth. It was this rule of the law that provided a safeguard for all as their greed, against the oppression of the feudal lords as well as their greed, lust or whim. They were ruled in accordance with the divine law rather than the whims and wishes of the feudal lord. It held not only the landlords and the tenants as equals as both of then were now made free men but also treated all men alike and in the same manner.

Of course there are found certain unfortunate incidents in the history of Muslims as well, wherein we see that judges gave judgments contrary to their own conscience as well as in contravention of the spirit of the law in order to win favor with the feudal lords or the rulers, but these incidents were no more than certain stray instances. They are merely exceptions, as is shown by the historical facts to the veracity of which even the European scholars bear witness. As against these few stray cases of injustice there are a great many instances in Islamic history which show the judges, landlords, governors or ministers but even against the caliph himself-the caliph who wielded absolute authority and power. But, in spite of this, nether any judge wasdismissed from his post, nor did the ruler seek any revenge against him.

Similarly, there is not any escape movement of the peasants met with in the Islamic history as was witnessed in Europe. This was so because the peasants enjoyed not only the rights to move freely from one farm to the other but also from one country to another within the boundaries of the vast Islamic Empire. Nothing prevented them from shifting from place to place except their own fondness for or attachment to a particular of land as was, for instance, the case with the Egyptian farmers. The peasants in other parts of the Islamic world, however, fully availed themselves of this freedom of movement as their Egyptian counterparts were and as no obstacles were hurled in their way to prevent their movement such as blocked the way in the case of the European peasants in the form of serfdom and the various obligations they were encumbered with.

The peasants in the history of the European feudalism towards its final phase had to buy off their freedom. This too has no parallel in the history of the Islamic peoples for the simple reason that among them peasants enjoyed as much freedom as any other section of the community did. They as such had no need to buy off the freedom they already possessed.

Moreover, it may also be added that in that in Islamic world a large number of small states existed throughout its history. These states provided livelihood to their possessors, helped them carry out various kinds of sea or land trade and support the various industrial crafts. But in Europe all of these were completely swept away by the upsurge of feudalism. It was then that a dark night of spiritual ignorance and intellectual darkness settled on Europe. It was shown light by Islam, first when the two encountered each other in Spain. These encounters set Europe on to the path of the Renaissance and so Europe gradually climbed out of that dark night of intellectual and spiritual stagnation.

Thus we find that feudalism as such did never exist in the world of Islam so long as Islam remained dominant in the Muslim lands because it’s spiritual and economic system as well as its basic creed, principles and laws is all opposed to feudalism. Not only does this but it also away with all the cause conducive to its growth. Whatever semblance of feudalism was witnesses during the Ommayad and Abbaside periods was limited in its sphere, besides the fact that it never flourished so as to become a common feature of the social life of the Muslims.

Of course we do find feudalism in the Islamic countries in the modern history towards the end of the Ottoman Empire when headspring of Islamic faith had dried up in the hearts of Muslims and the political power had passed into the hands of those who knew nothing as regards Islam save its name. The picture became all the more dark when the Godless, materialistic and aggressive European civilization marched in triumph against the Islamic world. It staged military occupations, destroyed all spiritual values and put an end to the spirit of co-operation replacing these with the most hideous forms of capitalistic exploitation and a life-long misery to the poor. This feudalistic system imported as it was from Europe still continues to linger in some of the Muslim lands with all those features that characterized its parent-the European feudalism. It is not quite clear that Islam owes no apology for the presence of it in the contemporary Islamic world, nor is it in any way responsible for its emergence or existence. It could be held responsible only if it were a ruling power in the Muslim lands. Some Muslim rulers are at present ruling their peoples in accordance with the constitutions and laws imported from various European countries rather than according to the Islamic laws. They remain the most faithful followers of their western masters that were ever witness on the face of the earth.

From the above discussion certain facts stand out clearly that has become a centre of the ideological conflict raging in the modern world. Of these the following facts may be pointed out:-

(1) It is not the factor of ownership as such that inexorably paves the way for the growth of feudalism with human will having not part in its enhancement. It is rather the manner of possessing and the nature of relationship between the owners of the land and those who have no land in their possession that favor its growth. That is why ownership was there in the Islamic world and yet feudalism did not exist because the ideology of Islam as well as its various applications to practical life establishes between the individual such relationships as do not favor the growth of feudalism.

(2) If Europe was condemned to feudalism it was not because feudalism is an essential stage of evolution on the path of evolution that can never be bypassed by mankind even if it should so desire. Europe suffered from it rather because of the fact that it did not possess any system or creed such as might have regulated human relationships and offered a sound intellectual guidance. Had there been present such a creed and ideology as was the case with the world of Islam, to guide and organize their socio-economic relationships, no feudalism could ever have sprung up or flourished Europe.

(3) The different stages of economic evolution-first communist society, slavery, feudalism, capitalism and then the final communist society-which the dialectical materialist describe as a common phenomenon in the history of mankind, really have no existence whatsoever outside the European history. These stages were never passed through by any people outside Europe. The world of Islam never in its whole history passed through the stage of feudalism; it has never also as such till now come to the stage of communism, nor will it ever reach that stage.