Opinion By Zohaib Tariq
The recent revelation by ICIJ in its “Pandora Papers” has exposed trillions of dollars of ill-gotten wealth of elites that has been laundered out to financial “heavens”, mostly from the global south nations and particularly the Muslim nations, has exposed the neo-imperialist and neo-colonialist designs of the Liberal economic model of capitalism. Moreover, the UN Secretary General’s Panel FACTI calculated a staggering $7 trillion in stolen assets parked in largely offshore tax havens, that is also mostly from Muslim Nations. Muslim politicians, military leaders, bureaucrats are all complicit in these financial crimes against humanity and crimes against God. In terms of administrative roles, these peoples are not much different from the role of the British East India Company that plundered our wealth from the sub-continent for their vested interests. Although it’s important to highlight the ill practices of individuals who are complicit in these financial crimes, it is also equally important to highlight the structural flaws present in the globalized capitalist system that enables these practices. Capitalism prescribes an economic system in which a nation’s trade and enterprise is controlled by private individuals, whereas the government largely leaves the economy alone and free-market forces operate along the lines of the laissez-faire model as expounded by Adam Smith. However, the economic inequalities that capitalism churns out produce serious social and political inequalities among citizens at the state level and among different states at the global level (global north and global south debate). The unregularized markets and the free operation of capitalism have continuously led to a grossly unacceptable degree of economic and social inequality of income, wealth, power, and life opportunities due to unequally distributed property rights and large accumulation of wealth within a few hands, alongside increasing impoverishment of the rest of the population, jeopardizes not only the notion of democratic values based upon equal civic rights but also the Islamic values, norms, principles and practices that are based upon socio-economic welfare and egalitarianism. The system of capitalism enables the accumulation of wealth which principally contradicts the Islamic economic model that encourages redistribution of wealth. Allah states in the Quran (34:39), “Say, “Indeed, my Lord extends provision for whom He wills of His servants and restricts [it] for him. But whatever thing you spend [in His cause] – He will compensate it, and He is the best of providers.” Furthermore, Islam severely warns those who accumulate or hordes wealth for their individual self-interest. Allah says in the Quran (9:34-35), “Believers! Many of the rabbis and monks wrongfully devour mankind’s possessions and hinder people from the Way of Allah. And there are those who amass gold and silver and do not spend it in the Way of Allah. Announce to them the tidings of a painful chastisement. On a Day when they shall be heated up in the Fire of Hell, and their foreheads and their sides and their backs shall be branded with it, (and they shall be told): “This is the treasure which you hoarded for yourselves. Taste, then, the punishment for what you have hoarded.” Moreover, capitalism creates inequalities not only at a societal but also at the international level. Global Capitalism keeps the third world countries at an economic disadvantage and in a constant cycle of dependency in the pretext of ‘economic interdependence’. Transnational corporations and global financial institutions, such as IMF and World Bank, often exploit the unstable political and economic conditions of the countries of the Global South for their economic incentives, for example, the global trade and mining of blood diamonds. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan, in his speech at the inauguration of State Bank of Pakistan, on 1st July 1948, said, “I shall watch with keenness the work of your research organization in evolving banking practices compatible with Islamic ideals of social and economic life. The economic system of the West (capitalism) has created almost insoluble problems for humanity—It has failed to do justice between man and man and to eradicate friction from the international field. On the contrary, it was largely responsible for the two world wars in the last half-century, The Western world, in spite of its advantages of mechanization and industrial efficiency is today in a worse mess than ever before in history—We must work our destiny in our own way and present to the world an economic system based on the true Islamic concept of equality of manhood and social justice. We will thereby be fulfilling our mission as Muslims and giving to humanity the message of peace which alone can save it and secure the welfare, happiness, and prosperity of mankind.” Thereby, it’s about time, the world should start to rethink capitalism and switch to the Islamic Economic Model of social welfare for socio-economic justice and to liberate humanity from financial slavery.