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Abolish feudalism, say scholars

August 02, 2005

ISLAMABAD, Aug 1: Feudalism has to be abolished if the country is to prosper for all, and in peace. This view was presented by three disciples of Shah Waliullah, the 18th century Muslim thinker, in the first lecture in a series arranged by the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) here on Monday to celebrate its founding 43 years ago.

Maulana Saeed Ahmad Raipuri, who delivered the lecture on the “Economic Thought of Shah Waliullah”, blamed the feudal system and feudal mindset for the poverty and other ills in the country. Islam came to free people from oppressions, including economic oppression - “irrespective of their faith, race or colour”, he reminded.

“We should have abolished feudal system immediately after we gained independence. We did not. Our neighbour (India) did and has been able to solve the economic problems for 70 per cent of its people,” he said.

Allah did not create the class system. In fact the feudal system exist against His commandments. The ‘jagirdars’ who got their estates from the British colonialists for betraying their people created the feudal system and feudal mindset, he said.

Our ‘deen’ (faith) lays the greatest emphasis on fulfilling the rights of people, he said. “It asks its followers to free people from injustices, chiefly economic oppression, and serve humanity, not that it wants them to make everybody recite ‘kalima’.”

Maulana Raipuri, who established the Rahimia Institute of Quranic Sciences Trust in Lahore in 2001 for propagating the thoughts of Shah Waliullah, regretted that the capitalist system was being taught in Pakistan but not the teaching of Islamic thinkers.

Shah Waliullah, who laid down the basic Islamic principles for social, political and economic structures, was equally respected by the major schools of thought in the Islamic community of the South Asian sub-continent, he said.

“We cannot have a contended society, unless Islamic thought was included in our educational system,” he added.

Asked how could 18th century thinking and solutions be applied in the 21st century, Maulana Raipuri’s associate, Mr Abdul Khaliq Azad replied that all people, irrespective of their colour, creed and religion, are equal in their needs and the economic system that addresses them all equally.

Unlike the prevailing capitalist system which puts capital at the centre, Shah Waliullah puts “welfare of all” at the centre. “In his philosophy ownership is not the means to use resources to detriment of others but for the benefit of all as a whole,” he said.

Production of wealth requires labour and capital and relationship between the two changes as the means of production change, he said, observing that wealth creation has progressed from agriculture to commerce, or exchange of goods, and now to industry and technology. Principles laid down by Shah Waliullah for the economic activities can accommodate such changes and were implementable even today.

However the Islamic parties and groups bound by tradition cause confusion about Islamic solutions by insisting on the old terms and concepts, he said.

“Rather than solving problems, (their) self-made Islam creates problems,” said Mr Azad.