Islamic Human Rights (47)
The right to social security and welfare is one of the cases which have been emphasized within the framework of Islamic human rights. This right has been focused upon, in the tradition of the Prophet of Islam, Mohammad (Blessings upon him and his progeny).
Today, we study the measures and approaches adopted by the Prophet of Islam for fulfillment of this right.
The teachings of the Prophet of Islam in relation to methods for materialization of the goals of social security maintain several aspects. The Prophet of Islam, in his short-term policy, always considered caring for the poor and needy as a binding principle, and made every effort to fulfill this aim. However, the Prophet of Islam, in his general and long-term policy, believed that individuals can lead an honorable life and make ends meet by access to an appropriate job and income. Thus, the Prophet of Islam strongly negated laziness and put emphasis on hard work to earn an income.
According to many Islamic narrations, Prophet Mohammad, in response to applicants for financial assistance, who were capable of earning an income, invited them to practice self-reliance, and to make an earning. Based on the recommendations of the Prophet of Islam, his disciples attained a highly honorable and self-reliant spirit.
Upon belief in such a policy, the Prophet of Islam made many arrangements for foundation of a healthy and efficient economy. When the belongings and properties of Bani Nazir Tribe were seized by Muslims, without a battle, and upon the instruction of Holy Quran; the Prophet of Islam was granted authority over these assets, the Prophet divided them between the Muslims who had migrated from Mecca to Medina, and two of the needy Muslims of Medina, thereby granting Meccan Muslims self-sufficiency, and severing their reliance upon the Muslims of Medina. The Prophet also invited Muslims to boost their agricultural crops, and encouraged them to develop their lands.
Prophet Mohammad also attached significant importance on trade and commerce. In order to optimize the performance of the market, the Prophet of Islam emphasized compliance with the rights of transactions, such as avoidance of hoarding and unnecessary price hikes; freedom of economic activities, the necessity to respect contracts; protection of people’s assets; and avoidance of small charging. The Prophet also put emphasis on cooperation, fairness, facilitation of transactions, and frugality.
Upon the implementation of these policies, the Prophet intended to prevent the accumulation of wealth by a few, and to ease materialization of progress coupled with justice. This policy alleviates poverty and declines the demands for social security services.
The participation of people is one of the main pillars of the Prophet’s social security policies. The Prophet, upon reliance on motives originating from faith in God, continuously encouraged Muslims, especially the well-off individuals, to help the needy.
Throughout the years prior to migration of the Prophet from Mecca to Medina and the early years after this migration, until the divine legislation of Khoms and Zakat, popular contributions were the only source for meeting public expenses such as assistance to the needy, and construction of public places such as mosques, bridges, roads, orchards, trade and production centers, in addition to investment in cultural affairs, such as promotion of the divine religion of Islam and enhancement of public education.
A hadith cited by one of the Muslims of Medina, Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri, notes: “We were on a journey, while a man mounted on a horse approached, who was continuously looking around. The Prophet said that whoever possesses an additional horse is better to grant it to someone who doesn’t have one. The Prophet’s remarks led us to conclude that we should hand over our additional belongings for the sake of God, and in order to serve peoples’ interests.”
Historic-wise, the divine legislation of social security is the last phase in measures taken for the establishment of the social security system in the advent of Islam. Note that the Prophet’s ruling system played a decisive and significant role in regard to approaches necessary for maintenance of social security.
The first legal sources of governmental revenues were the properties belonging to Prophet Mohammad or any of the Imams; natural wealth; and Khoms, which was divinely legislated in the second year after the migration of the Prophet and Meccan Muslims to Medina, upon the divine revelation of ayahs of Surat al-Anfal.
Meanwhile, on the 8th AH, upon the divine revelation of 103rd ayah of Surat al-Tawbah, the law of zakat was announced to the Prophet of Islam. Based on this divine law, the Prophet received zakat on wheat, barley, dates, raisins, cows, sheep, camels, gold, and silver.
Moreover, upon the divine revelation of 29th ayah of Surat al-Tawbah, non-Muslims, who lived under the authority and protection of the Islamic ruling system, were obliged to pay taxes.
The means of the Islamic government in the advent of Islam maintained a variety of functions in regard to social security. The first important point in this relation was tax exemptions. In one of the letters addressed by the First Infallible Successor to Prophet of Islam, Imam Ali (Peace be upon him) to the tax collectors, Imam Ali asked them to be fair toward people and to take into consideration people’s circumstances.
Secondly, in order to determine the salaries of government’s employees, their expenses were taken into consideration.
Furthermore, in the study of the goals of social security in the advent of Islam; meeting the needs of vulnerable strata such as the poor, debtors, slaves, elderly, and patients were prioritized.
One of the lessons that can be learned from the ruling systems of the Prophet of Islam and Imam Ali was their focus on meeting the needs of the poor people.