Belief in Heaven and Hell and System of Exploitation
Religion consoles the poor and the exploits the lay men in the name of heaven, and thereby suppresses their agitational fervour. Doesn't religion talk of heaven and hell in order to protect the interests of the rich?
Such doubts arise out of a wide misunderstanding created about the religion. For this grave misunderstanding about religion - which is actually the way of liberation of the oppressed and the exploited - both believers and their opponents are to be blamed. The belief in heaven and hell can really end all kinds of exploitation and bring about economic justice and social equality. It is clear to anyone who examines the views on wealth as expressed in the Qura'n.
1. According to the Islamic view wealth belongs to God. No human being has absolute and complete ownership of wealth. His right to wealth is transactional, and this right too is not unlimited. It is subject to strict instructions from God. The Qura'n has clearly said that the poor and the destitutes have right over the wealth of the wealthy. The denial of this right is a serious offence as denial of God, and it amounts to rejection of faith. If all human offences which invite punishment in hell are divided into two - one of the offences is not encouraging the feeding of the indigents. Allah Says:
"And he that will be given his record in his left hand will say: "Ah! Would that my record had not been given to me! And that I had never realised how my account (stood). Ah! Would that (death) had made an end of me! Of no profit to me has been my wealth! My power has perished from me! (The stern command will say): "Seize ye him, and bind ye him, And burn ye him in the Blazing fire. Further make him march in a chain, whereof the length is seventy cubits! "This was he that would not believe in God most High, and would not encourage the feeding of the indigent!"So no friend hath he here this Day. Nor hath he any food except the foul pus from the washing of wounds, "Which none do eat but those in sin." (Chapter 69:25-37)
When the sinners confess their sins in the Hell, a big offence they counted was not feeding of the indigent, which resulted in their present plight. ''Every soul will be (held) in pledge for its deeds. Except the companions of the Right Hand, (They will be) in Gardens (of delight): They will question each other, and (ask) of the sinners: ''What led you into Hell fire?'' They will say: we were not of those who prayed; Nor were we of those who fed the indigent; But we used to talk vanities with vain talkers. And we used to deny the Day of judgement, Until there came to us (the Hour) that is certain (Chapter 74:38-47).
Now, friends, judge for yourselves, and tell whether the belief in heaven and hell is useful or harmful to the poor and to the indigents. Will it allow to continue economic injustice, or will it end such injustice?
The Qura'n tells us further ''And in their wealth there is a due share for beggars and the deprived'' (Chapter 51:19)
''And render to the kindred their due rights, as (also) to those in want, and to the wayfarer'' (Chapter 17:26)
''Seest thou one who denies the judgment (to come) Then such is the (man) who repulses the orphan (with harshness) And encourages not the feeding of the indigent'' (Chapter 107:1-3)
It need not be mentioned that those who believe in these holy verses can never ignore the orphans, or deny the poor and the indigents of their rights.
2. The Qura'n has strictly warned people, who hoard wealth without spending it, of severe punishment after death. The Qura'n has demanded that wealth should not be circuited among the rich only. It has also criticized man's unlimited avarice. ''And violent is he in his love of wealth'' (Chapter 100:8)
''Nay, nay! But ye honour not the orphans! No do ye encourage one another to feed the poor! And ye devour inheritance - All with greed, And ye love wealth with inordinate love''! (Chapter 89: 17-20)
''In order that (wealth) may not (merely) make a circuit between the wealthy among you'' (Chapter 59:7)
''And there are those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of God: announce unto them a most grievous chastisement - On the day when it will be heated in the fire of Hell, and with it will be branded their foreheads, their flanks and their backs (Chapter 9:34,35)
It is clear that those who believe in rewards and punishments as mentioned in the above verses will never amass wealth; and they will also spend their wealth in the way of God for the poor people.
3. Qura'n has taught that the believers are only those people who spend their wealth in the way of God; and only such people deserve heaven. Spending money in this way is the best of human deeds, and it brings rewards many fold as mentioned in the verses given below.
''It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness - to believe in God and the Last Day, and the angels and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and pay Zakat'' (Chapter 2: 177)
''He may say (boastfully). Wealth have I squandered in abundance! Thinketh he that none beholdeth him? Have we not made for him a pair of eyes? And a tongue, and a pair of lips? And shown him the two highways? But he hath made no haste on the path that is steep. And what will explain to thee the path that is steep? (It is) freeing the bondman; or the giving of food in a day of privation to the orphan with claims of relationship or to the indigent (down) in the dust. Then will he be of those who believe, and enjoin patience (constancy, and self-restraint), and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion (90:6- 17)
''By no means shall ye attain righteousness unless ye give (freely) of that which ye love: and whatever ye give, of a truth God knoweth it well'' (3:92)
It becomes clear that those who accept these verses will never be stingy in spending wealth for that poor, and they will be even vigilant in mitigating the poverty of the poor.
4. Islam has barred all doors of exploitation. It has prohibited all means of gathering wealth which are harmful to the society. Allah says:
''Woe to those that deal in fraud, - those who, when they have to receive by measure from men, exact full measure. But when they have to give by measure of weight to men, give less than due. Do they not think that they will be called to account? On a mighty day, a day when (all) mankind will stand before the Lord of the worlds? (83:1-6)
''Those who devour usury will not stand except as stands one whom the Evil one by his touch hath driven to madness'' (2:275)
Usury, as Islam teaches, is a big sin and those who practise it deserve hell fire. Islam has also strictly prohibited gambling and other economic exploitation. The prophet says that ''whoever practises fraud is not amongst us'' (Ahmed, Thirmadi)
''Hoarder is a sinner'' (Muslim, Abu Dawud)
''On the day of judgment, Allah will be the enemy of those who, after getting the work done, did not pay the worker his wage'' (Bukhari).
So Islam has barred all gates of economic exploitation. It has also in strong terms criticised people's stinginess.
''And let not those who covetously withhold of the gifts which God hath given them of His Grace, think that it is good for them: Nay, it will be the worse for them: Soon it will be tied to their necks like a twisted collar on the Day of Judgment. To God belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth; and God is well-acquainted with all that ye do'' (Chapter 3:180)
5. Islam doesn't want to leave the oppressed and the exploited in their state of misery. It has asked people to struggle hard and fight for their liberation.
Quran says: ''And why should ye not fight in the cause of God and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)? - Men, women, and children, whose cry is: ''Our Lord! rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help'' (4:75)
The prophet says that, ''One who works for the widow and the indigent is like one who fights in the way of Allah'' (Bukhari)
''On the day when legs slip and fall in the hell but those who stood by the oppressed, and helped to restore their rights - their legs will be firm, and unshaken''
The above discussion can convince the fact that religion and the belief in heaven and hell will put an end to all kinds of exploitation and establish social equality and economic justice. As liberation of the oppressed is an important objective of Islam, the strong opponents of the prophets, and their followers in every place at all times, have been the rich, the elite and the oppressive rulers. The religious faith teaches that the virtuous - both in thoughts and deeds - will obtain heaven. The oppressors and the exploiters will go to hell. This belief, instead of supporting it, puts an end to all forms of exploitations.