Islamic Identity and the Struggle for Justice

Islamic Identity and the Struggle for Justice

Islamic Identity and the Struggle for Justice

Islamic Identity and the Struggle for Justice


This book presents the religious ideals of justice and shows how such percepts are translated into the individual, social, political, and economic lives of people.


Fazlur Rahman

Socioeconomic Conditions and Refigious Befiefs in Mecca and Arabia

The birth of Islam is well documented in recorded history. Its prophet, Muhammad (PBUH), son of Abdullah, was born in Makkah (Mecca) in 570. He died in 632. We have little knowledge of his life before his call to prophethood except that he was respected as a trusted person and often retired to a cave called Hira north of Mecca. in Hira, the Prophet contemplated the problems of life and death, particularly those that bedeviled Meccan society. Mecca, which was essentially commercial, had two major problems: polytheism (idol worship) and the city rulers--a rich, aristocratic tribe called Quraysh.

Mecca suffered from extreme socioeconomic inequality based on a thriving underground world of slaves and hirelings. This troubled the Prophet's mind, as the Quran shows. Addressing Muhammad (PBUH), the Quran says, "Alam nashrah laka sadrak" (Have we not now opened up your breast?) (94:1), an Arabic idiom for the solution, Sharh al sadr (a tormenting intellectual or spiritual problem). the Quran continues: "Alladhi anqada zahrak" (Have we not relieved that burden that was breaking your back?) (94:2).

The Quranic verses, particularly the early ones, condemn Meccan polytheism and city residents' general social irresponsibility. the Meccans, however, claimed they had earned their wealth and that neither the Prophet nor anyone else had the right to ask them to spend it in ways they disliked. "Why should we pay for the poor? God can feed them if He wants," they asserted.

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