Trading in futures

WHEREVER Islam is practised, Muslims value human beings above all other goods of this presnt world. All goods and services of the material world are for the provision and security of the family and, by extension, the community - and not the other way round. There is no such thing as an Islamic family stripped of its generations and its multiplicity of relationships. In an Islamic social context, the Muslim woman should reside productively at the very heart of the Islamic community.

Home versus business

In Madiana, the city of the Messenger(pbuh), trading was conducted at the centre of the community alongside its places of worship, not at its periphery. The rhythm of dailty life swung from worship into trading and from trading into worship at intervals specified by the times of prayer. The Messenger (pbuh) chose the site of the market in Madina and stipulated the trading regulations. Muslim trade and productivity relations would flow in and out from the household, as they did in and out of the household of the Prophet himself, as they have always done when Islam has been pracitised.

The market force trade scenario of today finds individuals excluded from trading centres and engulfed by huge corporate interests. There is no longer any equivalence between the customer and ther retailer and the individual is relegated to being a powerless employee/customer. The culinary skills and dietary knowledge of women in western countries has already been forgotten and replaced by mass-produced, ready-cooked meals by the food manufacturing industry. Consequently, a woman may work all day for the food industry and, returning at night too exhausted to cook, purchase their products to feed her family; this is a vicious cycle of dependance. The steady nuclearisation of the family should be resisted without delay because with it comes the disintegration of the Muslim Ummah(community).

The household which used to be at the heart of traditional industry and was bound together by the exchange of goods has been ousted by corporate global monopolies. The supermarket system of acquisition, distribution and retail makes extinct local producers and commercial enterprises. Families have to leave their neighbourhoods to out-of-town supermarkets and retail parks, ruining the local family-run businesses and the spirit of community. The Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) said that Muslims are like two hands washing themselves, therefore any activity which threatens to disintegrate the Muslim community must be resisted at all costs because it is an attack on the integrity of Islam.

The corporate female

The corporate female of our time is assessed on masculine criteria of achievement and defined by market force societal structures. In a recent interview, Jack Nicholson - the US film star - quips, "Today you've got endless women... who don't know if they want to be a mother, have lunch or be Secratary of State". The other day I heard a quote from a leading feminist who said, "Finally we women have become those husbands we wanted to get rid of".

The two complementary male and female domains have no special impact unless they are established spatially. In the female domain, structures will emerge which express the collective voice of women, acting as a counterbalance to masculine emphases, because it is only through the concentrative power of the group that the self-awareness and voice of the individual can be rediscovered. As the US playwright Arthur Miller expressed it, today's society consists of a series of identical units, individual + individual + individual. This is a description of multicultural mass man.

Women in society

Social encounter in the secular era occurs almost exclusively in the workplace. The home has been reduced to a solitary confinement cell, as many a mother of small children will testify. Dr. Germaine Greer said in the 1980s: "nowadays, women go out to work in order to be back inside society". A woman needs her own culture, her own traditions and people who speak her own language. There is no way womankind can articulate a particular existential and moral position except as a group, a group whose way of life demands a certain location. Gender group identity in our time has all but been destroyed, especially in the case of women. This group identity and the integrated, multi-faceted family system that upheld it allowed the status of women to increase as they became elderly.

In the Islamic frame of reference, the balance of human social environments reflects the balance of creation, and what is going wrong in the natural world is a consequence of our living incorrectly as human beings. This means that we must rethink our human condition. Things are held in a dynamic balance and to preserve this balance is the first responsibility of humankind.

The Qur'an extends an invitation to mankind to become existentially literate by reading the signs within themselves and the earth around them. The Qur'anic teaching indicates that as everything is in a state of worship it is useless to try and fix the planet until humankind resumes its own state of worship. The state of worship entails the fulfilment of the original Divine Contract in the observance of the divine commands and prohibitions. This amounts to custodianship of the Earth, khlifa-1-ardhi.Reverence towards the Originator of mankind combined with scrupulous behaviour towards all existing things are the balancing principles and guarantees of the health of the natural realm for which we are responsible.

Quotes from Sainsbury's Magazine(June 1996) and Dr Germaine Greer Sex and Destiny.
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