Next week, Toronto will be hosting the G-20 Summit. This meeting represents a gathering of finance ministers and bank governors from the elite Capitalist nations (America, Britain, France, Germany, etc), as well as other nations who have significant resources. The estimated cost to secure the Summit is $1.2 billion. Security measures for the event include:
As reported in the Globe & Mail, the hiring of a "small army" of 10,000 police officers and 1,000 private security contractors
A $5.5 million, 3 meter high, 3 kilometer long concrete/ metal fence circling the Toronto Metro Convention Centre. Anyone attempting to gain access to this security zone will be required to show government issued ID while being subjected to x-rays, and body searches
The establishment of a "protest zone" at Queen's Park - about 2 kilometers away from the actual site of the meeting
Sonic cannons also known as long-range acoustic devices (LRAD). As reported by the Toronto Star, LRAD can emit a blast of sound that is 135 decibels (db), above the pain threshold of 110/120db (permanent hearing damage occurs at 85 db)
These security measures are focused on protecting the leaders from the anger of protestors.
G20: Why the Need for so Much Security?
Given the severity of these security measures, why is there such discontent amongst the people of the G20 nations with their leaders? Themes of the Summit include, "Financial Sector Reform", "Stimulus Programs", and "Global Trade and Growth". Furthermore, the official website, g20.gc.ca, states: "G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors also reaffirmed their commitment to intensify efforts to accelerate international financial repair and reform. This includes the stronger capital and liquidity standards and a cap on leverage that are at the core of the G-20 agenda, as well as principles reflecting the need to protect taxpayers, reduce risks to the financial system and take into account each country's circumstances and options."
Judging by the focus on liquidity, capital requirements and leverage, it is clear that the main concern of the Summit are the banking and financial systems. The beneficiaries of this conference are not the average people, but rather the Capitalist elite - who own the banks and other financial institutions. More importantly, there are several keys issues that are absent from the agenda which affect the common individual including poverty, unemployment, health care, foreclosures, the environment and others. To give a glimpse at the severity of these issues, in the US, the "real" unemployment rate (which is the official unemployment rate, plus part-time workers who want full time work, plus workers who want work but are no longer looking) has been hovering around 17%. As for the "principles reflecting the need to protect taxpayers", it is superficial at best. Clearly it is the taxpayer who is going to pay the $1.2 billion for the Summit - not the Capitalist elite. Furthermore, it has been the taxpayers who have had to pay billions for the bank bailouts. The governments have justified this in the name of job creation - i.e. that if the banks have money they will loan it to companies who in turn will hire more people. However, judging by the consistently high unemployment rates this is not happening.
Capitalism is a Disaster
Although it is easy to understand the outrage of the people, it is more important to understand the root cause of the issue. Very often the ills of the system are attributed to greed. However, the problem is much deeper than that. The flaw of the Capitalist system, which emanates from the liberal democratic ideologies, is its Aqeedah (intellectual foundation). During the Middle Ages, European intellectuals fiercely contested the authority of the Church and their efforts culminated in a solution of compromise: the Church was uprooted from the workings of public life and its influence was restricted to the realm of personal life. As a consequence, the human mind became the source of reference for the public domain. That is, man became the sole legislator. With this new-found authority to legislate came the rights to personal freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of thought, and freedom of ownership. The freedom of ownership is the intellectual basis by which the Capitalist elite argue that there should be no regulations or restrictions upon their ability to generate wealth. For example, in 1999 when the American Senator Phil Gramm argued that banks should not be regulated, he stated: "We are here today to repeal Glass-Steagall because we have learned that government is not the answer. We have learned that freedom and competition are the answers". However, the Senator was obviously unable to foresee the future, where the deregulated banks would create subprime mortgages that would undermine the entire system. But this problem is fundamental to legislation by man - he does not have the ability to foresee the full consequences of his actions.
Islam: Rulers Who Take Care of the People
In sharp contrast to the level of security needed to host the G-20 Summit in Toronto, the Khulafah (Caliphs) who ruled the Muslims from the time of RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم until the Khilafah was destroyed did not require such security measures. This was particular to Islam as observed by a Roman official visiting Umar bin al-Khattab (ra). When the Roman arrived in Madinah, he inquired as to the whereabouts of Umar. To his surprise he was directed to a man sleeping under a tree. There was no army of 10,000 men, a 3 meter high fence, or special weapons protecting Umar (ra). When the Roman saw this he stated: "O Umar! You ruled. You were just. Thus you were safe. And thus you slept." That is, he knew from living in Rome that the ruler dares not sleep under a tree unguarded.
The reason that Umar (ra) was able to sleep peacefully was due to the fact that he implemented the Book of Allah سبحانه وتعالى and the Sunnah of RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:
"A ruler who, having control over the affairs of the Muslims, does not strive diligently for their betterment and does not serve them sincerely, will not enter Jannah with them." [Muslim]
Not only does the ruler have to respond to the people under his care but he must also answer to a higher authority, Malik-al-Mulk (The Owner of All Sovereignty). As such, he must fulfill the obligations placed upon him as this is not only a mandate of the state but is also the Ahkam of Allah سبحانه وتعالى. Therefore the Khalifah must care for every citizen's need and ensure that they are not facing any undue hardships such as the lack of access to healthcare or even long wait times.
The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم also said:
"If Allah invests to someone the affairs of the Muslims and he (i.e. the ruler) ignores their rights, denies their access to him and neglects their needs, Allah will not answer his prayer nor realize his hopes and will act towards him with indifference on the Day of Resurrection." [Abu Dawud &Tirmidhi]
Also, the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم established in his Sunnah that the strong do not have the right to trample upon the weak and are not given special privileges to circumvent the law. The rulers, therefore, must ensure that the rights of the weak are preserved and the strong fulfill their obligations toward the weaker elements of society. In the following hadith narrated by Aisha (ra), Usama Bin Zayd (ra) approached the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم in order to intercede on behalf of a woman (from the elite tribe of Bani Makhzoom) who had committed theft. After Usama (ra) made his request to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, the colour of the face of RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم changed from anger and he said:
"Do you intercede in one of the prescribed punishments of Allah?" He (Usama) said: 'Messenger of Allah, seek forgiveness for me.' When it was dusk, RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم stood up and gave an address. He (first) glorified Allah as He deserves, and then said: "Now to our topic. This (injustice) destroyed those before you that when any one of (high) rank committed theft among them, they spared him, and when any weak one among them committed theft, they inflicted the prescribed punishment upon him. By Him in Whose Hand is my life, even if Fatima, daughter of Muhammad, was to commit theft, I would have cut off her hand." [Muslim]
The Sahabah (ra) understood this example and implemented it. When Abu Bakr (ra) became the Khalifah, he said: "Oh people, I have been appointed your ruler, though I might not be the best of you. Support me if I do good, but if I do not, set me right. The weak is strong to me until I remove his plight, Allah willing; and the strong is weak to me till I take the right of the weak from him, Allah willing." And indeed, Abu Bakr (ra) fulfilled his pledge. When the strong withheld the zakat - which is a duty upon the wealthy towards the poor - Abu Bakr (ra) declared war on them. This is despite the fact that the Muslims who remained loyal to the Khilafah state were far outnumbered by their enemies.
Umar bin Al-Khattab (ra) also implemented this Sunnah of RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم. In the year 18AH, famine gripped Madinah and the surrounding area. This came to be known as the "Year of Ash" (Am al-Ramadah). Umar (ra) set-up tents around Madinah to house and feed those adversely affected by the famine. Umar (ra) sent a letter to Egypt and Sham demanding that they send in food. Furthermore, it is said that Umar (ra) went pale because he refused to eat fat, butter, and milk, until all the Muslims were able to afford such food! Umar (ra) also took care of the affairs of Ahl-al-Dhimma (non-Muslims that lived under Islamic rule). For example, once he found an old, blind Jewish person begging for money. Umar (ra) took him to the Bait-al Mal (Public Treasury) and ordered that they provide him with assistance from the Bait-al Mal and stop collecting the jizya from him. No wonder he was able to sleep safely under a tree!
When Umar ibn Abdul Aziz became the Khalifah, he was seen to be rather gloomy. His servant asked him why he was so sad and worried. Umar replied, "Anyone in my shoes should be so; I must deliver and grant all the nation's citizens all their rights, whether they demand them or not."
Islamic Aqeedah: The Key to Good Governance
By Allah's سبحانه وتعالى leave, the examples of RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم, the Sahabah (ra) and the Khulafah who came after, towers over the current decayed political system that rules our world. Nevertheless, when discussing this issue, we should be clear that the Sahabah (ra) and the righteous Khulafah were products of the Islamic Aqeedah. That is, the mindset of the Sahabah (ra) and those who came after them, was one that was deeply concerned about their accountability to Allah سبحانه وتعالى on the Day of Judgement for their actions. For example, Umar bin al-Khattab (ra) said, "If a goat tripped on the road, I would be afraid that Allah would ask me why you didn't pave the road for her O Umar". Also consider Umar ibn Abdul Aziz who used to cry at night due to the fear of his accountability to Allah سبحانه وتعالى for the "stranger, beggared and straying, and the poor and the needy, and the prisoners in captivity." In other words, the Khulafah did not act justly for the sake of morality or achieving some medal of honour. Rather, they did so because they knew that each of their actions will be scrutinized by Allah سبحانه وتعالى on a Day that will determine whether they will go to Jannah (Heaven) or Jahannam (Hell).
May Allah سبحانه وتعالى re-establish the Khilafah, so that humanity can experience the justice of Islamic Leadership.
وَنَزَّلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ تِبْيَانًا لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةً وَبُشْرَىٰ لِلْمُسْلِمِينَ
"And We have revealed the Book to you as an exposition to all things, a guide, a mercy and glad tidings to Muslims." [An-Nahl, 16:89]