Eki 1, 2015
3235 Görüntüleme

The Critique of Capitalism in the Light of Qur’anic Verses


This paper argues that the Qur’an must be understood as an anti-capitalist text. The Qur’an contains many verses that declare unequivocally the accumulation of wealth and monopoly ownership, either by the one person or one group, to be highly problematic ethically and socially. Qur’anic verses attend frequently to the issues of ownership and the accumulation of wealth. In the first years of the revelation and particularly before the Prophet’s migration to Mecca, the Qur’an discusses frequently the issue of ownership. Before the migration, the Qur’an taught mainly about the exploitative nature of the existing economic system while, in the post-migration era, the Qur’an laid the foundation of a new system in which the accumulation of wealth and ownership monopoly are central causes of ethical and social degeneration. The Qur’an regards the redistribution of wealth to be both a religious duty and an ethical obligation.


Property, wealth, accumulation, distribution, equality

In this paper I will argue that the Qur’an must be understood as an anti-capitalist text and offer a close reading of Qur’anic verses in support of my argument. I will heavily rely on two of my previous works: Nüzul Sırasına Göre Yaşayan Kur’an-Türkçe Meal Tefsir (transl. The Living Qur’an: A Commentary Based on its Revelatory Context) and Yaşayan Kur’an İlk Mesajlar Nüzul Sırasına Göre ilk 37 Surenin Meal Tefsiri (transl. The Living Qur’an: A Chronological Commentary of the First 37 Chapters).1 The latter lays the foundation of my analysis in the current paper, although I draw also upon a third work in which I present a detailed analysis of the notion of ownership in the Qur’an: Kur’an’a Giriş: Gerçeğe, Hayata ve Topluma Dönüş (transl. An Introduction to the Qur’an: A Return to the Community and Social Life).

My claim for the necessity of an anti-capitalist reading of the Qur’an is made by giv-ing central importance to the close reading of the Qur’anic verses, chapters and stories. I concentrate mainly on verses revealed to the Prophet in the first five years, that is, from the intial stage of the revelation that constitutes the initial messages of the Qur’an. These first messages are highly significant to Islamic understanding of what were the immedi-ate concerns and priorities of the new religion.

More specifically, I will first examine two stories in the Qur’an. The Qur’an often makes use of stories to explain historical events. In this way, the text of the Qur’an becomes the bearer of different messages that are often conveyed through illustrative historical narratives. The first story in the Qur’an that I analyse in this essay is the story of Adam through which the Qur’an presents its philosophy of creation. The second story takes place in al-Qalam, the second chapter of the Qur’an, which, in chronological order, should be the first story in the Qur’an. The latter offers a great insight into the nature of the initial Qur’anic messages.

Let’s start with the story of Adam. All religions and philosophical traditions offer their own narrative of the creation. Such narratives not only give insights about the meaning of life but provide us with directions on how to live the right life. Therefore, the story of creation is especially significant for believers to make sense of the real messages given by any religion. In Judaism, Christianity and Islam the story of creation is entwined with story of Adam. Hence, it is important to see how the Qur’an relates this story. Taha is one of the chapters in which the Qur’an relates the story of Adam in the following manner: ‘Then Satan insidiously whispered to him; he said, “O Adam, shall I direct you to the tree of eternity and a property that will never deteriorate?’’’ (Taha 120).2

Satan tries to deceive Adam. The Arabic words that the Qur’an uses for the tree of eternity are shajaratul khuld. Shajara means a tree but etymologically it is a reference to the aggregation and accumulation of something around itself. The tree is called shajara because it produces leaves and amasses around itself. Also, khuld connotes pushing something to its ultimate limit. Thus, shajaratul khuld signifies the amassment of some-thing around itself as much as is possible. So, what is the purpose in accumulation to the ultimate limit? What does Satan promise to Adam? A property that will never deteriorate. This is how the first human beings were tempted: by the desire to have the ability to ultimately accumulate an indestructible property. This was the means by which Adam and his partner were deceived. What happened to Adam and his wife after they became captivated by their desire for the indestructible property? They were expelled from Paradise. Expulsion from Paradise is not expulsion from a physical place. Rather, the end of paradisical life signifies the accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of one or a few persons or groups. This is how the Qur’anic view expressed the accumulation of wealth in the very story of creation. If one accumulates all the wealth and power in one’s hands one turns paradisical life into hell. This theme has been reiterated in various stories throughout the Qur’an.

The first Qur’anic story is the story of asĥabul janna (the owners of the garden). It is in this story, for the first time, that an historical event is used for conveying a message.3 What is the message of the first story? This is how verses 68/17–29 illustrate the story of asĥabul janna:

Listen carefully! Indeed, We have tried them as We tried the companions of the garden, when they swore to cut its fruit in the early morning. Without taking God into account. So there came upon the garden an affliction from your Lord, it became as though reaped while they were asleep. They called one another at morning: ‘Go early to your crop if you would cut the fruit.’ So they set out, while they were telling one another: Saying, ‘They will surely not enter it today upon you [any] poor person.’ They went early in determination to deprive poor persons. But when they saw the garden, they said, ‘Indeed, we are lost.’ They mumbled ‘definitely it is the right place! But we are the deprived ones.’ The most moderate of them said, ‘Did I not say to you, we shall take our Lord into account?’ When they came to their sense, they said, ‘exalted is our Lord! Indeed, we were wrongdoers’ (al-Qalam 17-29).4

This first story in the Qur’an is about the accumulation of wealth and resultant inequali-ties. The story explains the result of using the land and reaping the harvest without giving any consideration to the other people’s needs. They were punished and their garden was destroyed. If we take a look at the preceding verse we can ascertain the object of the Qur’anic criticism. The verse reads:

He has multiplied his wealth; so what? When Our verses are recited to him, he says, ‘legends of the former peoples’ (al-Qalam 14-16)5

Here the Qur’an refers to wealthy and predatory Meccans who looked down on others and who used to dismiss the Qur’anic verses as the legends of ancient peoples or utopian ideas. The Qur’an recounts the story of the spoiled wealthy owners of the garden, dealing here in the first chapters with the issues of wealth and poverty.6 It has yet to talk about idols.

In the chapter of Takathur, the Qur’an illustrates a dramatic picture of the calamities that might befall on people due to pillage and the accumulation of wealth. This is how the chapter begins:

‘Competition in [worldly] increase diverts you until you visit the graveyards.’7 You will stay in this non-stop race of the accumulating of wealth until you put the final nail in your coffin (At-Takāthur 1-2).8 It means that your race for increasing property will not stop until it amounts to the increase of the number of your dead bodies.

Note that the first verses of the 96th chapter (al-‘Alaq) discuss a similar subject. Al-‘Alaq is the first chapter of the Qur’an revealed to Prophet Muhammad and therefore contains the first messages that the Qur’an brought to humanity.9 It also demonstrates the first kella (no) or protest by the Qur’an. What was the first issue that the Qur’an tried to pro-test or negate? It is in this chapter that the Qur’an identifies a social problem, rebels against it, and makes its refusal unequivocally clear.

The Qur’an in the first of verse of al-‘Alaq states that human beings are created through care and attention or God has created human beings out of care and liking (al-‘Alaq 2).10 Human beings (insan) cannot live the right life when mutual attention one to another is absent. The following verses indicate that a person’s desire for the accumula-tion of wealth makes them transgress and see themselves as self-sufficient’ (al-‘Alaq 6-7).11 Here the Qur’an uses for the first time the word kella (no), that is, to condemn a situation in which people’s lack of care for one another is considered normal. Why? Because a person’s accumulation of wealth affects their relations with others. People come up with all types of rules and transgressions, and establish hegemonic relationships with others. That is why the Qur’an condemns a situation in which the wealthy dominate the rest, oppress and enslave the weak, and turn women into commodities. These are the human behaviours and attitudes to which the Qur’an says no.12 ‘No, when man sees himself self-sufficient (istighna)13 and therefore, he transgresses’ (al-‘Alaq 6-7).14

As we saw, in its first chapter, the Qur’an draws a connection between a person’s wealth and their transgression (tughyan). The Qur’an draws attention to the accumula-tion of wealth which is rooted in human transgression that turns a person into a mustaghni (who is puffed up with his wealth); taghut (transgressor); mustakbir (gasconading bully); zalim (oppressor); mushrik (idolater); jabarut (hegemonic and supremacist); maghrur (arrogant); munkir (denier of the truth).15

All the above terms, in one way or another, reveal that humans are inclined towards privatisation and control whereas the Qur’an opposes the accumulation of wealth or its lack of circulation (al-Ĥashr 7). In a sense, the Qur’an opposes the transformation of wealth into a state power and rejects the state that has become a club for the rich. What Allah has created of worldly gifts should not be monopolised and the poor and indigent should not be denied access to the means of wealth (al-Nahl 71). Not only in its first chapter but throughout, the Qur’an sees the accumulation of wealth in a negative light. In modern times, mustaghni are those who own the means of production, and are share-holders and CEOs in big corporations.

This is why, in chapter 92, the Qur’an instructs people to purify themselves from their desire for the accumulation of wealth since it is deemed to cause arrogance and lack of compassion towards others.16 The above verses highlight the Qur’an’s negative view with respect to both the accumulation of wealth and the economic practices of the Meccans. The Qur’an constantly warns those spoiled rich plunderers who look down on others for their poverty, and cautions that the accumulation of wealth will not save any-one’s life:

As for he who gives and fears Allah. And believes in the best [reward], We will ease him toward ease. But as for he who withholds and considers himself free of need. And denies the best [reward], We will ease him toward difficulty. And what will his wealth avail him when he falls? (92/5-11)17

With these verses, people who belong to the pawnbrokers, merchants and rich classes like Abu Jahl, Walid B. Mughira and Umayya B. Khalef are criticised in strong terms, and in verse 92/18 they are shown the road to purification: only those who give away their own goods would be purified.18 This is a very important point. Purification (tazkiya) comes through not invocation but giving away/sharing what one owns. Tazkiya and zakat come from the same Arabic root. Zakat means both giving away what is in excess and purification.19

Significantly, the Prophet of Islam addressed the people of Mecca for the first time with these verses. This gives important clues about the way the Qur’an describes the order in Mecca. These initial verses show that the Qur’an aims at and criticises the social and economic order, rather than the religious order, in Mecca. The Qur’an does not give an ahistorical and abstract critique of religion or contain an abstract discussion of theism–atheism but, rather, the religious order is criticised in conjunc-tion with, and when used as a way of justifying the ideology of, the social and eco-nomic order.

At this point we may look more closely at the way the Qur’an defines the social order in Mecca. During the jahiliyya/pre-Islamic period, there was a kind of ruthless savage capitalism within which the weak and the unfit were eliminated. In Mecca, the Gang of Ka‘ba, which consisted of seven or eight pawnbroker merchants, were in charge of the fate of the city. These merchants assumed the mission of religious men. They would peculate the goods and gifts—such as sheep, camel, cattle, gold and silver—brought to the Sumer and Babel’s temples by stamping on them ‘God’s property’. With the goods brought to Ka‘ba, they multiplied their riches and accumulated enormous amounts of capital. They formed kervans, travelling to Syria in winter and Yemen in summer. They acted as pawnbrokers with the money they earned this way; loaning money with high interest, slaving those men who failed to pay it off and forcing their wives and daughters into prostitution within the high-class brothels they themselves ran. The Meccan buryied their own daughters alive while they were little, to avoid their falling into the hands of these merchants. The head of this order was a man named Abu Lahab, one of the seven or eight merchants. The Qur’an calls this Yada abu Lahab [The Order of Abu Lahab].20

There was no state in its conventional sense in Mecca. There existed no documents like that of modern stock market regulations. Various deductions (such as 1/5, 1/10 or 1/40) were made from al-an‘am (the presented gifts) to Ka‘ba. All these deductions were made by and went into the pockets of the ‘barons’ of Ka‘ba. There existed the rule of oligarchy led by pawn bankers, human trafficking mafia and those who were involved in trading slaves, prostitution and weaponry (swords, camels, etc.).21 Whoever was not either a member or under the protection of those tribes would be considered ibnus sabil (lit. son of the road; a person stranded during a journey).22 The Qur’an in the al-Masad chapter points to this socio-economic situation when it heralds: ‘Down with Abu Lahab, down with his wealth; his economic gains are no assurance for salvation’ (al-Masad 2).23 Here, it is necessary to pause on the meaning of the word mal. Etymologically the Arabic word mal (commodity, property or wealth) has a common root with the word mail (incli-nation, temptation or a desired thing). As such mal (wealth or commodity) becomes the object of desire (mail). Mal could mean livestock, gold, or any type of asset that, for one reason or another, has not been officiallly recorded. People seek such assets since they turn them into affluent and powerful individuals.

Here I want to point out a paradox. In one of its references to the family of Abraham (Ali Ibrahim), the Qur’an states that we had already given them the Scripture (al-kitab), wisdom (al-hikmah), and conferred upon them a great kingdom (mulkan azima) (Nisa 54). However, the scripture, virtue, wisdom and mulkan azima that were given to the family of Abraham ought not to be confused with mal (wealth). On the contrary, they are qualities manifesting the authority of the family of Abraham over the property (mulk) so that they might share it equally with the rest rather than handling it as a private wealth. What other people, other than the family of Abraham, own is wealth, that is, nothing but the outcome of the accumulation and the urge to deprive others. This is the case since people (other than the family of Abraham) obtain wealth instead of virtue and wisdom and deprive the rest of similar wealth. The case in point is Abu Lahab who had obtained and acquired mal (maluhu wa makasab). In this sense the Meccan economic system was a wealth-based system whereas the Qur’an tried to replace a community that thought of nothing but collecting money, thanks to being in the vicinity of Ka‘ba, with one that concerned itself with its distribution rather than accumulation. The Meccan community needed considerable purification.24

In the mind of the wealthy Meccan, wealth belonged exclusively to the owner. The owner had both metaphysical and ontological rights of absolute ownership. It was beyond their imagination that the poor might also have some right in what they had accumulated. ‘No, they did not encourage the feeding of the poor’ (al-Ĥāqqah 34). And ‘withheld simplest assistance’ (al-Mā`ūn 7) because ‘if Allah had willed, He would have fed them; it is not our business’, they would protest. Wealth was treated as the divine right of the owner who was allowed to handle it as they pleased. No one would have requested the distribution of wealth or questioned where it came from, thereby to ‘obstruct any investment’.25

It seems necessary to share a few more verses from the Qur’an on the subject of the distribution of wealth and property. The first verse that I am going to analyse here is 11/87 which attends to the story of Shu‘ayb, one of the messengers of God, who was interrogated by his people when ‘they said, “O Shu‘ayb, does your prayer command you that we should … not do with our wealth what we please?’’’26 This verse is an outright dismissal of the liberal capitalist notion that advocates the absolute freedom of individu-als to do with their wealth and property whatever pleases them. According to this world-view, no one has a say in how an individual might spend, distribute or profit since private ownership is considered a sacred right. This verse refutes the liberal capitalist assump-tion of limited resources but unlimited needs. The biological structure of humans is well-known and has limitations. We can eat and drink only so much. Hence our needs are limited and yet we have an unlimited urge for monopoly and hoarding. Through their advertisements, large corporations create false needs in us as they impose their consum-erist culture. By contrast, verse 11/87 puts a limit to our ownership when it states that ‘you cannot do with your wealth whatever it pleases you’.27

Verse 59/7 narrows down the limits of personal ownership yet further transforms the subject of distribution into a political one when it declares ‘for the wealth not to be a perpetual distribution among the rich from among you’.28 That is to say, it must not be turned into a capitalist state or rich club but, rather, all the wealth shall be distributed until it becomes public property in its entirety, as explained in 16/71. It reads: ‘The rich would not hand over their provision to those whom their right hands possess so they would be equal to them therein. Then is it the favor of Allah they reject?’29 This verse talks unequivocally about sharing and uses the word equality (sawa’un).30

Verse 2/219 delineates the limits of private ownership: ‘They ask you what they should give out. Say, “The excess beyond needs”.’31 The concept of ‘needs’ connotes basic requirements such as food, clothing and shelter. ‘You give out whatever exceeds those basic requirements.’32 This verse is a response to the enquiry made on the subject by one of the companions of the Prophet of Islam, after his migration to Medina where, even though the people of Medina were aware that they were required to give out their wealth, they were not clear on its scopes and limits. The Qur’an’s response was clear and speaks of ‘the excess beyond needs’. This is extremely significant. The Prophet tries to create a new order and the above verse lays down the foundation of the new economic system. So, in the newly founded state, people will distribute whatever exceeds their basic needs, and the wealthy would not be frightened to become economically on an equal footing with the poor.

Hence, it becomes clear that the prophetic mission is to create such an egalitarian order. The initial verses in the Qur’an which coincided with the commencement of the prophethood of Muhammad, read: ‘O! You who covers himself with a garment, arise and warn, and your Lord glorify, and uncleanliness avoid, and do not confer favor to acquire more (al-Muddaththir 1-6).’33 The Prophet of Islam had lost his parents and grew up as an orphan. The social conditions of Mecca were bothersome to him. Therefore he actively sought a condition acceptable to his conscience and chose a life in the mountains that was more conducive to his inward journey, far from the dirty city streets and its sinful night life. Yet, the above verses (al-Muddaththir 1-6) warned Muhammad to put an end to his self-isolation. It was time for Muhammad to break his silence and to lead and revive the sense of justice and humanity. He was told by his God that he had received the same call which Abraham, Moses and Jesus had received before him. It was the time for him to heed the divine call, shake the existing order to replace it with a new one. This was not a call for world conquest as we know it. Without a rich inner world, great spirit and sensitive conscience one cannot offer anything to the world. The force for change is in one’s inner world and, in the absence of a beautiful ethic and a great content of character, the exterior world cannot be changed. You must first stay away from evil in order to be able to bring justice to a world that is wrought with injustice. You must first stay away from evil to renew the sense of friendship and integrity in those cities that are rotten with prevalent immorality. Relive your communal life, visit towns and communities. Follow and reinforce good, and avoid evil in all its forms.

Do not confer favour to acquire more. Do not think that you can use prophethood as a springboard to wealth and ownership. Do not act like religious barons who exchange God’s teachings for worldly gains. Merely work to spread good and please God. Do not turn religiosity into a ground for the birth of a new social class. Destroy the religious oligarchy in Ka’ba, which breeds on the exploitation of divinity. Beware that religion is neither a corporation nor revelation a commodity. A messenger of God cannot act like a broker. Nor are his followers his customers. It is your mission to dissolve whatever reli-gious organisation exploits religion and shortsells it for worldly gains.34

Declare that God is the greatest. Against whom did the Prophet declare the greatness of God? Against the clergymen of Mecca and the tribal lords around Mecca who thought of themselves as invincible. This was not an abstract or a purely metaphysical postulation.35

The wealthy and powerful who have the economic and political upper hand that leads them to the heights of their arrogance, act like gods and assume that their wealth, power and noble ancestry give them a license to exploit and ignore every moral principle.

Allah declares that ownership belongs to God in its entirety. This is how God destroys the bases of arrogance and all other false assumptions that causes people to think that they are superior to the rest.36 Verse 7/158 in the Qur’an lays down the basic principle with regard to ownership. It declares that the ownership, in its entirety, belongs to Allah since He can be neither reified in the material world nor represented by any persons, groups or institutions. God belongs to the whole of humanity. To say that ownership belongs to God means that it belongs to all. Because in the Islamic tradition when some-thing belongs to God no one can have personal claim over it. When it is declared that the water belongs to God no one can sell that water because it belongs to all. If water, moun-tains, stones, or any other material property is recognised as the property of God it will automatically become public property.37

Chapter 89 of the Qur’an reminds us how the Pharaoh and the like pillage, exploit and have a dismissive attitude towards justice:

Have you not considered how your Lord dealt with ‘Aad? [With] Iram—who had lofty pillars,

The likes of whom had never been created in any land,

And [with] Thamud, who carved out the rocks in the valley,

And [with] Pharaoh, owner of the pyramids,

[All of] whom oppressed within the lands, And increased therein the corruption,

So your is aware of all things… (Fecr 1-13).38

In the remaining part of the paper, I intend to discuss a few more verses from the Qur’an in order to draw a fuller picture of its anti-capitalist orientation. However, I have to first explain a few key terms for the reader to make a better sense of those verses. The first term I intend to explain is tughyan which comes from the word root taghi: the overflow of water, going astray, going too far, injust conduct or becoming despotic. In its Qur’anic sense the word tughyan signifies the accumulation of power and wealth in the hands of one person or in one place, which results in the misuse of power and transgression.

Ownership monopoly over land and property (mulk) produces its own limitations, demar-cations, prohibitions and hegemonic power relations. This is the case since ownership is naturally the source for the accumulation of wealth and power. That is why the Qur’an calls such a hegemonic power relation tughyan, which is rooted in private ownership. Taghut from the same root word means someone who goes beyond all acceptable limits, a false god, tyrants or despots. Because, in one way or another, all the above characters transgress.

Fasad is another term that deserves some attention. Etymologically, fasad connotes smelling and rotting. In its Qur’anic sense, fasad means corruption. In the Qur’an, pil-laging the land of God and causing inequality among people is considered fasad. As we saw earlier, God refers to what Iram, Pharaoh and Thamud had done as fasad. Iram had lofty pillars, Thamud had carved out the rocks in the valley, and Pharaoh had built the pyramids. They all showcase the grandeur of power and wealth in the most spectacular forms. They all usurped the land of God or public property. This is exactly what the Qur’an means by fasad.39

The Qur’an warns that the Lord is aware of all happenings. It also warns that He will bring day and night to testify against any wrongdoing. God exhorts that man’s intention takes the form of action before God and there is nothing that the likes of ‘Ad, Iram, Thamud or Pharoah have done that could go unnoticed. In the very same chapter, the Qur’an explains: ‘And as for the son of man, when his Lord tries him and [thus] is gener-ous to him and favors him, he says, “My Lord has honored me.” But when He tries him and restricts his provision, he says, “My Lord has humiliated me’’’ (al-Fajr 15-16).40 If we pay enough attention to the revelatory context of the verses, we can see who falls into the category of ‘son of man’. In fact, they were the elites of the community or religious pawn-brokers of Mecca. They referred to God as ‘my Lord’ and they used to swear to the Lord Ka‘ba. One of these people was Walid ibn Mughira who once, in the pre-Islamic era (Jahiliya), tried to renovate Ka‘ba. He declared that he would accept only legimate money (halal) for the renovation. Abu Jahl, another religious aristocrat in Mecca, would always take ablution, pray, circumambulate Ka‘ba, give out 1/40 from his wealth, fast, replace the Kiswah, cloth that covers the Ka’ba and distribute water to the pilgrims.41 Hence, the verse refers to a type of religious person who believes in God and yet worships his own wealth and property. Nonetheless, when they obtain wealth and property they say, ‘my Lord has honored me’. They consider it a special favour from God. But when something happens to them they say, ‘my Lord has humiliated me’. As if God is obliged to bless them regardless. So, if He does not, they think He has betrayed them.

The Qur’an rejects such a theology or a religious worldview: ‘No! But you do not honor the orphan. You do not encourage one another to feed the poor. You consume whatever you receive, devouring [it] altogether. You love wealth with immense love’ (89/17-20). It appears that the main concern of Islam was not taking ablution, praying, circumambulating Ka‘ba, or fasting. These verses clearly demonstrate what Islam negated in its first messages.

It is evident that the violation of the principle of equal distribution of wealth and prop-erty constitutes one of the fundamental criticisms that the Qur’an makes of its contem-porary society. In fact, according to verse 40/10, everything on earth must be shared equally: ‘He placed on the earth firmly set mountains over its surface, and He blessed it …without distinction for all’.42 Here, the Qur’an clearly states that all that has been cre-ated on earth has to be shared by all. Therefore, inequality on earth has nothing to do with the will of God. The equality is ordained by Allah, and an equal socio-economic condi-tion is contrary to God’s will and favour.

Conclusion and Assessment

In this paper, I tried to illustrate the Qur’anic approch to the monopoly of wealth and property. I also tried to show that the Qur’an preaches and requires Muslims to take an anti-capitalist moral and political stance. The verses that I examined here are mostly the ones that were revealed in the first five years of the revelation of the Qur’an. As such it becomes clear what the Qur’an and the Prophet of Islam had prioritised. Also, for them, what did constitute the most urgent problem that deserved an immediate solution: god-lessness or social justice? Begining with the first revealed chapter in the Qur’an, all the verses address the moral and social dangers resulting from the monopoly of property and wealth. Hence, the Qur’an does not concern itself with an abstract religious faith, theism, atheism and so on. On the contrary, it concentrates on the accumulation of wealth and property and equal distribution. In all its stories and each historical example, the Qur’an criticises every social order in which its spoiled wealthy elites tried to find a divine jus-tification for their own social status. Based on the teachings of Qur’an, no social order founded on a monopoly of wealth and property can be regarded Islamic or religious. That is why the Qur’an harshly criticises those who observed all religious rituals in pre-Islamic Mecca but neither fought poverty nor avoided the exploitation of others. Therefore, an Islamic anti-capitalist critique might first and foremost be directed against self-righteous, pious Muslims. It is the case, since the Qur’anic criticism in the Muhammadan era is equally applicable to the practices and religious perspectives of modern Muslims.


Dr. Kamal Soleimani is the translator of this article. He is teaching at Mardin Artuklu University, Department of Anthropology. Dr. Kamal Soleimani also helped İhsan Eliaçık a lot in editing the article.

1. All published by Insa Yayinlari, Istanbul, in 2007, 2006 and 2011 respectively.

2. R. İhsan Eliaçık, Nüzul Sırasına Göre Yaşayan Kur’an Türkçe Meal Tefsir (İstanbul: İnşa Yayınları, 2008), p. 230.

3. R. İhsan Eliaçık, Kur’an’a Giriş: Gerçeğe, Hayata ve Topluma Dönüş (İstanbul: İnşa Yayınları, 2011), p. 221.

4. Eliaçık, Nüzul Sırasına Göre Yaşayan Kur’an Türkçe Meal Tefsir, p. 36.

5. Eliaçık, Nüzul Sırasına Göre Yaşayan Kur’an Türkçe Meal Tefsir, p. 36.

6. Eliaçık, Kur’an’a Giriş, p. 221.

7. Eliaçık, Kur’an’a Giriş, p. 221.

8. Eliaçık, Nüzul Sırasına Göre Yaşayan Kur’an Türkçe Meal Tefsir, p. 79.

9. Eliaçık, Nüzul Sırasına Göre Yaşayan Kur’an Türkçe Meal Tefsir, p. 220.

10. Eliaçık, Nüzul Sırasına Göre Yaşayan Kur’an Türkçe Meal Tefsir, p. 30.

11. Eliaçık, Nüzul Sırasına Göre Yaşayan Kur’an Türkçe Meal Tefsir, p. 30.

12. Eliaçık, Kur’an’a Giriş, p. 220.

13. Istighna (the desire for becoming wealthy) comes from the word ghina (wealth and prosperity); ghani (self-sufficient, prosperous, tycoon, well-to-do); ghanimat (booty, what is taken from an enemy in time of war). Eliaçık, Kur’an’a Giriş, pp. 20–21.

14. İhsan Eliaçık, Yaşayan Kuran İlk Mesajlar: Nüzul Sırasına Göre İlk 37 Sure’nin Meal Tefsiri, 2nd edn (İstanbul: İnşa Yayınları, 2012), p. 20.

15. Eliaçık, Kur’an’a Giriş, p. 21.

16. ‘He who gives [from] his wealth to purify himself.’ Qur’an, 92/18.

17. Eliaçık, Kur’an’a Giriş, p. 97.

18. Eliaçık, Kur’an’a Giriş, p. 99.

19. Eliaçık, Kur’an’a Giriş, p. 100.

20. Eliaçık, Kur’an’a Giriş, p. 81.

21. Eliaçık, Kur’an’a Giriş, pp. 81–82.

22. Literally yed is hand in Arabic. Yeda means two hands and is an idiomatic expression which signifies authority or power. The Qur’an says ‘Dry up both hands of Ebu Leheb’ which means down with his power and authority.

23. Eliaçık, Kur’an’a Giriş, p. 80.

24. Eliaçık, Nüzul Sırasına Göre Yaşayan Kur’an, p. 54

25. Eliaçık, Nüzul Sırasına Göre Yaşayan Kur’an, p. 84.

26. Eliaçık, Nüzul Sırasına Göre Yaşayan Kur’an, p. 405.

27. Eliaçık, Kur’an’a Giriş, p. 225.

28. Eliaçık, Nüzul Sırasına Göre Yaşayan Kur’an, p. 825.

29. Eliaçık, Nüzul Sırasına Göre Yaşayan Kur’an, p. 607.

30. Eliaçık, Kur’an’a Giriş, p. 226.

31. Eliaçık, Nüzul Sırasına Göre Yaşayan Kur’an, p. 717.

32. Eliaçık, Kur’an’a Giriş, p. 226.

33. Eliaçık, Yaşayan Kur’an İlk Mesajlar, p. 50.

34. Eliaçık, Nüzul Sırasına Göre Yaşayan Kur’an, p. 55.

35. Eliaçık, Yaşayan Kur’an İlk Mesajlar, pp. 52–53.

36. Eliaçık, Nüzul Sırasına Göre Yaşayan Kur’an, p. 550.

37. Eliaçık, Nüzul Sırasına Göre Yaşayan Kur’an, p. 224.

38. Eliaçık, Yaşayan Kur’an İlk Mesajlar, pp. 104–105.

39. Eliaçık, Yaşayan Kur’an İlk Mesajlar, p. 106.

40. Eliaçık, Yaşayan Kur’an İlk Mesajlar, p. 108.

41. Eliaçık, Yaşayan Kur’an İlk Mesajlar, p. 108.

42. Eliaçık, Nüzul Sırasına Göre Yaşayan Kur’an, p. 317

Studies in Christian Ethics

2015, Vol. 28(4) 391–401

© The Author(s) 2015

Reprints and permissions:


DOI: 10.1177/0953946814565979



English · Makale · Yazılar