Recent events have been revolutionary in France and have caught widespread media attention on a global scale: it has shown us the power of people once they unite for a cause and the inability of man-made laws to govern and handle the affairs of the masses. With hundreds-of-thousands taking part, many are infuriated about a recent hike in the cost of fuel and living costs. However, such a strong reaction is undoubtedly underscored by a growing agitation against the overarching system that has made life most difficult for the average person.
The recent victory of French President Emmanuel Macron was primarily on a manifesto to solve some of these issues; namely a high unemployment rate, low economic growth and inflated public spending, albeit to no avail, insofar as they continue to persist with little improvement in public prosperity. Recently it was revealed that nine million people have been living below the poverty line, with children accounting for a substantial proportion of this shocking figure. Further still, it was revealed that France, much like the rest of the OECD, is highly unequal, particularly in light of the fact that from 1983 to 2015 the average income of the richest 1% has risen by 100% and that of the 0.1% richest by 150%, as compared with a mere 25% for the rest of the population.
As a result of such injustice, on 17th November 2018, the streets of France saw a swathe of yellow vest protestors, ultimately venting their unanswered frustrations. Too many times have the leaders of the Occident led the public down a dead end, only to capitalise on their demise with a failed system that has merely benefitted the upper echelon of society. In rhetoric we say to the 99%; in maintaining a capitalist system that appeases the 1%, how much sand was in the hourglass before enough was enough – and to what end should this be a recurring phenomenon?
As the people of France continue to march, it would seem they are still without purpose; it is clear they wish for a better economic condition, albeit fail to realise that a simple change in taxation will not solve their problems.
It must be emphasised, that as long as a people continue to rule by a system that is riddled with flaws, they will never achieve true prosperity. Rather, they will forever attempt to fix what was inherently broken.
In this regard, it would not end the French concern, but grant them an ignorant bliss until yet another flaw in the system transpires.
The Islamic economic system is very clear in this regard and provides a solution to the French people that capitalism and the free market is unable to. It considers basic goods such as energy to be exempt from the claws of indirect taxation; goods necessary to be guaranteed by the state. This is perhaps indicative by the following evidences. It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:
“three things cannot be denied to anyone: water, pasture and fire” (Ibn Majah).
In a similar narration, “the Muslims are partners in three, water, pastures and fire” (Ahmed).
Hence it is clear that the ruler within Islam has no right to allow for such commodities to be exclusive.
It is well known that under Islamic rule, basic necessities were catered for and capital was more evenly distributed as a result of wealth based taxation systems – a proposal the French economist Thomas Piketty even suggests would alleviate the disparities in capital. Furthermore, the caliphate thrived economically and had the correct environment to build a stable future, in which its people achieved a great deal of prosperity. Lest we forget, it was the father of the free market himself, Adam Smith, who said that
“…the empire of the Caliphs seems to have been the first state under which the world enjoyed that degree of tranquillity which the cultivation of the sciences requires. It was under the protection of those generous and magnificent princes, that the ancient philosophy and astronomy of the Greeks were restored and established in the East; that tranquillity, which their mild, just and religious government diffused over their vast empire, revived the curiosity of mankind, to inquire into the connecting principles of nature”.
Thus to conclude, the recent French protests are but a mere manifestation of the inherent issues within the existing system that governs the people. So long as such a capricious ideology persists, the people will never be content with the inconsistencies they witness and endure. The protests will persist indefinitely whether on the streets of Paris, in the homes of Lyon or in the hearts of Toulouse, except when Islam comes to replace what failed to achieve justice for the French – and we call them to such an alternative and to embrace it with volition.