Following notes on Islamic Social System have been taken from An introduction to Islamic Ideology by Anwar Hashmi.
The foundations of the social system of Islam rest on the belief that all human beings are equal and constitute one single fraternity.
Islam makes clear to all men that they have come from the same parents and are therefore brothers and equal as human beings.
Islam says that if there is any real difference between man and man it cannot be one of race, colour, country or language, but of ideas, beliefs and principles.
All those who join this community will have the same rights and social status. They will not be subjected to any racial, national or class distinctions.
Man’s merit will not depend on his family connections or riches, but only on whether he is better than others in moral conduct or excels others in piety and righteousness.
In Islam anyone who accepts its creed and moral standards can become a member, possessing equal rights with everyone else.
Those who do not accept this creed, while obviously not being received into the community, are treated with tolerance and humanity and guaranteed all the basic human rights.
Institution of Family:
The foremost and fundamental institution of human society is the family unit.
Within the family itself Islam has assigned to the man a position of authority so that he can maintain order and discipline as the head of the household. Discipline can only be maintained through a central authority and, in the view of Islam, the position of father in the family is such that it makes him the fittest person to have this responsibility.
But this does not mean that man has been made a household tyrant and woman has been handed over to him as a helpless chattel. According to Islam the real spirit of marital life is love, understanding and mutual respect. If woman has been asked to obey her husband, the latter has been called on to treat the wife with love, affection and sweetness and to make the welfare of his family his top priority.
Although Islam places great emphasis on the marital bond, it only wants it to remain intact as long as it is founded on the sweetness of love or there exists at least the possibility of lasting companionship. If neither of these two conditions obtain, it gives man the right of divorce and woman the right of separation; and under certain conditions, where married life has become a source of misery, the Islamic courts of justice have the authority to annul the marriage.
After the limited circle of the family, the next social sphere is that of kinship and blood relationship.
Islam wants all those who are related through common parents, common brothers and sisters or marriage to be affectionate, co- operative and helpful to each other.
In many places in the Qur’an good treatment of the near relations (Dhawi-al-Dhawi-al-qurba) is enjoined.
In the Hadith of the Prophet, blessings and peace be on him, proper treatment of one’s blood relations has been strongly emphasised and counted among the highest virtues.
A person who cold-shoulders his relations or treats them indifferently is looked on by Islam with great disfavour.
If such support or bias towards one’s relations results in injustice, it is repugnant to Islam, and is condemned as an act of Jahiliyyah (ignorance).
Similarly, it is utterly against the principles of Islam for a government official or public servant to support his relations at public expense or to favour his kith and kin in his official decisions: this would actually be a sinful act.
After relations come one’s neighbours.
The Prophet, blessings and peace be on him, once said that the rights of the neighbour were so strongly emphasised by the angel Gabriel that he thought neighbours might even share one’s inheritance. (Bukhari and Muslim)
In one Hadith the Prophet, blessings and peace be on him, said: Anyone whose neighbour is not safe from his misdeeds is not a true Believer. (Bukhari and Muslim)
Again, he said: A person who enjoys a meal while his neighbour is starving is not a true Believer. (Ahmad, Baihaqi)
On another occasion he said: A man is really good if his neighbours regard him as such, and bad if they consider him so. (Ibn Majah)
The Prophet, blessings and peace be on him, was once asked about the fate of a woman who performed many Prayers and fasted extensively and who was a frequent almsgiver, but whose neighbours complained of her abusive tongue. He said: Such a woman shall be in the Hell-fire. (Ahmad, Baihaqi)