Cassetteboy’s YouTube mashup has old Dave announcing pre-election policies such as: “Make sure the toffs stay better off. Make sure the money stops at the top. Take every penny from the hands of the many and give everything to the few,” and while this hints at Cameron’s privileged background, it also highlights the terrible fact of modern governmental miserliness.
Indeed, the Austerity Measures, implemented by the millionaires who currently sit in Cabinet, have seen many men, women and children in Britain fall into the depths of poverty while healthcare, another of Cassetteboy’s chosen topics, is under severe strain due to harsh funding cuts.
And of course Cassetteboy does not fail to hit upon another crucial topic, that instead of taking responsibility for the problems they have caused, the stance taken is to “blame immigration” (or more accurately, blame Islamist “extremists”). But in doing so, might they just be brushing aside a viable solution to society’s problems? As the global economy collapsed in the 2008 Financial Crisis, bankers proclaimed that this would have been prevented had we adopted the Islamic monetary system. What, then, might happen, if those that ran the country decided to look to, rather than away from Islam to solve socioeconomic problems?
The issues that would need addressing are numerous and Cassetteboy highlights some problems that come under the umbrella of economic inequality. Let’s look at a small handful of the concerns here, and what might happen were governments to learn from those they currently class as “extremists”.
For a start, foreign policy would experience possibly the most memorable overhaul in human history. As the media likes to tell us, Islamic nations, like all human nations, have at times expanded and colonised through warfare. However, this strange situation whereby we, nowadays, constantly attack weak, clearly non-combatant individuals in poor countries using weapons that can be operated at a distance is not simply modern. It is also un-Islamic from the point of view of justice, and as we are all aware in the backs of our minds, it is extremely expensive.
Cassetteboy highlights the increased waiting times required to see doctors on the NHS, which is caused by a £2 billion budget deficit. In the meantime, £3.3 billion of taxpayer money is currently being spent on the “Assessment Phase” of a nuclear weapons system which Britain may or may not choose to build. This is just the tip of the iceberg, with the government spending shockingly large sums of cash funding weaponry for other people, such as the Israelis, who use their resources to attack the generally helpless Palestinians, whose homeland has frequently been described as “the world’s largest open air prison.” If our leaders adopted an Islamic stance on warfare then we would ensure Britain had an adequate defence system for itself but this excessive blood thirst would simply dry up.
What would be done with the money saved as a result? Indeed, it would not go straight into the leaders’ own pockets to create another Parliamentary expense scandal while, as Cassetteboy somewhat accurately suggests, our leaders “blame the deficit on people claiming benefits.” While it has been revealed that at least 46 MPs have been using British taxpayer money to fund the cost of hotel fees of £150 a night, the Islamic principle is that in an established society, all tax money must go into a state treasury and to be used for maintenance of the society (infrastructure, schooling etc.,) and into providing incomes for those considered needy, such as the poor, elderly, orphans and the disabled. Personal expenses must come from personal funds. The shaming of benefit claimants and reducing their stipend so that they could barely afford to survive would be unthinkable.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation states that almost one third of households containing a disabled person live in poverty, while the Department for Communities and Local Government published a report showing that homelessness in London alone had increased by 37% over the one-year period of 2013-2014. Perhaps Islam is so feared by many current politicians because historically, properly run Islamic states have had no tolerance for this “rugged individualism” that makes being in need the simultaneous fault and punishment of a particular individual man, woman or child. Indeed, the caliphs of Islam’s earliest days lived simple and austere lives so that their people, regardless of religious affiliation, age, gender and social background, did not have to.
I have not stated references from the Quran and Hadith here as I would typically do because economic affairs come under the broader category of social justice rather than as, for example, a banker’s job description. Moreover, I am not talking about religious specifics here. Fairness is not a religious issue, and that these principles could be applied by our current, non-Muslim leaders. The only difference would be that a genuine Muslim leader would take on the responsibility fearing eternal damnation for improper actions. We must also remember that the Nomadic Arab community, where Islam originated, did not really start to settle and establish itself as a nation. It was after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) that this started to occur. Therefore, we are better off looking to the readily available humanly authored history books rather than to divine sources as a way of learning how state leadership was implemented and carried out.
The second Rightly Guided Caliph, Hazrat Umar, is recorded as using these words to sum up his leadership role: "Allah has for the time being made me your ruler. But I am one of you. No special privileges belong to a ruler. I have some responsibilities to discharge, and in this I seek your cooperation. Government is a sacred trust, and it is my endeavour not to betray the trust in any way. For the fulfilment of the trust I have to be a watch-man. I have to be strict. I have to enforce discipline. I have to run the administration not on the basis of personal idiosyncrasies; I have to run it in public interest and for promoting the public good.”
Take out the religious reference, and you still have the same basic message, that a leader should be trustworthy, responsible and just. Looking at our current model, this is quite a paradigm shift. A further look into the annals of history shows that doing the right thing as leader of a nation meant that Hazrat Umar taxed his people fairly and spent the money as it should have been spent. This was not on bespoke, designer clothing and dinner parties. Rather, money went on ensuring that people lived comfortably in an environment made secure not by CCTV, but by fairness and justice, which was implemented, for example, through the elimination of the financial stress that so often leads desperate people to criminality.
There is a handful of Muslims who, angered by foreign policy, are driven to perform acts of violence, but even they would probably be in agreement with the idea that a leader has no privileges, only a responsibility to ensure that practices are carried out for the benefit of society. And what a frighteningly radical viewpoint that must be for those currently looking down on us from the thrones of Parliament. As Cassetteboy has Cameron saying, “We are not all in this together. We want to help the rich get richer forever,” and in stirring up hatred of Islam rather than learning from it, those in power are, indeed, protecting their position.
If only Cameron and his set could get over the fear of Islam and what it demands we let go of. If only he could embrace its concept of equality. Then he would discover that he would not lose his wealth or even his comfortable lifestyle overnight. We are not in the somewhat poorer Medieval Arabia; having less is not necessary for us. Rather, Cameron and other politicians would discover what it was to spend with wise efficiency as a means of lifting others out of hardship and into the privilege that so many Brits would be able to experience if only they had a little bit of extra money.
As previously mentioned, Islam often talks about state affairs (where finance plays a huge role) in terms of the uncomplicated issue of justice. While I have not felt the need to provide specific religious references to highlight how pertinent Cassetteboy’s message actually is in this short piece, I will end with the following Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), which instructs us how to treat our neighbours (fellow humans):
“Help him if he asks for your help.
Give him relief if he seeks your relief.
Lend to him if he needs a loan.
Show him concern if he is distressed.
Nurse him when he falls ill.
Attend his funeral when he dies.
Congratulate him if he meets any good.
Sympathise with him if any calamity befalls him.
Do not block his space by raising your buildings high without his permission.
Harass him not.” (Sahih Bukhari).