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Islamic Movement

Land Ownership: The Islamic Movement Perspective

Imran Khan

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A burning issue currently occupying the minds of South Africans and the world generally relates to land ownership. The main arguments are:

1. Historical ownership of the land vesting with the “indigenous populations”;

2. Historical dispossession of the land from the “indigenous populations” and

3. Land restitution to the “indigenous populations” followed by reparations favoring them.

Since 1492, (this date is important because it was after the defeat of the Muslims who heretofore kept the colonial hordes of Europe in check that colonialism spread), attempts to deal with the land question have seen people align themselves with special interest groups to either further their self-interests or some mutual benefit among the elite after which a compromised discourse developed on the basis of such pre-conceived partisanship to the disadvantage of the general populations.

As one attempts to re-structure society with justice at its core, one is compelled to create a society in which no person or group has privilege, special rights, advantages, or immunity. In order to achieve this, it is inescapable that the guidance of mankind’s Maker and Creator—the source of justice—be central to such discussion.

The result of trying to solve the land ownership issue outside the Divine paradigm has resulted in unending misery and instability irrespective of whether ownership of the land has been transferred to the “indigenous populations” or not. In its most despicable manifestation, the defeatist mentality posits that land ownership is pre-destined and the second coming of Christ will restore justice. This argument advocated mainly by zionist Christians has rendered them supporters of contemporary zionist Jews who historically were responsible for committing deicide, i.e. nailing their lord, god and savior Jesus Christ to the cross. (This is according to their theology, not the Qur’an).

Zionist Christians in blind support for zionist Jews has resulted in colonization of the Holy Land and on-going genocide in Palestine. Astonishingly, zionist Muslim rulers are plugged into this scheme as well and find it normal and natural to support this zionist Israel monstrosity.

Also, lower on the scale of despicability one may consider a form of “restitution” implemented for some oppressed peoples that goes to the extreme of designating other oppressed people second class citizens. Due to the rise of jingoistic Nationalism, reparation policies of expropriation without compensation are implemented. Such was the case in Uganda. Currently, South Africa has an undeclared policy of discrimination where people not of a certain color are treated as second class citizens and marginalized. It is irrelevant if one hailed from a community that sacrificed life, limb and resources alongside the “racial/ethnic majority” for the purpose of terminating the rule of the pre-1994 ignocratic Apartheid regime not to mention that a presence in South Africa dating back many generations and centuries is also irrelevant. This discriminatory state of affairs forces one to engage this burning question with the focus on: 1. The dominant positions regarding land ownership in South Africa; and 2. The Divine paradigm on land ownership in the World.

The Dominant Positions Regarding Land Ownership

One dominant position asserts that “to our utmost knowledge, the land belongs to the dead, the living and the unborn. We know that the land is not a commodity to be bought and sold, it’s a spiritual asset that attach us to our ancestors.” The mainstream Pan-Africanist real and genuine agenda is aimed at returning the land to its rightful owners, the Africans. Hence, it is important to know who is an African as defined by Pan-Africanism. In Robert Sobukwe’s words, “we aim, politically, as government of the Africans by the Africans, for the Africans, with everybody who owes his only loyalty to Africa and who is prepared to accept the democratic rule of an African majority being regarded as an African.” Land was the inalienable right of the indigenous African people. Africa was for Africans. This unambiguously answers the question of who is an African.

According to remnants of the colonizer we come to ridiculous flattery: South Africa’s history of racial dispossession has left the country with skewed patterns of ownership that excludes the majority of South Africans from land assets and inclusion in rural economies. The Democratic Alliance (DA) goes on to say “if the ANC truly cared about giving land back to South Africans, it would start with the more than 4,300 state-owned farms and nearly 2 million hectares of state owned land that can be redistributed to black land beneficiaries immediately.” They flirt with 2 million hectares out of 122 million hectares and the 1913 Land Act but remain silent about the land pre-1913 and privately owned land in the colonizer’s hands!

The openly zionist supportive DA-mimicking the Israeli propaganda machine that tries to make believe that the conflict began on October 7, 2023 and it is serious about sharing the land as per the two-state solution, says “There is no doubting that the 1913 Land Act was apartheid’s original sin and that people were deprived of land ownership. There is also no doubt that land must be given to the people by an effective and efficient land redistribution policy.”

According to the ANC, South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white. In contra-distinction to the Capitalist/Colonizer political parties like the DA that posits private land ownership, it talks about state ownership that will render poor South Africans permanent tenants on state-owned land. In true neo-colonial fashion, the ANC allows the population to be mentally foggy. Expenditure on alcoholic beverages amounted to 56.6 billion rands in 2011. The average price for high-end irrigated farms in South Africa is around R200,000/hectare. In September 2018, the total land used for commercial agriculture was 46,4 million hectares, which represents 37.9% of the total land area of South Africa (122.5 million hectares).Over the last 30 years 1.7 trillion rands could have been spent on acquiring 9 million hectares or 20% of the South African commercial agriculture land mass as opposed to remaining impoverished while financially empowering the colonialists.

Due to the zionist inspired media’s bid to increase social unrest, there is no end to scapegoating. We are constantly reminded by senseless statistics that the state owns 14-21% of land; and Whites own 72% of agricultural and erven (usually urban) land with 4%, 14% and 5% owned by African, Coloreds and Indians respectively. It is astonishing to note that while the combined ownership of agricultural and erven land totals 37million hectares out of the total South African land mass of 122 million hectares, the ownership of the remaining 85 million hectares is unknown! South Africa is now on the tipping point. Rampant violent crime, failing government, non-existent morality compounded by greed and envy makes for a cocktail of anarchy, not revolution! In Marxist description, the hungry peasants are ready to die in a war that will not benefit them.

Now that the reader has a glimpse into the mess that has arisen out of South Africa’s colonial past and its experiments with Communism/Socialism/Capitalism to feel its way out, the question arises: what has Islam to offer? Before answering this question, it is important to deal with the artificial construct of “indigenous populations”.

Due to lack of reliable statistics, we begin in the year 1800. In 1800, the population of South Africa was approximately 1.44 million. With the South African land mass being 122 million hectares each person would have approximately 84 hectares (840000 sqm or 336 football fields). In the 1800s, most land was not permanently inhabited as societies were agrarian and nomadic. Today, assuming that 87.5% of the land is uninhabitable or reserved for public utility and servitude, each person could have land the size of one football field if 12.5% of the land is divided into a population of 62 million. Clearly, the issue then is not related to land shortage that necessitates that land ownership be largely or exclusively in the hands of “indigenous populations”.

So, any solution revolving around “indigenous” land ownership is useless insofar as providing a harmonious solution. Rather taking on another color variation, the argument appears useful to perpetuate a hegemonic notion, the domination of one people over another and ultimately ensuring a state of insecurity and instability based on yet another artificial division i.e. "indigenous" versus "immigrant".

So, if land shortage is not the issue, then what is the issue? Has the colonial attitude made its way into the psyche of the once oppressed peoples of South Africa? Has “Never Again” become mentalized, nationalized and reserved for a new type of “Chosen People”? Future events may shed light on these questions.

What has been written above is not peculiar to South Africa. Readers are encouraged to perform a similar analysis in their artificial nation-states where they will find these observations equally applicable.

Now let us return to the question: what does Islam have to offer?

The Divine Paradigm on land ownership

The Islamic ideology and world-view pertaining to the land question is that first and foremost land is the possession of Allah. (Al Qur’an 2:184, 5:17). As such, it is Allah who determined that the inheritors of the Earth be His righteous subjects (21:105) not those who spread corruption and oppression on earth. These righteous subjects of Allah may be sincere followers of Prophets Musa and Isa and not exclusively the followers of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). That is because what is naturally moral and decent is common to sincere adherents of the teachings of Prophets Musa and Isa as well.

Thus, they have the Allah-ordained right to inherit the earth. There is no Divine right extended to any indigenous people solely on the basis of geographic origin. Goliath was once upon a time indigenous to the Holy Land but he and his superpower army were vanquished by a force, the Isra’eeli followers of Prophet Musa who originated from Africa (2;246-251). This Isra’eeli force that originated from Africa subsequently betrayed their covenant with Allah and were replaced (5:20-26). Prophet Yusuf who was “indigenous” to the Holy Land returned to Africa as a slave. He was established on the seat of power there (12:56) due to his righteousness, knowledge, talent, wisdom and experience. This is because the inheritors of the earth are honorable people of substance who become the representatives and extensions of Allah’s Will on Earth not being inheritors of the earth due to geographic origin.

The inheritors of the earth who become the representatives and extensions of Allah’s Will on Earth are described by two descriptions: grace and mercy (3:159, 18:65, 21:107), and utility based on equal opportunity (45:13, 22:37). These descriptions of grace, mercy and utility based on equal opportunity is pre-conditioned on non-aggression. This is most unlike the policies of the zionist Israelis who are absolutely merciless. Or the Indian Hindutva who themselves being indigenous to India have no legitimacy as they brutally attack their fellow “indigenous” countrymen.

The same illegitimacy would characterize any group invoking the description of “indigenous” to camouflage their Nationalism and confer the status of “Chosen People” upon themselves and begin a process of systematic exclusion of other people on the basis of color, geographic origin, ethnicity, language, gender, etc. It may be timely to recall (at this point) the words of the martyr Syed Qutb, (who hailed from Africa but is an Arab in the linguistic sense, not in the ethnic and racial sense), who said “Allah did not send Islam to replace Roman or Persian supremacism with Arabian supremacism.” Taqwa, i.e. the accelerated consciousness of Allah’s power presence and good actions was the over-riding criterion that would replace all other considerations. It is for this reason that the struggle of the Palestinians is near and dear to not only Muslims but decent people across the world. Should the Palestinians turn to low-life habits of the Israelis they will lose support of the Muslims first and foremost.

Finally, while some Arabians could not surmount their racism nor imbibe the Islamic world-view on justice, fairness and equality, the Qur’an transformed other Arabians into a community who were willing to not only accept people from a distant place but go the extra mile to give them preferential treatment. These “indigenous” people of Madinah who were influenced by the ideology of Islam were able to transcend place of origin as a basis of solidarity and elevate themselves to preferring political exiles who as a result of pursuing justice were expelled from their homeland notwithstanding that they (being “indigenous) at times were more deserving of necessities than the ‘foreign” political exiles (59:9).

By now, it should be clear that the Islamic position on land ownership rests on a fundamentally different basis that is even diametrically opposed to the positions promoted in the dominant discourse. Muslims are called upon to expound on the Islamic solution to a festering impasse in a society that is in dire need of a solution that integrates justice with mercy and sharing with caring. It is an existential imperative that the oppressed people not divide ourselves.

Article from

Crescent International Vol. 53, No. 10

Jumada' al-Ula' 17, 14452023-12-01

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