Resource Distribution: The Natural Way
The Quran (2:29) says: “It is He who created for you all of that which is on the earth.” I cannot think of a clearer and firmer statement of socialism than this verse.
By Mohammad Aslam Parvaiz
The proper distribution of resources is a much talked-about issue. In this regard, one can gain valuable insights from the world of nature in this case, from plants.
The leaves of a plant is where the process called photosynthesis takes place. In this process, the plant absorbs water from the soil and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. With the help of sunlight, these are converted into sugar. This happens in the green parts of the plant the leaves. The non-green parts of the plant, including the stem and roots, cannot produce sugar.
The plant’s leaves have been blessed by God with the capacity to produce sugar. Once they produce sugar, what do they do? Do they say, “We’ve worked so hard and produced sugar, so we’ll keep it to ourselves” No! As soon as they produce the sugar, which is the plant’s food, they send almost all of it to the non-green parts of the plant.
This happens in accordance with a universal law, which is known as the law of diffusion. According to this law, things move from a regions of high concentration to a region of low concentration. In other words, they move to where there is a need. In this case, sugar moves from the leaves, where it is produced, to the stem and roots of a plant, parts of the plant that do not have the capacity to produce sugar but they need it.
This example of a plant provides us with valuable insights into how resources should be distributed in society. Resources should not be hoarded up by those who possess them. Rather, they should be diffused among others. We should freely share them with those who lack them and need them.
The Quran (2:29) says: “It is He who created for you all of that which is on the earth.” I cannot think of a clearer and more firm statement of socialism than this verse. It is binding on people to share the resources we have been blessed with material as well as non-material resources such as time and abilities with people who aren’t so blessed. But do we do that? Do we bother about orphans, widows, the sick and the poor, even those living in our vicinity?
There is another precious lesson in resource distribution that a plant can teach us. As the plant grows, the number of its leaves increases, and so more sugar is produced. This sugar is more than what is required by the leaves, the stem and the roots. So, then, what does the plant do? It doesn’t hoard this sugar, saying, “I made it, so I’ll save it up.” No! It is satisfied with what it has and doesn’t crave for more. Instead, it transforms the excess sugar into “reserve food” stored in fruits or grains, which it offers freely to whoever needs them!
This is just the way we should relate to the many blessings, material as well as other, that God has blessed us with: we should, of course, avail of them ourselves, but at the same time also freely sharing them with those who need them.
(The author has written extensively on Islam, science and environment. He can be contacted on [email protected])