Merriam-Webster defines oppression as:
- unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power
- something that oppresses especially in being an unjust or excessive exercise of power
There is a fundamental problem with this definition. Consider the following verses from Quran:
[20:5] The Most Gracious; He has assumed all authority.
[2:165] Yet, some people set up idols to rival GOD, and love them as if they are GOD. Those who believe love GOD the most. If only the transgressors could see themselves when they see the retribution! They will realize then that all power belongs to GOD alone, and that GOD's retribution is awesome.
The exercise of authority or power by any human being over another human being is at the very outset an attempt to usurp the authority and power of God. God advocates justice and charity. Whenever humans attempt to assume God’s authority, oppression is almost always the result. In God’s system, the human being is sovereign:
[24:55] GOD promises those among you who believe and lead a righteous life, that He will make them sovereigns on earth, as He did for those before them, and will establish for them the religion He has chosen for them, and will substitute peace and security for them in place of fear. All this because they worship Me alone; they never set up any idols beside Me. Those who disbelieve after this are the truly wicked.
Whereas some might confuse sovereign to mean a ruler as in king or queen, consider the additional meanings of the word sovereign, also from Merriam-Webster;
- obsolete : supreme excellence or an example of it
- supreme power especially over a body politic- freedom from external control : autonomy- controlling influence
- one that is sovereign; especially : an autonomous state
If we accept the definition of sovereign to be a supreme power then we have to ignore verse 2:165, which tells us all power belongs to God alone. The additional definitions of sovereign which are in bold above refer to a state of autonomy, a state of independence from outside controlling influences. This is also necessarily the absence of oppression.
God tells us to fight oppression.
[2:191] You may kill those who wage war against you, and you may evict them whence they evicted you. Oppression is worse than murder. Do not fight them at the Sacred Masjid, unless they attack you therein. If they attack you, you may kill them. This is the just retribution for those disbelievers.
The logic of the above verse is that God considers waging war against people and evicting people as forms of oppression. It is not only religious oppression God is telling us to fight.. In fact, the logic of verse 2:191 is telling us the oppressors are disbelievers. Whatever form of oppression they may be imposing is coming from a position of disbelief, so their motives may be completely apart from any religion.
There are many forms of oppression. Please consider this description of economic oppression from Wikipedia:
“The term economic oppression, sometimes misunderstood in the sense of economic sanction, embargo or economic boycott, has a different meaning and significance, and its meaning as well as its significance has been changing over a period of time, and its contextual application. A form of economic oppression is mentioned in a verse of the Hebrew Bible : "And if thou sell ought unto thy neighbour, or buyest ought of thy neighbour's hand, ye shall not oppress one another." On the other hand, in today’s context, economic oppression may take several forms, including the practice of bonded labour in some parts of India; serfdom; forced labour; low wages; denial of equal opportunity; practicing employment discrimination; and economic discrimination based on sex, nationality, race, and religion. ]”
Forced labor is practiced in the American prison system, and this has become a lucrative practice for those in a position to profit from it. Consider the following article: “Judges allegedly took $2.6 million in payoffs to put juveniles in lockups” found at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29142654/.
For-profit prison corporations are proven to maximize their profits through inhumane life styles offered to juveniles with the least amounts of wages. This only brings the true context and definition of slavery in the following verse into reality after more than fourteen centuries of revealing Quran.. Slavery will continue to exist until the end of the world.. the standing and constant command of freeing slaves in Quran is a very realistic one.
[16:75] God cites the example of a slave who is owned, and is totally powerless, compared to one whom we blessed with good provisions, from which he gives to charity secretly and publicly. Are they equal? Praise be to God, most of them do not know.
Please read the following article about "for-profit juvenile incarceration" posted on BET National News, on 5-19-2014 by Dream Defenders, an organization of Black and brown youth fighting for equal rights in Florida:
Low wages are a form of economic oppression, and the political disagreement over what minimum wage should be in the US is only a symptom. God has commanded us in all scripture to be fair and just in commerce.
[17:35] You shall give full measure when you trade, and weigh equitably. This is better and more righteous.
[26:181] "You shall give full measure when you trade; do not cheat.
Capitalism today has become a form of systematic oppression. A brief history of the origin of wage labor is pasted herein as background from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia;
Wage slavery refers to a situation where a person is dependent for a livelihood on the wages earned, especially if the dependency is total and immediate. The term is used to draw an analogy between slavery and wage labor. Some uses of the term may refer only to an "[un]equal bargaining situation between labor and capital,"[ particularly where workers are paid unreasonably low wages (e.g. sweatshops). More controversially, others equate it with a lack of workers' self-management or point to similarities between owning and employing a person, and extend the term to cover a wide range of employment relationships in a hierarchical social environment with limited job-related choices (e.g. working for a wage under threat of starvation, poverty or social stigma. Similarities between wage labor and slavery were noted at least as early as Cicero and Aristotle With the advent of the industrial revolution, thinkers such as Proudhon and Marx elaborated these comparisons in the context of a critique of property not intended for active use. Before the American Civil War, Southern defenders of African American slavery also invoked the concept of wage slavery to favorably compare the condition of their slaves to workers in the North. The introduction of wage labor in 18th century Britain was met with resistance – giving rise to the principles of syndicalism. The use of the term wage slave by labor organizations may originate from the labor protests of the Lowell Mill Girls in 1836. The imagery of wage slavery was widely used by labor organizations during the mid-19th century to object to the lack of workers' self-management. However, it was gradually replaced by the more pragmatic term "wage work" towards the end of the 19th century, as labor organizations shifted their focus to raising wages. - Wikipedia
All forms of oppression are satanic, including slavery. Satan knows this life is temporary, and his true objective is to lead us astray from God and redemption. Therefore at its root, oppression in all forms is intended to divert us from the truth of God and His path, i.e. from God’s true religion. In God’s true religion, we are all sovereign, independent of outside control (by any entity other than God). The following verse points out the connection between oppression and religion:
[2:217] They ask you about the Sacred Months and fighting therein: say, "Fighting therein is a sacrilege. However, repelling from the path of GOD and disbelieving in Him and in the sanctity of the Sacred Masjid, and evicting its people, are greater sacrileges in the sight of GOD. Oppression is worse than murder." They will always fight you to revert you from your religion, if they can. Those among you who revert from their religion, and die as disbelievers, have nullified their works in this life and the Hereafter. These are the dwellers of Hell, wherein they abide forever.
The connection between oppression and religion is found in the motives of our enemy, satan. It should not be surmised that “religious oppression” is the only form of oppression God authorizes us to fight against. All forms of oppression have in truth the same objective (whether the human oppressors are aware or not), which is to divert us from the path of God. The path of God includes individual sovereignty, which means freedom from ALL forms of oppression. Fighting oppression in all of its forms is fighting in the cause of God, since oppression does not come from God but from our most ardent enemy and his followers.
[90:10] Did we not show him the two paths?
[90:11] He should choose the difficult path.
[90:12] Which one is the difficult path?
[90:13] The freeing of slaves.
[9:60] Charities shall go to the poor, the needy, the workers who collect them, the new converts, to free the slaves, to those burdened by sudden expenses, in the cause of God, and to the traveling alien. Such is God's commandment. God is Omniscient, Most Wise.
[2:177] Righteousness is not turning your faces towards the east or the west. Righteous are those who believe in God, the Last Day, the angels, the scripture, and the prophets; and they give the money, cheerfully, to the relatives, the orphans, the needy, the traveling alien, the beggars, and to free the slaves; and they observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat); and they keep their word whenever they make a promise; and they steadfastly persevere in the face of persecution, hardship, and war. These are the truthful; these are the righteous.
Peaceful Friday, salaam and God bless.