Avarice: The Root of all Corruption
We often hear people say ‘money is not everything but everything needs money’. However, it is hard to deny that we are in a materialistic world. Naturally, in this type of the world, religion has almost no significant role to play in guiding our daily actions. It looks as if all religious or virtuous values passed on by our forefathers based on the noble traditions of the East or the West appear to be too antiquated to be put into practice in this modern age. The age where one’s avidity to pursue his/her own self interest. Profit maximizing and wealth accumulation supersedes everything else. All this seems to be sole motive of almost every twenty-first-century man.
When wealth is the prime objective of one’s life in this world, then all would eventually be of little importance and perhaps, in vain. Truth, justice, honesty could now be compromised and ‘traded’ at a very cheap price agreeable between parties concerned. Virtuous values sooner or later erode one after the other by the great tide of man’s avarice, while on the contrary, the evils could then eventually ‘justifiable’ and possibly exalted provided that they were coated with worldly gains and rewards. At the end of the day, sin and corruptions become widely spread and set to be an epidemic, might as well be like the influence A H1N1 disease!
It is clear that corruption sprout up from man’s avarice and greed for pleasures of various forms: money, wealth, power, prestige, and others. How truly is the Holy Prophet’s saying when utters: “Love of this world is the origin of all sin” (Bayhaqi, Shu’ab al-iman). But a word of caution here though, world in itself is not blameworthy but the man’s extreme greed of the world and putting the world as one’s sole objective of his life that is forbidden in Islam. Man is created not to worship the world and neither is he created to accumulate as much wealth as possible. Rather, man’s role is to worship God alone (al-Dzariyyat 51:56), while this world is supposed to be subservient to him in exercising his duties to worship God. However, if man is heedless of the reality of the world and his approach towards it, then surely the wrath of God and the Prophet would befall upon him, 1n this connection, the Prophet warns: the slave dinar and the dirham (Bukhari, Tirmidhi),
A Muslim must also realize that this world is a mere transit for him in his voyage towards God, His eternal life and perfect bliss would only come after his death, and not in this world. He is hence encouraged to lead his worldly life as though he is traveling for a long voyage as mentioned in one of the Prophetic traditions: “Be in the world though were a stranger or a wayfarer (Bukhari). In commenting on this hadith. the great Muslim jurist Imam Nawawi (d. 676 /1278) says that: “Do not become attached to this world and take it up as a long-time residence. Instead, live in it as does a stranger or traveller in a foreign place”
Love of the world can come under various forms and natures. Craving to accumulate wealth as much as possible is surely one of the main types. Others can include the greed for power to rule, seeking prestige and noble status, deep affection towards luxurious items and so on, All corruption in this world in reality is ultimately traceable to man’s avarice. If man is unable to control his craving for the world, then he would be willing to do anything, not only breaking the laws of the land but even at the expense of defying God’s prohibitions and commandments.
Having said all this, it does not mean that Islam is anti-progress or condones extreme form of asceticism. It is not the question of wealth itself that matters, but rather it is our attitude towards the wealth. Wealth when in the hands of godly and pious people poses no problem whatsoever to himself or to the Ummah as the Prophetic hadith goes: “no harm of wealth in the hands of pious people”.
Today, due to the influence of the Western secular ideas and cultures, Muslims also tend to have a wrong perception of their mission in this world, and the purpose of their existence. The world of Hereafter was gradually removed from the Muslims’ mindsets and heart and they became too obsess with the worldly pleasures. Their love for the world increases unimaginably, unlike the pious people of the first few generations of Islam. The Muslims of today have forgotten the covenant (mithaq) that they had taken before the Almighty God in their spiritual world before they were born. Due to that forgetfulness, man is called ‘insan’ in Arabic, which means ‘the who forgets’.
As said, man is sent to this world to worship God alone. Worshipping is not in its restricted and ritualistic sense of performing ritual activities or counting one’s rosary alone as misunderstood by some deviant groups, but also including maintaining the world and governing it with justice and right cause in the manner enshrined by commandments of God.
Man however, most of the time got swayed and ‘dissolved’ in the pleasures of the world and indulged himself in accumulating wealth after wealth limitlessly, seeking high status and ranks one after the other and so on at the expense of compromising God’s commandments and prohibitions. How many a time we see a person lives beyond his income, drives a luxurious car and lives in a posh area? And on unveiled the secrets that been keeping for so long -he was taking bribery and involving in all kinds of corruption. Likewise cases involving abuse of power, mismanagement of public money, money politics and so on, all leads to one same root cause: avarice.
To handle the problem of corruption in this country or anywhere else in this world for that matter, the issue must begin from elevating the spiritual quality of our workforce to the highest standard possible, preferably to the level of Ihsan (excellence). It is inadequate for an organization only to concentrate on improving the management techniques of the companies, or to upgrade the organizational skills of their staff when their spiritual aspect is left unpurified. Man as the vital component any organization should first be made to realize his real purpose of existence in this temporal world. He should be exposed to the correct understanding of Islamic worldview, and he is ultimately accountable before the Mighty Majestic on the Day of Judgment for all actions he had committed during his temporal life. For one who attains this station, then he would not only be an excellent staff or a loyal citizen, but also more importantly a good man (insan kamil). This is ultimately the real purpose of education, which is not merely to make one a good citizen as erroneously believed by the West as well as their counterparts among the Muslim educationists, but in reality is to make man a good man.
When man is a good man, he is also at the same time a good citizen. The good man then has no in need of rules and regulations to govern him to be honest, trustworthy, hardworking, diligent and so on, for he knows that his real ‘Chief Executive Officer’ (CEO) or Chairman of the company, is not the one sitting in of the top most high floor of his company, but He is The One and Alone, though Unseen but keeps on watching him without fail every moment of his breath. This ‘CEO’ will surely bring forth every single action that he did either good or evil in this world for judgment and accountability in the Next World of al-Akhirah to the extent that not even the minutest atom of action left uncounted: punished or rewarded.