The root causes of the abuse of power

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Muhammad H. al-'Asi

Jumada' al-Akhirah 28, 1431 2010-06-11

Bismillah Ar-Rahmaan Ar-Raheem. Alhumdulillah. Peace and blessings on Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wa alihi wa sallam), his Noble Companions and Family. Dear Committed brothers, dear committed sisters,

One of the subjects that has been omitted from the Mimbar and from public attention is the issue of wealth and money. Many ayaat and ahadith inform/enlighten/show us the way on this matter because it is a very crucial/defining issue. To put it very concisely- money and wealth belong to Allah. Anyone who reads the ayaat in the Qur’an and the statements of Allah’s Prophet, (and we’ll be quoting some of them), and when we put all of this information together, we’ll come to realise that whatever possessions/assets we may have doesn’t belong to us. This is the easiest way to clear the air on this issue before we go into the details. But brothers and sisters committed Muslims: we don’t have an Islamic psychology/society/value system that is working. We have a lot of things on paper/in our minds, but for practical purposes the social psychology/public opinion in the Muslim realm acts as if whatever they have belongs to them and if they want to give of whatever they “have” they are doing someone a favour. That is what we have. We are not supposed to be like this but unfortunately that is what we have and this attitude/behaviour does not belong to Allah and His Prophet. We don’t care if someone can pray day and night, fast until hunger overwhelms them (and) do all of these mechanical issues that they do, but as long as they carry in them and parade their behaviour that tells us and everyone else that whatever they have “belongs to them” they are in violation of what Allah and His Prophet are saying. We do own things. Let’s not be carried away/become detached from reality. Every person owns things. Whatever these things you may own- money/land/a business- but there is a difference between having something in your ownership that you know doesn’t belong to you and having things in your possession that you think belong to you. There are two different attitudes/personalities here. A Muslim who is moulded by the meanings of the Qur’an and the words of Allah’s Prophet knows whatever he owns is utility ownership meaning that whatever you have is for utility purposes. You don’t have something that you hide/hoard/monopolise. What you have- in a transitional sense, because we said these things belong to Allah- and as long as they are in your control they are for utility purposes. You are to use them to satisfy your needs and if you’ve satisfied your needs and if there is a need in society, what you have goes as a utility to answer the needs of society. Otherwise, if whatever you have stagnates and is not put to social use, it becomes a reason for the false psychology that you begin to take on. That false psychology that may dwell in an Islamic traditional appearance leads to arrogance, abuse and the concentration of power. This is what happens when what we have are no longer utilised for the benefit of our larger self. Allah in an ayah, the thirty-third ayah in Surah An Nur says (and) the words here are intended for obeying Muslims

وَآتُوهُم مِّن مَّالِ اللَّهِ الَّذِي آتَاكُمْ ٌۚ

… and give them (meaning those who are in need) of what Allah has given you … (Surah An Nur verse 33)

If you think through this ayah, you begin to realise that what Allah has given you is transient/temporary and it has to go beyond you, unless there is no longer any need in society. We don’t know of any society- we may have locals/limited areas in which there is no need- it’s possible; but back then when Muslims were Muslims with their commitment and obedience to Allah, this need in society withered away. But if you look at today’s world, even these so-called affluent societies- we live in an affluent society and if you look at the GDP per capita and do the arithmetic, you realise that this is a rich society; but even though it is a rich society there are still people who are in need.

Another ayah in Surah Al Hadid says

آمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَأَنفِقُوا مِمَّا جَعَلَكُم مُّسْتَخْلَفِينَ فِيهِ

Be committed to Allah and His Messenger and spend of what He has made you heirs to/deputised its responsibility to you … (Surah Al Hadid verse 7)

The money/wealth/riches/treasures/fortunes, whatever you may have, Allah is saying

وَأَنفِقُوا مِمَّا جَعَلَكُم مُّسْتَخْلَفِينَ فِيهِ

… spend out of that … (Surah Al Hadid verse 7)

Allah is culturing a psychology that spends, (which is), opposite to the psychology we have today. The practical psychology we have is a psychology that wants to make money and keep that money to its own self. The psychology that we are reading about in the Qur’an and Sunnah is a psychology that makes money and passes it on. There’s a difference between these two! So Allah is linking our behaviour of spending to our commitment to Allah and His Prophet, so the inference is that you can’t be committed and then withhold your hand i.e. “I’m not going to give/spend/contribute/donate.” Well- if that is your attitude, you are in violation of your spoken commitment. That’s all it becomes i.e. a spoken commitment! No action! No behaviour! No social change! None of that occurs! Why? Because you limit yourself to words. We go beyond just wealth in the liquid/financial sense of the word. Of course, that’s an aspect of wealth. There are natural resources in this world. Can someone come and say “these natural resources belong to me?” Of course there’s no foundation for that in Allah’s and His Prophets words. No individual/group of individuals/tycoon/Corporation can claim natural resources. The abundance of these natural resources were intended for the human race. The ayah in Surah Ar Rahman says

وَالْأَرْضَ وَضَعَهَا لِلْأَنَامِ

He has placed the Earth for everyone. (Surah Al Rahman verse 10)

Not for Corporations, Capitalists, money-makers and profiteers who cannot be questioned. We are saying this with the backdrop of what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico. You see it. It’s almost two months now and British Petroleum are above any law. The media cannot cover this crime against nature, the ecosystem, marine life and human beings who live there in the tens of millions!

Let us try to break through the normal perception that we have about money. An ayah in the Qur’an will help us out.


Do they think ... (Surah Al Mu’minun verse 55)

Allah is speaking about the Corporate mentality and all of the subject slave-mentality that goes with it because everyone who follows trend and the general mind-set that is sponsored by the Corporate world. If all of us, (we’re only human beings, and at times we fall into this ourselves because of the force of it all), follow it, we stand no chance of breaking loose from it. Allah is offering us the words and meanings that will help us out of the mental quicksand that we find ourselves in.

أَيَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّمَا نُمِدُّهُم بِهِ مِن مَّالٍ وَبَنِينَ

نُسَارِعُ لَهُمْ فِي الْخَيْرَاتِ

Do they (meaning the Corporate world and their mental inferiors) think that what We have given them of resources, assets, money, wealth, riches, capital in addition to the power base that they have and the populations that they control to multiply their prosperity? (Surah Al Mu’minun verse 55-56)

The question here means that they should not think that.

بَل لَّا يَشْعُرُونَ

… rather, they can’t sense what is going on or they can’t feel the impact of what they are getting involved in. (Surah Al Mu’minun verse 56)

So Allah is speaking about His giving of money and children, offspring, extended family and relatives i.e. that solidarity of blood which could become later on Nationalism, Racism and Ethnicism and all these other stuff,

أَيَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّمَا نُمِدُّهُم بِهِ مِن مَّالٍ وَبَنِينَ

نُسَارِعُ لَهُمْ فِي الْخَيْرَاتِ

Do they think that if they begin to accumulate these two resources it’s good for them? They think that We are multiplying for their good what they have by the means that they are doing this? (Surah Al Mu’minun verse 55-56)

How do they do this? They don’t care for anyone. They will kill to make money! They will go to wars to extend their profits! That’s how they behave. Now, we all know that they have imparted to us a world in which we think, (and some of us are convinced), that we own our money. Rarely do you come across developed Muslims who know that what they have doesn’t belong to them and they only have it for a limited period of time and it goes away/on. But whoever thought that they own their own children? Allah has given wealth and children. There are people who because of the materialistic mentality that’s out there say “we own our money,” but have you ever heard of a person saying “I own my children!” the same way he “owns his money?!” Human nature can deviate and there’s strange things that human nature is able to do, but so far we haven’t reached the oddity/anomaly of saying “we physically own our children” the same way “we own our money.” So this is an access from Allah to recapture the essence of the subject. In other words, Allah is saying to you: the same way you don’t own your children you don’t own your money- both of these come from Me.

Another ayah from Surah Al Mudd’dath’thir says to these arrogant types in this world- these Corporates Magnates who are beyond reproach and above the law thrashing God, scripture and history- who are moving towards a day of accountability. On that day, Allah says- imagine these words are coming from Allah the One who has the Ultimate/Unlimited power

ذَرْنِي وَمَنْ خَلَقْتُ وَحِيدًا

Leave Me alone with he whom I created. (Surah Al Mudd’dath’thir verse 11)

These words should be enough to shake people out of their traditions and out of the mind control that we have. Who is this person that Allah wants to be with alone to deal with him?

وَجَعَلْتُ لَهُ مَالًا مَّمْدُودًا

I have given him unlimited money. (Surah Al Mudd’dath’thir verse 12)

Allah gave him. Of course he forgot in this life where it all came from. Just like he forgot his children were from Allah, he forgot his wealth came from Allah.

وَجَعَلْتُ لَهُ مَالًا مَّمْدُودًا

وَبَنِينَ شُهُودًا

This is a person who is given unlimited wealth and witnesses from his own offspring. (Surah Al Mudd’dath’thir verse 12-13)

And what’s his attitude?

ثُمَّ يَطْمَعُ أَنْ أَزِيدَ

He wants more. (Surah Al Mudd’dath’thir verse 15)

Tama is greed. He greeds for more. This is the type of person that Allah says

ذَرْنِي وَمَنْ خَلَقْتُ وَحِيدًا

Everyone go away. I’m going to take care of them. (Surah Mudd’dath’thir verse 11)

Some people have (or) claim thousands of acres/hectares of land, (whichever measuring system you go by). Some people claim all of this is theirs. If we consult with the words of Allah and His Prophet can we have such people living? The simple/simplified answer to that is no. You can’t have that. A person can only have what he can tend to. If he can take care of twenty acres; OK, they’re yours. If he can take of fifty/hundred acres, they’re yours. But you have to take care of them. Brothers and sisters: listen here- we have to calm down. Taking care of the land means your labour has to go into that land. Taking care of it doesn’t mean “I’m going to get some people and they’re going to harvest/plant/fertilise or do whatever with this land.” If your personal labour is not involved in the day-to-day responsibilities of that land, you don’t own it. The Prophet of Allah says whoever goes to desolate land and makes it alive- in other words, plants it/makes it yield produce of whatever type, there is benefit/utility the key word is utility because of his labour with that land, it’s his. But there can’t be one human being with his own labour and he may have a family- let’s say he has twenty individuals/robust youth in his family- are they going to take care of thousands of acres as is the case with some people who walk the earth around us today and some people in Islamic territories of the world who have consigned the ahadith that deal with this matter to oblivion?!

Another hadith of the Prophet says whoever has land has to utilise that land. And if he is not able to do that then he gives it to his brother Muslim. These are a few words but the action of this is tremendous. With all the words/volumes that have been/are being spoken in today’s Masajid, how many Muslims have you come across who have identified their frailty/inability and say “I can’t take care of this land. This belongs to… and he names a brother Muslim who is capable of doing that?” Where are they? Why don’t we have Muslims like this? Because the people who have the money in today’s world don’t want the information about this subject to become common knowledge. In other words they themselves don’t want to relinquish what they have.

We want to skip a little, we have some other things to say; but we want to go to a concept of wealth. If we had our Islamic mind together and if we made sense out of the precious meanings that come to us from Allah and His Prophet we would consider wealth like water. This is another way of making it easier for us to understand. The way we approach water is we use what we need. (If) you need some water to drink you drink whatever you need. If you need to drink eight ounces of water, do you drink eight-hundred ounces of water? No. You drink what you need. If you need a certain amount of water- let’s say twenty-four ounces of water to perform your wudhu, well that’s what you use. You don’t use a lake to perform your wudhu. So everyone has a common sense approach to water. You use of it what you need. The same thing pertains and is applicable to money. You use of it what you need and whatever is left is channelled to those who need it- like a flowing river. No one comes and says to another person “Oh you can’t wash your hands in this flowing river or you can’t use the water you need from this flowing river” but how come when it comes to money we begin to have mental problems? We can’t consider the wealth that we have in this world that comes from Allah the same way that rivers/lakes/seas/oceans come from Allah! These are also the aggregates/bodies of money and wealth we have in this world. You take from it what you need and what you don’t need goes to those who need. What’s so difficult about understanding this subject? It can be made simple/easy to understand, but we don’t behave like that! We want to quote because if we said this our-self or someone else said this people might say “this person has some sectarian tendencies or he’s biased.” Ok- we’re going to take the words of one of the rulers of the Muslims who is considered by some to be the fifth legitimate leader/Khalifah of the Muslims i.e. Omar ibn Abdul Aziz (radi Allahu anhu). His family, Bani Umayah wanted to convince him that what he is doing is wrong. What he did was he tried his best to refocus/regenerate the economic/financial/political meanings of Islam in a framework of justice and all of his family was disappointed with him. Some of them were angry/hostile to him. So they sent him his paternal aunt to speak some sense to your nephew. He’s gone too far. So his aunt began to speak to him some words. Of course she wanted to dissuade/convince him to backtrack on what he is doing. We’re spontaneously translating to you, (maybe we should quote the Arabic because we know from experience that there’re going to be those who are going to say “hey look: he twisted the translation in one direction or the other.”) These are Omar ibn Abdul Aziz’s words to his aunt and they pertain to the subject that we are speaking about. My aunt: verily Allah sent Muhammad as a mercy and did not send him as an agony to all people. Then Allah chose for him whatever he decreed and then He received/took him back to Him. And He (could mean Allah or the Prophet of Allah) left for them a running river with equal access to it. Then came Abu Bakr (radi Allahu anhu) and he left the river as it is then Umar (radi Allahu anhu) took over and he did what his companion did, (meaning his policies were an extension of Abu Bakr’s policies pertaining to this running river meaning the pool of wealth that the Muslims had- with equal access to it for everyone. When Uthman (radi Allahu anhu) took over, he streamed away from that river another river. Realise that Umar ibn Abdul Aziz skipped of Ali (radi Allahu anhu) as there’s nothing here as far as deviating from the principles of Islam is concerned to be mentioned. Then Mu’awiyah takes over and he streams from this running river many other rivers. For those who don’t know, Umar ibn Abdul Aziz is a Sunni in the full meaning of the word. And then, from there on, that river became the habit of streaming rivers away from it by Yazid, Marwan, Abdul Malik, Al Waleed and Sulayman until the affair now rests with me. This is Umar ibn Abdul Aziz speaking to his paternal aunt and he’s telling her now I’m in-charge. That initial great river that was flowing to begin with has run dry. Now the people who belong to this river can no longer take/extract water from it until it returns to what it originally was. We have a problem brothers and sisters. There’s more, but time doesn’t permit. There’s problems brothers and sisters with the attitude and behaviour of Muslims who are convinced in themselves that what they own belongs to them. This is the bottom line. We have to unconvinced them of that and we have to make them feel certain that what they have belongs to Allah because this initial psychology of possessing and owning mountains of wealth and denying those who are in need is the bedrock of the problems in the world today. Another ayah sums it up in Surah Iqra’ or Surah Al Alaq

كَلَّا إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَيَطْغَىٰ

أَن رَّآهُ اسْتَغْنَىٰ

Of a certainty, man accumulates power, abuses it, becomes oppressive and tyrannical when he perceives of himself in a state of affluence. (Surah Al Alaq verse 6-7)

When man begins to think that he is super rich and has everything man can dream of and more- when that psychology grips a human being or a class of human beings, then we can expect all hell to break loose. One of the most meaningful sentences in a few words is one by Ali in which he says being affluent when you’re a foreigner is like being at home. When you have a lot of money in this gurbah/ghurbat (as some Muslims would pronounce it), and you can be located in a society that doesn’t belong to you and you don’t belong to them you feel at home, but when you don’t have money and you’re in the middle of your own society/people you are a stranger.

Brothers and sisters, committed Muslims…

You have just heard a few sentences, ayaat and ahadith about the issue of wealth where we are and where we are supposed to be. These ayaat and quotes of the Prophet were not meant as an intellectual exercise. We don’t state these ayaat and ahadith to satisfy the curiosity of our mind. We say this so that we can understand these ayaat and ahadith in today’s world. We have in today’s world Muslims... We speak about need, utility and satisfaction. If we satisfy our needs- how much does a person need? King so-and-so, Prince so-and-so, millionaire so-and-so, tycoon so-and-so and all of these that we have with our rituals among us… some Muslims among us go to them and say “Brother.” Brother what?! This is a brother?! This is a brother with his own kind i.e. the individuals who share this type of monopoly/Capital/Corporate world! Those are brothers. Who are you kidding?! Whatever goes beyond their need belongs to the rest of society.

وَفِي أَمْوَالِهِمْ حَقٌّ لِّلسَّائِلِ وَالْمَحْرُومِ

In their money there is a right for people that belongs to a person who asks for it because of need and a person who is denied from it because of inability. (Surah Adh Dhariyaat verse 19)

What is this? These people who first of all have taken possession of natural resources! No one can take possession of natural resources. The Prophet of Allah says in different ahadith humanity shares in three things: water, urbage/grass/plants/pastures and energy. The word for energy at that time was fire. Fire could mean energy as in energy that we use in our cars or the energy we heat ourselves up with to stay alive and whatever other connotations energy may have. This is a shared resource of humanity. How come we have people coming and owning water, the sources of energy and urbage? Where did all of this come from? Where is our Islamic mind on this matter? We don’t have one because it’s been taken away from us (out of all places) from the Masajid. These Masajid of today dare not breach this issue. Why? Because it’s going to scare the financial powers of the world. “(Do) you mean we’re going to have a public opinion that can place the ayaat and ahadith into context in today’s world where we can identify those juveniles and criminals who are disobeying Allah and His Prophet in these matters and then camouflaging themselves in the rituals that is supposed to be a pass for them in being obedient Muslims?!” Enough of this trickery and false presentation of the issues! Do we have to be more clear on this saying that those people in Arabia... Remember Allah and His Prophet says whatever goes beyond your need… Some of the fiqhi explanation of the word need is whatever is more than one year of the necessities and you and your dependants doesn’t belong to you. How come we have these people who have centuries of resources belonging to them and others in the hundreds of millions who can’t even secure twenty-four hours in their lives? This is a discrepancy that lives on because of the imposed ignorance that comes to us via these Masajid and their controllers in Saudi Arabia and their sponsors in Washington among other places.

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