Wednesday 23rd Apr 2014
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‘C’ for Corruption,
‘Sea’ Change by Contentment!

Cover Story

By ARHAM HUSAIN

The much awaited Lokpal Bill has re-heated the seemingly forgotten debate about what we Indians have for long seen as ‘mother-of-all ills’. Not even a single of you would be mistaken about what I am referring to. It is thephenomenon that has left no domain of public life unblemished, something that poses the most serious challenge to the ambitions of India Inc. Yes, you guessed it right! That word is “CORRUPTION”.

Corruptionalways existed, but the much discernible and abominable proportionit acquired in our time has agitated our ethically sound countrymen. ‘You may hate it but you still cannot escape it.’ This seems to be the challenge facing us.

Countless articles have been sacrificed for this abysm. Writing this, I had different intentions. While thousands of words are squandered on the enormity of this malice, the actual cause is somewhere deprived of its due attention. I try to go unconventional by trying to establish a relation never conceived by the intellects who have kept this topic hot and going. I see a ‘solution’ in ‘Islam’. I do not mind if you were thrown back for a moment wonderingif these two ever coincided. The world may try its best to tamper this divine religion but does it stop me or you from evidencing the truth to them? No, it doesn’t. So, let us look at the implicit moral excellence that Islam offers.

The Lokpal Bill continues to be an episode radiant and promising, in a series of endeavours made to battle corruption. It is indeed delightful to see millions united over a single issue. As tweets poured and articles swelled, the verdict was visibly in favour of the Bill. It appears as if the Bill is in progress but still the pipeline appears to be indefinitely long. The enthusiasm with which the high-ups rubbed shoulders with commoners at Jantar Mantar is appreciable but is such a ‘push’ sincere enough? Is this all that it takes to battle this tentacled monster? We seem to be lackingin sufficient contemplation. We are attacking this monster where it is heavily armoured.

As you would agree, such vociferousness is not new to the public. We as part of the aam janta already experience a strong discontent against the apparent in-effectiveness of such crusades in the past. Many were non-starters while others failed to materialise as they were intended to. So, one can’t help but doubt the very fate of this agitation. Why such scepticism? Ask this to an aam aadmi and he is too strained to reply in anaffirmative. The fault is not his but circumstances taught him such a form of scepticism. Evidence in favour of his claim has piled up over the years.

A brief mention of the immensity with which corruption prevails would set you thinking.Recent estimates reveal that at least US $ 462bn was siphoned out of the country in the form of illicit flows between the years 1948 to 2008. India is believed to have more money in Swiss Banks than all other countries combined. Still the government shamelesslylabels usPOOR! The only sport we have managed to reign endlessly is this game of “stack your cash”.

Russia, a distant second has four times lesser amount stacked up. The Black economy is estimated at 50% of our GDP. If sources are to be believed, Indians have close to about US $ 1.4trillion or roughly Rs. 60 lakh crores stacked up in offshore tax havens. Now, just a hint of what this money can do if brought back home. We would manage to repay our entire foreign debt. Also, our 45 crore poor could walk away with a bounty of Rs.1 lakh each. Our budget planners could take a week off as the interest on this amount will dwarf our entire national budget. Such statistics are indeed critical to health as one is instantly lost in the mere enormity of such estimates.This is the point to ruminate, to give our daft minds some stimulation.

A read till here must have convinced you that ambitious legislation never offered a solution. All it ever did was to momentarily tranquilise the agitators while the evil thrived below only to haunt us again. Our approach has been much like an ostrich’s. So, have we hit a dead end? No, we have to undeniably look at other solutions. Searching in a clueless world we stumble upon a plainly simple solution. A solution that is no ‘dirt in the eyes’ but is absolutely workable. The solution was named ‘ISLAM’, a word meaning ‘Peace’. On offer is a solution that is complete, everlasting and touches the unconceivable heights of perfection. With unprejudiced minds, let us look at what is on offer.

Islam is the will of God. Those, who have comprehended this divinity will vouch that a mortal like us is incapable of opining something so excellent. This automatically brings us to logic that this flawlessness must be a result of Islam’s divinity. Why not? The creator of heavens and the earth could not selfishly allow humanity to lurk in the darkness it had created for itself. As a sign of his benevolence, prophets were heavenly chosen as torch-bearers of truth. It was through them that ‘Islam’ was not only introduced but demonstrated. Then why have we humans egoistically refrained from seeking answers to all our questions from this beacon of light? It is because we want to live life ‘untamed’. Let us INTROSPECT (something we never do and is never taught to our kids since we lack thein right instruments)!

We have always been a nation of chatterboxes but the extent to which our actions endorse our words is well, open to our own scrutiny. This way, corruption despite all loathe and detest has managed to thrive and outgrow us. Our actions have to fall in congruencewith our words. This indeed is easier said than done. If there ever was a doctrine that could give us the steadiness that we lack in, it undoubtedly is Islam.Of the basic tenets of Islam is the inculcation of congruency in our hearts and minds. Islam encourages its followers to practise what they preach. Inability to do so is termed as ‘hypocrisy’ inviting Allah’s wrath. A few thoughts will reveal to you that behind every lie, hypocrisy works. Thus, Islam roots out lie in its embryonic stage. Companions of Allah’s Apostle championed this precept and erected a civilization, the likes of which we never saw. You still may be confused as to what relation does it bear with the enormous challenge of rooting out corruption? The following paragraphs will clarify.

Islam was never meant to be an amalgamation of rituals or customs but a belief system which purportedholisticguidance for the discourse of our daily lives. It presents itself as a yardstick against which mankind’s actions are to be judged. Mankind has for long seen the ill-effects of its rebellion and defiance to its Creator. Darkness shrouds it. Islam holds in itself clear principles and instructions upon which life is to be built. It is inconceivable that a religion so pragmatic and sensible offers no solution for an ailment like corruption.

Islam believes in the principle of monotheism i.e. obedience to (the only) GOD. It introduces God not only as the creator but benefactor of mankind, the supreme power whose decisions boundary the fate of every creation. We as humans, the most supreme of creations have been chosen as his ambassadors on earth. We were assigned with the task of establishing Allah’s will over everything it was entitled to. This was planned as a ‘test’. As death was to be the fate of everyone, Allah created a second world and covered it with a curtain of oblivion. ‘Heaven’ and ‘Hell’ were created to be the ultimate destination for every soul. Allah knew that of all the men and women created, a majority would disobey and fail the test.Allah also created two evil forces to make this test more than just a cakewalk. The Devil, himself a disobeyer challenged the Almighty that he will leave no stone unturned to drift mankind away from the righteous. The ‘NAFS’ which is a repository of all instincts and desires that man possesses poses the second challenge. It was programmed into us. The challenge still is surmountable for the righteous but for the sinners, to flunk is the only option.

Mankind’s connection with its benefactor eroded. Islam is the only divine religion and the only source that commits itself to the restoration of this connection between humans and their Creator.

Since we are merely delegates, it is not right for us to rebel. Islam does not put a full stop to human whims and wishes but simply subjugates them to the will of their creator. At this juncture, it is easier to understand the genesis of ‘evils’. Almighty says – And it is He Who has made you generations coming after generations, replacing each other on the earth. And He has raised you in ranks, some above others that He may try you in that which He has bestowed on you. Surely your Lord is Swift in retribution, and certainly He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”(Surah Ana’am – 165)Man can either obey Allah or let forces of evil play spoilsport. It is only when our carnal instincts supersede that of our soul does evil germinates. Corruption is no different. 

Corruption doubtlessly is a result of infinite avarice and greed. The fire to gather more can only be doused when a strong connection with theAlmighty exists.The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) said, Richness is not the abundance of wealth, rather it is self-sufficiency.” Indeed,it is Allah who has bestowed us with abundant resources to expend. This, as already explained is a part of a master plan, a test. Allah commands in the Holy Qur’ān – Say (O Muhammad): “Verily, my Lord enlarges and restricts the provision to whom He pleases, but most men know not.” (Surah Saba – Verse 36) With this rendition Islam organises a battalion of men and women with willpower so strong as to defy all the temptations that this world has to offer. This is no fallacy. In their early days after the Prophet(peace and blessings of Allah be to him) Muslimsstood testimony to the effectuality that Islam stands for. What gave them this enormous self-command was ‘Islam’. If it was effective then, can it not change our lives now?

“As for man, when his Lord tries him by giving him honour and gifts, then he says (puffed up): “My Lord has honoured me. But when He tries him, by straitening his means of life, he says: “My Lord has humiliated me!”(Surah Fajr 15-16)As against this,Islam advises “contentment”. Has any religion ever dared to step into this domain and suggest to us a restriction on our greed? No, because no other worldly religion was ever designed to interfere actions. Fortunately, Islam was. The Arabic word for contentment is “Qana’at”. A Dictionary would define it as – “Happiness with one’s situation in life” but frankly, this is a subtle definition. In Islam Qana’at is not retrogressive but lively, vibrant and progressive. It does not challenge the zeal for advancement that we possess. It simply shackles it adequately so that it does not interfere with our supreme commitment i.e. to serve Allah. Contentment is a state of mind, a conscious effort. It is a balancing act, a trade-off between divine commitments and everything worldly.A follower of Islam is never asked to shun all the comforts of life. Infact, he is discouraged to renounce this world. Contentment requires utmost self-control. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) said, Successful is the one who has entered the fold of Islam and is provided with sustenance which is sufficient for his needs, and Allah makes him content with what He has bestowed upon him.”

The statistics mentioned above opines that we are not a ‘poor’ nation as we are often suggested to believe. We have the bucks but no hearts to even bother caring for the less-fortunate amongst us. Despite the growing affluence around, we as a nation have daringly failed to provide basic vitalities for a large portion of our citizens. Well, I am not suggesting anything new. ‘Inequality’ in the Indian way of distribution has forever invited flake and criticism. This invariably refutes the doctrine that wealth once created would automatically trickle down and reach the sub-sections of the society. This suggests that corruption as wrongly conceived is not just an outcome of faulty administration but a consequenceof the untamed desires of those at the helm of affairs. So, if we ever were to tame this monster we should first be taming the cupidity that has taken over all of us. 

It is a well-rehearsed fact that resources are limited. It is with this limited lot that man has to meet his ends. Peaceful co-existenceis the only way around. To our doom, avarice has overpowered our rationalities and is in control of our lives. It has relegated us to a position wherefrom we put beasts to shame. Our souls are long-dead and our minds polluted. Our consciencehas eroded, ethics evaporated and morality weakened. Mankind hasn’t progressed much, at least not in the spiritual dimension of things. We still are wherefrom we started our race. In fact, we are leading a race, a race which ends at the doorstep to Hell. We are now ‘Wealth-demons’. We quarrel over a rupee and kill over another, knowing well enough that there are millions stacked up back home. Cautioning this Allah said – “And if Allah were to enlarge the provision for His slaves, they would surely rebel in the earth, but He sends down by measure as He wills. Verily! He is in respect of His slaves, the Well-Aware, the All-Seer (of things that benefit them).”(Surah Ash-Shurah – 27) Who gives us the right to curse the poor when our super-wealthy are themselves the breeding grounds for money-laundering, murders, rapes and everything anti-social? For the poor, the question of food is larger than his existence but it is our rich who are touching new heights of corrupt behaviour. Terribly disastrous!  Time for a reality check!

This indeed is condemnable but there is something that troubles me even more. The mentality to hoard as much as one can is a corrupt one but who allowed them the liberty to do it so snobbishly. Well, we are the culprits. We blame them, despise them or may even detest them but a voice inside tells us – they have made it really big, when are you going to? This is how the foundations of corruption are laid. We may not be contributing crores to the black-economy but we surely are paving way for such sordidness to thrive. We are all shareholders to this evil corporation. We yearn for their lifestyles, their riches, their luxuries. What have we become? Hypocrites!

Islam aspires for a world where men are governed not by greed but by Allah’s orders. It seeks to eliminate any potentially hazardous ideologue that could hinder this. Islam instils an aspiration to earn Allah’s rewards and elude his wrath. When compared to the life hereafter, our existence in this world ceases to be anything more than an illusion. Islam does not suggest men to sit home and make no effort of making money. A ‘living’ is seen only as an answer to the question of survival. Wonder how it becomes the question itself? Islam orders its followers to toil hard to the best of their capabilities and then leave everything to Allah who has inked everyone’s FATE. Fate sets a limit to everything. It is the periphery beyond which one cannot achieve. So, why smash your head over something you simply can’t get?

This ensures that people do not kill themselves yearning for more. Implement this in your life and you will never find your head bursting open with jealous thoughts about how your neighbour managed to buy that new car. This is the immense power that can be achieved tracking this line of thought.

Allah never intended to deprive anyone. He made channels through which livings were to be earned. We in our loudness sit on heaps of wealth, depriving those it was meant for. Some of us even go as far as brazenly holding Almighty accountable. Are we anything less than a devil? Allah is omnipresent and omnipotent. He is the creator and the benefactor. Will he then not know what is good for his creationsor what may harm them? Of course he will. Then why can’t we agree on what he chooses for us? In our zeal to hoard more, are we not exhausting our energies over something beyond our control? Such a person is no wiser than a freak who while running on his treadmill dreams of reaching the next town.

So, as the world jostles for material wealth, it is for you to contemplate and decide which side to be on. Before you reach a decision, do comprehend that your actions will not only determine your fate in this mortal abode but in the eternal hereafter.



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