Economic Gain at Spiritual Loss?

By Mohamedarif Suleman,

(Nairobi, Kenya)

Money, most people will agree, embodies all that is evil, superfluous and mundane. And while the essence of life is much more than money and the material it can provide, the world economic order has little mercy for the have nots of this generation.

An interesting anecdotal moral is told of Bahlool, whom upon being served with a large tray full of delicious dishes by Haroon’s men, diverted the food to a dog standing nearby. When the couriers of this extravagant gesture protested, Bahlool demanded that the servant keep quiet lest the dog also refused to eat and partake of the illegal wealth. What was the moral? Very simple. Bahlool, in all his worldly insanity, knew that by eating that food which comprised from illegitimate input, his heart might bend towards giving favours to the tyrant ruler.

Imam Ali (AS) is long quoted to have said that any land on which a single drop of alcohol is spilt, and on the same place a plant was to grow, even the fruits later borne out of such a tree would be haraam. The moral and significance of the narration is no different.

But today, as the United States government, with its invincible media and IT prowess penetrates through every culture and every faith, across each nation and proliferating infinite boundaries, Muslims have been caught unawares. Some still fighting old wars, others reflecting autonomous regimes, and yet others still intoxicated with abundant wealth, have found the new way of life with least alarm. Communities like ours remain imbalanced and undecided as every other bad becomes good, and the virtue of forklore gains indifferent popularity.

What are our communities doing in order to ensure that we do not become the complete victims of this global inferno that is ever so effectively propagating openness, promiscuity, inconsideration, materialism and egocentricity? Perhaps we need to address this question once again.

Going by the above morals as well, we need to once again ask and introspect whether we are contradicting Imam’s words today or not. Are we bowing down to the rich primarily because of economic power? Are we scared to stand up for our rights when pitted with some community brothers whose favour and fame within government circles places them in a favourable positions to oppress? What kind of Muslims are we growing into? Are we like the modern Arabs who rush to prayers and abandon everything, but are later seen engaging in anti-Islamic of activities? Or are we like Bahlool, who possesses the courage to negate any ill-based and ill-motivated powers? We must ask ourselves these questions if we are to rescue our aakherat. Money, will then not bail us from the fire of hell, for our inanition to solve this crisis.

And whereas it is acceptable that we remain focused to our economic upliftment, it must never arrive at the pitiful expenses of our faith. A good suggestion, originating from a Shia brother, would be able to make our Friday khutbas more practical and relevant, and a forum for the emergence of issues, rather than a ritual offering which in any case defeats the sanctity of the gathering.

About the author

Mohamedarif is a marketing professional and educationalist with a penchant for writing as a hobby since childhood. As he experimented writing about sporting events at first and then current affairs, he quickly developed a skill for observation of his environment and began to write on reform topics, especially in connection with the community. To further feed his pursuit of writing, he founded several newsletters and bulletins at his school and at the Husayni Madrasah in the 1980's, all the time learning from others already in the field not just about writing, but also about pre-press and production processes. He was also the editor-in-chief of the Knowledge Magazine in 1995–1996. A decade later, importing a flurry of ideas into his new home, Nairobi, he first founded a two page community newspaper then became a regular writer of the Friday Faculty before establishing the Community on Friday, a fully fledged Madrasah magazine in 1996. And while his writing at the community continued, he simultaneously started writing for a business weekly, pairing in with his newfound role as a marketing professional. During his time in Nairobi, he wrote several speeches for sitting chairmen and presidents while also giving some himself, developing his concurrent role as a public speaker and trainer.

With changing times and a decrease in advertising sponsorship, as well as a fall in overall readership, Mohamedarif transformed this publication into an electronic blog. Thus was born the Community on Friday in its present format.

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