Accountability from A Muslim's Perspective: Reflections and realizations By Yusuf Roque Morales Introduction: Leaders, has been said

to be the binding fiber of a society, it is in their hands that a community, a society or a country may either rise or fall. And yet, at times, we forget that indeed in a democratic society such as ours, sometimes, there are those leaders who fail to be accountable to their community in in fact the paradigm of al-Insan al-Khilafatul ard (Man is the custodian of the earth is forgotten and is barely remembered when the gavel of rulership is handed over to them. Public Ethics and Accountability is indeed one of the most controversial topics ever to be discussed. This has always been the issue with many states and governments, whether Muslim, Christian or highly sectarianized .This may be so because corruption and lack of accountability have become something of a cancer eating into the fabric of society and uprooting every social value, structure and institution from its very foundations. Many critics of Islam have pointed out that there is a clear disparity in practice of Muslim groups and individuals for condoning or ignoring acts of corruption. There is a need for us to affirm that the most effective response to all criticisms is calm, reasoned discourse and active practice of open accountability by Muslim groups and individuals. Given the topic there can be said two be two angles where we can discuss this topic. The first is to assert, with all sense of self-righteousness, the truism that Islam preaches probity and accountability.

1

Discourse on Public Accountability and Ethics: A typical lecture of this sort would involve citing of passages from the Holy Quran that would equate the Accountability lives of and Correct Leadership al-Rashidin, (Ai'immarah) with Piety including c itations from the Life and works of the Holy Prophet, anecdotes from the Khulafa the Sahaba, the Tabi'in and great pious rulers like ‘Umar ibn Abdul 'Azeez. This would result to everyone applauding and feeling good after listening to a well-cited and well read speech and lecture. But if one would engage in this it would only lead to an exercise best described as the giving in to the audience's collective egos and whims (if you forgive the term) . It states the obvious, avoids the difficult and in no way contributes to the purpose of such a gathering. To say that Islam teaches and advocates good leadership and accountability, and to try to prove it to a Muslim audience, is a useless intellectual exercise. It will only serve the purpose of Tahseel al-haseel (attaining that which is already attained); for every Muslim surely knows that not just Islam, but every world-view or civilization worth its name, preaches accountability and probity. Even Godless systems do so as evidenced by the recent execution in Communist China of fourteen persons for acts of financial corruption. And as such we cannot say that only Islam has the moral ascendancy over the paradigm of Ethics and accountability. However, one may apply a more logical,realistic, less palatable and

certainly more offensive to certain sensibilities. It is an approach which asks a historically valid question which begs eternally to be answered: why is it that despite the fact that we all know, academically or intuitively, that corruption in all its forms is against Islamic Law, it remains a pervasive feature permeating Muslim communities?

2

A typical example is the present ruling regimes around the Muslim world that has leaders who have been in power for quite a long time already and that despite the length of service supposedly, there has been no notable changes in the life of the common man in these countries. One would be posed to ask why do we have Muslim leaders, including those who have ruled in the recent past, not been a symbol of Public service and accountability? Why has the crime of corruption not engaged the Muslim mind with the same intensity as, say, the absence of the hijab among women or the exclusion of hudud (fixed punishments) from the Penal Code? In simple terms, why is it that over a long period and spreading over a large part of the Muslim world, the teachings of Islam on probity and accountability have been one thing, the practice of Muslim people and their leaders a completely different thing?It appears that there is a marked disparity in the way that leaders view social values. This would mean that the answer to this question is to be found necessarily in a reasoned analysis of the anatomy of corruption, specifically (1) how it came to be embedded in the body politic of the Muslim Community (ummah) (2) how the Ummah's mindset was conditioned to tolerate it and (3) how an elaborate legal framework was set-up which,however ,effectively bypasses the menace, allowing it to thrive even where an Islamic legal system is, in theory, operational. Perhaps it is about time to conduct an analytic probe into the history of Public service, administration and corruption as well as see the lessons we may have learned theirein. The first point is an excursion into history, specifically the fitnah, the early conflicts and the end of the Khulafa Ar-Rashidun. (the righteous Caliphs, ie, Abubakr, Umar, Uthman (RTA) and Ali (Karamallahu wajah)).

3

The second is a look into the philosophy and particularly ethics, pointing out the misapprehension of the necessary connection between metaphysical theism and our morality which, I will argue, represents some degree of impairment to our conception of Tawhid, and our full belief in the absolute unity of Allah the One as the source of our existence and values; The third is looking into Shariah law as we know it, and an examination of the limitations imposed on its scope by politics as well as the failure of scholars to rise to the responsibilities implied by the flexibility of its injunctions. The paper therefore is a look into the discousre of Public accountability and the historical and philosopical antecedents during the early ages of islam hoping that they would serve as reminders and guidances to us Muslim and non-muslims in the 14th century Hijrah. This papermay appear to be uncomfortable to some, tumultuous to others, sickening to a few, but hopefully in the end worthwhile and enriching, opening before us new vistas in thinking, breaking old barriers and challenging the structures which served as mitigants to the progress of the Ummah in this regard. Examples of Exemplary Leadership and Public Accountability of the Early Leaders of Islam The coming of Islam and the establishment of the Madinatun-Nabi (also known as the prophetic state) marked a fountain of exemplary leadership in the area of Leadership and accountability. The spirit of Islam was trully watered with the the Sunnah of the Prophet (S.A.W.) was maintained throughout the reign of three out of the four caliphs of the early period and over a substantial part of the Caliphate of Uthman.

4

The shining examples set by Abubakar, Umar (RTA) and Ali(Karamallahu wajah) will not fit in the context of this paper,but we will try to do justice by noting some of their significant accomplishments. After his election in Saqifah, the first khutbah of Abubakar (RA) set the tone for his leadership: "Now O People! I have been made your ruler though I am not the best among you. If I do what is right support me. If I do what is wrong set me right. Follow what is true for it contains faithfulness, avoid what is false for it contains treachery. The weaker among you shall in my eyes be the stronger, until, if Allah will, I have redressed his wrong; the stronger shall in my eyes be the weaker until, if Allah will, I have enforced justice upon him. Let the people not cease fighting in Allah's way lest He abase them; let not evil practices arise among the people, lest Allah bring punishment upon all of them. Obey me as I obey Allah and His messenger; if I disobey them, then do you disobey me". These are the words of a man changed neither his residence nor his mode of living when he became a ruler. He refused to take a salary until his companions forced him and even then, on his deathbed he commanded that all he had received from the treasury during his tenure should be counted up and repaid out of his property and his lands.”1 Looking at the actions of the Second Caliph, Umar b. al-Khattab who

said in his second sermon to his people: "O people! It is your duty, if I show certain evil qualities, to reprove me for them. You must see that I do not exact from you any tax or anything of what Allah has given you, except that which He allows. You must see that when I have control of the money nothing should be spent improperly…etc". This is 'Umar, who used to say: "The property of Allah has the same standing with me as that of an orphan; If I have no need of it, I will leave it untouched, and if I need it, I will take only what is right". Asked what his entitlement from the treasury should be, Umar replied: "Two sets of clothing, one for the summer, one for the winter. Enough to perform the
1 Sahih Al-Bukhari 1/69;Sahih Muslim 1/306

5

Hajj and sufficient to provide me with food for myself and my household on the level of a man of Quraish who is neither overrich nor overpoor`. Beyond that I am an ordinary Muslim, and I share the lot of all Muslims"2. One cannot forget Ali (Karamallahu Wajhah), commander of the Faithful, who took over the caliphate at a time of great tumult, and who was grievously wronged by the dissent of some Companions? Ali who used to eat barley meal, hand ground by his wife, and who used to seal the meal-bag with the words "I like to know what is entering my stomach". Ali who as Amir used often to sell his sword to get money to buy food and clothing, who preferred living among the poor than stay in the capital of Kufah. 'Utba ibn 'Alqama once visited Ali and found him sitting with sour curds in front of him. Their sourness and dryness vexed 'Utba who said: " O Commander of the Faithful do you eat this stuff?" He answered " Abu Janub, Allah's Messenger used to eat it drier than this and used to wear clothes coarser than these" - and he pointed to his own clothes - "and if I do not accept what he did, then I fear I will not join him in the hereafter". The piety and asceticism of Ali are legendary.3 The leadership and governance of these three Companions were noteworthy, being both pious and steadfast. The Umayyad Legacy of negative management. It would be noted that we have skipped the third Caliph, Uthman (RA),also known as Zun-nurain, the son-in-law of the Prophet. Uthman, compiler of the Qur'an provider for the companions in times of need. One cannot question the greatness of Uthman in Islam . But the truth, and the truth be said, is that no discussion of accountability and probity in Islam and how the Muslim Ummah lost these values is complete without a discussion of the reign of Uthman and, more profoundly, the rule of his clan, the Umayyads over the Muslim world.
2 ibid 3 Razi, Syed, Sharh Nahjul Balagha, Darul Iman, Beirut Lebanon

6

The Caliphate was passed over to Uthman in old age and lasted for 12 years. The first six years were in keeping with the Sunnah of the Messenger and of the Shaykhayn (Abubakr and 'Umar). Then old age set in, and some of 'Uthman's greatest strengths became weaknesses - he loved his family, and in old age became hostage to them. He was generous in spirit and in old age allowed profligacy with public funds4. He held that as Imam he had the right to give public funds as gifts and allowances. When Harith ibn al-Hakam married Uthman's daughter, the latter gave hin 200,000 dirhams from the public Treasury leading to a showdown with and removal of Zaid ibn Arqam from his position as treasurer. 'Uthman gave alZubair 600,000 dirhams one day, and Talha 200,000 and presented his cousin Marwan b. Hakam with one-fifth of the land tax of the entire province of Ifriqiyya. The Companions expostulated with him but he insisted that he had a duty to take care of his relatives and kinsmen.5 Most of the latter day actions of Uthman were carried out under the influence of his family, the Bamu Umayya. Abu Sufyan, the prophet's archenemy who refused to join Islam until the defeat of his forces in Makkah, and who even after joining Islam had nothing but contempt for Islamic values, especially the high esteem in which early Companions who he considered "slaves" like Bilal, Salman and Suhaib were held, was still alive. Like a motherhen, he gathered his flock around him. He guided his son, Muawiya, his nephews Uthman and Marwan b. Hakam, and other Umayyads like al-Hakam b. al-As [who had been expelled by the prophet but rehabilitated by 'Uthman], Abdullah ibn. Sa'd ibn Abi Sarh, and so on. Marwan had unlimited control of the Treasury, he dispensed gifts as he wished, supported oppressive Umayyad governors and ruthlessly destroyed dissenting voices.6

4 Musawi, Abdul-Husayn Sharaffuddin, Al-Murajaat, Darul Liban, Beirut, Lebanon 1355 AH/1936 CE 5 As-Samawi, Muhammad Al-Tijani, Inna Maasadiqin, Darul Liban Beirut Lebanon,1975 6 ibid

7

Abu Zarr (RTA), the prophet's companion was exiled for his strident criticism of the prodigality of the Umayyads. At the end of the day, the excesses of Uthman's appointees led to the fitnah in which he was sadly killed. But the seeds of corruption had been sown. What was ironic in this period that became the trend for those who criticized abuse and holding these leaders accountable was either exile or assassination. This was the beginning of the fitnah (trials) that tested the Muslim leaders over accountability. 'Ali (Karamallahu Wajah) took over the Khilafah at a point when the Umayyads had been strengthened. They had control of armies and had amassed substantial wealth. Under the pretext of fighting for the blood of Uthman the Umayyads waged a war against the seat of Islamic power, the caliphate, but no sooner had Ali died than did it become apparent that all they wanted was power. Muawiya appointed himself the "first of the Muslim Arab Kings", forced everyone to accept him and his conversion of the Khilafa into a hereditary monarchy with his son, Yazid as his successor. Muawiya fought Ali with the aid of the Kalbi Arab tribes and the old Syrian aristocracy and set up a new political economy which Nazih Ayubi describes as a "lineage/Iqta'i symbiosis". The Umayyads became feudal lords; their Jahili pride in Arab supremacy became once more ascendant and non-Arabs were gradually marginalized. All restrictions on the public treasury were removed and it became a legitimate source of public plunder for the kings, their courtiers and their sycophants.7 This was the system that lasted over one hundred years with the one exception of the Umayyad Caliph 'umar ibn Abdul-Aziz. So we see how in the formative period of Islam a corrupt aristocracy without regard for accountability and probity ruled the Ummah.

7 Ibid

8

It is inevitable that the long reign of the Umayyads set the tone for how subsequent Muslim leaders would see themselves. The attitude continued throughout Islam's long history. Even today, in the oil-rich sheikhdoms of the Muslim world, the Royal families are not accountable to the people in their management of the Treasury, to mince words, not exactly a paragon of accountability and probity.8 All of this has been made possible by an intellectual superstructure, a moral philosophy that encourages acquiescence to the rule of corrupt and despotic rulers. Although the Umayyads themselves were beneficiaries of a rebellion against Ali, it soon became standard Sunni doctrine that rebellion against unjust and corrupt rulers was unIslamic. In what follows I examine the nature of this philosophy, and then proceed to the legal superstructure to which it gave rise [in the name of the Shariah] before concluding. Evolving Moral Ethics as Philosophy for Public Service and

Accountability. A system can not survive for a long time without conditioning the mindset of the populace. The early Muslim monarchies, despite everything said above, played major roles in prosecuting Jihads and expanding the frontiers of the empire, providing the young faith with the political and military protection required for its survival. Eventually as a process, people came to accept bribery and corruption as an acceptable feature of political leadership9. This accommodation was attained partly by the genuine conviction that the benefits of political stability outweighed the costs of corruption; partly through the ruthless suppression of political dissent and denial of fundamental Human rights and freedoms10; but also largely through an elaborate
8 Speech of Usama Bn Laden, released August 21, 2003 9 This became the rallying point of findamentalists that Muslim leaders have become corrupt and has lost taste for following Islamic Law and thus managed to get people into fundamentalism, thus causing more harm than benefit 10 Speech of Usama Bn Laden, released August 21, 2003

9

philosophical framework, principally within Sunni Islam, which makes it an Islamic duty to "listen and obey" corrupt despots so long as they pray. The question of ethics in public policy is a fundamental philosophical question, which is relevant to all states and societies. Islamic philosophy in all its dimensions ultimately goes back to the principle of Tawhid [Monotheism]. Allah is the source of all knowledge, all guidance, all existence and all morality. A truly Islamic epistemology, ethic, ideology or science must therefore find its locus within the Divine Reality, and fit into the essential unity of Allah, the One.

It seems to me that somewhere along the line, Islamic ethics in the area of public policy lost its essential contact with Divine Reality. The ulama, deliberately or by accident, gave prominence to certain hadiths which were interpreted in a manner that made it incumbent on people to and accept leaders who were lacking in ethics of leadership and accountability. This was the experience of Sunni Islam in a lot of the states that their leaders were elected or taken hold of positions. Due to circumstances of history, a different trend occurs among the Shiites, due to a history of being oppressed by the ruling class and a history of martyrdom thought.
11

among

its

leaders

the

principle

of

'Adliyah,

[justice]

like

the Imamah, [leadership] is one of the Pillars of Islam according to Shii

Most of the philosophical discourse around Adl roots it squarely in the principle of Tawhid. Allah is a Just Lord, Who loves Truth and Honesty. It is therefore inconceivable that anyone who believes in Allah can perpetrate or tolerate injustice.12

11 Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, Shi'a, Ansariyyan Publications, 1998, Qum, IRAN 12 ibid

10

It is in a similar vein that other sects like the Kharijites resisted the attempt by early Muslims to exclude certain groups from leadership on account of clan, tribe, race or even gender. It was considered inconsistent with Divine Justice as expressed clearly in the Qur'an.13 Bringing us to the question of philosophy. According to ethics, which is a recurring debate in

Iris Murdoch,a British moral Philosopher, who

believed in the metaphysical foundation of morality. She argues convincingly for the existence of a metaphysical reality, the Good, which we perceive by our very perception of the imperfection of our world. Yet having laid the foundation for a metaphysical ethics, Murdoch says the Good is not God - she accepts the existence of this transcendental Reality but denies the Reality a will and an effect. To the best of my understanding, this is the point of departure between Iris Murdoch and moral philosophers among Christian Theologians. The debate in our own moral philosophy is similar. Our scholars [by which is implied Sunni Scholars and Theologians] have never gone to the extent of denying Allah a role in our lives. What they have done, in the context of the ethics of public officers is to build a shield between our morality and its source, the Divine presence14. Our metaphysics is not in substance Murdochian, yet it effectively lands us in the same muddles as Iris Murdoch. A Muslim who believes in Allah the All-seeing [Al-Basir] does not lock himself in a room and turnout the light believing he can commit injustices and be impartial to his constituents and escape. The same with one who believes in Al-Sami' [the All-Hearing]. He does not speak things in private, which are prohibited by Allah. In exactly the same way, a Muslim who believes in Allah the Just can not stand injustice. Corruption, nepotism and abuse of office are manifestations of injustice.15

13 Razi, Syed, Sharh Nahjul Balagha, Darul Iman, Beirut Lebanon 14 ibid 15 “Letter of Imam Ali to Malik Ashtar upon deputizing his as Governor of Egypt”, Razi, Syed, Sharh Nahjul Balagha, Darul Iman, Beirut Lebanon

11

Corruption in the Muslim psyche has been facilitated by the severance of the organic link between our moral philosophy and its Metaphysical roots in the Divine Reality. A proper apprehension of Allah, His Beautiful Names(al-asma' al-husna) and His Exalted Attributes(as-sifat al-'ula) must necessarily transform our ethic such that we not only seek to imbibe or emulate the moral good, we actually are moved, compelled, to seek its enthronement. As a result, the greatest tragedy in Sunni thought is its hatred of philosophy and philosophers and its enthronement of the legalistic rulings of jurists over all facets of our life. The priorities and constraints of the environment in which the jurists lived often conditioned these rulings. The continued refusal of this Ummah to break away from the constriction of taqlid ("blind copying") and the closing of the door to ijtihad will only lead to a perpetuation of the social structures, priorities and valuesystems of the environments in which the rulings were made. Even the authenticity of hadiths and the validity of their interpretation must be established after accounting for the impact of the environment on the narrators and interpreters. Most fundamentally, the principles of Tawhid, an apprehension the Allah's Asma' [Names] and Sifat [Attributes], must continue to be the inspiration for our moral, political and other philosophies. We will now briefly touch on the Shariah and how the ascendant philosophical outlook has restricted its scope.

The Shariah and Public Sector Corruption. In the time of the prophet [S. A. W.] the government was not a major economic force. The role of the prophet was largely that of a guide, a judge and a military commander.

12

The government treasury received zakat and fai' for distribution but the major revenue flows and expenditures on social welfare, defence and the bureaucracy that later came to typify the state were virtually non-existent - It is natural that the crime of public sector corruption should not be a major feature of such a society not just because of the limited finance of the state but also, and more fundamentally, because of the quality of persons managing these funds and the presence of the Prophet of Allah among them. Thus although the Qur'an did come up with verses which showed the prohibition of corruption, its occurrence was rare and its punishment /deterrence was therefore not the pre-occupation of the Shariah at that stage . We find a greater focus on offences like theft, adultery, intoxication and slander - crimes of a largely personal nature, which was a reflection of the limited nature of public sector crimes. With the passage of time and the conquest of the early empire, the coffers of the state were filled with treasures managed by human beings whose fear of Allah was decreasing by the day. Corruption became a cancer in public life, as we have shown. The Umayyads established a hereditary kingship, nepotism and the appropriation of booty and property and profits. Muawiya himself made it clear in his sermon in Kufa and Madinah that he had fought for power and would reap the benefits from it. The early Muslims did fight against this Umayyad mind-set. There was the great rebellion against 'Uthman. Then there was the rebellion of the Hijaz against Yazid ibn Muawiya. There was the Qarmatian revolt. All of these and many more were directed against exploitation, arbitrary power, class distinction and other features of a system without accountability and probity.

13

The striking thing about all of this is that the fight against corruption was always waged by those outside the establishment.
16

Throughout the reign of the Umayyads, Abbasids, Fatimids etc, the Muslim world was governed by the Shariah, and by the system of civil and criminal Law recognised as distinctive of Muslim societies. Zakat was collected, the hands of thieves were cut off, and the courts continued to administer capital punishment for murder, apostasy and rebellion. Yet those who supervised the implementation of Shariah were

themselves corrupt - and, seemingly, above the law. This is the question that I hope to address. We would like to contextualize that this form of corruption has not only existed only in our forebears , but also is prevalent in different parts of the Muslim world and even here in the Philippines, particularly in the ARMM areas. A government can claim to be implementing Shariah, cut off the hands of a thief who steals a cow or money, force women to dress in a particular way, collect zakat for distribution etc, without coming out with strong sanction for corruption in public office. This has been the problem of the Taliban, although it had insisted that it was engaging in the implementation of Islamic law, it however was one of the biggest traffickers of illegal drugs and narcotics, having the largest opium poppy fields in the world. This has led some people to the false impression that the Shariah is a law designed to punish the poor while allowing leaders to go scot-free. Nothing can be further from the truth. We would like to impress that what is described above is inconsistent with

Shariah, but its interpretation by society at different points in time in a manner
16 Tabatabaie, Allamah Husain, Islamic Teachings in Brief, WOFIS, 1985, Tehran Iran

14

consistent with the dominant world-view of the leaders and ulama in that society. It is not the eternal law revealed by Allah but its interpretation and crystalisation in time and space. It is perhaps fair to say that the rudimentary nature of political structures in the Muslim world, the absence of effective checks and balances and the low political consciousness of civil society have contributed to this state of affairs. It is however, equally important to recognize fundamental flaws in our understanding of Islamic Law. Criminal/Civil Law in Islam divides offences, from the perspective of sanction, into three categories. Hadd offences [jara'im al-hudud] are those which attract a fixed and non-negotiable punishment once established. These include adultery & fornication, apostasy, drinking, rebellion, slander and highway robbery. Qisas and Diyah offences [jara'im al - qisas wad-diyah] are those which are retributive in nature, but which can be substituted by some payment in kind as restitution, or forgiven by the injured party or his heirs 17. These include murder, manslaughter and bodily harm. A third category, Ta'zeer offences [jara'im at-ta'azeer] refers to everything that is prohibited in the Qur'an or Sunnah but for which a punishment is not prescribed under Hadd or Qisas and Diyah. Understanding this point is critical to understanding Islamic Civil and Criminal Law. There has been a lot of polemic over the limits of punishment for ta'azeer offences. Abdul Rahman 'Audah has a detailed discussion of these including justification for including offences not specified in the Qur'an and Sunnah but which affect "general interest" of society, in his classic work on Islamic Criminal Law [at-tashri' aljina'I al-Islami]18 What interests us here is that for all offences defined as Ta'azir offences the Shariah provides a range of sanctions. These are:
17 Baqr As-Sadr, Muhammad, Introduction to Fiqh, Darul Imaan, 1975, Beirut Lebanon 18

15

a] threat of punishment b] whipping or caning c] humiliation d] detention or jailing e] crucifixion or execution f] exile. These offences have been extracted by scholars from the Qur'an, Sunnah and Ijma'. Now we know that the Qur'an prohibits many things without specifying the punishment for the offenders. For example, we know that bribery is an offence, that nepotism, in the sense of appointing an incompetent person to office, is an offence, that consuming wealth of orphans is an offence, that spreading fasad [evil] and fahisha [obscenity] among the Ummah are offences etc. If the Hakim at a point in time chooses not to punish an offence severely [and we have said his options are as severe as the death sentence] it is not because the Shariah does not provide for it but because either the judge or the government does not consider it a problem. As we live in an environment in which these offences bother all of us, [corruption, religious intolerance, destruction of places of worship, mediocrity in the name of quota system, tribalism and ethnic genocide etc.] we must remember that Sharia explicitly prohibits each of them and also allows the state to punish with a range of punishments including jailing and death. The choice however reflects our own values, not of the Shariah. That corruption has for so long remained unpunished is a reflection of the underlying moral philosophy, which has come to permeate our collective consciousness, deadening the sense of outrage and revulsion against this 16

heinous and cancerous crime. Reflection: The Qur’an calls for fair, open and ethical behavior in all dealings and transactions. As one example, Verse 2:282 requires that financial transactions be made through witnessed, written contracts. Numerous other verses exhort believers to fulfill their contracts faithfully and testify honestly (see, e.g., Verses 4:135, 5: 89. or 5:108). Honesty, accountability, reliable bookkeeping, and dependability should be the hallmarks of Muslim organizations. Nonetheless, as the Quran asserts, the lapses of others do not offer any excuse for lapses on our own part (see, for instance, Verse 5:8 which teaches Muslims that hatred or prejudice are never a reason to swerve from justice). The standards of accountability and transparency laid out in the Qur’an are the standards we should aim for, whether or not we receive approbation from the greater community, and whether or not they have different standards for Muslim versus non-Muslim organizations. Calm response to any criticism, whether or not that criticism is fair, is consistent with Qur’anic exhortations to gentle discourse, rational debate, and the Islamic tradition of courtesy (see, for instance, 6:125). Not only does rational discourse fulfill Qur’anic ideals, but it presents the community in a favorable light, and illuminates the hostility behind ill-motivated attacks. These principles go far beyond organizational proprieties. They extend to our ability to address larger issues. Yes, the crisis in Darfur has roots in neocolonialism and global warming; yes, female genital mutilation and so-called “honor killings” are cultural practices and not really Islamic; but whatever the cause or scope of the problems in the community of believers we must be responsible and accountable if we are ever to solve them. Simply put, a problem involving Muslims, whether or not it is an Islamic issue, is a Muslim problem. It is never enough to neglect our internal 17

housekeeping by making excuses or blaming others. We have a duty as Muslims to improve ourselves and our world. From the smallest problem to the most complex, we can only find solutions by being open and responsible. We have attempted to cover in this paper the origin and nature of corruption in the public affairs of the Muslim Ummah, the philosophy which has nourished it and the legal superstructure which, elaborate as it is, has been seemingly designed by lawmakers to side-step it. We would like to emphasized that we have not yet exhausted all the issues relevant to this topic. It is hoped that this paper has given us all food for thought and contributed to our outstanding of Islamic history, philosophy and law. If this paper may have sounded too critical of some aspects of Muslim thought, please accept this clarification: the writer has love for generations gone by. However, no one is perfect and it is only by learning from mistakes of the past and questioning "received wisdom" that change is possible. "Allah does not change what is with a people unless they change themselves". It should be self-evident that any and all public organizations should adhere to ethics of conduct that include transparency of responsibility and bookkeeping. We appreciate that such a simple, clear standard is complicated by mounting government secrecy, racism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia, but even with these considerations in mind, we affirm that organizational and financial transparency, and being open to constructive criticism are in the best interest of all organizations. implicit respect and

Selected Bibliography:

• 18

Quranil Kareem, various commentators and editions

• • • • • • • • •

Nahjul Balagha, various commentators and publishers Sahih Bukhari,_________________ Sahih Muslim, _____________ Al-Murajaat, by Abdul Husayn Sharafuddin Musawi Inna Maassadiqin, by Muhammad Tijani as-Samawi Shia, by Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr Teachings of Islam in Brief, by Allamah Hussein Tabatabai'e Introduction to Fiqah, by Muhammad Baqr As-Sadr

19

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful