Religion: Moral Decadence: The Root Of Corruption In Society (1) By Haruna Sanusi



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There are two reasons why the monster called corruption has continued to
be the bane of the Nigerian society. One is the gross misunderstanding,
or let me say narrow-minded view of the concept of corruption, while
the other is the loss of core family values. 

From the perspective of an
average Nigerian, corruption is when ‘big people’ (politicians or
business moguls) steal ‘big money’ (millions or billions). To him, when
‘small people’ (vulcanizers, panel-beaters, market men & women,
mechanics, fuel attendants, et cetera) steal ‘small money’ (tens or
hundreds of naira), that does not amount to corruption.

Moreover, the fact that corruption is only viewed from the economic and
financial viewpoints is myopic and narrow. Apparently,  the average
Nigerian does not see corruption as (more of) a moral problem. Whenever
(huge amount of) money is not involved, the corruption law has not been
breached. With such a misguided perception, most people tend to overlook
the fundamental causes of corruption while only addressing its

In Islām, corruption is seen as a moral ailment, and not an economic or
financial one. Its manifestation as an economic or financial problem is
as a result of the rot in the moral fabrics of its perpetrators. In a
hadīth narrated by Al-Bukhārī and Muslim, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:

“ألا وإن في الجسد مضغة إذا صلحت صلح لها سائر الجسد، وإذا فسدت، فسد لها سائر الجسد، ألا وهي القلب”

Verily, in the body there is a piece of flesh, if it is sound then the
entire body will be sound, and if it is corrupt then the entire body
will be corrupt, indeed it is the heart. [Bukhārī & Muslim]

From the above hadīth, it can be deduced that the heart, being the
control room of the body has a great influence over the actions of man;
whether good or bad. Hence, both the good deeds and evil deeds of every
human being stem from his heart. It is for this reason that Islam
emphasizes purification of the heart and the soul to attain spirituality
and morality. In Qur’ān 91:7-10, Allāh says: 

وَنَفْسٍ وَمَا سَوَّاهَا ﴿7﴾ فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا ﴿8﴾
قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن زَكَّاهَا ﴿9﴾ وَقَدْ خَابَ مَن دَسَّاهَا ﴿10

By the soul, and the proportion and order given to it; and its
inspiration as to its wrong and its right; truly he succeeds that
purifies it; and he fails that corrupts it.

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So until everyone sees corruption as an offshoot of moral decadence, and
attacks it from its root, we are likely not to get anywhere in the
fight against corruption, no matter how many business moguls,
politicians and ex government officials are prosecuted and jailed. Let
us examine the following issues which I consider as the roots of
corruption in society:

1). Telling lies: In the society today, young children tell lies without
blinking because it is either that their parents allow them to get away
with it without any form of punishment, or they simply do not see it as
a crime. In fact, in the community where I live, there is a man who has
turned his children to automated lying machine, so much so that even
when he is at home, they will say otherwise once they see any executive
of the Community Association asking after him. The unfortunate thing is
that, while this man thinks that he is doing himself a favour by
avoiding monthly security dues, he is corrupting the mind and psyche of
his children.  

On the authority of Abdullah b. Mas’ūd raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

بالصِّدق، فإنَّ الصِّدق يهدي إلى البرِّ، وإنَّ البرَّ يهدي إلى الجنَّة،
وما يزال الرَّجل يصدق، ويتحرَّى الصِّدق حتى يُكْتَب عند الله صدِّيقًا.
وإيَّاكم والكذب، فإنَّ الكذب يهدي إلى الفُجُور، وإنَّ الفُجُور يهدي إلى
النَّار، وما يزال الرَّجل يكذب، ويتحرَّى الكذب حتى يُكْتَب عند الله

the truth, for truthfulness leads to righteousness and righteousness
leads to Paradise. A man will keep speaking the truth and striving to
speak the truth until he will be recorded with Allāh as a siddīq (speaker
of the truth). Beware of lying, for lying leads to wickedness and
wickedness leads to Hell fire. A man will keep telling lies and striving
to tell lies until he is recorded with Allāh as a liar.

Now, let us ask, which act of wickedness is worse than embezzling,
misappropriating and siphoning public wealth for personal gain and
self-aggrandizement? This is why I mentioned earlier that moral
decadence is the root of the large scale financial and economic
corruption that we now witness today in society. It is why in Qur’ān
9:119, Allāh says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَكُونُوا مَعَ الصَّادِقِين

O you who believed, fear Allāh, and be among the speakers of truth.

Sanusi lectures at Al Hikmah University, Ilorin, Kwara State.

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