Property as an Idol
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the idolization, the greed, and the consequent violation of God’s laws that gets people into trouble. In the example in 18:32-46, money caused the individual to grow arrogant. To think they were somehow “special and immune to trouble”. To forget about God and growing the soul. To fail to see that money was like anything else fleeting from this world. This pattern of human failing is shown elsewhere in the Quran (74:15; 28:76-83).
[74:11-15] Let Me deal with one I created as an individual. I provided him with lots of money. And children to behold.
I made everything easy for him. Yet, he is greedy for more.
We can contrast the example of Qaroon (28:76-82) with Solomon. God was first in Solomon’s mind, and not money. This is illustrated in his dealing with the queen of Sheba (27:36). Similarly, the “rich believer” in 16:75 does not idolize the money, and instead uses it in God’s way.
As the Quran tells us, the problem is not restricted to greed alone. Once money becomes the idol, people do everything they can to appease their god and grow closer to their ‘god’ by hoarding. They may backbite and slander others to get ahead.
[104:1-2] Woe to every backbiter, slanderer. He hoards money and counts it.
Other consequences of this idolization of property include: lying, passing the blame, taking advantage of weaker groups, and not giving a fair share. For example, I previously thought the Exxon spill was simply caused by a drunken boat captain. Wikipedia now displays articles showing the crew was overworked and fatigued. The ship’s anti-collision radar system was broken and deliberately left unrepaired for a year to save money.
While only God knows the full truth, clearly not everyone’s accounts of the event agree. So there are lies involved. People prefer to pass the blame in these situations. Humans want to save their
own skin and look good in the eyes of the world. God’s system is complete honesty (4:135; 5:8; 6:152). Submitters do not seek exaltation of themselves on earth (28:83).
You Shall Not Bear False Witness
[4:135] O you who believe, you shall be absolutely equitable, and observe GOD, when you serve as witnesses, even against yourselves, or your parents, or your relatives. Whether the accused is rich or poor, GOD takes care of both. Therefore, do not be biased by your personal wishes. If you deviate or disregard (this commandment), then GOD is fully Cognizant of everything you do.
Submitters are told to fear God, not the people or their perceptions of us. Making a mistake is bad enough, but lying about it or accusing someone else is a bigger mistake (4:112). Two wrongs don’t cancel each other out. Instead, it encourages passing blame and lack of personal responsibility. Satan started this trend (15:39) way back before Creation, and it continues in this life (4:78-79; 68:28-32) and through the Day of Judgment (14:22; 64:9). The correct response would be to seek God’s forgiveness and own up to one’s mistakes (4:78-79, 110-112).
Nothing Bad Comes From God
[4:79] Anything good that happens to you is from GOD, and anything bad that happens to you is from you. We have sent you as a messenger to the people, and GOD suffices as witness.
[4:110-112] Anyone who commits evil, or wrongs his soul, then implores GOD for forgiveness, will find GOD Forgiving, Most Merciful. Anyone who earns a sin, earns it to the detriment of his own soul. GOD is Omniscient, Most Wise. Anyone who earns a sin, then accuses an innocent person thereof, has committed a blasphemy and a gross offense.
Taking advantage of weaker groups is another problem related to idolizing money. The “little guy” is often the one who suffers. Small investors were more likely to lose their homes and not be able to afford retirement due to the financial crisis. In the oil industry disasters, rig workers and the small-time fisher folk were among those
who paid with their lives and incomes, while the executives continue to make money. We notice human greed often takes advantage of the weak.
The Quran deliberately enjoins us against the temptation of taking advantage of the weak (2:275; 4:2; 6:152; 16:92; 89:15-24). This is partly why, the debtor dictates the terms to the scribe when writing down financial transactions (2:282).
Another problem related to setting money as a god besides God is cheating. God strongly condemns cheating and corruption (4:29; 11:85; 83:1-6) and tells us to be aware of what we send ahead for our souls (59:18).
[6:152] You shall not touch the orphans’ money except in the most righteous manner, until they reach maturity. You shall give full weight and a full measure when you trade, equitably. We do not burden any soul beyond its means. You shall be absolutely just when you bear witness, even against your relatives. You shall fulfill your covenant with GOD. These are His commandments to you, that you may take heed.
[89:17-20] Wrong! It is you who brought it on yourselves by not regarding the orphan. And not advocating charity towards the poor. And consuming the inheritance of helpless orphans. And loving the money too much.
The human response to the oil crisis will probably result in lengthy laws and a mountain of documentation. All of it is for one specific area of legislation in one tiny aspect of life. A life that is fleeting and miniscule. Compare this to the one book God tells us to read for the eternal life, the Quran (12:111). Which, if followed would lead to life being easier, simpler and more meaningful.
Quran 30:40-46 tells us about the disasters that have spread through the land and sea because of the mistakes we humans made. 30:40 reminds us not to fall into idolatry (e.g., idolizing wealth or
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