Skip to main content

Greed

The avarice of plenitude keeps you occupied till you reach the grave. But you will come to know soon – indeed you will come to know soon. And yet if you knew with positive knowledge, you have indeed to behold Hell; then you will see it with the eye of certainty. Then on that day you will surely be asked about the verity of pleasures.

At-Takathur, 102:1-8

Some thoughts

Besides egocentrism of both individuals and groups, which is the eternal pitfall of humankind, greed is by far the greatest problem of this day and age. The obsession with wanting, owning and consuming has spread all around the globe. Yet transcendence of the soul can never be bought, not with all the gold in the world. You can’t exchange all the possessions on the globe for a single step closer to God.

The deep needs of the soul are ignored simply because people always want a bit more of this or much more of that. Yet when we get stuck in the emptiness of meaninglessness, we feel the pain of realizing that we haven’t fulfilled the purpose of our soul. For that purpose is to love and to bring beauty – not to buy stuff or amass wealth.

Is it wrong then to seek financial stability and work for our livelihood? Of course not. What is wrong is the exaggerated greed that never feels satisfied and disregards the need of others. For it does not only create an emptiness of the soul, it does not only make the world into a dessert, but it also makes society into a hell for those that become exploited in order to fulfill the greed of the rich.  

What Christians can learn

The balances of power are certainly changing in today’s world even though the US undeniably remains the richest and most powerful country in the world. It buys resources all over the globe to produce a status of living that can impossibly be upheld by everyone in the world since that would quickly prove to be unsustainable. It begs the very question therefore why exactly the US prints the phrase ‘In God we trust’ on its dollar bills. Do they truly do so? Or do they trust in money? Did Christ not say that we can’t serve God and the mammon, the God of money, at the same time? I therefore always found it strange that such a sentence would be printed on money. Perhaps it would be a nice idea if some Christian groups would lobby to take it away. Unless it is printed on money exactly to remind people that God is more important. But is that really the message that people understand when they look at their dollar notes?

Questions for Muslims

The disparity between the wealthy and the poor is huge in many Islamic countries. It’s quite obvious for anyone who has travelled some of those countries that many of the greedy elite reserve the wealth of their countries for themselves. They do so both through politics as well as business or through a(n often corrupt) combination of the two. On top of it that same elite doesn’t refrain at all from (ab)using ‘Islam’ in their election campaigns by trying to show how devout they are. They easily play on the religious sentiments of the masses to get more votes. Is it not time for them to see that it is pure hypocrisy? Or are they aware of their own hypocrisy and do they just continue their ways knowingly? But if that is so, is it not time then for scholars, spiritual leaders and artists to gather the masses and make them stand up to the greed of the elite, exactly because such greed is un-Islamic?

The Arab spring got rid of certain oppressors. The fight against others is still going on as I write these questions. Yet I believe these revolutions will never truly finalize until they also get rid of the greed that feeds on many of their leaders. For it wasn’t a couple of demonic individuals, but the greed of many that truly kept and keeps an enormous amount of people under oppression – in the Arab world certainly but also far beyond.

ShareFacebookTwitterGoogle+Linkedin

Comments

do i know you?? i wrote most

Charlie

do i know you?? i wrote most of all of that within my notebook.....it is as if every time i read something you have written, i wonder if it is that you and i know each other....i hope that is true.!!..because i do like what you write, so much, it makes me feel less as if i am sitting out on the branch by myself, wondering why i am there .... i have been seeing exactly what you have just put into the right words...the only time i have read it exactly as i have asked of others and sort of been side stepped with answers....and which is why i turn and listened to the real, within musical notes......i am wandering through many faiths...finding so much to believe yet paradoxically lost within what is materially destroying many....thank you for writing...with love...Charlie xx......

This is only the second time

Anonymous

This is only the second time that I comment, even though if you got a penny every time I wrote what I thought when I read one of your posts then Halal Monk, you would be pretty rich by now (no allusion intended in relation to the topic of this post :). The questions you ask and topics you touch upon are pertinent to all kindred believers (I am using here believer in its most quintessential and most significant meaning i.e believers in a creator with design and that what we choose to do, does have consequences for our spiritual well being, as well as having an affect upon others)

As a Muslim living in the Arab world who actively partook in the "Arab spring", remembering what made me go on the streets from the very first day of the uprising/revolution, it was a deep sense of anguish at the terrible injustices that I saw. I myself am lucky al HamdulAllah and have never been in need, since graduation have been employed in a good job, but ever since i was in my teenage years and tried my best to help those less fortunate than I am I have been aware of that discrepancy and a long the years I just felt that whatever i did and what the huge amount of others did would not help to bridge that injustice (that does not mean we should stop, as whatever we have is not really ours in the first place, it is God's) as it was a structural injustice due to corruption, avarice, and heedlessness ....I have always been flabbergasted that fellow believers do not see the potential in religion(s) that calls us to stand up for those who are weaker/less unfortunate than we are, rather than to bow down and succumb to those in power even when one sees that others are suffering, and one can do that not by using religious rhetoric for hypocritical means, or naming parties "Islamic this and Muslim that or any other religion" but to understand the true spirit of religion and carry that within you as a guide for your personal conduct as much as you can to live as a responsible conscious being

When looking at the world today, there is so much poverty which is totally unneeded for, we have enough food in this world to feed everybody, we have enough clothes to keep everyone warm...if only people would be "content" with having "enough" rather than wanting to have "in excess" ...the amount of food that we consume, possessions we own ..we have a long tradition in our collective consciousness as humans, of people who were modest and were content with what was enough (as we do unfortunately as well of those who were greedy) Prophets like Jesus, Mohamed, Omar Bin Abd al Aziz, other religious leaders, figures like Tolstoy, Thoreau as well as so many others that we that we do not know by name (I am sure many of them were women, I can't just remember one which is kind of embarrassing seeing I am a female)...its time we recall that tradition instead of focusing and glamorizing the Trumps, and al Nahyaan's of the world .... it is something that I constantly need to remind myself of . Thanks for the reminder.

You're welcome. And thank you

Jonas Yunus

You're welcome. And thank you for the very nice and relevant comment.

If I'm not mistaken, I sense a certain amount of reference to Gandhi (because of your mentioning Tolstoy and Thoreau, just like he did) and the sentence attributed to him: "There is enough on earth for everybody's need, not for everybody's greed." Indeed, the eventual outcome of the (r)evolutions in the Arab World will indeed be quite depended on the amount of people who can keep this fact in focus.

Hmm to be honest Gandhi

Anonymous

Hmm to be honest Gandhi didn't cross my mind while writing the comment and even though I have read things about Gandhi but have never read anything written directly by him but seeing languages and literature are my fields mainly I have read Tolstoy and Thoreau and taught them, but maybe on some subconscious level he seeped in ...thanks for the quote its really relevant

Interesting coincidence. I

Jonas Yunus

Interesting coincidence. I myself have done somewhat more research on Gandhi, hence my assumption because Gandhi was very explicit in mentioning both Tolstoy and Thoreau as great influences. As you perhaps might know (but then it might be of interest to other readers of this website), while still in South-Africa, at the beginning of his struggle for the rights of Indians, Gandhi read Thoreau's 'Walden'and 'On the Duty of Civil Disobedience.' The latter in fact made him start to use the term 'Civil Disobedience' for his own actions. In approxamitely the same period he and Tolstoy often exchanged letters. (You can see some of those here: 'Correspondence between Tolstoy and Gandhi')

Interesting conversation,

J.T. Aslim

Interesting conversation, leading from a Surah in the Qur'an to Tolstoy to Gandhi. The unity in the world is sometimes bigger than people care to think. :-)

So just as a little interesting addition: for those who would be interested in inspiring quotes of Gandhi, go to www.thoughtsofgandhi.org. Every Monday this site shares one quote through mail, facebook, google-plus and rss.

There is also a beautifull

Anonymous

There is also a beautifull passage in Mark, 10,17-22 of a man who wants to know from Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life. To be truly honest: I could have been that man. Or better: I am that man.
You see it is more then a problem of 'society' or 'the rich abusing the poor', it's inside myself. It has been in mankind for ages and the results are desastreus: we have to admit that in every person there is a dark side who wants to possess material things, status and power, despite other human beings.
Very shocking to read is the book of Sirach chapter 13 (yes I'm catholic). My 'favorite' sentence is 19: Wild donkeys of the desert are lion’s prey; likewise the poor are feeding grounds for the rich.

How to resolve this inner 'possession'? It is not that simple: although you can be fullfilled of the holy spirit, like Jesus was in the Temptation of Jesus in the desert (Luke, 4), the satanic impulses strikes you not at the spiritual level but at the most basic human level: 'He (Jesus) ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry. The devil said to him:.,." When Jesus his body is hungry, the dark side arises and challenges him.

To end: I do not think that you can counter the greed of the rich with a spiritual story or moral of how they should behave according to muslim, christian, ... belief. Their greed is not on the spiritual level but on the most basic human level: the struggle to survive. It is an angst within themselves, an angst which is so strong, they obey it despite the others. Not by word but with contact, from one person to another, stand by him, hold him thight, caress him and say soothing words ... like a mother to her child who screams because it had a nightmare. But this is rather difficult: greedy people tend to live apart from others...

My pessimistic view on religion: there are a lot of people who call themselves religious but are not. They are just like vultures who make use of the faith of men. It's a bit marxist: belief as opium for the people.
Optimistic view: once you accept that God 'exists' outside of your own or cultural interpretation... then words are too small to express who you are and who He is.