Why does West undermine Islamic charity work?
In his analysis of the predicament of the contemporary non-religious man, Albert Einstein says: “The crux of the crisis relates to the relationship between the individual and the community. The attitude of the individual toward the group makes him blow up his individual motivations while his communal motivations — which are weaker — gradually deteriorate. People, who are prisoners of their selfishness, feel that they are living in anxiety and seclusion and that they are deprived of enjoying the social life. In fact man cannot find a meaning to his short life if he did not give from himself to the society.” When Victor Frankl built the third school for psychological treatment in Vienna, following the two previous schools set up by Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler, he established the school on his own theory about the primary motivation behind the human conduct. Frankl’s motivation is different from that of Freud (desire for pleasure) and of Adler (desire for power). The motivation for Frankl is to find a meaning of life. He does not believe that “pleasure” can be the motivation for the human behavior but a result of it. He does not also believe that “power” is the ultimate end for the human behavior but a means to it. He believes that the society will turn into a sick case when pleasure and power become the dominant forces.
For the past decades, and until the present day, experts have been voicing their dissatisfaction over considering the individual income a parameter for civilization advancement. Therefore, they began searching for other parameters and factors, which are more accurate and reliable. They turned to the “humanitarian” factor meaning that a country with a cleaner record in human rights and which is more concerned with public interests and focuses on the aspect “voluntary giving” is an advanced country in the ladder of civilization. For these reasons, they considered Sweden to be the most advanced country in Europe.
If we apply this parameter in the United States we will find that, according to official statistics, there is one voluntary non-profitable organization for each 200 persons. The official statistics for the year 2010 showed that one of four American citizens would spend a large portion of his life in voluntary work. Together, the Americans have spent more than eight billion hours on voluntary work. The organizations working in the field of public interest in America have made an income of $ 1.5 trillion, which represented about 10 percent of the country’s national income. The religious organizations obtained more than 35 percent of the contributions made by the American citizens to the public interest organizations. A large chunk of these funds is spent on spreading Christianity outside.
The result of what is said above is that “voluntary giving,” as a basic human need, is not just a philosophical idea but a “scientific” fact in the human behavior at every time and place. The “voluntary giving” is not only an important part of the human rights but comes at the top of them. Any attempt to restrict or cancel the voluntary giving is therefore a gross violation of human rights.
When it comes to Muslims, the concept of the voluntary giving is much broader than that. When a Muslim scholar wants to define Islam in brief words, he will quote Imam Ibn Taimiyyah who said: “Islam means being sincere to God and merciful to man.” Similarly, Imam Al-Razi said: “The essence of worship is to obey God’s orders and to be passionate to his creatures.” Imam Al-Harwi defined Islam as “obeying God’s orders, abstaining from doing the things He has forbidden and to be merciful to all human beings.” We will find these luminous pictures in the Qur’an. “But those who before them, had homes (in Madinah) and had adopted the faith show their affection to such as came to them for refuge, and entertain no desire in their hearts for things given to the (latter), but give them preference over themselves even though poverty was their (own lot) and those saved from the covetousness of their own souls — they are the ones that achieve prosperity.” (Surat Al-Hashr (Gathering).
In his explanation of the last sentence in his book “In the Shadows of the Qur’an,” Egyptian scholar Sayyed Qutub said: The covetousness of the soul is a detriment to good work which is represented by all sorts of voluntary giving including money, compassion, help and others.
It is clear to us from the above that “voluntary giving” is deeply rooted in the personality of he Muslim man.
The Islamic civilization itself was built on the basis of voluntary giving. This has given the civilization its unique characteristics, which are: A) It was a popular civilization not like the other civilizations, which were built by emperors, kings, military and political powers. The Islamic civilization was entirely built by “voluntary giving” of the Muslims.
B) It was a humanitarian civilization because the motive behind its establishment was welfare and piety to man, animals and nature. C) For these two reasons, the Islamic civilization outlived all the changing circumstances, which should have been factors for its collapse including political fluctuations, wars and invasions by Crusaders and Tatars.
When the colonialists attacked the Islamic world, they knew that its real strength lied within its temporal acumen so they targeted it through various means and tools. The colonialists were aware of the fatwa issued by Muslim scholars preventing the executive administration (rulers or governments) from touching the assets of waqf (endowments) so they enabled the governments to do what they wanted to do with these waqfs. Accordingly, the secular government, which succeeded colonialism in Egypt nationalized the waqfs by putting them under a public establishment (the waqfs of the Copts were excluded). The establishment imposed its authority on all waqfs in the country.
Within their attempts to weaken the temporal power of the Muslim world, the colonialists endeavored to spread doubts and intellectual chaos on Islamic beliefs and values. They also encouraged Christian missionaries to spread Christianity in the Islamic countries. Even the French, who were against the Jesuits, encouraged them to practice their activities in the Muslim countries under their rule. Under the Islamic faith, any efforts sincerely exerted for the public interest are considered a work purely for God (Fi Sabeel Allah). In the two Surats of Al-Fajr and Al-Maaoun, the Qur’an threatened to punish those who will not provide food to the poor or prevent others from doing so.
When a country ignores this aspect, it will be undermining its destructive effects on the safety and stability of the society. It will be obstructing the basic needs of man to food, clothes, accommodation, education and dignified living. The society, which prevents its members from voluntary giving, will be depriving them from the satisfaction they will obtain from voluntary giving and will be driving them toward “existential vacuum” which may lead them to unfruitful or unsafe practices.
The Muslim’s voluntary giving for public interest is not only a means for self-satisfaction and a method to satisfy the basic needs of others but a kind of worship to achieve God’s blessings. This simply means that preventing Muslim from voluntary giving is not only a violation of the private rights but a gross violation of the human rights.
From what I have stated above, I meant to provide an accurate assessment of the serious efforts of the West to undermine the concept of voluntary giving in the Islamic world. These efforts are clearly manifested by the serious attempts to minimize the charity activities of the GCC countries abroad.
The West has: A) Immediately after the collapse of Communism (the red enemy of Capitalism) nominated Islam to be the substitute enemy for capitalism naming it the “green enemy.” (The first statement to this effect was issued by the secretary-general of NATO. Since then a Cold War has been declared against Islam. Islam was tied up to extremism and terrorism. At the beginning of the last decade of the previous century, Europe was watching a film titled: “Terrorism for the Sake of Allah” while the Americans were watching a documentary called “The Jihad in the US.” It is a fact that the Western maneuvering to spread Christianity in certain Muslim societies have faced obstacles put by some of the GCC charity organizations. So it was only natural that the imperial forces would make efforts to weaken these organizations.
The report of the American committee investigating the 9/11 events openly said the Saudi charity organizations have been under the microscopes of the Western intelligence agencies since 1995.
Since then diplomatic pressures have been exerted on Saudi Arabia with the aim of minimizing the activities of its charity organizations abroad. The report said these pressures did not materialize because every time the Kingdom asked for data to justify why it should respond to these pressures, the other side failed to present them until the terrorist explosions in Riyadh in May 2003. The report described this event as “ a turning point” meaning that Saudi Arabia has succumbed to the pressures because of this particular event not because of any data revealed that would justify reducing or stopping the activities of its charity organizations abroad.
The statements made by Western politicians did not conceal their happiness over the deadly event of May 2003. This happiness raised doubts that the event was just a lucky strike for the sole beneficiary — the West — in its ideological war against Islam.
(To be continued)
n Dr. Sheikh Saleh bin Abdul Rahman Al-Husain is the chairman of the Board of Directors of Medad. g