15.4 Fear the Capitalist or Fear the Creator: How do we stop politicians from feeding at the trough?

 In this final post in this series, we look at how paid-off politicians is a way of life in the capitalist system. In contrast, Islam sets a paradigm where politicians will fear the Creator instead of the Capitalist.

 What does it cost to run for president?

In the 2017, the total cost of the US election was $2.36 billion with Hilary Clinton raising $1.4 Billion (spending 98% of this), while Donald Trump raised $957 million (spending 99% of the amount raised).  

This flies in the face of the democratic propaganda that paints a picture where anyone can be the ruler. It’s only that those who fear the Capitalists can assume power.

These politicians rely on political contributions to survive. For example, when Koch Industries was being investigated for stealing oil from Native lands, the infamous Koch brothers amped up their payments to Bob Dole:

 “Koch Industries deepened its relationship with Kansas Sen. Bob Dole. The Kochs already contributed to his campaigns and political causes, giving $245,000 between 1979 to 1994, according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity. David Koch, Charles’ brother and a major shareholder in Koch Industries, would abandon the Libertarian Party to become the vice chairman of Dole’s presidential campaign against incumbent Bill Clinton in 1996. By that time, the family would become Dole’s third-largest financial supporter, according to an investigation later published in Businessweek magazine.”

 Can you guess what happened?

 “Dole helped Koch Industries delegitimize the issue of oil theft. Dole submitted the story from the Daily Oklahoman into the Senate record and said that he was concerned that the Senate had rushed to judgment to condemn the company. Koch Industries amplified his concerns with the help of other senators, including Don Nickles from Oklahoma. (During an interview in 2016, Sen. Dole had a hard time recalling details about his relationship with Koch Industries.)” [same link]

Capitalism also creates a conflict of interest and revolving door for the government employees and ex-presidents to get large payoffs once they leave office. The Washington Post noted how Obama was paid $400,000 by Goldman-Sachs and a $60 million book deal. They also stated that Clintons made $235 million and Reagan made $2million – all after leaving office. The most candid, of course, was George Bush who was reported by the Guardian to have said: “I'll give some speeches, to replenish the ol' coffers."

The rulers in the Muslim lands: Masters at engorging at the trough

I wonder: are the Clintons, Trumps, Obamas or Bushes are ever jealous of the absolute power their lackeys have in the Muslim world?  Although Tunisia falls under the European sphere of influence, the largess he lived off is just criminal. He had massive amounts of wealth stolen from the people stacked away in his house:

 Islamic leadership: What happens when politicians fear the Creator instead of the Capitalists?

It's amazing to contrast the approach of the rulers in Islam to Capitalism. In Islam, the concept of it being a responsibility permeates through the way the companions approached leadership. Abu Bakr (ra) who was elected the ruler after the of the Prophet (saw) first thought he had to make money on his. That is, he didn't want to eat from the people's money. Consequently, he went to the market. However, the companions insisted he take a stipend to cover his expenses so he could focus on ruling:

 It is narrated that after Abu Bakr [ra] was appointed as the Caliph, the next morning, he took some garments and proceeded towards the marketplace. When 'Umar (ra) saw this, he asked Abu Bakr (ra), “Where are you going?” He replied, "To the market place." 'Umar (ra) then said, “What are you going to do, when you have been put in charge of the affairs of the Muslims?” Abu Bakr (ra) replied, “What am I going to feed my family?” Umar (ra) then took him to Abu' Ubaydah who was in charge of the Bait al-Mal (public treasury). Abu' Ubaydah (ra) said, “I allocate you the supplies of a man among the Muhajirun, not the best of them nor the least of them, and the clothing of winter and summer.” Abu Bakr (ra) was then allocated half a sheep each day and just about enough clothes to cloth himself.”

 The second part of the narration is more interesting. Did Abu Bakr (ra) use his influence to ensure that his family lived a lavish life? No, he didn’t:

 When Abu Bakr was on his deathbed, he told his daughter Aishah (ra), “Look to the camel whose milk we used to drink, the bowl in which we used to prepare food, and the outer garments we used to wear, for we used to benefit from that when we were in charge of the command of the Muslims. When I die, return them to Umar”. After Abu Bakr’s death,  Aishah (ra) sent these items to 'Umar (ra) but 'Umar refused to accept these for fear that Abu Bakr (ra) was setting such high standard of integrity in public office that it would be impossible for his successors to live up to the same ideals. 'Umar said, “May Allah show mercy to you, Abu Bakr. You have exhausted the one who comes after you”. 

 This type of thinking was not limited to the time of the companions.

 In the following conversation, the Khalifah Sulaiman ibn Abdul Malik  (Caliph in 97AH, ~715) is talking to Abu Hazim, Salamah ibn Dinar who was the alim of Medina.  We can see that the ruler is pre-occupied with understanding issues of death and the appropriate way to deal with people's money:

 “The Khalifah said, "O Abu Hazim, why do we dislike death?"

"(That's) because we have built prosperity in this world and destroyed our Afterlife, so we hate to get out of prosperity to destruction", he said.

"You're right," said Sulaiman..., "O Abu Hazim, what shall we get with Allah tomorrow (Resurrection)? What is our place, our status and rank?"

Abu Hazim replied, "Present your deeds to the Book of Allah, surely you will find the answer."

"Where I can find it in the Book of Allah ta'ala," said the Khalifah.

Abu Hazim replied, "You can find it in His words...

"Those who are devoted are in bliss. And indeed the people who are disobedient are in the Fire” [Surat al-Infitar: 13-14].

"If so, then where is the Mercy of Allah?" asked the Khalifah again.

Abu Hazim replied:

 “Verily the mercy of Allah is very close to the people who do good” [Surat al-A’raaf: 56].

The Khalifah said, "How we will meet Allah tomorrow?"

Abu Hazim replied, "As for those who do good, as a man who returned from travelling far, coming back to his family (full of longing to see) ... As for those who sin, like a slave who escaped being dragged toward his master by force (so he was scared)."

Sulayman immediately cried, his voice rising, and his cries grew louder. Then he said, "O Abu Hazim, how can we become better?"

"Leave arrogance and have good manners," he said.

The Khalifah said, "As with this wealth, what is the path to taqwa of Allah regarding it?"

Abu Hazim replied, "If you took it with the right, distributed to the correct people, you divided it evenly, and you did justice in it among your people."“

What a contrast. Here the Khaleefah is pre-occupied with setting his balance right, whereas people like Messer Bush are worried about “replenish[ing] the ol' coffer."  The last point that Abu Hazm makes to the Khaleefah is important: success in this life and the next is tied to ensuring the correct distribution of wealth and establishing justice. In other words, fear of the Creator was the motivating force for good governance in the Caliphate.

We can see a similar mindset to the Caliph that succeeded Khalifah Sulaiman ibn Abdul Malik, Umar bin Abdul-Aziz who is considered to be a rightly-guided Khaleefah. A man came to Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz (rh) in his study, and Umar (rh) asked him whether he came for a state-related matter or a personal matter. The man replied, "a personal matter," so before the man could speak, Umar blew out a candle that was lit and lit another candle nearby. When the man asked Umar why he did this, Umar replied, "The first candle was paid for using state funds, whereas the second one was paid for using my own personal funds."

Islamic governance, grounded in taqwa, where the rulers fear the Creator is the only way that we can get politicians to stop feeding at the trough. It is the Islamic mindset the reorients human beings to have a more comprehensive vision. Without Islam, a human being – despite our best efforts – will succumb to materialistic desires as we have seen time and time again.