Monday, 11 May 2020

Corruption of the Religious Establishment and its Root Cause

In Your Name, Allahumma

A version of Simony that is present in our religious establishment, and the root of its corruption, is the providing of essential religious services like leading the congregational worship in exchange for money. The institution of prophesy is the supreme religious authority according to Islam, but even the Prophet (sall Allahu alaihi wasallam) could not take monetary compensation in exchange for discharging his ministry of prophesy:

قُل لَّا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا
Say: “I ask of you for this message no payment”
(Surah 6:90)
قُلْ مَا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ أَجْرٍ إِلَّا مَن شَاءَ أَن يَتَّخِذَ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِ سَبِيلً
Say: “I do not ask of you for it any payment - only that whoever wills might take to his Lord a way”
(Surah 25:57)
وَمَا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ أَجْرٍ ۖ إِنْ أَجْرِيَ إِلَّا عَلَىٰ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
And I do not ask you for it any payment. My payment is only from the Lord of the worlds
(Surah 26:127)

When the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alaihi wasallam) appointed Uthman bin Abi al-’As (radi Allahu anhu) an Imam upon the latter’s request, that last thing he willed for him was that he should not select a Mu’adhdhin who takes payment for calling the Adhan. Presently, our religious establishment, including Ulama, Muftis, Mashayikh (Sufi guides), Qurra, Huffaz who lead Tarawih prayers during Ramadan, Sajjada Nashins, Gaddi Nashins, etc., all earn their livelihoods from providing religious services. Many of them misguide people from the true path, thereby doubling their transgression. They have secured for themselves and their families immense fortunes and grand estates through Religion. A religious leader whose religion is connected to his livelihood cannot possibly be expected to preach the truth in all circumstances without jeopardizing that livelihood. How many preachers in our mosques are unable to preach the truth for fear of losing their positions and running the risk of earning the ire of the mosque administrations that pay their salaries? The genuine religious leadership of our time are those radicals that are on the margins, whose livelihood is in no way connected to their preaching or providing other religious services. There is no doubt our present religious establishment resemble the religious establishment of the Jews during Antiquity, i.e., the Sanhedrin, Sadducees, Pharisees, Scribes and Teachers of the Law who were sharply rebuked by John the Baptizer and the Messiah of Nazareth for their corruption and hypocrisy.

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