By David Yusuf Kabia, Public Relations Assistant, ACC
This Article seeks to expose the clarity in the Qur’an that Allah (SWT) detests corruption and warns all Muslims to conduct themselves fairly, honestly and with integrity in order that corruption does not erode the sanctity of the human soul. The Article will further briefly discuss the four sources of Islamic law and will tell of Allah’s punishment against those who engage in corruption. Nonetheless, the Article will also express Allah’s forgiveness for those who after being corrupt are willing to repent and turn away from ever being corrupt.
Religion’s essence to humanity has always been to guide man against conducts which hurt others and deplete his integrity while drawing him closer to Allah (SWT). This guidance, including that against corruption is recorded in the four (4) sources of Islamic law to wit: the Qur’an, which is believed to be the primary source of Islamic law from which Sharie‘a or “the right/straight path” in Arabic is based upon ; the Sunnah, or the traditions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).35
The Sunnah consists of compilations of Muhammad’s actions, sayings, judgments, attitudes, and opinions during his lifetime”; Ijm‘a, which is the third fundamental source of Islamic law, is believed to be the unanimous consensus of the Muslim Community (“Ummah”) through its competent representatives. In other words, Ijm‘a is the agreement of jurists among the followers of the Prophet in a particular age on a particular question of law and Qiyyas (“Analogical Deduction”), which represents the fourth source of Islamic law. It literally means measuring or ascertaining the length, weight, or quality of something. Technically, it is the extension of a Sharie‘a ruling in one case to a new, similar case due to the resemblance of both cases’ effective cause as noted by Prof. Bassiouni.  Corruption, no doubt is one of the most condemned conducts by Islam through several verses in the Quran.“But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and [yet], do not forget your share of the world. And do good as Allah has done good to you. And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters.” Corruption as it is known, “erodes trust, weakens democracy, hampers economic development and further exacerbates inequality, poverty, social division and the environmental crisis”Aside the Qur’an, there are Hadiths bearing respectable witnesses who must have heard the Prophet’s (PBUH) hatred for corruption. His Kuthbas (teachings) to His Sahabas (Followers), included warnings against corruption, which He said would destroy the human soul and prevents him from gaining Aljannah (Heaven) and the goodness already kept therein for those who follow the dictates of Allah (SWT) in the Holy Qur’an. Corruption is usually the misuse of resources under the custody of people entrusted to guard them for and on behalf of others. Abdullah ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) in the Al-Bukhari Hadith reported that he heard the Prophet saying “A man is a guardian of his father’s property and is responsible for it. So all of you are guardians and responsible for what is under your care”
In Sierra Leone, resources provided by the Government and its Partners for and on behalf of Sierra Leoneans have always been in the custody of public officials most (if not all) are Muslims. But the question is, how have those Muslims adhered to those dictates against corruption in the management of those resources?
The heinousness of corruption according to Islam
One heinous or offensive human conduct aligning with corruption against Islamic rules is bribery. It is considered a sin and not just any act. Bribery is believed to hold the potency to influence the actions of others especially Authorities to make corrupt decisions in order to protect someone or those who may have bribed them. In Sections 34 and 50 respectively of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 (as amended in 2019) bribery is a major offence which provokes prosecution because it influences public officials in their decision making, which may end up unjustly hurting others. Ibn Maajah (2313) defined bribery as: “a major sin, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “May the curse of Allah be upon the one who pays a bribe and the one who takes it.” However, in a society where bribery is common even to the point of people bribing just to access their right or dues but to change their wrongs to rights, bribery has been reported to not be a sin for such people but those who accept them. In Sierra Leone, this is starkly common when people have to bribe officials for services that are either free to be accessed or where they may already have paid for them. For example, medical services which are free for certain citizens are made difficult to access by some officials unless tips (bribery) are provided. This is well noted by al-Muhalla (8/118), when he said: “But if a person has been deprived of his rights and he gives a bribe so as to ward off mistreatment from himself, this is permissible for the one who gives it but it is a sin for the one who takes it.”
Islam has condemned corruption in its entirety, not only with what concerns financial or resources management for people but further extends to the provision of needed leadership for others. Injustice by those who govern against the governed is seriously considered as corruption.
In that regard, the Qur’an has warned those who believe to ensure the right things as instructed by Allah are always done. “And to [the people of] Madyan [We sent] their brother Shu’ayb. He said, ‘O my people, worship Allah; you have no deity other than Him. There has come to you clear evidence from your Lord. So fulfill the measure and weight and do not deprive people of their due and cause not corruption upon the earth after its reformation. That is better for you, if you should be believers.” Allah has further warned Muslims of the danger that would befall them should corruption be left unchecked when he said, ““If corruption remains unchecked, socio-religious establishments such as Monastery, Churches, Synagogues and Mosques will be destroyed”Being a believing Muslim therefore does not stop at reciting the ‘Kalima’, which professes the belief that Allah is the one True God and that Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is His Messenger but further extends to building ones Iman (faith) in integrity, honesty and justice. A true believer (mu’min) would strive to abstain from all conducts of corruption and injustice considering that Allah detests such while those who do not believe (munafiq) would see nothing wrong in being corrupt. “The (true) believers are only those whose hearts tremble at the remembrance of Allah, whose faith increases when His Revelations are recited to them, …” Allah further warned that, “Do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly, nor deliberately bribe authorities in order to devour a portion of others’ property, knowing that it is a sin”.
Corruption carries with it the tendency to weaken the Iman (faith) of a Muslim. This weakening of the Iman (faith) diminishes the weight of him. While the believer may consider the smallest of offence as serious, the corrupt Muslim may only consider it as little but nothing. Islam therefore emphasizes on the faith of any Muslim as the connection with Allah. The fear of Allah against His warnings including against engaging in corruption remains one thing that defines a true Muslim. Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “Verily, the believer (mu’min) views his sins as if he were sitting under a mountain, fearing it will fall upon him. The wicked (however) views his sins as if they were a fly passing over his nose.”This verse does not only emphasizes Allah’s detest for corruption and those who engage in it but calls on Muslims to strive to build their faith so to better connect with Him in order that they become those who would be welcomed to paradise.
Away from the strict literature as contained in the Qur’an, faithfulness to Allah requires first, the fear of what may befall one should they choose to disobey Him. This has been one of the qualities the Qur’an reported about the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). Al-Albani reported that the Prophet once said out of His fear of Allah that, “I am the most knowing of Allah and the most fearful of Him among you”. This statement is provoked by his understanding and knowledge of Allah (SWT). A Muslim must first strive to understand Allah including what he likes and dislikes. That understanding, coupled with the fear of His wrath for disobeying His dictates brings a Muslim to the highest of submission in order to gain the goodness of Allah. The Qur’an clearly stated this when it says: “None truly fears Allah among His servants but those filled with knowledge of the word and the way of Allah” Allah Himself has warned His true believers to fear not men but him at least in two Surahs: “so fear them not, but fear Me, if you are (true) believers”and “and fear none but Me” It could be vividly recalled by all Muslims who believe that Allah’s wrath for disobedience of His word is heavy especially after learning the story of Nuh (Noah) and the Ark. After many years of preaching to his people about their sinful lives which had caused Allah enormous anger, they continued in that path. He warned them, "O my people, worship God; you have no deity other than Him. Indeed, I fear for you the punishment of a tremendous Day!” Allah then asked him to build an Ark and ensure to put all animals in it in pairs and also the believers who listened to him about the anger of Allah. In the end, they were all destroyed when Allah filled the earth with water.
How does Allah wishes to punish the corrupt?
Corruption in the Qur’an is equated to “Jarimah Hirabah” that is, waging war against the Muslim Ummah (Community), an offence which is punishable by death, crucifixion, corporal punishment or isolation.  How corruption does then equates to this? Corruption endangers the lives of many (if not most). It causes untold suffering, enmity, injustice and unfairness to many that has the potency of sparking revolution against those who cause such. In Sierra Leone, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report noted that one of the gravest causes to the decade long war was corruption. This led to many bearing such grudges taking up arms and adhering to the rhetoric of standing up for themselves in the absence of justice to cause mayhem in adherence of their grudges in a bid to correct the status quo in existence then. “The Commission finds that the central cause of the war was endemic greed, corruption and nepotism that deprived the nation of its dignity and reduced most people to a state of poverty”. In accordance with the literature of the findings of this Report, it could have been hardly that the said civil war that broke out on March 23rd in 1991 would not have occurred. It is even sad that the leader of the said civil war was a Muslim, Foday Saybanah Sankoh (late). It is then clearly visible from the warnings of Allah against corruption that those who are the corruptors of the earth if they do not repent of their wrongdoings, will obviously have their place in Jahannamah (Hell fire) aside the prescribed punishment of death, crucifixion, corporal punishment or isolation as stated bySurah Al-Maidah verse 33. But [I have for you] only notification from Allah, and His messages.’ And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger – then indeed, for him is the fire of Hell; they will abide therein forever. Disobeying Allah without ‘Tawbah’ (repentance) always provokes severe consequences. That trend of his punishment is recorded in the Qur’an after Adam and Eve disobeyed His Commandment.
Today, corruption has eaten so deep into the fabrics of man, causing him to lose sense of the dictates of Allah and the wrath accompanying them. Man has delved deep into accepting that corruption is now normal. Public servants who are Muslims no longer see any harm in misappropriating resources meant for the sustenance and livelihood of others even though they are paid salaries backed up with other opportunities not enjoyed by the ordinary citizens. Muslims carrying trade no longer consider cheating buyers a sin. Melting candles in cups used to measure commodities like rice and others just to cheat on the buyer is today considered a normal business practice even though Allah forbids it. Muslims giving out loans on interest knowing fully well that that interest as Allah has said, will be the addition to their punishment on the day of judgement. The question remains, to what end? How do we become the Muslims that Allah will be pleased with? Is it by running to the Masjid (Mosque) at the sound of the Adzan (Call to Prayer) to pray? Is it by putting on the best of Islamic regalia or reciting the Qur’n well? The answer certainly is No. Being the Muslim that Allah will be pleased with is by fearing Allah through obedience to His Word, especially to avoid corruption. Corruption in Islam include all the aforementioned practices Muslims are engaged in today, which cause hurt to mankind.
But does Allah closes all doors?
Allah’s love for man goes beyond his sinfulness. The doors to His Mercy are always open. When man sins and honestly repents and ensures never to go back to committing those sins, Allah said He will forgive him of all the sins he has committed. “O you who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance! It may be that your Lord will expiate from you your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise)”Many verses in many of the Surahs in the Qur’an record Allah’s forgiveness to his slaves. In al-Zumar 39:53, Allah Himself said, “Say: O ‘Ibadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” This is to assure mankind that no matter the degree of sins committed, Allah is always ready waiting to forgive.
Therefore, as the Month of Ramadan continues, let us remind ourselves of one of the importance of this Holy Month, which is to cleanse man from all sins and wrongdoings. Let Muslims across the country continue to refuse doing those things that they cannot do now during this Ramadan. If you cannot accept bribery now, continue to reject it after the month of Ramadan. Let the teachings of fairness, honesty, holiness and love which the Holy month of Ramadan has brought continue to remain with us so we can avoid Allah’s wrath.
 D H. NU‘MAN, THE MUSLIM POPULATION IN THE UNITED STATES 11 (1992); ISMAIL R. AL-FARUQI & LOIS L. AL-FARUQI, THE CULTURAL ATLAS OF ISLAM 279 (1986).
 IAN EDGE, ISLAMIC LAW AND LEGAL THEORY xv (1996)
 Youssef Kassem, Masader Al-Fiqh Al-Islami [Sources of Islamic Law] 65 (2000).
 M. CHERIF BASSIOUNI, THE ISLAMIC CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM 152-153 (1982) (“Out of each judicial verse, a decision (“Hukum”) arises which is analogous to a judgment and is a specific legal rule.”)
28-Surah Al-Qasas ( The Stories ) 77
The difference between rashwah (bribery) and wasaatah (intervention) - Islam Question & Answer (islamqa.info)
7-Surah Al-A’raf (The Heights ) 85-86
Surah al-Anfal verse two
Surah al-Baqarah verse 188
Sahih al-Bukhari, 5949
Aal ‘Imraan 3:175
 Qur’an 7:59
Surah Al-Maidah verse 33
 Chapter Two, Para 13, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report: Sierra Leone TRC - Witness to Truth - Volume Two (Chapter 2: Findings)
72-Surah Al-Jinn ( The Jinn ) 23