By: Musa Jamirou Bala Jawara - Head of Outreach
Corruption is an aged-old phenomenon and a universal problem with a far reaching negative implications and ramifications on all spheres of human life and endeavours. The concerns for some religious leaders, intellectuals and policy makers in respect of corruption have so far centred on the moral, ethical and economic aspect of corruption, for instance, how to better understand which acts and practices are considered as corruption. One such endeavours has been made by some researchers, scholars and jurists to provide a typology of actions considered as corruption such as: bribery, diversion of funds, tax evasion, selling of justice for money, sales of exam papers, leakage of exam papers, policemen converting security checkpoints to collection and extortion points, over-invoicing and falsification of results and other documents etc. Despite these efforts and its subsequent criminalization by law, yet these acts remain rampant in Sierra Leone. Although a substantial number of chapters in the Holy Qur’an and Bible deal with the issue of corruption as a concept and a phenomenon citizens continue to do them. Against this backdrop, an attempt is made here to provide a systematic analysis of the problem of corruption based on the teachings of the Holy Quran and Bible as they are widely accepted as the two main sources of knowledge in Islam and Christianity.
In the Qur’an, the term ‘fasad’ which is interpreted as corruption and its derivatives have been used many times in the Holy Qur’an. For example, Qur’an 2:11 says when they are told “Do not spread corruption in the land” They replied, “We are only peace-makers” and Qur’an 47: 22 says “if you turn away now, could it be that you will go on to spread corruption all over the land and break your ties of kinship”. We have observed that some seemingly devoted Muslims and Christians, who would defend their religions at all costs, would have no reservation when they pay bribes to obtain illegal admission for their children in schools, colleges or pay bribe to get fake certificate(s) or receive bribes to provide public services for which they are employed to render.
Many of our countrymen and women who flock our churches on Sunday and fill the mosques on Friday are at one time or the other involved in such fraudulent activities as diversion of public and donor fund and property, evading tax, issuing and obtaining of fake receipts, over-invoicing and under-invoicing, importation of fake drugs, petty and large-scale bribery, fake audit reports, creative book-keeping, embezzlement, etc. All these practices are so commonplace and so widespread that many citizens particularly the youth whose minds have been blurred by these acts and have become unable to distinguish between good and evil or between right and wrong.
According to Qur’an 2:251 “If corruption remains unchecked, socio-religious establishments such as Monastery, Churches, Synagogues and Mosques will be destroyed”. Proverbs 15: 27 whoever is greedy for unjust gain troubles his household, but he who hates bribes will live”. This extensive use of this term ‘fasad’ indicates the great emphasis of the Qur’an on promoting reform, integrity, transparency, good behaviour and banning of all types of corruption and mischief. There is no justification for corruption in whatever guise.
In the biblical context, corruption has been endemic among humankind ever since the fall (Genesis; 6:11-12), While some get caught up in it, others resist it. The fact is that none can simply afford to ignore it.
We also understand from the Qur’an that Allah does not love corrupt people or corruption. (Qur’an:2: 17:9; 5:44). To complete the perfect setup of the universe with all its facets, God sent messengers to show people the right path and be good models in doing good and preventing corruption. (Proverbs 14: 34) “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
As Christians and Muslims, we must not turn blind eyes to or condone corruption. It is a serious matter and its destructive impacts should be of concern to all of us. Therefore, the issue must be high in the agenda of our homes, schools, churches, mosques and the society at large. Individual Christians and Muslims in Government, NGOs, CSOs, the media and academia can play a part both individually and collectively in combating it. Regardless of gender, tribe, region, religion, political parties or status, human beings have being assigned the task of building a corrupt-free society called the reign of God