Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam
Papers’ which leaked thousands of names of corporations and rich individuals
round the world, hiding their wealth in so called ‘tax havens’ to minimize
paying income tax in their own countries, seems to have stirred hornets’ nest.
In particular the question of corporate and individuals’ morality, ethics and
of being responsible citizens is now foremost in many ordinary peoples mind.
casualty of this has already occurred that of the Prime Minister of Iceland
Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson who has resigned his post following street protests in
it signify in terms of national values of the citizens of Iceland and the
individual at the centre of protest, that is, the Prime Minister Gunnlaugsson?
country of just over three hundred thousand people is one of the wealthiest and
advance republics in Europe, with lowest taxation regime and perhaps cradle to
grave social welfare system. So why would anybody try to hide ones assets in
offshore safe haven? Yet within few days of publication of the leaked papers
the Prime Minister resigns because the people demanded of him to do so. Having
gone through and survived the banking scandal of the last Financial Crisis,
transparency and integrity of officials was what they wanted.
countries it is required that the members of Parliament, declare their assets
to the relevant authorities and for public scrutiny. In spite of this
requirement, in many countries it is hardly ever enforced or implemented.
made by the lawmakers for others to obey. The standard sentence quoted by them
when wrong doings are discovered, is set in concrete, vis “We have done nothing
comparison, see these--
standards when synchronize with moral values is when it makes it easy for a
person of conscience to decide whether it was right or wrong.
It is a
human experience that any government can make laws so watertight that there is
no conflict between ethics to follow the law of the land and obeying the inner
voice—the conscience—the morals that guides a person to choose to do the right
particular issue of paying ones fair share of legally imposed tax on earnings
on wealth that was initially accumulated within the country and then siphoning
that wealth to a safe haven to minimize or even not pay any tax, however legal,
is where the conflict between ethics of legality and morality of acting as a
good and responsible citizen to one’s ‘home country’, comes into play.
and lawmakers of home country deprive it this tax revenue, then put extra
burden on the ordinary taxpayer; generally those in the service industry whose
taxes are deducted upfront to make the shortfall, in order to provide the
necessary benefits and services to the citizens. These benefits and services
were often “promised” during election campaigns. Ultimately these shortfalls
bring the State where its treasury lacks the funds to fulfil the promises they
downward spiral of Poverty related issues, such as corruption and crime then
takes hold and the whole economy suffers. There is an exodus of people to
greener pastures. These people often are the ones with brains and skills and
hence a compound effect manifests itself in what is called the “brain-drain”!
These are just some simple examples for a layperson to comprehend.
elite fail to understand or perhaps they do understand, that their immoral action
has this inevitable reaction affecting the whole nation, but they have deadened
their inner voice. Their crime though legal, then is magnified many times as it
is not only a theft of the nation as a whole but of inflicting a lower standard
of moral character for the nation to adopt in order to survive. The inevitable
outcome of poverty! Hardly any Muslim country in the world and its elite has
escaped the list of Panama Papers!
shameful ‘begging bowl’ label is often pined to the countries’ Muslim leaders
visiting Western nations, asking for ‘Aid’ from them to fulfil the promises
they themselves had made to their citizens during their election campaigns.
It is fair to ask what is then the moral
criterion or datum for Muslims to adopt and follow in order to avoid the spiral
of poverty and maintain their dignity in world view. Is it enough to say that
we are no different to the all the other countries of the world and leaders
whose names are given on the Panama Papers? This is just a worldwide phenomenon
that we follow.
are some Muslim countries proud to name themselves ‘Islamic’ or claim to be
followers of … ‘Sharia’: Sharia of indignity, wealth accumulation, greed,
abrogation of citizen responsibilities and much more!
Muslims, if they are followers of their datum, their code Book the Quran which
they uphold as their scripture and swear their oaths on it, they must know the
fundamental command of Islamic economics given on the very first page of the
main body of the Book- the chapter two verse three:
وَمِمّا رَزَقٗناھُمْ یُنْفِقُوْنَ –and distribute freely what We have provided
for them 2-3. This is the first of the definitions of a Believer.
Churches and their operatives have distilled the wide ranging all-encompassing
command down to simple instruction of ‘feed the poor’! The best they have come
up with is the two and a half percent (2.5%) religious levy many call ‘poor
due’ mainly paid to their churches.
practical demonstration of that is feeding the poor in the evening during the
month of fasting. The rest of eleven months of the year the poor just do not
2-3 is the fundamental on which the entire Islamic society is supposed to
exist. The wealth and its equitable and free distribution are then further
elaborated with the command of Zakat which is what the churches have
manipulated as the virtue of charity--the poor due in order to escape the State
levy of Income Tax.
revenue is the main feature of the economy of any State, Muslim or not. It
cannot function without this income to provide the necessary provisions to its
citizen which it is obliged to do. The exceptions are the States, which are
blessed with immeasurable natural resources so as to function successfully
without levying any taxes.
State is not a charitable organization that is left to function on the
voluntary goodwill of its citizens.
demeaning to the receiver and the code of Islam commands the State for the
establishment of a system to ensure that human dignity is not violated by
receiving charity. وَاَتُوالزَکاوتہ and
proffer Zakat, the tax; as against offer, as an act of worship or devotion for
holy reward; is not the function and obligation of a responsible State.
Hence, if a
State enacts its laws to fulfil its obligations to its citizens, it is
incumbent on the citizens,—the lawmakers included-- to act within the spirit of
the law and not to benefit from the loopholes that may exist in the law.
Although that may be legal and therefore can be construed as ethical but
certainly it is not moral: a value that is well beyond any States’ ability to
instil in its citizens.
“We have done nothing illegal” is not
an excuse acceptable to the Code Book. For the sustenance Rizq to be Halal-
allowed, it has to be legal, moral and wholesome in every respect- that is to
A regular contributor to New Age Islam, Rashid
Samnakay is a (Retd.) Engineer
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