Islam

Friday Sermon: Greed: The Root of All Evil

By Babatunde Jose

Greed goes much further than money. A person can be greedy for money but also for fame, possessions, attention, compliments, gifts, another person’s time, and more. In the Bible, the words greed, greedily, greedy, and greediness are always used to describe the selfish motivation of a person – Danielle Bernock

Greed is a spiritual disease of the heart affecting all areas of a person’s life. Greed is an “intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power or food.” Vocabulary.com goes a little further in its explanation calling it ugly, insatiable, and gives us the origin of the word. “Greed come from the Old English graedig, or ‘voracious,’ which means ‘always hungry for more,’” they explained. A person can be insatiably hungry for money but also for fame, possessions, attention, compliments, gifts, another person’s time, and more. Greed is always self-centered and never satisfied. This would explain the ugly nature of our political office holders and their insatiable lust for money, office, and position. It also explains why political office holders, had cause to institute criminally bogus salaries and allowances, and pension schemes for themselves and their successors. Not satisfied with the volume of loot they amassed during their 4 or 8-year tenure, these greedy ‘Oliver Twists ‘wanted some more’ in perpetuity: Regardless of the financial fortunes of their states. That is why some of them today, are not only proud owners of executive private jets (we hear that one even has a fleet of three), but mansions in Abuja, Dubai, and The Bahamas. Shameless gluttons, they have developed very thick necks and find it difficult to turn their heads. Parasites on their people, they have developed an insatiable and voracious appetite for other people’s money. This brings into focus the Public Office Holders Pension Laws in most states of the federation: A dubious and immoral contraption instituted to bleed the states of funds which they did not work for.

The Lagos State pension law was passed by rubber stamp state assembly in 2007 on the eve of Governor Bola Tinubu ending his second term tenure. Titled: The Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension) Law No 11 Official Gazette of Lagos State, 2007, the law has since been copied by other states. But because of litigation and court rulings, many states have jettisoned the obnoxious law.

The obscene Lagos State Pension law among other provisions:  former governors of the state are entitled to a house each in any location of their choice in Lagos and Abuja (for two-term governors only). The law also provides for six new cars every three years( wetin?), 100 per cent of the basic salary of the serving governor (N7.7m per annum), as well as free health care for himself and members of his family. Furniture allowance, which is 300 per cent of their annual basic salary (N23.3m); House maintenance allowance, which is 10 per cent of basic salary (N778, 296); Utility allowance, which is 20 per cent of the salary (N1.5m); Car maintenance allowance, which is 30 per cent of the annual basic salary (N2.3m). Entertainment allowance, which is 10 per cent of the basic salary (N778, 296). A personal assistant, who will earn 25 per cent of the governor’s annual basic salary (N1.9m). According to the law, the former governor will also be entitled eight policemen and two officials of the Department of State Services for life. The state will bear the expenses. And all these for life! Haba! This is the height of parasitic living.

SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare said: “Public officials should not encourage, sustain, or implement jumbo pension laws that show an appearance of conflict of interest, impropriety or create situation of personal enrichment. The pension law negates the duty to act honestly and to represent the needs and concerns of the people, and to refrain from activities, which interfere with the proper discharge of public functions.” The organization also said:“Those who manage the resources of the state ought to protect the interest of the people in their states. Public officials while entrusted with duties and discretions are not to act in their own best interest, but to discharge those duties and exercise those powers in the interests of the public.”

But their time will soon be up. During the last ‘Townhall Meeting of Southwest Monarchs and their political leaders, with the representatives of Abuja in attendance, the Obas were unanimous in their condemnation of the greed of political office holders which said was the major cause of the looting and mayhem that followed the peaceful EndSARS protest. The Oba of Lagos was even more detailed in his submission and brutally frank despite his erstwhile ‘chummy’ relationship with the governors of Lagos State, and the findings that he may be guilty of the same charge: His palace was also looted and ravaged during the orgy.

In the midst of this mindless pursuit of illicit and ungodly aggrandizement is the sane voice of reason, of Babatunde Raji Fashola, ex-Governor of Lagos State who refused to collect on principle saying in an interview on Thursday 13th July 2017: “I declined to benefit from the package. There was a cabinet meeting where the matter came up and there is a record of the minutes where I said ‘ if this is a privilege conferred on me, I had the right to refuse  and I refuse and the Cabinet should record my refusal to partake because I was conflicted morally about the position”. “For me, the real privilege was to serve, and I have gone back to my house in Surulere. No house was built for me by Lagos State Government in Abuja”. Ata boy!!! That is the kind of leader we are craving for, not the ‘jegudujera’ who would greedily eat up everything placed in front of them, including poison.

The Bible tells us that: “The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labor. He coveteth greedily all day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.” (Proverbs 21:25-26)

Islam promotes kindness and generosity and thus it stops people from being selfish and greedy. The greedy does not know when to stop, the only thing he or she cares about is acquiring as much fortune as possible. Greed can enslave a man, so it is important to learn how to overcome it.

Greed is a destructive force that can harm a person in many ways. A man’s greed is more dangerous than two hungry wolves in a flock of sheep.

What these greedy leaders fail to realize is that no matter how much wealth, power, or food you collect in this world, it will not help you in your grave. All the worldly possessions will stay while you will be no more. Therefore, we must be careful as we approach the twilight period of our lives. We are at that point in life when our thoughts should dwell more on the ‘end’ than on the now!

“In his love for the world, the greedy is like the silkworm: the more it wraps in its cocoon, the less chance it has of escaping from it, until it dies of grief.”-Imam Muhammad al-Baqir. “Greed is an imperfection that defiles the mind.” said Gautama Buddha.

Rivalry for acquisition is a source of diversion: “Your rivalry in the accumulation of wealth diverts your minds.” (Quran 102) “Refrain from greed for those who were before you perished because of greed. Greed commanded them to be stingy and they obeyed: it ordered them into alienation, and they obeyed; and it commanded them to sin and they sinned.” Prophet Muhammad (SAW)

Being a greedy person harms you both mentally and physically. That is why Islam does not fancy the greedy person. In the Quran 4, surah Al-Nisa verse 128. They are never satisfied nor grateful see Quran 102 surah Al-Takathur verse 1-2.

People who only focused on themselves without taking care of others become a disgrace to Islam. The Quran 68 surah Al-Qalam verses 17-18.

No matter how rich you are, your money is never helpful on the Day of Judgment. Quran 92 surah, Al-Lail verse 8-11:

Many years ago, my host pointed to a fenceless house in Kaduna and I asked who lived there. I was blown away when he told me it was the residence of Alhaji Balarabe Musa, a former governor of Kaduna State and erstwhile leader of People’s Redemption Party. Hmmmmm! His simple and spartan life attest to the fact that he shunned worldly and ill-gotten wealth. Balarabe Musa died some days ago and was buried without fanfare. He left the way he came, with empty hands. Inna lillah wa ina ilehi rajiun! May Allah admit him to Jannatul Firdous.

Let our greedy leaders remember that: “ The soul that sinneth shall die”; “destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity. . . the wicked shall not inherit the earth; Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatever a man sowed, he shall reap; and when the wicked spring as the grass and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish, it is that they shall be destroyed forever”.  A word is enough for the greedy leaders. Before them have passed workers of iniquity and where are they today?

Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend

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