By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has advised people who corruptly enriched themselves to seek forgiveness before the end of Ramadan. The Islamic advocacy and human rights group spoke on Tuesday 21st May, 2019 via a press release issued by its Founder and Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
According to MURIC, the process of securing forgiveness for looters involves genuine repentance by the looter, refunding the stolen money or property or diverting it to non-profit public use and finally, refraining from further stealing. The organization advised that looters should seize the opportunity in this month of Ramadan because it is the month of forgiveness.
“We advise looters to repent in this Ramadan because it is the month of forgiveness. The train of mercy is leaving now. Purchase your own ticket before the month ends. Ask Allah to forgive you and He will do so because He is a Merciful God.
“So we have brought the three R’s this Ramadan: Repent, Refund and Refrain. Looters are asked to repent. They must refund stolen funds after repenting and finally, they must refrain from further stealing after refunding what they stole.
“Allah frowns on corruption because it is a cancerous tumor which must be removed from the anatomy of every society lest it spreads and consumes the whole. It is an established fact that no good surgeon will hesitate to amputate an infected part of the human body.
“As a religion which promotes human welfare, Islam seeks to create an egalitarian society where there is no palpably visible wide gap between the rich and the poor. This is where corruption and Islam stand poles apart. The former compartmentalizes society into the stupendously rich and the terribly poor whereas the latter seeks to raise the standard of living for all.
“This is why Islam forbids every man or woman from taking or receiving bribes and kickbacks or engaging in over-invoicing (Glorious Qur’an 2:188; 4:29-30). The Qur’an also condemns the accumulation of wealth (102:1-8; 104:1-9).
“Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) condemned cheats, bribe-takers and looters. This is very clear in his numerous pronouncements on corruption. Examples are, ‘Whoever cheats us is not one of us.’ ‘The curse of Allah is on both the givers and takers of bribe.’ ‘Gifts accepted by public officers are ghuluul (i.e. ill-gotten gains).’
MURIC also spoke about the eschatological implication of corruption on looters.
“The Glorious Qur’an warns that those involved will be punished in al-Akhirah (the Hereafter), ‘They take usury and collect bribe even though it is forbidden. They devour people’s money wrongfully. Verily indeed We have prepared a grievous punishment for unbelievers’ (4:161).
In the hadith (sayings of the Prophet) ‘Any leader who dies as a cheat will never enter al-Jannah (Paradise).’He also said that any public official or businessman who steals the people’s common patrimony and uses it to purchase or build personal property will appear yawm al-Qiyamah (the Day of Ressurrection) carrying the stolen money, property or properties on his head. Stolen money will become reptiles right from the grave on the day a looter is buried. Snakes and scorpions will bite him ad infinitum until yawm al-Qiyamah!
To avoid the travails of al-Akhirah, MURIC asked looters to seek forgiveness.
“Muslims are known to covet al-Jannah. All their acts of worship (Salat, Zakat, fasting in the month of Ramadan, pilgrimage to Makkah, etc) are for the sake of al-Jannah. Therefore, the issue must be very serious if they are told that they will be denied that same al-Jannah if they loot public funds regardless of whether or not they dutifully performed other acts of worship.
“The way out is to repent. Looters must repent before they die or they will burn in hell. Fast everyday of your life if you like. Go on pilgrimage every year if you so desire. Perform Umrah every month or bring the whole city of Makkah to your expansive hilltop mansion and underground palace. You will burn in Jahannam (hell fire) if you steal our common patrimony and you still fail to repent, refund and refrain.
“MURIC did not say it. It came from the lips of Prophet Muhammad and the Prophet does not speak in vain because every single statement of his is divinely inspired (Qur’an 53:3-4 wa ma yantiq ‘anil hawaa, in huwa ilaa wahyun yuuhaa). You have only one option: repent. Repent before it is too late. Ramadan is the month of mercy and forgiveness. So do it now! You may never have another chance.
But the group also advised that seeking forgiveness may not be enough if those who looted public funds fail to return the stolen money.
“There is every chance that Allah will forgive looters if they manifest genuine remorse. That sincere remorse can only be exhibited by the looter if he surrenders the loot. We therefore advise looters who are seeking Allah’s forgiveness to surrender their loot after seeking forgiveness. There is double assurance that Allah will forgive because He is the Most Beneficient and the Most Merciful.
“Allah Himself says concerning this, ‘Say Oh my servants who have transgressed against their own souls, do not despair about the mercy of Allah because Allah forgives all sins. He is the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful’ (Qur’an 39:53).
The Islamic human rights organization also throws light on how looters can return stolen funds.
“Some looters may find it difficult to return stolen money. This may be out of fear of the law enforcement agencies. But they must remember that if anti-corruption agencies (EFCC or ICPC) does not sees them, Allah sees them. They cannot hide from Allah. He sees and knows everything.
“Therefore, our advice is that any looter who finds it difficult to return stolen money to the government should use it for a project from which the public can benefit, e.g. build roads in communities, provide drinkable water for rural communities, build city halls, repair roofs and windows of public schools, build public libraries, theatres, laboratories in public institutions of learnings, universities, secondary schools, etc and maintain them.
“He can build public toilets in several cities and make arrangement for their maintenance. Members of the public must be able to use such toilets free of all charges. Allah’s reward will continue to go to him for so long as people get relief from using the toilets.
“School buses can be put on the road for free ride by students. You can build public eateries where two free meals per day can be provided for senior citizens (anyone above the age of 60) and the jobless. This will reduce criminal activities to a large extent because many youth go into crime due to hunger. You can institute an endowment that settles hospital bills for poor and helpless patients. You can also distribute wheel chairs and similar health facilities for the handicapped.
“But there is a caveat here. In an attempt to return stolen funds through the provision of service to the public, looters should not invest the money in any venture that will fetch them money in return, e.g. building private universities where exorbitant fees will be charged.
“In the final analysis, forgiveness and al-Jannah will be guaranteed with the proviso that the looter does not continue stealing after seeking forgiveness and after returning the loot”.