Devotional — Greed: the antithesis of charity

Published 8:47 am Thursday, June 16, 2022

In these troubled times, one asks, “What can I do to make our national and local community life more tolerable? Are we losing our spiritual guidance? Scripture reminds us, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. (1 Corinthians 13:13). Also we find in scripture, “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8).

To answer the questions related to our problematic existence, we must first try to identify the root cause of our insistence on social and economic partitioning. Our ability to visualize others’ welfare as contributing partners in our overall community well-being is declining. This unhealthy obsession with the notion of one group’s superiority that must dominate and control others speaks to our collective reduction in the understanding the importance of charity.

Nation-wide shootings, attacks on individuals and minority racial/ religious groups, along with unjust discrimination in our judicial system have forced this question to the forefront of our consciousness.

I believe the root of our American dilemma is the perpetuation of normative ideals of personal greed. Greed is the antithesis of charity. When politicians’ personal greed is rewarded, laws that begin the process of social justice and equity for all are aborted. Satisfaction of one’s personal desires are more important than the well-being of our collective whole.

We are conditioned never to be satisfied–we want more than our neighbor. Somehow we are convinced that this preoccupation with material possession enhances our self worth.

Citizens are killed and murderers sometimes go unpunished. Children are slaughtered and national leaders do little to stem the sources of this terrible human tragedy.

Scammers recognize this social illness and offer “something for nothing” and we believe it. Advertisers employ language such as “you deserve so-and-so” sparking individual greed.

“Verily (the ends) you strive for are diverse. So he who gives (in charity) and fears God, And (in all sincerity) testifies to the Truth; We will indeed make smooth for him the path to Ease. But he who is a greedy miser and thinks himself self-sufficient, and calls truth a lie, We will indeed make smooth for him the Path to Misery.” (Qur’an , 92:8).

Our societal life can improve but we must harness our excessive preoccupation with personal greed. Our lives depend upon it.

Qadir Abdus-Sabur, Ph.D. is an Imam at the Islamic Center of Prince Edward. His email address is qas1944@gmail.com.