Power wasted on the powerful

Last night I opened an email from a friend whose subject line read “Grand Opening of Atlantis Hotel in Dubai”. It started with a hadith which I scanned quickly, rushing to see the pictures. I have an interest in architecture and I wondered if the design might be unique but I became increasingly disgusted as I scrolled threw them

The first shot reminded me of a structure I’d expect to find in the heart of Vegas but it was surrounded by water so then I thought of Sin City’s east coast counterpart – Atlantic City. Then I went back to the hadith narrated by AbuHuraira which the email opened with, the part most pertinent being the response to angel Gabriel’s question of the prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of God be upon him): "When will the Hour be established?"

The reply: When the shepherds of black camels start boasting and competing with others in the construction of higher Buildings. (Book #2, Hadith #47)

Have you seen it yet? Look here:

It’s not the height of the building but its luxury that disturbed me. Whenever I see scenes of such opulence I can’t help but think of the immense suffering in the world. When I mentioned it to a friend, showing them the photos they expressed that Allah made rich and poor, meaning for us to be different and for that reason seeing the exploits of the rich did not bother him. I replied that if a day came that I could witness such decadence and not feel disturbed I no longer wanted to be alive, my heart and soul would be dead.

We went on to talk about poverty and privilege. I always get on this friend because in my eyes he focuses on the privilege I have holding an American passport and the great value of the American dream while overlooking the corruption and poverty that exists in the US. He agrees that corruption exists everywhere then I ask how corruption in Africa or Asia can be deemed worse than the corruption in the US simply because Americans enjoy many rights and opportunities that Africans and Asians don’t enjoy? How can you compare a hamburger made of ground pork to a shish kebab made of roast pork? So one is on a skewer and the other on a bun with lettuce tomato and sauce, they are both haram!

I then go on to say that those who have power and privilege should be held more responsible for uplifting those less fortunate. We agreed that we are both greatly disappointed in the way the leaders of the birthplace of Islam practice Islam at home and portray Islam in the world. He even pointed out that their king’s proficiency in Arabic and Islamic studies is lacking. Yet when I said that the US should be expected to do more for the world than weaker countries he seemed to let the US of the hook. I don’t understand this logic, clemency for the west and austerity for the east, leniency for the powerful and stringency for the less powerful.

What should our expectations be based on? If own great wealth or have great knowledge you are expected to succeed in life. If you’ve got more power than I have, shouldn’t you be expected to use that God given power to help others? Yes, the US is great in its philanthropic exploits, but do we let that hide its hegemony? Should we overlook its oppression of numerous peoples throughout the globe simply because it also sends a bit of aid here and there?

When I woke up in the morning, I found myself reading Sura Sad. There I found many prophets praised but in light of the discussion with my friend the night before, the ones that grabbed my attention were David, Solomon and Dhul Qarnayn. They were kings. They were leaders. They were powerful men. At the same time, they were righteous. This only reinforces my point that today’s leaders should be held accountable for their actions be they from North America or Southeast Asia. They will be called upon to answer for their deeds, if not in this life, in the hereafter.

Listen to AbdulBaset AbdulSamad, Ibrahim Walk [Saheeh Intl translation]
Here http://quranicaudio.com/sura/38

Read Ibn Kathir’s tafsir
Here http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=category§ionid=42&id=89&Itemid=94

A bit of irony, according to wikipedia: While Vegas's tolerance for various forms of adult entertainment earned it the title of Sin City, it also has the highest number of churches per capita of any major U.S. city.

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