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"Woe to the Defrauders." (Quran 83:1) And Woe to the Tyrants who Trade with Millions of the Wealth of the Nations

"Woe to the Defrauders." (Quran 83:1) And Woe to the Tyrants who Trade with Millions of the Wealth of the Nations


Published in June 17, 2018

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy



Firstly: tyrannical rulers are the defrauders:

1- The common understanding of this verse "Woe to the defrauders." (83:1) is the warning by God of Hell as the fate to those merchants who cheat their customers when they weigh goods/merchandise within purchases/selling transactions. This understanding of 83:1 is certainly wrong; buyers can freely boycott merchants/tradesmen who are cheaters and deal with honest ones instead. Free markets will make cheaters lose and people will never buy from their shops. Hence, we assert here that the verse 83:1 refers to something else.   

2-In fact, the verse 83:1 refers to the state of injustice when unjust power/authority controls markets and force oppressed citizens in a given country to buy/sell crops and goods as per certain fixed prices. Those are the defrauders: "Woe to the defrauders. Those who, when they take a measure from people, they take in full. But when they measure or weigh to others, they cheat. Do these not know that they will be resurrected? For a Great Day? The Day when the humankind will stand before the Lord of the Worlds? Not at all. The Book of the wicked ones is in Sijjeen. But how can you know what Sijjeen is? A numerical book. Woe on that Day to the deniers. Those who deny the Day of Judgment. But none denies it except the sinful aggressor. When Our Verses are recited to him, he says, "Myths of the ancients." Not at all. Their hearts have become corroded by what they used to earn. Not at all. On that Day, they will be screened from their Lord. Then they will roast in Hell. Then it will be said, "This is what you used to deny."" (83:1-17).

3- These verses assert the fact that in many eras (until now), millions of people suffer the tyrants who monopolize wealth, power, and authority and assume they own homelands and those who live inside them; they oppress citizens by torture, detention, etc. to intimidate opposition figures and trends. Egypt, for example, witnesses such state of affairs since the 1952 military coup that has turned it into a republic after it was a monarchy. The Egyptian peasants used to own their stretches of land; Abdel-Nasser made peasants as those who make use of such stretches of land (but NOT as the proprietors of such stretches of land) for the benefit of the State; those in authority forces peasants to plant and harvest certain crops and they controlled agricultural societies and forced peasants to sell/buy at certain prices imposed by the State; e.g., they forced peasants to remove pests from crops for free; those who refused to obey the local authorities were tortured in prisons; this era which stretched from 1950s to the 1990s was witnessed by our person in our native village: Abou Herez, in Kafr Saqr, Al-Sharqiyah Governorate in the Nile Delta of Lower Egypt. We have personally witnessed the suffering or the Calvary of our folks there by the local authorities whose men served the State. As a specialist in history, we know now the sad fact that foreign rulers in Egypt like the Fatimids and the Mamelukes gave Egyptian peasants more freedom; this is why the rich, lush, verdant villages provided Cairo and the main cities with goods and crops for centuries; the rural areas gradually became deteriorated and villagers fled to Cairo, Alexandria, and the main cities or sought to immigrate outside Egypt; this goes on until now.

4- When the socialist regime of Abdel-Nasser ended in 1970 when he died, Sadat adopted the Open-Door policies of free economy and free markets while introducing new laws and keeping the old ones issued in 1950s and the 1960s; such conflicting and contradictory laws made high-rank and low-rank governmental employees in all Egyptian governorates grow too powerful and corrupt to demand bribes and control millions of L.E. Thus, the deep state in Egypt has grown deep roots of corruption since 1952 and deeper roots in the 1970s. Mubarak came to power in 1981and corruption increased to an unprecedented level as he invested in millions of LE through the façade of businessmen and affluent one under his control; wealth and power/authority went hand in hand in plain sight; powerful men drew nearer to the Mubarak and men of his authority to get easy access to bank loans and corrupt and shady investment transactions. This has worsened now as the military army generals – not only the president – confiscate wealth and power more than businessmen, and this made wealth and power/authority go hand in hand in plain sight in a more flagrant, explicit manner.               

5- It is a bad habit that tyrannical rulers confiscate and monopolize power/authority and wealth; this applies to all countries between Iran and Morocco. Tyrants and their cronies and men use their absolute power to amass more wealth and build an empire of investment and business inside their homelands and abroad, and they consume ill-gotten money though money-laundering and those who imitate them are high-rank generals of the military army and those powerful politicians and businessmen whose transactions and commissions make them grow into billionaires; these are the unjust affluent retinue members mentioned in the Quranic stories of prophets/messengers; they cause the State to borrow from the IMF and international banks and this makes ordinary citizens suffer huge debts, inflation, high prices, etc. for many generations; many countries went bankrupt this way. Tyrannical rulers might be murdered/assassinated or deposed/toppled and their smuggled ill-gotten wealth abroad is confiscated by unknown people who will consume the wealth of the poor, oppressed nations; this occurred to Mubarak, Kaddafi, Yasser Arafat, Ben Ali, and others; this will occur to other existing tyrants soon enough.


Secondly: the people of Madian and the alliance of authority/power, wealth, and corruption:

 The disbelievers among the people of Madian were destroyed by the torment inflicted on them as a penalty by the Lord God; we infer these facts about the people of Madian from the Quran.

1- The people of Madian were Arabs; their prophet had an Arab name: Shuaib.

2- The people of Madian lived and were located within a very important spot in terms of commerce and trade caravans, overlooking the travel routes of the deserts of Arabia.

3- The people of Madian increased and multiplied in number; their prophet, Shuaib, told them the following: "...And remember how you were few, and how He made you numerous..." (7:86).

4- The people of Madian owned gardens: "The People of the Gardens disbelieved the messengers. When Shuaib said to them, “Do you not fear? I am to you a trustworthy messenger. So fear God, and obey me." (26:176-179).

5- The people of Madian took advantage of their strategic location, their great number of men, and their agricultural wealth to fortify themselves and to commit acts of corruption on earth. 

5/1: The people of Madian forced buyers/sellers to obey their commands and they cheated in weighing goods; this is why Shuaib conveyed to them the divine command to stop this cheating and corruption.

5/2: The people of Madian controlled the trade-caravans routes and they imposed their corrupt laws on kingdoms near them and they repelled people away from the Path of the Lord God; i.e., monotheism, and away from the divine commands of upholding to justice and fairness; Shuaib told them the following: "And do not lurk on every path, making threats and turning away from the Path of God those who believe in Him, seeking to distort it..." (7:86).

5/3: God links the people of Madian to corruption many times in the Quran: "...So note the consequences for the corrupters." (7:86); "...and do not spread corruption in the land." (11:85 + 26:183).

5/4: The people of Madian were so arrogant and vain that they threaten to stone Shuaib to death if it had not been for the powerful faction to which he belonged; he despaired and gave up trying to preach and to warn them; God destroyed them eventually: "They said, “O Shuaib, we do not understand much of what you say, and we see that you are weak among us. Were it not for your tribe, we would have stoned you. You are of no value to us.” He said, “O my people, is my tribe more important to you than God? And you have turned your backs on Him? My Lord comprehends everything you do.” “O my people, do as you may, and so will I. You will know to whom will come a torment that will shame him, and who is a liar. So look out; I am on the lookout with you.” And when Our command came, We saved Shuaib and those who believed with him, by mercy from Us, and the Blast struck the unjust ones, and they became motionless bodies in their homes. As though they never flourished therein. Away with Madian, as was done away with Thamood." (11:91-95);"But they denied him. So the torment of the day of gloom gripped them. It was the torment of a great day." (26:189).

6- God has destroyed the people of Madian and mentioned their story in the Quran to preach and warn people; are we warned and have we took heed?!


Lastly: a reminder for those who heed the warning and preaching:

1- God in the Quran prohibits consuming people's money illicitly by the help of corrupt rulers: "And do not consume one another’s wealth by unjust means, nor offer it as bribes to the officials in order to consume part of other people’s wealth illicitly, while you know." (2:188).

2- In a general rule, God allows trade within all labels and types (e.g., insurance, purchase by installments, dealings with banks, etc.) within mutual agreement of all parties involved  without interference of any authority: "O you who believe! Do not consume each other’s wealth illicitly, but trade by mutual consent...." (4:19).

3- Upholding justice is the aim of Scriptures of God: "We sent Our messengers with the clear proofs, and We sent down with them the Book and the Balance, that humanity may uphold justice..." (57:26).

4- God commands justice in all things, including weighing of goods and merchandise: "...And give full weight and full measure, equitably. We do not burden any soul beyond its capacity..." (6:152); "And give full measure when you measure, and weigh with accurate scales. That is fair, and the best determination." (17:35); "And the sky, He raised; and He set up the balance. So do not transgress in the balance. But maintain the weights with justice, and do not violate the balance." (55:7-9).


Finally: the Best Discourse:

 God's Book is Clear; justice and injustice are clear; the unjust ones in all eras never believe in the Hereafter nor the Day of Judgment; we urge readers to reflect and ponder deeply on these verses: "Do not ever think that God is unaware of what the unjust ones do. He only defers them until a Day when the sights stare. Their necks outstretched, their heads upraised, their gaze unblinking, their hearts void. And warn the humankind of the Day when the torment will come upon them, and the unjust ones will say, "Our Lord, defer us for a little while, and we will answer Your call and follow the messengers." Did you not swear before that there will be no passing away for you? And you inhabited the homes of those who wronged themselves, and it became clear to you how We dealt with them, and We cited for you the examples. They planned their schemes, but their schemes are known to God, even if their schemes can eliminate mountains. Do not ever think that God will break His promise to His messengers. God is Strong, Able to Avenge. On the Day when the earth is changed into another earth, and the heavens, and they will emerge before God, the Dominant and One Lord. On that Day, you will see the sinners bound together in chains. Their garments made of tar, and the Fire covering their faces. That God may repay each soul according to what it has earned. God is Quick in Judgment. This is a proclamation for the humankind, that they may be warned thereby, and know that He is One God, and that people of understanding may remember." (14:42-52). As always, God says nothing but the Absolute Truth.

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