Corruption: The Modern-Day Plague of Egypt

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“The Egyptian Islamists saw themselves as the vanguard of a moral revolution that would root out deep-seated evil of corruption from their society,” writes Utvik, who adds that the Islamists also believe “God-fearing and well-qualified people must take the place of those who are corrupt.”

Utvik cites the zakat as a parliament-mandated Islamic economic measure the Muslim Brotherhood wants to introduce. He cites an Islamic economist who maintains the zakat, a religious offering that goes to the poor, is “not a voluntary charitable donation, but a duty that must be enforced by an Islamic state.” The zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam, acts that are considered obligatory for all believers and is estimated to be about 2.5 percent of a person’s capital and income. The Brotherhood agrees with the Islamic economist’s viewpoint and has always advocated the zakat in place of income tax, which people avoid paying. Making the zakat a religious obligation, the Brotherhood believes, will ensure that believers will meet this financial requirement.

The money from the zakat is also to be kept separate from other government sources of revenue, Utvik says, and invested in enterprises that will meet the needs of Egypt’s many poor and lift them up “above the mere survival level …to a minimum of enjoyment of life.” So rather than just poverty relief, the zakat is seen as a means of acquiring money for economic development. Christians, Utvik writes, would pay the jizya. The amount paid would be the same as the zakat if the person performs military service, but the jizya is higher for those who do not serve.

The zakat is just one example of Islamic economics the Muslim Brotherhood wants to introduce into Egypt. Islamic banking is another device to make the country’s economy Sharia-compliant. Islamic banks do not pay interest, which is forbidden in Islam.

But the obvious question is whether the application of Sharia law to the Egyptian economy will even work. When one views other Islamic countries, such as Iran, Sudan and Pakistan, which are ruled by Sharia, then the answer is a resounding “no.” Each of these three countries possesses a failing economy. And Sharia also hasn’t brought forth a more virtuous, morally harmonious society in these three cases either. Just the opposite. In Pakistan, for example, the poor have stayed poor, while the elite have just gotten richer as the country dissolves into a morass of sectarian murder and terrorism. In Iran and Sudan, the people have demonstrated, or are currently demonstrating, to get rid of the Islamist rulers who gave them Sharia law in the first place.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s declarations concerning a Sharia-based economy resemble those of Marxist economic planners after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. At that time in Russia, there was a genuine desire to help the poor and build a new, strong, non-capitalist economic order based on Marxist principles that would benefit everyone while uniting and morally uplifting the whole country. A “new socialist man” would emerge who would deny individualism and work for the collective good. In the end, as the world witnessed, it was a disaster. Human nature could not be changed.

The Muslim Brotherhood will probably also discover the same in any experiment they conduct in Islamic economics in Egypt despite their plan’s religious backing. Human nature cannot be changed and, like Marxist economics, Sharia-based economics will not solve the financial disaster Egypt is currently facing but rather worsen it.

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  • Chezwick

    Such is the Islamic 'Catch 22'….Sharia is the supposed answer….it breeds mostly poverty and misery…and then its failures are attributed to insufficient adherence, the answer being to tighten the screws even further. The Utopian ideal precludes any possibility for an empirically-derived, rational solution.

  • Larry

    Sounds like situation normal in Egypt. Corruption was the reason the British and French moved in to protect their investment in the Suez Canal and other projects back in the 19thC.

    In fact, sounds like situation normal in any islamic country.

    • OOO

      Are you racist or stupid please tell me.

  • crackerjack

    I fail to see much difference between Egypt and the US when it comes to corruption.

    Similar to the US, Egypt has a mighty military-industrial complex that lobbys and dictates goverment to its own benefit.

    Similar to the US, wealth and financial power lay in the hands of a small minority who's influence and lobbys ensure and cement the poverty of the great majority.

    Islamism has no cure, but neither do US Republicans or Democrats.

    • Chezwick

      Typical Lefty drawing moral equivalence in a world he knows nothing about. When was the last time you tried to get a business license in America?….in Egypt? No difference, eh? In America, you fill out the appropriate paper-work and pay an established fee. In Egypt, you fill out the appropriate paper-work, pay the fee, and then grease the palm of the bureaucrat who can – on a whim – either expedite or interminably delay your application.

      And this Marxist boiler-plate of yours that the rich "cement the poverty of the great majority"…as if, were we to exterminate the rich, the "great majority" would suddenly be affluent!!! Adolescent delusions die hard, don't they?

    • John Stone

      If you really care about this you might go to the Transparency International and look around a little. They measure the level of corruption by polling business people who deal in various countries. Ranking all 182 countries with 1 as the best, we are 24 and Egypt is 112. Corruption is the major problem in a lot of poor countries.

  • Mach1Duck

    Oh, to replace one group of corruption with another, after all who runs the drug and prostution in Iran?

    • Omar

      Hey! As an Egyptian and Muslim, I take offence. Firstly Muslim Brotherhood has got nothing to do with drugs and this article is about Egypt so don't get Iran involved. If Muslim Brotherhood are corrupt how come they were fighting against Mubarak and his corruption? When you write something please know what you are writing about!

  • Marty

    Every islamic society is governed by corrupt institutions. No islamic society has ever been governed by equitable and humane laws because of sharia law. Women and non-muslims are immediately relegated to second class citizens and feel the sinister impact of sharia law upheld and implemented by the islamic male power elite that explicitly favors and protects the muslim male power apparatus. This is why it is impossible for any islamic nation to adopt democracy even if it wanted to do so. muslims would first have to rid themselves of the disease of sharia, an event we may all hope for but should not expect.

    • Omar

      Are you kidding me! Sharia laws will always exists as long as Islam exists. It is the law of Islam any Islamic nation should have Sharia laws and as I am an Egyptian and Muslim I will always believe Sharia laws. If you don't like too bad not my problem. Egyptians voted for Sharia laws so that means we want and like it. Even women voted for it so that means that most likely like it too and your comment cannot stop a thing about the use of Sharia laws

  • sabinelr

    So the jakat is 2.5% and the jizya is "higher." I can see a bunch of Christian refugees from Muslim countries coming over here and discovering the normal taxation rate vastly exceeds the punishing levels in the Islamic world, and wondering what exactly they were escaping to…

  • @apriyono_rd

    Sharia's law is solution of the problem.

    • Omar

      I agree with your statement it's correct all the way!