Mosques and the Marketplace

by Mahmoud Andrade Ibrahim

The Prophet Muhammad  (peace be upon him) said: “The most beloved places on Earth to Allah are its mosques, and the most despised places on Earth to Allah are its marketplaces.” [Sahîh Muslim] 

From all the places on Earth, Allah loves the mosques above all else. They fulfill the most important function. They are the places where those on Earth make contact with their Creator and Sustainer. The Arabic word for prayer – salâh – means to make a connection between the worshipper and his Lord. 

As for the markets, they are not “the most despised places on Earth to Allah” on account of the buying and selling that goes on there. That is not the reason at all. 

They are despised because of all the deception and fraud that goes on. The markets are places where false measure is given, and where every day false oaths are sworn. They are places of stinginess, avarice, wrangling, and disputation.     
Sh. Salman al Oudah   

Well, I  don't believe that the above is an adequate explanation for me, a Blackamerican Muslim living in America. But it is the kind of explanation that we might hear at any masjid on any given jummah, which only says to me that the majority our leadership is out of touch with the current conditions we find ourselves in.   What I would have liked to have explained, given Allah's hatred of the marketplace, is something like this.... 

What is necessary to understand in this regard is that the ‘marketplace’ has contaminated every aspect of life on this planet.

To build a society that is based on the dictates or the morality of the marketplace (Wall Street) as America does, is insanity.  Rapacious capitalism,  an economic system that sees everything, not just manufactured goods but everything in the natural world which includes every man, woman and child, as commodities that can be bought, traded or sold is to be resisted and exposed in every way that we can and to speak this truth to power is revolution. 

It is this kind of unregulated greed that is responsible for the treaties that allow American manufacturers to leave this country in the search of higher profits and dirt cheap wages…these Corporate interests will continue to skim off hundreds of millions of dollars and direct scientific and technical expertise- expertise that should be directed toward enhancing the quality of life for all people - and uses this money to line the pockets of its investors whose only concern is their personal profit margin, and it is in keeping with the 'culture' of  these corporations that allows unscrupulous developers to over-develop neighborhoods with luxury apartments thereby making it difficult for working-class people and the poor to continue paying rents there. 

 It is this corporate greed that has privatized American penal institutions, whose sole goal is not the rehabilitation of the individuals but huge economic profits garnered on the backs of an un-paid labor force (the same function as slavery).  America has only 1/5th of the earth’s population but 25% of the earth’s incarcerated population.  And more importantly, in order to gain the acceptance of this arrangement the laws and courts have been infected by corporate manipulation.

Wars are prosecuted on the desirability of expanding the reach of the marketplace. Benign phrases such as ‘ opening new markets’ as applied to foreign policies is the expectation that our military will to go into a  country, sovereign or not and  demolish the existing cultural and economic infrastructure and replace it with one that serves as a  ‘feeder’  to the profit machinations of American corporate interests.  And it is this nexus of corporate greed, judicial compromise and military force that poses the greatest threat to our individual freedoms and protections.

  And these are a few reasons why Allah hates the marketplace, not some infantile explanation about stinginess !

 وَلَا تَنسَ نَصِيبَكَ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا 

Allah says: “And do not forget your responsibility to this world.”    [Sûra al-Qasas  28: 77] 

...and in the words of a contemporary social scientist speaking about the so-called 'war on terrorism' that has become an important part of the American economy..

"The corporations that profit from permanent war need us to be afraid. Fear stops us from objecting to government spending on a bloated military. Fear means we will not ask unpleasant questions of those in power. Fear permits the government to operate in secret. Fear means we are willing to give up our rights and liberties for promises of security. The imposition of fear ensures that the corporations that wrecked the country cannot be challenged. Fear keeps us penned in like livestock."    Chris Hedges

And Allah knows best.