In recent decades the international fight against corruption has been carried out within a largely secular framework. However Islamic teachings promote a moral framework that can provide a foundation for the fight against corruption; Islam calls upon Muslims to behave in a just and ethical manner that is conducive to sustainable development. This paper will reflect on the impact of corruption before looking at Islamic texts and teachings which promote justice and ethical accountability for all humankind.
The impact of corruption on development is devastating. The World Bank has stated that corruption is one of the greatest obstacles to economic and social development. Corrupt practices weaken public institutions, reduce the quality of and access to public services, deter investment and growth and cause damage to the environment. Such factors impact disproportionately on the poor who are least able to afford the extra costs associated with corruption. In addition to material impact, corruption also affects the value system of a society by undermining the principles of justice, equality and accountability.
Justice is a central value in Islam. Moreover, Islam promotes social justice which includes the fair and equitable distribution of wealth, the provision of basic necessities and the protection of the weak from economic exploitation by the strong. Islamic teachings provide a moral framework for preventing corruption which is referred to as fasaad in the Qur’an.
Islam teaches that humans are the stewards of God on earth and are therefore accountable to God for their deeds and choices. Such responsibility and accountability provides the motivation to abide by Islam’s moral and ethical code. Furthermore human behaviour is also influenced by the concept of taqwa which is a central concept in the teaching of the Qur’an which can be translated into the state of being pious or God-fearing. Muslims are encouraged by the Qur’an to demonstrate the taqwa of God by behaving in a just and ethical manner. In this way, the concept of taqwa in Islam provides the foundation for ethical transparency and accountability.
Islamic teachings not only encourage humans to be responsible for their own behaviour but also the behaviour of their fellow human beings. According to Islam, enjoining what is right and prohibiting what is wrong is the responsibility of the whole community. Muslims should openly advocate against the wrong doing of others in order to promote a more just and accountable society. In particular Muslim organisations trying to tackle the issue of poverty should embrace and promote the moral framework laid down by Islam as a way of curbing corruption and achieving justice and sustainable development.