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Saudi scholar Salman al-Oadah made a sensation with an anti-corruption speech delivered on his regular You Tube broadcast Wasm (Impressions).

 

 

The public response to the episode entitled: “Where did you get this from?” was so overwhelming that it made headlines in CNN’s Arabic News. Sheikh Salman spoke frankly about the great wealth high officials manage to amass while in office. He also levelled his criticism at society’s moral watchdogs for paying too much attention to policing private morality while neglecting the issue of large-scale public corruption.

 

 

Sheikh Salman began by dedicating the episode to “the poor and hungry in Yemen and elsewhere in the world”. From there, he established the foundations of his discussion in the Prophet’s words: “The reason why the people before you perished was because if one of their noblemen stole something, they left him alone, but when a weak person among them stole something, they punished him.”

 

 

He then framed his discussion by recalling the policy of Islam’s Second caliph, Umar b. al-Khattab, who used to monitor the wealth acquired by his provincial governors of by interrogating them with the question: “Where did you get this from?”

 

 

After setting the tone in this way, Sheikh Salman moved his focus to the present, adding, “Throughout the breadth of the Muslim world, infectious parasites have returned, looking for places to burrow. They have settled themselves into luxury offices and infiltrated bank vaults, and from there they work their appetites on the bodies of society’s weak and downtrodden. They have come back with a vengeance and spread like a cancer, because society’s moral watchdogs are too busy policing private morality.”

 

 

He also criticised the way the media plays into corruption by distracting the public with the scandals of lesser officials: “What is with the media that delights in sensationalizing the small-time embezzlers while bestowing accolades on the real crooks who operate on a grand scale?”

 

 

He asked pointedly: “What kind of government posts are these that provide you with a modest salary on record, but when you retire, you walk away with a fortune?”

 

 

He then compared the situation in the Arab world with that of the West, where major officials have been convicted on charges of corruption: “What kind of mentality can equate a society that takes its leaders to court and brings them to disgrace for their wrongdoings, with the kind of society that celebrates its corrupt officials in the name of God, the nation, and the people!”

 

 

The episode was viewed by hundreds of thousands of people within hours of being released. He responded by posting one of the questions from the show on his Twitter account: “What sort of law ignores auditing the accounts of top officials, disdains putting corrupt officials in jail, and makes no provision for restoring to the people what has been taken from them?”

 

 

Among the thousands of responses that came pouring in, the overwhelming sentiment was that Salman al-Oadah had struck a chord with the feelings of the Arab public.

 

 

One viewer, Hamad al-Ruwaili, wrote: “Dr. Salman al-Oadah got it right. He knows our injuries and he sheds our tears.”

 

 

Another, Khaled al-Thubaiti, added his own question to the list: “In some countries, the ruler’s personal wealth surpasses the national budget. Someone needs to ask them: Where did you get this from?”

 

 

The broadcast has also drawn considerable attention from media commentators and political analysts.

 

 

Leading media personality Fahd al-Sunaidi observed: “This question – ‘Where did you get this from?’ – is a fine principle, grounded in the Qur’an, which calls upon us to fear misusing what is under our authority and instills in us the consciousness to ask this question of ourselves.”

 

 

Political analyst Yasir al-Za’atirah, commented: “The Arab Spring came to uproot those thieves who used to imprison people for asking the question: ‘Where did you get this from?’ It has uprooted some of them and placed the rest under severe scrutiny.”

 

 

The broadcast can be viewed on You Tube where an English translation is available under the “Transcript” button.

Source: Islamtoday

 

 

 

 

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