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Muslim nations intent on legislating morality through force should instead consider a story from their own Islamic tradition. According to a famous account from the early Islamic period, a man asked Prophet Muhammad for advice regarding the three vices he suffered from: falsehood, alcoholism, and fornication. Despite his utmost efforts, he could not rid himself of them.
Prophet Muhammad said that if he promised to first give up falsehood, he would guarantee that his other two vices would also be eliminated. When the prophet inquired about his progress a few days later, the man gave an interesting report. He told the prophet that he has been about to indulge in consumption of liquor but postponed the idea because he would have had to lie to his fellow Muslims in order to conceal the act. A few days later he was tempted by fornication but eschewed for the same reasons. He had indeed removed all three vices by giving up falsehood.
And falsehood is the prime indicator being measured by the Transparency International report.
My own country of descent, Pakistan, has become a poster child for human rights abuses, many in the name of much-abused sharia laws related to blasphemy, adultery, or apostasy. Pakistan’s blasphemy law was passed in 1984, and six years later the stakes were raised when a federal sharia court ruled that “the penalty for contempt of the Holy prophet...is death and nothing else.” A component was later added to target, by name, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a minority Muslim group that believes Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be the messiah of the latter days.
In this climate, one has to ask: Where are the laws against falsehood?
When Pakistan’s parliament is plagued with leaders with fake degrees, and a billionaire president sits at the helm (who has been dubbed “Mr. 10 percent” for his alleged taking of kickbacks as a minister controlling government contracts during the term of Benazir Bhutto), who can even implement such laws?
Presenting poverty, war, or illiteracy as reasons for this high corruption within Muslim countries would be a cop-out. It could be argued that Muslims in the seventh century were ravaged with more poverty, constant war, and significant illiteracy. But they had honest leadership who showed them how to walk the walk.
Perhaps the Muslim governments of today could learn a thing or two about giving up falsehood from countries like Denmark, New Zealand, and Singapore – all sharing the first spot, each scoring a whopping 9.3 out of 10.
But why should the Muslim world try to learn from these so-called infidels?
Because of what Prophet Muhammad said “A word of wisdom is the lost property of a Muslim. He should seize it wherever he finds it.”