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WHEN Al-Muizz Li-Din-Allah entered Egypt as one of the Caliphs of the Fatimid dynasty, the elders gathered in the palace to learn about this new leader who came to rule them.
One of them said to him: “We have never heard of you before. What is your stature and lineage? “.
Silence then reigned in the room.
The caliph raises his sword and says: “It is my stature”. He scattered gold coins on the ground and said, “This is my lineage.”
It was a sign of the way he managed the dynasty, which lasted around 200 years. During his time, Cairo and the Al-Azhar Mosque were built. At that time, he used them for political and sectarian purposes.
The Arabian Peninsula has been torn apart by wars, tribal skirmishes and invasions, and a lack of security that made it dangerous for people to travel to perform pilgrimage (Hajj). When King Abdulaziz bin Saud saw this, he realized that the region would never achieve stability and security if the situation continued in this state.
Therefore, he began the reform by restoring the possessions of his fathers and grandfathers, and then unifying this great region with an area of more than two million and one hundred thousand square kilometers.
He also ruled the territory according to the popular proverb “Rule is sword and justice”, which launched the new state’s motto. It meant the balanced use of force and generosity in running the country, which restored stability to the sprawling kingdom.
At that time, many debtors were at the mercy of loan sharks and greedy merchants. The king worked to combat the injustice of the oppressed by ensuring that the zakat (alms) paid by the able went to the debtors. He worked with the famous jurisprudential rule “The creditor is too dependent, not the debtor”, and was thus able to fight against all types of corruption.
Singapore was a poor island with no natural resources, and was plagued by corruption, until the time of a wise leader, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who worked for its rebirth, guided by his famous saying “Clean the Corruption is like cleaning a staircase… It starts at the top”.
His Highness the Amir, His Highness the Crown Prince and His Highness the Prime Minister, the leaders of the new era of Kuwait, there is no doubt that the past few years have revealed great corruption in various state institutions. This has notably led to an increase in the number of debtors with limited incomes.
Courts and police stations, even state institutions, have become sort of debt collection centers for businesses.
There are more than 180,000 citizens who are banned from traveling following arrest warrants imposed on them. More than 125,000 vehicles were seized.
In addition to this, there are thousands of women who fell victim to loan sharks when they succumbed to social pressure and signed unpaid checks or trusted sukuk certificates. When one of them does not repay, she is sent to prison. Some of them have spent more than 20 years in prison.
Loan sharks and greedy merchants work to get the debtor to sign each installment with a single check, which means that if he is late in paying an installment, he will be imprisoned.
In every country in the world there are commercial debts or blank checks that warrant a travel ban or arrest if the debtor fails to pay. However, Kuwait still operates under the mentality of the deep state whose pillars seek to capitalize its revenues by suffocating citizens and forcing them to pay or else they will be imprisoned.
On the other hand, there are more than 135 charitable or rather philanthropic organizations operating in the country, and annually receiving zakat and donations amounting to tens or even hundreds of millions of dinars.
However, those in the know say that half of these funds go into the pockets of those in charge, and the other half is transferred overseas either to buy up suspect sectarian loyalties, or is siphoned off and even falls between the hands of terrorists.
Kuwait has suffered, and still suffers, from this problem globally due to the allegations made against it of “support for terrorism” and “money laundering”. On the other hand, there are tens of thousands of debtors, thousands of families in need and poor people who need help, but these organizations do not give them any support.
Moreover, as donated money continues to flow overseas, the number of debtors and defaulters continues to rise. These debtors not only suffer in their transactions but also in their lives due to their constant fear of being arrested due to a debt that sometimes does not exceed 100 KD.
What is ironic is that a citizen received a travel ban notice because he owes 10 KD to one of the institutions.
Many citizens issued checks and did not pay them. For fear of imprisonment, they currently reside abroad. Their interests in the country were disrupted and their money and assets began to run out.
In legal principles, excessive reliance on the creditor is liable to a fine for its negligence. Indeed, he lends his money to those who do not have financial solvency or assets that can serve as collateral.
Also, the creditor used the debtor’s need for usury or high interest until the value of the latter became greater than that of the debt. This is why most countries, including some Gulf countries, have changed their own laws on issuing checks and trusts (sukuks) so as not to restrict an individual’s freedom.
Leaders of the new era, it became very necessary to open the file of charitable and philosophical organizations to direct all their funds to help debtors, prisoners and the poor in Kuwait.
There is a saying – “Charity begins at home” because we are facing a new era that is seeking reform, by all indications. Because “religion is counsel” and we are among the counsellors, perhaps this issue should be your first priority so that you can lift the injustices of tens of thousands of people.
It will also emancipate the hands of Kuwaitis from loan sharks and greedy merchants who abuse the “restoration of rights” interpretation by being corrupt, which carries many interpretations with false and deceptive intentions.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, The Arab Times